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After years of traveling you may think that one can become immune to that “wow” factor.

We have done reviews for the last 9 years and stayed in places with all the bells and whistles, boutique hotels and exclusive jungle fishing lodges, and we have loved our journey through Panama, but EcoTreat has proven once again that Panama continues to surprise even the savviest and most discerning travelers.

Located in Cerro Punta, Chiriqui, EcoTreat is the result of the vision of Rogelio Pretto, a multitalented Panamanian artist and former corporate executive who led, along with a trio of friends, the first conservation movement in the Chiriqui highlands in the early 1970s. At the time farming, agriculture and the lack of ecological awareness in the region were devastating the rainforest, and unrestricted hunting was disrupting the rich fauna. The four adopted the strategy of purchasing land to contain deforestation, a move that proved itself with the reforestation that exists
today in the areas they purchased.

The Pretto family, originally from Colon, used to spend their vacations in the Cerro Punta area, and later in nearby Guadalupe, where Rogelio, enamored with the area, built EcoTreat’s first cabin in 1976. His son, Derek, tells us that circumstances in 1985 stemming from the after effects of his father’s politically themed art show prompted them to leave Panama.

Together with his wife Carla and their two children, Derek returned to Panama in 2008 relocating in Boquete.
In 2009, recognizing the crucial need of proper schooling for children, Carla and Derek co-founded with another partner, Academia Internacional Boquete or A.I.B. (Boquete International Academy), a school that has since set unprecedented educational standards in Boquete. Following his father’s visionary path for their Chiriqui highland retreat, Derek and Carla initially developed the EcoTreat lodgings concept. Today they manage a remote cabin rental operation and a cozy coffee shop with next door bungalows in Guadalupe.

The Pretto family, originally from Colon, used to spend their vacations in the Cerro Punta area, and later in nearby Guadalupe, where Rogelio, enamored with the area, built EcoTreat’s first cabin in 1976. His son, Derek, tells us that circumstances in 1985 stemming from the after effects of his father’s politically themed art show prompted them to leave Panama.

Together with his wife Carla and their two children, Derek returned to Panama in 2008 relocating in Boquete.
In 2009, recognizing the crucial need of proper schooling for children, Carla and Derek co-founded with another partner, Academia Internacional Boquete or A.I.B. (Boquete International Academy), a school that has since set unprecedented educational standards in Boquete. Following his father’s visionary path for their Chiriqui highland retreat, Derek and Carla initially developed the EcoTreat lodgings concept. Today they manage a remote cabin rental operation and a cozy coffee shop with next door bungalows in Guadalupe.

 

EcoTreat’s cabins are set within 106 hectares of pristine cloud forest,located in theprotected natural reserve of La Amistad International Park, declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site. EcoTreat is an ecological retreat, removed from civilization, but only 15 minutes from it by 4 x 4. Sporting soothingly comfortable rooms, the small two-cabin, plus studio apartment compound is powered by solar and hydro energy. In the main cabin, our personal favorite, two
separate living rooms and spacious observation platforms with benches offer ample opportunity for quiet time enjoyment.

The adventurous approach to the EcoTreat compound starts in the agricultural town of Guadalupe, Cerro Punta, where we hopped on a 4×4 vehicle that took us over a rough grounded path that cuts through the lush primary forest, up steep hills and over natural creeks, until we reached the highest retreat in Panama at 2100 meters above sea level. A deceivingly short, but exciting trip right through nature’s luscious best, an adventure in itself.

Once we arrived at the main cabin we knew we were in for a treat. Surrounded by exotic nature and blanketed by 10° Celcius temperature, we stepped into the main cabin’s living room on the ground floor, where the inviting warmth of the fireplace beckoned us to sit down and begin the magical unwinding that is EcoTreat’s great promise. The adjacent balcony invites you to “mingle” with friendly hummingbirds and to listen to the cacophony of sounds from La Amistad’s wildlife rich forest. It is just wonderful to be a part of such a natural scene and yet have close hand all the comforts and shelter one needs.

After dinner with good friends at the oversize dining table, we settled around the fireplace for a relaxing evening. The next morning we set off to explore EcoTreat’s fascinating natural trails, cloaked with mossy trees, exotic flowers, wild mushrooms and characteristically abundant bird species, until we reached the high mark of our adventure, a colorfully rich gurgling waterfall. Some of the more adventurous—and daring—members of our party took a chilly dip into the invigorating cold head water of the Chiriqui Viejo river. Brave people they were, who made their way back through the jungle in wet clothes.

Our return to our cozy warm cabin met with a hot shower, Boquete specialty coffee and a sumptuous breakfast. By then, cell phones are buried somewhere in our rooms and e-mails are completely ignored; personal time at its best took over plus the best of EcoTreat’s restfulness.

Later that morning we took our 15 minute 4 x 4 ride to visit the town of Guadalupe, where we sampled delicious local strawberry and cream specialties, strolling leisurely past fruit and vegetable stands and buying some local arts and gifts.

The Guadalupe visit was wonderfully gratifying. One gets to interact with the local indigenous residents of the area, who stroll by in their traditional dresses with the rest of the town’s population, going about daily chores and customary activities. Guadalupe provides a charming view of a different pace of life and other priorities.

Time flew by as quickly as the clouds do in the region, and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hectic pace of our city existences. It wasn’t easy to leave EcoTreat; it grows rapidly on you.
We can’t wait to go back and do it all over again. It was a wonderful experience and we highly recommend it!

Meals: guest are free to bring their own food and cook, cooking services are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner by advance request.
For more information on EcoTreat’s other cabins go to www.ecotreat.com
Contact information:
Tel: +507-771-2678 / 6674-0230
e-mail: EcoTreat@icloud.com
Guadalupe, Cerro Punta, Chiriqui, Panama

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