More about Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Bring lots of money...
The food was excellent and the atmosphere great. You are perched out over the Chagres River with expansive views of it and of passing ships in the canal. Service was very good. This restaurant is pricey by Panama standards, but that is not surprising, being within the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
When visiting Panama, adont...
When visiting Panama, adont ever miss out on the great city, the Gamboa Rainforest resort,in the middle of the rainforest, a visit to El Valle, which is a small valley one hour and a half from the capital, go to Bocas del Toro, a beutifull beach in the caribian sea, and the highlands of Chiriqui...
As someone who lived and worked in Panama for two years and has returned annually to visit, I have stayed in various levels of hotels in every corner of the country. I know the country very well and I love it. I would NEVER recommend Gamboa Rainforest Resort to anyone.
I went there with my mom and we were placed in one of the 'Historic Villas'. These buildings were very old, and far away from the resort. They also had no view of the Rio Chagres, or anything at all for that matter. They were where the Canal Authorities lived during the dredging of the Canal 100 years ago. Unlike the last reviewer, our villa was very clean and kind of charming. We were disappointed however, b/c although the resort was empty, we were told we'd have to pay an extra $50 to be moved to the actual resort as well.
As someone who understands that Panama has a slower pace, I don't expect people there to "bend over backwards" for me as far as service goes. But since people pay so much to stay here, they should not have to ask for water, silverware, etc. when eating at the restaurants there. It was hard to get the waiters attention at all. They acted annoyed to give us any help at all. It was frustrating when you're paying so much and expect 5-star service.
To add to this, the pool area looks beautiful from afar, but it is very poorly maintained. The bar looks as if it has never been cleaned, the tables and ground are sticky from spilled drinks and the garbage was unemptied. They obviously never spray down this area at all!
Also, be aware that they overcharge for everything. Hiking costs money. Any tour or exhibit they have costs money. Everything! The only good thing was that our guide on the Rainforest Tram tour was exceptional. He was really knowledgable and personable. But it did cost us $70 extra to take this tour. It wasn't worthwhile for that amount.
I could recommend so many other hotels and resorts in Panama. But I would never recommend this place. I was so sorry that I took my mom there on her first visit down to my favorite country. I wanted to fill out a review and submit it to management there, but I thought this might be a better way to get the point across.
visit contadora island and...
visit contadora island and other islands close by,
bambito camping resort,
san blas islands-atlantic side and
isla grande-atlantic side
three days at Gamboa is plenty
we recently stayed three nights at Gamboa and felt that this was plenty of time to do the tours they offer and sit by the pool. we rented a junior suite which was nice and clean. the kids have a room upstairs with a bathroom and a king is downstairs with tv and big bathroom. there is a hamock on the porch and it looks out over the chagres river. the sound of jungle birds in the moring was awesome. the canopy tour and exhibits is o.k. the best thing we saw was a toucan at the end of our tour, other than that we didn't really see anything interesting. we went on the monkey island tour and only two monkeys came out of the trees. one of them came on the boat and took the fruit I had right out of my bag. other people have 4-5 mokeys on the boat sometimes! we did the complimentary chiva night tour of the property, we saw quite a few nocturnal animals. the embera indian village is interesting, you take a canoe ride to their village and listen to their music and dancing and information about their culture. they show you around the property and point out their medicinal plants they use. you can buy their baskets and things they make and they let you try their food for lunch. the food at the hotel becomes mundane. i grew tired of the buffets and nothing on the menu blew me away. the lunch at the marina is fun, turtles and crocodiles hang out below the porch to be fed and we saw a huge iguana in a tree as well as numerous birds. the pool is nice, but the resort grounds are not kept up as well as they would be in the states. i wouldn't miss Gamboa, but three days is enough!
