These hot springs are a fair haul southeast of Boquete  near the town of Caldera, famous in Panama  as a home of cowboys and witches. Those who love hot springs will enjoy the Pozos de Caldera. Those who can take them or leave them will find the trip here a bit of a hassle for the payoff.
That said, the springs are attractive, situated in a secluded stretch of forest near the bank of the roaring Río Chiriquí.
Unlike hot springs that belch forth a sulfurous stench, these barely smell at all. There are four pools. The first one is the warmest, supposedly 42°C (108°F). There’s one closer to the river that’s hard to spot but quite nice. It’s not as warm as the first one, but it’s surrounded by trees and is less developed (the others are lined with large, flat rocks).
Not far from the springs is a tributary to the Río Chiriquí that, if you don’t mind quite a bit of scrambling over slippery rocks and muddy banks, you can follow upriver to five waterfalls, each more picturesque than the one before. This hike is best done with a guide. At the very least, as with any other forest hike in Panama, don’t go alone.
A dip in the hot springs is especially pleasant after splashing about in these brisk waters. Note: A hydroelectric dam is being planned for this area, though the builders say it won’t affect the hot springs. But ask any area resident if the springs are still there before venturing out this far.
To get to the pozos from Boquete , head south out of town on Avenida Central. After about 12 kilometers look for a blue sign that says Caldera. Turn left here and continue past the town of Caldera. Another blue sign indicates a right onto a gravel road. Those with a four-wheel drive can follow this road to within a 15-minute walk of the springs. Otherwise, park and hike the rest of the way, about a 40-minute walk. Do not leave anything of value in the car; cars get broken into around here.
After crossing the cable-and-plank bridge, make a left turn uphill (there should be a sign). Make the first left at the barbed-wire gate, which is easy to miss because there’s no sign. From here the springs are about 15 minutes straight down the trail. Admission is US$1, which goes to keeping the area clean. The caretaker will most likely find you.
Warning: I’ve heard reports of an unscrupulous guy posing as the caretaker and collecting the admission, meaning that people have had to pay twice. If this happens to you, report it to the police and to the ATP staff at the CEFATI in Alto Boquete.
On the way to the hot springs, it’s worth stopping to check out the Piedra Pintada. This is yet another huge, riverside boulder etched with mysterious squiggles by a pre-Colombian people about which little is known. Just before “downtown” Caldera, look for a “Piedra Pintada” sign on the right side of the road. Pull over and park.
Duck under the barbed wire and bamboo fence behind the beer garden and walk across a pasture toward the water. Head in the direction of a metal post with the number 80 painted on it. On the left as you face the river is a three-meter-high boulder just above the river that is covered with crude faces and figures (and some modern-day idiots’ graffiti).
Buses and taxis between Boquete  and Caldera cost US$1.50 per person each way. Buses leave Boquete at 7 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m., returning 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.