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The Lost and Found Hostel: I came here on accident, and I stayed almost a week very much on purpose. Lost and Found hostel Panama is the country’s premiere hiking hostel and one of Central America’s most incredible adventure accommodation options. It’s located high up in the Panamanian mountains, in a jungle nature reserve overlooking a spectacular view. The adventure begins before you even arrive, as Lost and Found hostel is actually a hike-in hostel requiring a 15 minute trail walk just to arrive at the picturesque property.
The bright yellow buildings are situated on the side of a hill, with amazing gardens and trees throughout. This adventure hostel may be remote but is not devoid of options – there are hiking trails, tours, and unique scavenger hunts to keep you busy for as long as you please at one of the best Panama hostels in the clouds. It’s one of the little-known Panama facts that the jungle is actually one of the best destinations in the country! me paint you a picture.
The wind blows through your hair as you reposition yourself a bit more comfortably on a colorful hammock. You sip your coffee (or wine 😛 ) as you look out over an expanse of mountains with layers and layers of hills, each just a bit higher than the one before, disappearing into the distance. Clouds flow almost in a time-lapse over the thick mountainous jungle to your right, as you watch the sun set behind a distant tall volcano, turning the sky different shades of yellow and pink as it descends behind the horizon. A hummingbird comes and has a quick inspection of the feeder hanging near your feet, and you hear strange calls of birds and animals coming from the trees that surround you. Next to you are your new friends with whom you had an epic adventure earlier in the day, and you all laugh and chat about the day’s shenanigans running through the forest or swimming through waterfalls. This is just a classic evening at Lost & Found Hostel.
- Don’t miss my Complete Panama Backpacking Guide if you’re traveling around the area!
At first I simply wanted to split up my journey between Bocas Del Toro and Panama City, after attending Tribal Gathering Festival in Panama and accidentally also spending much more time sailing in Bocas del Toro than expected. But I quickly realized that the Lost and Found Hostel would be a bigger shame than anything else to miss out on while in Panama. You may think of mostly surf and sea when you think of Panama, but the mountains of this country are incredible, and Lost & Found encompasses the best parts of them all in one place.
I find it quite hard to categorize all of the epicness that this Panamanian hostel is, but I’m going to have a damn good try. It’s a getaway, but more of a retreat with people who soon become great friends. It’s like being immersed in nature and totally relaxed, but also with the option to be as active as your heart desires. Lost & Found is whatever you want it to be, but here are a few of the things that I loved the most:
The Lost and Found Hostel Panama: Community
This is not the kind of hostel that everyone comes to and does their own thing. Lost and Found hostel is just the right size where all the guests quickly become friends, do activities together, and get to know each other. Whenever a new person arrives, most guests are quick to greet them and welcome them to the ‘family.’ No but really, after being there 3-4 days I felt like I owned the place and welcomed any newbies I ran into 😛
Although quite spacious and with lots of areas to chill (and dozens of hammocks), the common area usually fills up with guests chatting about their lives and travels. You see people every time you walk through the grounds, and quickly get to know everyone there at the same time as you and the workers as well.
Lost and Found Food
Lost and Found hostel has a great menu that you can order from the morning until 3pm (all day breakfast, hollaaaah!) , and also a kitchen if you want to cook. There’s a vegetable stand right at the bottom of the hill, and you can buy stuff like coffee and eggs from reception. But one of the most fun things about this hiking hostel was the family dinners each night.
If you wanted to take part in the night’s dinner, you would have to put your name on a list in the morning. Then, at 6pm and just in time for sunset, dinner would be served to everyone together. Lost and Found hostel also perfectly faces the sunset; It’s kindof unreal! Oh, and lastly, everything is on a tab system so you don’t have to pay until the end. Could be awesome; could be dangerous!
Lost and Found Hostel Bar
Thought you were getting away from the party scene by coming up into the mountains? (I mean, you definitely don’t have to, but…) Think again! The Lost and Found bar has a happy hour each evening from 8-9 with $1 beers and $1.50 mixed drinks, and most people go because, well, where else are you going to go? If you choose to go to it, the bar can be an awesome time. They have oversized jenga where you have to use your feet to get blocks out (which gets hilarious after a few drinks), a foosball table, and a little patio over the gardens. Oh, and everyone just wears their PJ’s. It’s just fantastic.
Lost and Found Hostel Volunteer System + Local Workers
Lost and Found hostel is one of many working hostels that have a program where you can volunteer for some time in exchange for food and board. This adventure hostel also has a lot of local Panamanians who work each day as well. Volunteers and local workers help prepare and serve food, work behind the bar, help organize and clean the hostel, organize daily tours, and more.
The volunteers and locals add an extra element to the sense of community at Lost and Found. They are always around and amongst the guests, and become a part of each group as they come through.
