Fun Things to do when in Boquete!
By: Larke Newal
Photo by Kake Garcia
Discover a great idea and run with it. That is precisely what Vincent Spagnoli has done in Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama.
Having retired from working in the US and relocated to Boquete he settled in to his new retired life. Several years pass. Cut to a visit with his daughter who lives in San Francisco. There he observed a new phenomenon enveloping the city. Electric bicycles.
Between the formidable, undulating hills in this city, as well as the dense and frenetically moving population, he could see that this was a ‘no brainer.” And the seed of an idea began to grow and germinate. What a perfect and timely solution for those retirees and tourists in Boquete who preferred to remain active but were limited in their chosen activities. Those who longed to explore every inch of their lovely new community but found it prohibitive to visit the higher elevations on foot, by regular bicycle, or even by car.
And so, retirement went by the wayside and a new business developed in Boquete. Along with Steve Bogensberger, who handles the IT and marketing aspect of the fledgling venture, they set to work.
The company, Soul Planet Cycles S.A., opened its doors on November 1st of this year. The cutting edge bikes are purchased from Rad Power Bikes in the US. They can be purchased or rented and Vince now also offers instructional tours with the bikes.
Only available to be purchased online they run approximately $1500.00 US or two for $1300.00 US each. This includes shipping to Miami but from there the shipping is up to the buyer.
These bikes are sturdy and safe, being classified as “class 2”, meaning upon reaching a speed of twenty mph the engines cut out.
The twenty-three kilometer self-guided tours are already becoming popular with both locals and tourists. Beginning at their location in the same yard as the Boquete Brewing Company the tour is described by Steve: “The tour takes you through variety of scenery within the Boquete valley. Through the town, along the Caldera River, then up through the winding roads, revealing beautiful views along the way including Volcan Baru. The jungle lined roads descend back into the village before the path rises again into a different part of the valley on our way to a cup of world famous Boquete coffee at Cafe Princesa Janca. After this relaxing break we meander our way down into the valley back into town to finish where we began. A perfect mix of challenge and ease makes for a wonderful and unforgettable experience.’
The age limit, for safety’s sake, is age fourteen to sixty-five. The cost for a self guided tour with an instructor is $40.00 per person plus ITBMS tax of 7% for two hours and twenty-three kilometers. If a tour is not on your agenda, you can rent a bike. This runs $20.00 per person plus tax for a thirty minute ride. An instructor is recommended due to the nature of the terrain in the area.
The tours are in the process of being hooked to five local hostels as well as a local tour company. Steve has also joined several booking engines including Trip Advisor. A website is his latest project and can be viewed at http://www.soulplanetcycles.
Right idea. Right time. Already this new venture is generating great interest and enthusiasm in Boquete and surrounding areas. Owning one of these reliable, easy to ride bikes opens up a whole new sphere of sightseeing events in this stunning land. Trips to coffee plantations, mountain trails, flora and fauna watching excursions, jungle hikes, and other less accessible areas. Vince and Steve have “discovered the need and filled it.”