along the creek on Three Waterfalls Trail

Hiking Three Waterfalls Trail in Boquete, Panama

The top two things to do in Boquete on Trip Advisor are to hike Sendero Los Quetzales and Tres Casacadas (Three Waterfalls) Trails.  The Three Waterfalls Trail is also called the Lost Waterfalls Trail.

It is highly recommended to take a guide for Sendero Los Quetzales which also requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and there is a two-person minimum.  As such, just to take a hike was going to cost $190.  As an experienced hiker with an all-wheel drive car, that seemed a little ridiculous to me.

How to Get to Three Waterfalls

After I told the tour guide with whom I was working, Gerard at Cloudforest Travel, that I’m an experienced hiker, he suggested that I hike Three Waterfalls Trail on my own.  He then organized transportation for me to the trailhead and told me how to get the public bus back.  In addition, he spoke fluent English.  If only everyone offered customer service like this!

It turns out, I only needed a taxi to the trailhead and my $15 taxi ride was waiting for me at the hotel before my 9am pick up time.  Realizing this, I likely could have gotten a taxi in town for less money, but he knew exactly what I wanted to do, removing the hassle.  He drove me to Three Waterfalls trailhead that I would have likely missed had I rented a car.  While it was marked on the side of the road, the pullout holds maybe one vehicle.

In addition, I had to walk down a driveway, cross a bridge, turn to the right at the V and then follow a path to someone’s home where the private trailhead for Three Waterfalls was located.  Fortunately, there were just enough signs, and I knew just enough Spanish to understand the taxi driver’s directions!

At Three Waterfalls Trailhead

Upon reaching the owner’s home, a young boy was selling candy.  I passed by him to the booth at the trailhead, but no one was manning it.  I suppose if I were a dishonest person, I could have walked right by without paying the $7 entry, but I prefer good karma! 

I returned to the boy and said, “Necesito pagar.”

Running off, he yelled, “Papa, Papa.”

Soon enough a gentleman appeared.  I paid with correct change (recommended), got my receipt and snapped a photo of the map for Three Waterfalls Trail.  He pointed at the map and in Spanish recommended that I take the path to the left first to go to the second waterfall where I could swim, then the third waterfall, and finally upon my return the first waterfall on the other fork in the path.  He told me it was only a thirty or so minute walk to the second waterfall and then another 30 minutes to the third.

The map for three waterfalls trail
The map

The Second Waterfall

No problem.  Off I went on Three Waterfalls Trail.  I followed the undulating path over countless tree roots beneath the canopy of the jungle.  While the thick vegetation blocked most of the breeze, the morning was cooler than I expected.  Soon enough I reached my first stop at the second waterfall.  Though I donned my bathing suit beneath my clothes, I opted out of swimming.

The pool seemed shallow and the water felt quite brisk.  Instead, I just took a minute to enjoy the tranquility.  I arrived just as a group was leaving, so I had the waterfall to myself.

From the base of the second waterfall, the trail climbs above the cascade and then drops back down to the top of it.  A few knotted ropes lay alongside the trail to help with the short, but steep climbs.  During the dry season, they weren’t necessary, but I imagine during the rainy times, the ropes are very useful.

The Third Waterfall

After reaching the top of the waterfall, I continued on, stopping to admire the clear creek waters and moss-covered rocks along the way.  Before long, I reached the third waterfall.  It looked similar to the second one.  I spent a few minutes here, before I retraced my steps to the fork in the trail.

The First Waterfall

I climbed down the stairs to the first waterfall whose narrow stream tumbled over a high cliff on the other side of the creek.  After snapping a few photos, I returned to the trailhead and wandered back to the roadside while admiring many wonderful flowers. 

Back to Boquete

A local man was waiting on the side of the road by all the signs.

I asked him, “Va a Boquete in el autobus?”

“Sí”, he replied.

Good I could follow him onto the bus that supposedly arrived every 30 minutes or so.

After a while, a group of people exited a taxi at the Three Waterfalls Trailhead.

The local man waved for me to follow him.  I ended up in a “collectivo” or a taxi that picks people up along the way.  It was only $2.50.  I don’t know if the bus whose picture looked like a private tour company bus ever arrived or if the “collectivo” taxi was the replacement. 

One way or the other, I made it back to Boquete from Three Waterfalls Trail, strolled around town, tried a restaurant for lunch, and then walked ¾ of a mile back to my awesome hotel.  What a great day!

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

7 thoughts on “Hiking Three Waterfalls Trail in Boquete, Panama

    1. Did a lot of travel in December and then a week in Panama. Has taken a while to get the posts up! I’m considering copying you and staying in one place for a while next year. Are you still in Mexico? I like that you get to know people.

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