Tora Adventure

Two people exploring the world, seeking adventure & unique experiences.

Lost and Found in the highlands of Panama [Day 237]

What is the Lost and Found Hostel?

The Lost and Found hostel  is a very unique and remote hostel located located between Bocas del Toro and David (about 1.5 hours North of David) on the side of a mountain in the middle of the jungle.

Getting from Bocos to Lost and found

Our final day in Bastimentos was meant to be relaxing on the beach, but the weather wasn’t cooperating with frequent rain showers all morning. We decided to leave that morning and head to our next destination of Lost and Found hostel which was recommended by several people. Unfortunately though, we left Easter Sunday which is the last day of Semana Santa and we ended up with all the locals on a full bus for 3 hours. We took up a spot sitting in the aisle for a while but found it difficult to hold on at times and not fall into someone as we crossed through the mountains. It also cost us the same amount as it cost us getting from David to Bocas del Toro ($8.45); which didn’t make sense but the bus driver said we either pay or wait for another bus. We were eventually let off at the side of the road with only mountains and forest around us and a small set of buildings indicating we were at the right place.

 

Welcome to Lost and Found

Welcome to Lost and Found

Walking up the access road to lost and found

Walking up the access road to lost and found

 

 

Arriving at the Lost and Found Hostel

If you have big bags on wheels or aren’t that into exercising, you can pay the locals at the entrance a few dollars to carry your stuff up for you. The trail up is quite well marked, but if you arrive after dark you will definitely want a flashlight to guide your way. You’ll need a good 15 minutes to get from the roadside to the reception area of the hostel depending on your fitness level. The trail is walking only, so if you have a car, you’ll also need to leave that at the road side.

It’s quite a beautiful walk up with amusing signs such as keep going you’re half way, or only one more climb before you reach the top. We finally made it to the top, seeing bright yellow lodges and staff members eager to help us. We chose the dormitory as we got three nights for the price of two. This dormitory will blow the mind of any frequent traveller as it’s the first time we’ve ever seen a three level bunk bed in a dorm room. At first it looks quite chaotic and you do wonder how am I going to sleep here, but it actually wasn’t too bad sleeping on the top double bunk.

 

It does get a bit colder at night as you are at a higher altitude, so bring warm clothes, or you can opt to borrow the hostels specially made blanket sweaters. The beds have blankets, so you should be warm enough in bed.

 

Lost and Found common area

Lost and Found common area

Lost and Found washrooms

Lost and Found washrooms

Lost and Found bar

Lost and Found bar

 

Due to the isolation of the hostel it is recommended to bring your food with you if you’re on a budget. There is a big and well stocked communal kitchen for everyone to use, but the fridges are very small and often overflowing. They have a fairly good system (on the honour system) of buying individual items to make your own food. Overall, the prices of these items are more than fair and you may not need to bring anything at all. There is also a daily dinner meal for $6 ($3 vegetarian) that can save you the effort of preparing food. This was very popular when we were there with 20 or more people each day eating the food. If you’re arriving late, you need to sign up before 4pm to get the meal, so plan around that. The next nearest place to eat is at the road side with well-priced food and drink.

 

The thing we enjoyed most about this place is the small community that you become part of as soon as you arrive. It takes a particular type of traveller to want to get to and stay in a place like this. You will want a sense of adventure and not care about having all your modern luxuries right at your bed side. The hike to the shower and washroom (toilet) can be a little tedious, but they’re kept clean and have hot water. Make sure to bring a flashlight if you have one.

 

At night time there is a bar that everyone hangs out at with most people sharing stories, playing games (foosball table and other board games), having a drink (happy hour 8-10pm) and just having a lot of fun. There was also an option to play drinking life size jenga in which each jenga piece is numbered with an action; often involving something embarrassing or needing to drink to avoid embarrassment.

 

The bar at lost and found

The bar at lost and found

 

Lost and Found Treasure hunt

On our first day at Lost and Found we opted to do the famous treasure hunt. We highly recommend this. It’s free and gets you out onto the trails for a whole lot of interesting exploration. Rodora has a huge love of treasure hunts and city chase events, so this was her kind of event. The treasure hunt started in the maze next to the hostel which is an awesome natural maze cut out from low lying trees and bushes. There we found our first clue.

 

The Treasure hunt clue in the middle of the maze

The Treasure hunt clue in the middle of the maze

 

You then need to follow each clue to get to the next which are hidden somewhere on the trails around the hostel. Most of the clues are hidden in big black tubes containing a new riddle.

 

We found our next clue on the Treasure Hunt at Lost and Found

We found our next clue on the Treasure Hunt at Lost and Found

 

It was really fun finding the clues scattered throughout the jungle. This took us around three hours, but as we took the long overgrown way back, we got back a little bit later than originally planned. The trail did disappear at times as the way we took was not the main trail and looked like it hadn’t been used in a while. At certain points we second guessed the trail but eventually made it back to the road. The best thing is the treasure hunt takes you through the jungle so it gets people who aren’t normally into hiking into the jungle

 

Finding mushrooms in the forest at Lost and Found

Finding mushrooms in the forest at Lost and Found

The river at Lost and Found

The river at Lost and Found

Crossing the river at Lost and Found

Crossing the river at Lost and Found

From the viewpoint at Lost and Found

From the viewpoint at Lost and Found

Hiking down a slightly overgrown trail at Lost and Found

Hiking down a slightly overgrown trail at Lost and Found

 

The last part of the treasure hunt you have to decipher symbols that reveal a story.

 

Carvings that lead you to the treasure

Carvings that lead you to the treasure

 

When we finally deciphered the story the staff made us act out the story; just a little embarrassing. It was definitely worth doing as you get to roll a dice at the bar during happy hour and receive whatever it lands on. We ended up with free beer and a shot of alcohol of our choice. There was a couple trying to decipher the riddle at the bar after we received our free drink which was hilarious to watch. We empathized with their pain and others including us were giving subtle hints on the right direction to go. It’s not easy, but it’s a lot of fun and the reward is a huge bonus.

 

 

Rocky the Honey Bear

At night time you had the option to play with the resident pet; Rocky the Honey Bear. This was one of Rodora’s favourite night time activities. He was once owned by a local family, but was later adopted by the hostel as they could no longer look after him. He is so adorable and friendly as he loves to cuddle up to people. His fur is extremely soft like a koala bear. We didn’t get any photos of him because he doesn’t like flash photography and is only out in the dark as he’s nocturnal.

 

Rocky the Honey Bear

Rocky the Honey Bear

 

River Canyon near Gualaca

On our last day we visited a near-by canyon which is also a local swimming place. It’s relatively easy to get to and only cost $2 per person each way to get there via public transport and took about 30 minutes. We were lucky that we found a quiet spot to ourselves just a little further up the canyon in a calm swimming hole. We actually thought we were a couple of the only ones there. However, when we left we noticed that many others had arrived in the time we’d been there and they were all jumping into the canyon.

 

The Canyon near Lost and Found

The Canyon near Lost and Found

The Canyon near Lost and Found

The Canyon near Lost and Found

 

As we waited for the bus to take us back to the hostel, we found this great example of local life. Machete’s are a common tool in Latin America and bicycles are the cheapest form of transport, so carrying your machete safely is important. This was an ingenious idea of carrying your machete on your bike.

 

How to carry your machete on a bike

How to carry your machete on a bike

 

In summary if you want some rest and relaxation, enjoy nature , want to mingle with like minded travellers and go on a treasure hunt then then this is the hostel for you.

Plenty more to explore. Keep following the blog and our Flickr account for updates. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toraadventure/

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