What to See
La Amistad International Park
The park was created in '82 on the Costa Rican side and '88 on the Panamanian side to promote int'l peace and eco-tourism. From Guadalupe, you can reach the park by taking a "Ruta Urbana" bus, which costs $0.50. By taxi, it is $5-6. Make sure to arrange a pick-up since buses don't really run that way, and cellphone reception in the park is sporadic. There are 3 trails: El Retono, Panama Verde, and La Cascada. We got rained out and only had a chance to do La Cascada, which has a lookout and waterfall. The trail takes about 3 hrs to complete and is all secondary forest. A restaurant in the park serves drinks and simple meals. Visitor center hours are 8am-3:30pm. Cost is $5 for foreigners.
Where to Stay
Guadalupe, about 2.5 hrs by bus from David, is a great base for hiking La Amistad, Los Quetzales Trail, and Volcan Baru. But Los Quetzales Ecolodge & Spa ( http://www.losquetzales.com/) is as much a reason for going. The hotel, which offers dorm beds for $18 pp, has an excellent restaurant, a cozy common area centered around a fireplace, and a river that runs behind the property. The dorms have wood paneled walls and skylights. The owner, Carlos, is quite generous, and there is also a nice book collection. Wi-Fi is free.
What to Eat
Worth The Splurge
I'm still thinking about the salmon teriyaki I feasted on yesterday and the day before at Los Quetzales Ecolodge & Spa. The tuna pesto in the photo is really good too. The entrees cost between $8-14. The vegetables are grown locally, and the butter and bread are homemade. Portions are large and can be shared. Trust me, this is the kind of meal you dream about later.
To get to Guadalupe, you have to go to David first. Two buses go to David: Terminales David Panama (314-6228) & Padafront (314-6264). The buses have AC and a bathroom. Terminales leaves every hour starting at 5:30am and Padafront leaves every few hours from the Albrook Bus Terminal. We bought tickets 30 mins prior to departure and paid $15.25 OW. Our trip took 7 hrs, but both bus companies have express services at night which only take about 5 1/2 hrs. There was a stop midway in Santiago, where you can use the restroom and have a meal. Once we arrived in David, we took a local van to Guadalupe that took 2 1/2 hrs. The local van leaves every 15 mins from David and costs $3.25 (compared to $30-40 for a taxi).
What To Bring
There are no ATM machines in Guadalupe. To pull cash, you would have to head back to Volcan, about an hour by bus from Guadalupe. If you stay at Los Quetzalos, they accept credit cards. Otherwise, your daily expenses shouldn't be too high.