Panama: Panama’s Breadbasket: Culinary Delights in the Highlands
The highlands of the Chiriqui Province are home to breathtaking scenery and Panama’s breadbasket.
This morning you will be transferred to Albrook domestic airport in Panama City to board the scheduled mid-morning flight to David, capital of the Chiriqui Province. Chiriqui is known as “Panama’s breadbasket” and contains some of the most breathtaking highland scenery in Central America.
On arrival you will be transferred to the eastern side of the Barú, the only volcano in Panama. En route you will have a unique opportunity to view a centuries-old tradition at a local trapiche, a horse-powered sugar mill where the delicious raspadura blocks are made from unrefined cane sugar.
You will be treated to a local lunch and a traditional folk dance presentation. Dancers wear the elaborate polleras, full-skirts that are the national costume of Panama and part of a tradition that encompasses Colombia, Bolivia and Spain as well.
Proceed to the charming town of Boquete, in the Highlands of Chiriqui, its countryside dotted with flower, fruit and produce farms, coffee plantations and lush tropical cloud forests. Before arriving in the town of Boquete, stop at a look-out point where you can take in the views over the valley.
Arriving at your inn this afternoon you will be greeted with a welcome cocktail. This boutique hotel is renowned for personalized service, gourmet dining, its peaceful fireside lounge and colorful gardens. Opened in 1914, the same year as the Panama Canal, this property has hosted a who’s who of international adventurers. Renovations completed in 2008 modernized the accommodations without forsaking the hotel’s antique charm. Take some time to relax and unpack before dinner.
This morning your breakfast will be served in the privacy of your room or on your terrace. Afterwards you will be picked up for a 15-minute transfer to the grounds of a private coffee estate, your departure point for a cloud forest nature walk. This morning you will have the opportunity to look for the elusive resplendent quetzal, as well as the three-wattled bellbird, black-faced solitaire, volcano hummingbird, long-tailed silky flycatcher and prong-billed barbet in their cool habitat of orchids, bromeliads and wild avocados.
For lunch today your visit a nearby ecolodge. The restaurant here is known country-wide for its delicious creamy squash soup and the sweet key-lime pie, perfectly accompanied by a hot cup of the country’s best shade-grown coffee.
This afternoon is at leisure. You may choose to make use of the complementary spa certificate included with your stay.
Later you will meet your hotel’s award-winning Executive Chef and owner and transfer to the new studio-style kitchen located just a few minutes from the hotel. Here you will have an exclusive hands-on cooking class with a special menu focused on local ingredients and recipes.
Your host and instructor’s mastery in the art of cooking has earned him many distinguished awards. He has been the chef at some of the most important events in recent Panamanian history, including banquets and dinners honoring heads of state from Panama and visiting dignitaries. His weekly gastronomy column appears in Revista Siete, a weekly Panamanian magazine edited by local newspaper El Panamá América.
The fertile volcanic soil of Boquete is ideal for growing produce, exotic fruits, and some of the best coffee in the world. Trout swim in the region’s crystalline rivers, and beef and dairy cattle graze on the grassy slopes of Volcano Barú. Just half-an-hour away is Panama’s coastline where local fishermen harvest abundant lobster, jumbo shrimp, sea bass, and yellow-fin tuna. There is no other location in Panama that offers such a rich diversity of fresh products, and Chef Collins takes full advantage of this bounty to offer his guest’s a truly memorable cooking & dining experience.
End the evening by savoring your freshly prepared meal with peaceful music in the background and a good glass of wine.
This morning after breakfast you will set out for a privately guided cloud forest canopy trek, with a zipline offering views of the rainforest from fourteen different canopy platforms while soaring through the heights of the cloud forest from one treetop to another. Glide through the trees and encounter a world unknown, exploring a fascinating new perspective on wildlife. Native species of flora and fauna are abundant, including a great variety of orchids, trees and wildflowers that are found throughout the area.
Break for lunch at a nearby Peruvian seafood restaurant that blends local seafood specialties with international cuisine.
After lunch you will go on a brief sightseeing tour of Boquete. Stroll on the hill at Volcanito Loops with beautiful views of the valley and cloud forest. Visit Mi Jardin es su Jardin, which is a private garden that is open to the public – the neatly arranged gardens and flower arrangements here offer a glimpse of the diversity of Boquete’s flora and fauna. Return to your hotel in mid afternoon and enjoy some leisure time or make use of your complementary Haven Spa certificate if you have not redeemed it yet.
Tonight you are free to enjoy dinner on your own in town or at the hotel.
After breakfast in your room or on your private terrace, you will be transferred to David for your one-hour flight to Panama City. Upon arrival you will be directly transferred to Tocumen International Airport for your departure flight (afternoon departure flights only) or continue on to your next Willing Foot destination.
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