Lost & Found: A Jungle Adventure Hiking Hostel in Panama’s Mountains. Would you stay here?Click To Tweet
- See More: Best Hiking Boots Reviewed
Lost and Found Hiking Hostel Panama: Treasure Hunts
One of the coolest things about this hiking hostel is that it’s way more than just that. You don’t just go hiking… you go on awesome jungle treasure hunt hikes! There’s an entire back story to Lost and Found hostel that has to do with a psychological thriller novel, which you can buy on Amazon or read at the hostel. Pretty cool, huh?
So the treasure hunts kind-of go off of this idea of a psychological thriller game, and send you off into the jungle or around the hostel’s built-in maze deciphering riddles. There are two treasure hunts:
Looking for the next clue!
This is the long hiking hostel hunt that most people do who come here. It takes 5-6 hours from start to finish, and sends you gallivanting up over the high jungle hills and down through canyons and rivers in search of riddle clues. (You would have seen this whole thing on my story if you followed me on insta!).
They start by giving you a map of the trails and your first clue. From there on you’ll be hiking through a stunning thick Panamanian jungle teeming with wildlife, and exercising your brain almost as much as your legs! After 5-6 clues you head back to the hostel to decipher the hardest puzzle of all – but I won’t go too much into it because you must try it yourself!
This is a MOONBOW that I captured with my camera the first night. Did you have any idea moonlight could illuminate rain at night? and that it’s called a Moonbow?!
Sherlock Holmes is a similar mind game that takes place on the hostel grounds – perfect for a rainy day or an afternoon activity! Lost and Found Hostel has a pretty huge garden maze that’s actually very easy to get lost in. There are all sorts of other spots on its massive grounds that are perfect for a little scavenger hunt which doesn’t take you too far from home. It’s also great to do at night – and more spooky!
Lost and Found Hostel Hikes
Nearby Adventures in Nature
Not far from the hostel are quite a few beautiful places accessible via public bus (or taxi). In one direction you will find the Los Cangliones River Canyon, which is a lovely place to relax, swim, rock climb, or cliff jump!
A beautiful river forms into a canyon for 50m or so, surrounded by jungle. Its highest point only reaches about 6ft, but it’s perfect for a little jump or to test your rock climbing skills. The whole area is great to spend a chilled day.
If you take a bus in the other direction from the hostel, you will find yourself at a lovely waterfall. The Celestine waterfall is tucked away in the jungle at the end of a thin canyon. After a short rock scramble you’ll find yourself at these secluded 30m falls, bordered by high cliffs on all sides.
Cuné and his coffee beans. Presh!
Lost and Found Hostel Tours
Organic Coffee Farm Tour
Most days (if there are enough people), you can sign up for a tour of a nearby farm that produces coffee, wine, sugar cane, and many different fruits and unique Panamanian produce. I did this tour on my second day, and it was one of the highlights for sure!
With our Panamanian guide from the hostel, we drove a short way down into a canyon to arrive at the farm of Felix Cortez, better known as Cuné. Cuné had actually just won an award for the best coffee in Panama the week before, and he sat down with us and (with our guide as translator) told us his amazing story of starting from nothing and building his organic farming business to the booming level it’s at today.
Cuné feeding one of his painted rabbits, or cunejos pintados. I didn’t know these existed, did you?
We walked around the farm and got to see the entire coffee making process, from beans to actual coffee! We got to crush our own sugar cane and make a juice which we tried after eating a (very) hot pepper and one of his lemons. This hot, sour, and sweet mix was honestly probably the most interesting taste bud experience I have ever had!
We got to eat lots of fresh fruit from the farm and have a home made lunch as well. We ate our freshly roasted beans with local honey as well, before trying Cuné’s local corn wine and purchasing some to have at the bar later. It was truly an authentic and enriching experience!
Countryside Horseback Tour
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to do this one, but it looks amazing! Every few days a horseback tour goes out with local guides to a lovely countryside area nearby. You get to have lunch in a super rural village and explore uncharted territories of Chiriqui via horseback! Only at Lost and found Hostel Panama.
4th Night is Free!
One of the coolest concepts I thought Lost and Found hostel had was a policy that if you stay three nights, the fourth night is free! Yep, every time. I originally booked for three nights… and obviously stayed a fourth… and then I stayed a 5th!
As you will definitely see, Lost and Found hostel has a sort of alluring quality that will make you not want to leave. There are so many activities to do, but it’s also the absolute perfect place to sit and read a book in a hammock all day, marvel at the view, and not move a single muscle besides to refill your drink.
Four nights was an easy shoe-in, and I really could have stayed longer than five and mixed hiking/adventure days with days chilling around the hostel. A few people I was there with even decided to go back and volunteer!
Anyway, I really can’t think of any accommodation more unique and extraordinary than this one. It’s a hiking hostel, an adventure hub, a new family, a jungle experience, and a new home within the clouds, and it belongs on anyone’s list traveling through Central America!
- Don’t miss my Complete Panama Backpacking Guide if you’re traveling around the area!