We had reservation for 2 days in what are called villa suites. Well, if an old army barrack looking building is you idea of a villa then this is the place for you. There was absolutely no view and the villas are not even on the resort property. I really can't comment on what it is like to stay there because my wife and I found the place unexceptable and left for PC. We expected the fabulous view from the mountain top that they are selling and when we voiced our displeasure to there unhelpful aloof staff we were told that all the other rooms were booked except for a $300.00 room in the main resort. I have to admit that by this time I was at my boiling point and went a little ugly American on them. I have always tried to be a good ambassador for the people of this country and have bent over backwards to make up for some of the terrible behavior I have witnessed from some of our fellow Americans abroad but I lost it here. They handed me back my credit card slip as if to say get out of here and I assumed that we were through with them and they with us. Well come to find upon our return we were charged $132 for the pleasure of not staying at the Gamboa resort. Take it for what it's worth. It is a nice place on it's face and if you decide to stay there just be aware of the Antique Village villa suite thing.
We just got back from two weeks at Gamboa. Overall we had a great time and found the resort to be very pleasant. We are from Canada so were on an all-inclusive plan. We stayed in a villa, which we quite enjoyed. We only had a 5 minute walk to the main building, saw lots of birds and agoutis on the way and enjoyed the room provided by the villa. It wasn't fancy, but was kept very clean by the staff. We did have a few ants and other bugs, but it is the rainforest. The staff were always helpful and pleasant. We did find Sundays and Monday mornings more crowded than other days, but never had problems getting a table in the buffet. The pool was also very pleasant and always lots of room except for Sunday. On Sundays there are lots of locals, so a good day to plan an excursion away from the resort and book a meal in the Chagres Riverview Restaurant that night, so the crowd isn't an issue. I had a very inexpensive massage in the spa and loved it. It is true that there are not a lot of activities, but this is more an ecotourism resort not a party place. Internet is available-great high speed and reasonable cost. Our only complaint is that the food on the buffet is a bit mundane. There were some very tasty items, just not much variety. However, if nothing suits, then there is always the option of room service pizza which was tasty.
We found Gamboa to be a great jumping off place for tours and didn't spend many days entirely on the resort. My husband spent a number of mornings golfing at Summit Golf Course, which he enjoyed.
Tours I arranged online prior to getting to Panama were:
City and Miraflores Locks Tour - arranged through ---. Edgar was our personal guide for the day. Had a full 8 hour day, so saw lots. For crafts, make sure to go to the old YMCA in Balboa.
Three day trip to San Blas Islands - flew Air Panama and stayed at Sapibenaga the Kuna Lodge. Definitely a highlight of our trip.
Full Day Transit of the Panama Canal - definitely not for everyone as makes for a very long day, but my husband insisted that he was going to go the entire length of the canal. Enjoyed it overall. Be careful who you book with because some people payed almost twice as much as we did for the same trip.
Barro Colorado Island - operated as a Tropical Research Institute by the Smithsonian. Be prepared for ticks and a hike.
We did the Monkey Island Tour, Nocturnal Boat Tour, Aerial tram and fishing through the resort. Enjoyed them all, but Monkey Island is a must.
We also went to Summit Botanical Gardens and saw the Harpy Eagles and into town to Albrook Mall. This is a typical mall, where I got some great deals.
When we left for San Blas, we met a great taxi driver. His name is Evaristo Aguila. I believe his number is ----. He took my husband to golf and picked him up every day as well as driving us back and forth to Albrook Airport (to go to San Blas) and a number of other places. He is very friendly and reliable. He waited for over 3 hours for us when our plane from San Blas was late and did not charge any extra. Evaristo speaks English, though not fluently. I would highly recommend him if you are looking for a driver to go to the mall, eat in the city, etc.
We enjoyed our stay at Gamboa and luckily did not experience most of the problems encountered by others on this board. Definitely leave the resort and see more of Panama. Also, remember that there is a small fridge and microwave in the villas, but closest stores are some distance. Therefore, try to stop at a store coming from airport or another excursion. There are bank machines everywhere in Panama City and even one in little Gamboa village.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me.
