Story and Photos by Guest Blogger Holly Mardis
As new permanent residents of Boquete, Panama, “What’s there to do in Boquete?” is an ever-present question for us. We’re in the process of eating our way around town but are also looking for fun things to do that won’t pack on the pounds. We’re a little over the hill for zip-lining, but to quote Monty Python, “I’m not dead yet!” One nice alternative to adrenaline-fueled adventure tours is a visit to Boquete’s own butterfly and bee farm, Miel Boqueteña y Mariposario – Boquete Bee and Butterfly Farm. Upon recommendation from some new friends, we recently spent a leisurely and relaxing day there. We did not regret our decision! Time really did flutter by as we walked among the lush plants and flowers, while surrounded (and sometimes landed on!) by multicolored butterflies.
Located a quick taxi ride above town, the farm features a beautifully planted screen house where you can wander among the free-flying species of butterflies. Very knowledgeable guides lead you from the reception/ticket/gift shop area down to the screen house where the butterflies live, pointing out a few bee houses along the way. There are stingless bees in one place (I want some of those in my yard!), and bees tinier than houseflies in another. All their bees are honey (miel in Spanish) producers, with each species making its own signature flavor.
Once inside the butterfly house, your guide will point out different species as they flutter around you and tell you about each one. The lush blooms and plantings make you feel you’re in the jungle, but they’re not just decorations. Each species of butterfly relies on a different plant to survive, and butterfly mothers will only lay their eggs on their particular choice of plant. Once the eggs hatch into caterpillars, their host plant is what they eat until they are ready to turn themselves into butterflies. Because the farm breeds and raises them from eggs, there is an incubation room full of caterpillars and chrysalises in various stages of development. Eggs are constantly gathered by hand from the plants in the screen house, taken to the incubation room and placed on cuttings of their particular plant choices, where they’ll hatch and munch their way to maturity. Once they make a chrysalis, they’re placed within an enclosed glass case where they can be observed while still staying protected. We were lucky enough to watch as one Monarch emerged from her chrysalis and crawled to stretch and dry her wings.
After your guide has shown you around and taught you a lot about butterflies, plants, and bees, you’re on your own to wander at your leisure through the butterfly house, staying as long as you like. This was what I’d been waiting for! Our little party had the place to ourselves for quite a while, and I enjoyed shooting way too many pictures of all the beautiful things. We did get to see one of the famous glass-winged butterflies (really, their wings are clear!), but she few away before I could get a picture, and then refused to come out again. Story of this amateur photographer’s life!
Once we finished in the butterfly house, we simply hung out and talked in the open lounge area, watched as hummingbirds visited the various feeders, and enjoyed the quiet breeze. Cold drinks were available by asking (the machines were locked), but their cafe, which is advertised as having coffee and snacks, was not open.
We took the basic butterfly house tour, which required no appointment, and was $12 plus tax per person. Other options are available by reservation only, and cost more. There is also a yoga studio where they hold classes adjacent to the butterfly house, and a well-appointed gift shop featuring all the honey flavors you could ever want, along with other merchandise.
Want to go?
Miel Boqueteña y Mariposario is located on Avenida Central, not far above Boquete town. To drive there, head up through town on the main road and follow it up to the left (you’ll see Otto’s restaurant on the left). Less than 2km up from town, look for a small store on your right called Mercadito Jenny, with the Milki Burger attached to it. The driveway into the butterfly farm is directly beyond the store, right next to it. You’ll see some very small wooden arrow signs pointing the way. Just beyond the store, the road forks, and there’s a small red and white lighthouse in the fork. If you go past that, you’ve gone too far. There is parking at the farm, but it is limited.
Taxis are readily available, both coming and going. If you taxi up, all you need to do to return is walk out the farm’s driveway to the main road and flag one of the many taxis you’ll see heading back down to town. Or, if you’re wanting to stretch your legs a bit, it’s a downhill walk all the way.
This is a family-friendly area, and a great educational opportunity for kids. It’s also a lot of fun for adults, and a great place to get photos that’ll make all your friends jealous. If you’re staying in town where it can be busy and noisy, this is a great place to get away from that. Please note that the butterfly house is not handicap accessible.
You can find the butterfly farm on line at https://www.natureboquete.com/ where they provide Facebook and Instagram links, and give more information about tour options, hours of operation, and prices.
Fact: Panamá is known as the land of rainbows and butterflies.
©: Other than sharing, the contents of this blog are copyrighted and cannot be used in any other way without permission.