El Explorador (tel. 720-1989, cell 6627-6908, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri.–Sun., US$3), a peculiar private garden in the hills above Boquete , is worth a visit if approached with a sense of humor. A winding path leads through two hectares of terraced land with orange and lemon trees, a rose garden, stands of papyrus, a bonsai nursery, and much more.
But the human touches are what’s most striking about this place. All kinds of junk—shoes, bottles, shopping carts, TVs—has been turned into planters. Cartoon eyes peer out from trees and topiary shrubs. Classical music is pumped throughout the place. And dotted around the garden are wise sayings and encouraging words in Spanish.
One sign leads the way to the “greatest miracle in the world.” When you get there, you find—what else?—a mirror. What starts off seeming kitschy ends up making you feel rather, well, loved. This is a good place to recharge your batteries.
If you see gardeners, thank them: They take great pride in the place. There’s a great view of the valley from the rose garden.
El Explorador is about three kilometers northeast of Boquete , near La Montaña y el Valle: The Coffee Estate Inn . Head north through Boquete on Avenida Central, pass the church, and then take the right fork toward the Panamonte Inn and Spa . Look for the signs.
The road gets rocky toward the end, but a four-wheel drive isn’t necessary if you’re careful. It’s also possible to walk from town, but it’s uphill most of the way, steep at times. On days when the garden is officially closed, it may be possible to get in by appointment. There’s a small food stand on the premises.