The Lost and Found Hostel located near Boquete in the fantastic mountains and forests of Panama provides an excellent alternative to Boquete whilst supplying treasure hunts along the way. And once you have conquered the clues that the hostel has supplied, you can also explore other activities in the surrounding area including horseback riding, coffee and wine tours, night hikes, canyons, and waterfalls.
The majority of those coming to the Lost and Found Hostel want to experience the nature of Panama, and have either already been to the main hub of Panama City, or are coming from the beautiful islands of Bocas del Toro. Looking for a stopover point between the two is easy, with either Boquete or Lost and Found acting as a nice break to save a very long bus journey between Bocas and Panama City. Then comes the choice – should you head to Boquete or stay in an even more remote wilderness location in the Lost and Found Hostel. For us, the two offered pretty similar experiences, and we could not pass up the chance to get our treasure hunt on all whilst getting the chance to see fresh water rivers, lush jungle, and the mountains of Panama along the way. Now we had to work out how to get there!
Getting to the Lost and Found Hostel
Fortunately, the website for the Lost and Found supplies very accurate descriptions on how to arrive to their hostel from pretty much any major destination within Panama.
For us, we were coming from Bocas del Toro, which meant taking the ferry from the island to the mainland, heading to the bus station (for a cheap taxi fare), and then taking a bus headed for David. When we boarded the bus we simply asked the driver to stop at the Lost and Found Hostel which he already had knowledge of, and from here we exited the bus around an hour before David.
More information on this route and others (including pricing) can be found on the Lost and Found Hostels website here.
Once you arrive the fun really begins, with the hostel offering up 2 scavenger hunts which will ultimately lead to a solution and a free drink for your troubles. The first one is your typical hunt which leads you out into the surrounding area for a hike on the hostel’s land, with different viewpoints along the way where clues can be found for you to continue the hunt (and the hike) and work out the final solution.
The hunt takes on aspects of ‘Indiana Jones’ in attempting to work out the clues by traversing the land, through massive trees, across flowing freshwater rivers, and exploring caves. We took a day to do this (or really a half day with a celebratory drink after as yes we did complete the hunt!), and found it to be an excellent blend of hiking, adventure, and teamwork in working out each clue on the map. The hostel will supply you with all that you need to work through the clues, and the rest will be up to both your problem solving and hiking abilities!
The second option for treasure hunting should be saved for if it is raining (a distinct possibility in this part of Panama), as it provides an escape room type game where you must solve the clues in and around the hostel itself. It requires a lot more brain power as you work through the cryptic clues in an attempt to work out what happened (fiction of course) one dark and scary night at the Lost and Found Hostel. This option is also connected to an e-book that is available to purchase through Amazon, though is not required to help you start solving the riddles.
Of course, if you end up exhausting all of the hiking tracks that the Lost and Found hostel supplies, as well as solving the clues in their treasure hunt games, there are other great activities in the area for you to try out. Some of these include:
Los Cangilones (Gualaca) River Canyon
You can easily reach this spectacular swimming spot by taking public transport, which is what we ended up doing. All we had to do was walk down to the main road that the hostel is located on, and flag down a bus heading towards David (you have to cross the road to take the bus). From here, let the driver know you are going to Gualaca, which is where the river canyon is located.
Once you reach Gualaca (we recommend using an app on your phone like maps.me to ensure you know where you need to get off), there will be a road which is on your right as you enter the town with a sign next to it pointing you towards the canyons. You need to follow this road on foot for around 15-20 minutes until you reach the canyons.
We had a great couple of hours here relaxing in the sun, jumping into the pools below the canyons, and swimming around. When we were done, it was as easy as catching a bus back in the opposite direction and letting the driver know we wanted to go to the Lost and Found Hostel. If you are worried about directions, the staff at the hostel can provide you with maps and directions (including Spanish phrases to use to give to the bus driver) to get you there.
Another off the beaten track style place, this waterfall is easily missed if you do not know where you are going. Thankfully, the staff at the hostel can also provide you with pretty detailed instructions on how to get here also, using public transport in the same manner as the Gualaca canyons.
There is a small cost to enter the grounds here once you arrive, though others stated that they were not approached for it. Many people use a whole day and combine both the river canyons and the waterfall, providing an adventurous day.
Organised through the hostel at a cost of $40, you can take a half day trip on horses exploring the area that the hostel is located in – Chiriqui. The price of the tour includes the horse (of course), a guided tour, as well as a farm-style lunch which gives you an insight into how the people live in the local area.
Unfortunately we did not get a chance to take part in the night hiking as it is sporadically organised through the hostel. This meant that we missed out by just one day on going on an exciting flashlight hike with a local guide.
The hikes themselves are donation based, with opportunities to spot a lot more wildlife than you would regularly see on the Lost and Found Hostels grounds during the day (as many are hiding or asleep). The walk itself lasts one hour, at which point you can return to the hostel and have a drink with your fellow adventurers.
Organic Coffee & Wine Tour
Another tour organised through the hostel, this $25 tour takes you to a local organic coffee farm to get an idea of how coffee is produced – from growing, picking, drying, roasting, and eventually to your cup!
The local tour guide will also provide you with a farm-style lunch which also involves the tasting of fruits from the area, as well as the coffee!
Overall, the Lost and Found Hostel provides a plethora of activities and options for you whilst you stay, and we really enjoyed hiking around and seeing what the area had to offer. We would recommend a few things though to ensure that you also have a great stay, as you do not want to arrive only to find you should have prepared yourselves better. These tips include:
- Buy food and bring it with you – sure when you reserve they say that you can buy dinners there and cook in their kitchen (and I believe they also state not to worry about bringing food), but you DO need food here. The dinners are a bit over-priced for a backpackers budget, and bringing staples from a supermarket on your way is a great way to save money. Once you arrive, there is a vegetable and fruit shop (on the main road before you hike up to the hostel) that you can buy extras at, and then you can cook a meal!
- The ‘store’ they have on site does not supply much – once again, buy food before you come, especially for breakfast and lunch. The hostel shop only supplies basics like pasta, eggs, mac and cheese etc.
- Be wary of the walk up the hill – the walk up to the hostel from the main road is pretty exhausting, especially with all of your bags. The hostel gives an option for someone to help you get your bags up (at a cost), so if you feel you need it please do so!
We hope you enjoy your time in the region, and that you have the wits and skill to conquer the treasure hunts!