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Panama Activities

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Miraflores Locks (2-3 hrs)

Panama Miraflores
The Panama Canal is the landmark of the country and of course it is the number one on the sightseer’s list. The world knows no engineering work of comparable magnitude, designed at the turn of the last century, operating since 1914, that copes so well with the chesty demands of the 21st century shipping.

Watch the enormous container ships and cruise ships with hundreds of passengers pass by slowly from the observation deck or the Miraflores restaurant and visit the museum in the Miraflores Visitor Centre.

The entrance fee to observation deck and museum is $8. The visitor centre is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The driving time from downtown Panama is approximately 15 minutes and costs about $12. It’s hard to get a taxi back to the city and taxi’s from Miraflores are expensive so it is advisable to make an appointment with your driver to pick you up again.

Ancon Hill (1-2 hrs)
Panama Ancon Hill
Between the old city centre city and the Miraflores Locks is Ancon Hill. From this hilltop you can get great views of the Miraflores Locks, the old city and new Panama City.

So after a visit to the locks ask your taxi driver to drive up Ancon Hill. The park is open between 8am and 3:30pm. The entrance is free.

Embera Indian Village (½-1 day)

Panama Embera Indian Tour
A visit to an authentic village of an Embera indigenous tribe is one of Panama’s most popular tours. Just an hour and a half drive from Panama City, you take a motorized dugout canoe up a beautiful river surrounded by rainforest to an authentic Embera Indian Village.

Best way to go to the Embera’s is an organised half-day or day tour from Panama City. There are several operators going to an Indian village. (We were very satisfied with a tour booked at Panama Travel Unlimited)

Panama Embera Indians
But you can arrange everything yourself as well. Drive to Parque Nacional de Chagres, which is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm. Pay the entrance fee at the visitor centre and go to the dock for the boat ride at Chagres river.

After visiting the village you can take a boat further upstream and visit a waterfall where you can swim and let the falling water massage your back.

San Blas Archipelago (1-5 days)

Panama San Blas
The San Blas Archipelago is an independent society. It is a strip of 365 islands that stretch 200 miles along the Caribbean coast. The San Blas islands, also known as Guna Yala, are a double attraction: they have both a living Indian culture and pristine tropical islands. You will experience the extraordinary beauty and peace on these white sand Caribbean islands and at the same time live with and learn from the legendary Guna people.

According to our IFLY crewmembers this was the best island trip ever and San Blas is Heaven on earth. You can visit the San Blas islands with a tour operator or you can arrange everything yourself.

There are two ways to go to San Blas. You can arrange a driver in Panama City and in three hours he can drive you through the mountains to the Caribbean coast. From there you can take a boat. Make sure you have a reservation at a lodge already so they can pick you up. The easiest way to travel to San Blas is by plane with Air Panama from Panama domestic airport to Porvenir.

There are not many resorts. El Porvenir is located at the same small island as the airport, which makes it very convenient for a short stay. One of the most beautiful resorts is Cabanas Coco Blanco. More information about accommodation can be found here.

Panama Piscina natural
Best travel time to San Blas is January to March. When you go to the islands bring cash, as there are no ATM’s. Make sure you have a lot of single dollar notes because if you make a trip to other islands you often have to pay one or two dollar entrance fee to the owner and you can buy cold drinks for a few dollars. Don’t forget to visit Isla Perro and Isla Pelicano for snorkeling and piscina natural during your visit.

Gamboa Rainforest Resort (1 day)

Panama Gamboa
Panama has a lot of tropical forest and visitors have to discover the beauty of the jungle of course. For a quick introduction you can go to Gamboa Rainforest Resort, just 45 minutes drive by taxi from Panama City.

Of course you can book a room here, but if you like to visit for the day, you can get a day pass for $65 per person including lunch and beverages. Then you can enjoy the pool from 11am to 5 pm and you can make several trips like discovering the jungle by aerial tram or make a boat ride at the Gatun Lake. For these tours you have to pay extra. More information about the options visit their website.

Gamboa Pipeline Road (2-3 hrs)

Panama Pipeline Road
You can enjoy the rainforest in Gamboa on your own as well. Take a taxi to Gamboa and in 30 minutes you are from the concrete jungle into the real jungle.

Visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center and walk the fabled Pipeline road where you can spot many species of birds, white face monkeys, howlers and other wildlife. This is a great place for mountain biking as well.

From the start of the Pipeline Road, the road splits to the Rainforest Discovery Center (600 m). There are not always rangers at the beginning of the Pipeline road but if they are there, you need to pay $5 park fee.

Train to Colon (45 mins)

Panama Canal Railway
The Panama Canal Railway is one of the great train rides of the world. Along with its colourful history, the railroad follows a picturesque path across the Isthmus of Panama.

The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforests, cruising alongside the Canal’s locks, through the historic Gaillard Cut and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake.

This train from Panama Canal Railway Company departs every day at 7:15 am to Colon from the railway station in Panama, which is located nearby the Miraflores Locks, 15 minutes by taxi from downtown Panama. Be early to have a seat in panoramic cart.

At 5:15 pm the train departs in the direction of Panama again. A single journey costs $25 per person and the train ride to ‘the other side of the country’ takes less then one hour.

Colon, Gatun Locks, new locks and jungle walk (1 day)

Panama Colon
You can make the train ride to Colon a full day trip by making it a combination with a visit to the Gatun Locks, the visitor centre at the construction site of the new locks and a walk through the rainforest.

Best is to arrange a taxi to bring you to railway station in Panama, go by train to Colon and let your driver pick you up in Colon. Let him drive you to the Gatun Locks and afterwards to the construction site.

Then drive back to Panama City and near Gamboa you can make a walk through the rainforest in Parque Nacional Soberana.

Promenade walk (1-2 hrs)

Panama Promenade
Panama is not a pedestrian friendly city but the waterside promenade between downtown Panama and the old centre is a perfect place to relax and go biking, running, skateboarding or play basketball.

During daytime it may be too hot but at night you can walk along the promenade (Cinta Costera) and watch the skyline along the shore.

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Language of the world

Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Panama.