Coordinating our visit to Boquete, we stayed in two nights at Hacienda Belina in Palmira. This farm of five and a half hectares is located about twelve minutes from the town of Boquete on a fairly good road. Staying in this place is very different from staying in a hotel because although they have four separate rooms, they are next to the house of Hector Sanchez and his family. In addition, they are so kind that you instantly feel that you are another family member.
Hector and his wife Linda Heemstra, a native of Ohio, United States, met at the University of Colorado in 1970. He is a native of Concepción, Bugaba. He studied physical education and practiced martial arts most of his life. He worked for the Southern Command in the Canal Zone. Still in his seventies he is a man in very good physical condition.
Stay at Hacienda Belina
Hacienda Belina is a coffee plantation that also produces mango, pineapple, avocado, passion fruit, guanabana and other fruits. They have planted trees and fruits that supposedly are from hotter areas but have yielded good results. Visitors can walk on a path between the coffee plants.
Originally Hacienda Belina was a forest that they turned into a coffee farm but they left many trees for the birds to have places to nest. These trees retain water in the falls so they protect the slopes, keeping the rivers with good volume.
They have 4 rooms with different types of bed, each with its private bathroom and a terrace with shared hammocks. Groups of friends or family are preferred so they can have their privacy. Guests can enjoy tropical fruits depending on the season, as well as coffee. You can see the Baru Volcano from the garden that is ideal for hosting picnics.
Kara, Hector’s daughter, is a professional chef. She lives between the farm in Boquete and Saint Marteen where she has a bakery with her husband. When we went she was in Boquete and she made us delicious meals.
She wants to do pastry courses at Hacienda Belina and she set us up to make and decorate a cake. Also, she is doing children’s camps. If you stay you can ask her to prepare meals for an additional cost, which is definitely worth it.
It is a forced retreat site since you must arrive in a 4×4 vehicle because the road is in very bad condition. The government has not fixed the effort made by Hector so that they could have access to the different farms in the area.
You will enjoy this farm if you are like me and like hiking to observe nature. The cloud forests are ideal places to walk without sweating too much.
Besides they have a unique biodiversity where you will find wild orchids and other native species that you probably have not seen anywhere else. You can see many species of birds, especially if you go early or late in the afternoon.
Boquete is famous for its coffee and the coffee route is being developed, but Hector Sanchez wants to make an avocado route. Hacienda Belina would be one of the farms, in addition to another Venezuelan neighbor has almost 30 thousand trees planted.
The idea is to plant different varieties of avocado to have fruits all year round without having to import. Avocados give shade and you can do a tourism that includes horse rides.
Sowing of sugarcane
In the zone, cane is planted but leaves the land very acidic and damages it. Some producers rotate crops to improve the Ph.
When we left the farm we could see a man doing cane ‘raspadura’ with a machine that grinds the cane, then boiled the juice in a cauldron and finally dries it in molds.
River Rafting in Panama
Hector was the pioneer in river rafting in Panama with his company Chiriqui River Rafting. He hires local guides from the area that many are indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé. Throughout the year he offers the experience in different rivers in the province of Chiriqui. The flow of the rivers depends on the rain, therefore some are exclusive to the rainy season between May and November.
In summer they are limited to the Chiriqui Viejo and Fonseca Rivers, while in winter the conditions are good and they can make trips in large rivers. They even practice rafting in Rio Grande near Penonome for people who live in the capital. They leave at 5:30 a.m. from Boquete to arrive at 9 a.m., making the trip and returning the same day. Rafting in Chiriquí requires three people minimum and Rio Grande is five. Trips include lunch, water, transportation.
You can contact Hector at +507 6879-4382 or email [email protected]