"El Rio Encantado took our breath away. This nature reserve is thoughtfully designed around a gorgeous river inside a lush valley. The owner, Frank, has lovingly blended nature & art to make a slice of paradise. Around every corner are majestic views, colorful landscaping, waterfalls & a river that rushes through & over rocks & boulders shaped over many millennia. We stayed in Cottage 3 directly on the river & promptly entered the clean, temperate water. I fondly remember this swimming hole daily since our trip -- rapids on both ends of a deeper calm section where a gentle, warm waterfall flows down the rock wall. I swam easily through the calm section, let the waterfall flow over me and then swam against the current as I approached the rocks/rapids. The current changes with rain patterns but it was always possible to sit upon the rocks and let the river wash over us – a natural massage. This is a huge property but only a few cabins, so it’s very private and you typically won’t see other visitors. Frank ensures guests are quiet so no loud, partying types. The weather is ideal. The touristy area – Boquete – is about a 20-minute drive but was often cool and shrouded in clouds with misty rain when it was sunny, clear & warm at El Rio Encantado. This area of Panama is a series of microclimates. Unbelievably, weather can change dramatically just around the next bend in the road. Our cabin had a lovely patio with a barbecue grill. Remarkably, there were no mosquitoes. We never turned on the tv or used wifi, although both were available. We slept with all windows open to the soothing river sounds. The cabin had extra comfortable beds, a very nice bathroom with a large shower, living/dining area & a fully equipped kitchen. Frank is lucky we actually checked out on schedule because I could have easily stayed here permanently. And speaking of Frank, if you want to know the true Panama – secrets, surprises, good & bad, he will give it to you straight. He can also set you up with things to do plus a local tour guide that we very much enjoyed. The most entertainment, however, was listening to Frank’s stories. But you have to go to El Rio Encantado to hear them. You will never regret a moment at this enchanting place. I have stayed on the beautiful Hawaiian islands, on the African savannah, the snow-capped Alps, near the Great Wall, & the Costa Rican rainforests, among others. But I truly consider El Rio Encantado to be the best place I’ve ever stayed."
Guest: Debbie S.
Date of Stay: December 2014
Review Submitted: January 28, 2015