The El Pianista Trail in Boquete is the ultimate hike to admire the dense jungle of Panama. During this impressive hike you make your way through the wild, dense jungle where you can see the rainforest slowly changing into a cloud forest. El Pianista Trail is also known as the most beautiful hike in Boquete and I totally agree. I’ll be happy to tell you everything you need to know so that you too can experience the El Pianista Trail at its best. Lace up your hiking boots and set out on an adventure with the El Pianista Trail in Boquete!
What does the El Pianista Trail look like?
The El Pianista Trail takes about four hours round trip and covers the same route both ways. The trail involves some uphill climbing, so it’s recommended to have a moderate level of fitness. The starting point of the El Pianista Trail is located four kilometers outside of downtown Boquete, next to Il Pianista restaurant. The first twenty minutes of the trail wind through an open meadow nestled between the mountains, and then you’ll venture into the lush jungle. Since the trail is not very crowded, you’re unlikely to encounter more than a few other hikers at a time. Overall, this trail offers a great workout and a serene escape from the bustle of Boquete.
The El Pianista Trail takes you up about 600 meters (2,000 feet) in a few hours, allowing you to see the slow transformation of nature. The trail is not particularly challenging in terms of navigation, as the path is fairly well-defined and it’s difficult to go off course. However, the terrain can be challenging due to the high humidity and potential for rain. The trail can become muddy, so it’s important to watch your step and avoid slipping. Our guide provided us with a stick, which was a valuable tool for maintaining balance on the slippery terrain. Overall, I found the climb to be relatively easy – although it is an uphill hike, it’s a slow incline that’s not too difficult.
The cooler temperatures in the region make it challenging for many animals to thrive, so don’t expect to see a lot of wildlife during the El Pianista Trail. Instead, it’s the natural surrounding that makes this hike so memorable. The trail offers an array of breathtaking views, from the various shades of green in the leaves, plants, and trees to the awe-inspiring landscape itself. Since the trail takes you through the clouds, it can be misty and humid at times – but this only adds to the magical atmosphere, with the glimmering water droplets giving the nature a fairytale-like quality.
Do you need a guide on the El Pianista trail?
Since the tragic disappearance of two Dutch hikers, Kris and Lisanne, during the El Pianista Trail in 2014, it’s been strongly recommended to hike this trail with a guide. The memorial for Kris and Lisanne at the top of the mountain now marks the end point of the hike, as conditions beyond this point become much more dangerous. As a result, few people continue beyond the memorial. While the trail may appear straightforward on Maps.me, it’s still recommended to have a guide for added safety and peace of mind. I personally found it comforting to hike the trail with Feliciano, an experienced guide in Boquete who knows the area inside and out. Feliciano is a friendly and humorous guide who not only enjoys leading the El Pianista Trail, but also other trails in the area. He’s knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, which adds to the fascination of the trail. By hiking with a guide like Feliciano, you can experience the beauty of the El Pianista Trail with confidence and ease.
While hiring a guide for the El Pianista Trail does come at an additional cost, I found it to be well worth it. With a guide like Feliciano, you can experience the trail in a way that you might not on your own. Feliciano has a keen eye for the details of nature, and he knows how to navigate the sometimes challenging terrain. He even provides hiking sticks and fruit, which is a welcome treat during the hike. You can contact Feliciano directly via WhatsApp at +507 66249940 to arrange a guided hike.
Tip: If you’re interested in practicing your Spanish during the hike, you can also book Feliciano’s son, Henry, as a guide. You can reach Henry via WhatsApp at +507 6848-6155.
Packing list for the El Pianista trail
Below are some essential items to bring with you on the El Pianista Trail.
- Sturdy shoes – Good shoes are a must on this hike. They don’t necessarily have to be mountain boots, but sturdy hiking shoes with a good tread are necessary.
- Rain jacket – A rain jacket or poncho is also highly recommended on the El Pianista Trail. In addition to the overall humidity and occasional falling drops, a (drizzling) rain shower is not uncommon. Consider also bringing a rain cover for your backpack.
- Water – Always bring enough water when hiking.
- Jacket or vest – In addition to a rain jacket, a normal vest or jacket is also nice to have. It is cooler in Boquete and during this hike, you will be gaining altitude where temperatures are lower and it can be windy on the top.
- Snacks – This hike will take a few hours and requires physical effort. Bring some snacks such as fruit, bread, or energy bars to restore your energy.
- Walking sticks – For this hike, it is really recommended to walk with a hiking stick. When booking Feliciano as your guide, he will bring one for you.
Our favorite places to stay in Boquete
For a truly unique overnight stay, Bambuda Castle is an excellent choice. Originally built as a castle, this beautiful accommodation has been transformed into a hotel just ten minutes from the center of Boquete. With breathtaking views and a lovely swimming pool, Bambuda Castle offers a range of accommodations to fit every budget, from cozy double rooms and bungalows to fun dorms and even a hobbit house! If you prefer to stay in the heart of Boquete, Selina is a fun and vibrant option. With a large courtyard featuring a nightly campfire, live music, and daily yoga classes, Selina offers a lively and social atmosphere. And if you’re looking for a little bit more luxury, The Inn at Palo Alto is a great choice. This hotel has a fantastic swimming pool with spectacular views of the Boquete area, as well as a jacuzzi and a gorgeous garden filled with flowers. Every morning, you’ll enjoy a delicious breakfast to start your day off right. Whether you’re seeking budget-friendly accommodations, a social atmosphere, or a luxurious escape, Boquete offers a range of options to suit every traveler’s needs.
||The Inn at Palo Alto