Exploring The Small Towns of Panama

After getting through the holiday rush we arrived in Santa Fe. Santa Fe is a less developed version of Boquete, however, with real estate buildings popping up it looks like it won’t stay that way for too long. We stayed at Hostal La Qhia in the small mountain town. The hostel was a beautiful Swiss style home with an outdoor kitchen. The wood beams and rock decor was a nice change from the cement rooms we were getting used to. We spent most of our time relaxing in the hammocks; looking out at the mountains. Our best meals came from the small restaurant attached to the bus station offering chicken, rice and beans for around $2.50. On one sunny afternoon we went tubbing down the local river. There were some intense rapids… The closest thing we’ve come to white water rafting thus far!

After a few days in the mountains we were in need of some salt water and warm breezes. We headed to the popular beach town of Santa Catalina. We were told by many books and people that this was the place to be. However, we were greeted by black sand and rough waters abundant with jellyfish, not ideal for us non-surfers (Santa Catalina is the top surf destination in Central America). We had plans of staying many days in Santa Catalina but decided it wasn’t for us after 2 nights. The town offered over priced rooms and a depressing 2 isle grocery store with dusty shelves.

After going back to our guide book, We headed to El Valle in hopes of better luck. El Valle is another beautiful mountain town. In fact, the whole town is inside a volcano crater. The town offers a wide range of hotel options mostly in the upper markets. We were able to rent a room in the back of a local restaurant. The town is a landmark for hikers and bird watchers. We spent the day at the local market and hiking to the waterfall, Charros Las Mozas. The waterfall was a local hotspot and the teenage boys were crazy jumping off everywhere possible into the small but deep pools below the falls. Willy was brave enough to go for a jump as well! We also ventured to the hot springs where we were able to apply healing mud to our faces and then soak in the warm waters.

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