Try it you will love it
I have just return from 4 days at Gamboa with my 15 years old daugther, we love that place and every moment we spent there, a perfect hotel to explore rainfoest. Around, they have marina with boat to explore canal and chagres river and see animals (go early in morning or after 3 PM, best time) They have naturalist guide avalable, and different nature trails around property (try Pipeline road, lots birds and monkeys), at night they offer free road tour and cheap boat tour to see animals (great)
Rooms in hotel are very nice and clean, they have balcony and hammock, but smell humidity, you are in rainforest, ask for deshumidificator, they will provide you one and bring candles or Air Freshener from home. Villas are older without balcony, but cheaper.
Good service and friendly. Very good food but not great variety. Nice ground with pool with pool bar and falls.
Luxury in rainforest, and everyting around for explore nature. Take time to look around and go to Monkey Island Tour, you will see and feed monkeys, slot, toucans, iguanas for $25.00 per person, good value. Birds and animals are there, you have to find them...you are in the jungle. They have a tour desk and you have just to ask, they can plan everything for you. They have a telepheric, but not very interesting you will not see a lot animals there, only the rainforest and view all around the canal and hotel.
Excuse my english I use to speak french
Finest Ecolodge in S. America, but read this for a better insight.
This is a beautiful Hotel set in exceptional, tropical rainforest.
There are dozens of great reviews on this hotel, I will not need to add to these. I read all the reviews, and most of them describe this hotel sufficiently. I will try to highlight what the other reviewers missed. The villas are depressing and look like they are situated in a ghost town, don't even bother no matter how much you save.
People who say they stayed here for more than two days are sad, and missing so much throughout the rest of Panama, their lack of adventure scares me. The hotel has a fantastic location, the staff are terrific, it is truly a five star hotel. But after two days it is boring. On day one I did the Canopy Tour (don't forget to ask at reception for the Panama map, it includes a two for one on this tour and saves you $45, and 20% off any other tour.) Buffet lunch at the Marina, which is beautiful, but not worth $18 per person (inc children.)
Then in the afternoon I did the Embera Indian village, which I thought was a reclusive Indian tribe many miles up the Charges River. Little did I know that it was a 5 minute, 400 yard river journey, in a dugout canoe, to an Indian village across the lagoon, that spoke Spanish,(probably French, English and Russian) and the local Embera tongue.
I was disappointed on the tour of the village to notice (discreetly covered with sheets), what looked like TV's, they definitely have running water, and probably have cable and a/c. This is soooo touristy, it makes you puke.
Hardly worth $45 for an hour of "[--]" Indian acting, followed by the obligatory ritual of buying local Embera Indian handicrafts (made in Ecuador.)
I was sooo looking forward to this, and so disappointed at the "staged" tourist "saga".
As other reviewers have pointed out, there is ZERO atmosphere after the sun goes down.
The disco had zero participants on December 26/27, one of the busiest nights of the year(looked like a ghost town.)
The bar was the most depressing place north of the border. The only participants were those there to receive their free cocktail (free on registration),who all rapidly depart before the atmosphere (or Lack of) sucks the life out of them.
Breakfast buffet is fine, be prepared to clean a table so that you can enjoy your repast.
Do not even begin to consider having dinner here. Whilst I am sure that the obligatory $20 is within your budget, the lack of atmosphere will suck any remaining life completely out of your sole.
This is a vibrant country, and I fell in love with the country and it's people, join me and explore this country.
I rented a car at the airport,$200 for a week including tax from Thrifty, which was the best decision that I ever made. Then I explored at my own pace.
I drove into Panama every evening ($15 by taxi), and explored a small portion of Panama, but a very vibrant portion.
The first night we visited Albrooke mall, 30 minutes away. The prices of clothes are about 20% of American malls. They even have the local handicraft stalls.
But the cost of your cab is paid for by the time you go to the food court, 38 food stalls, many of them American. Subway, Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy's plus many others local choices, all at Panamanian prices, which are half of American price.
We enjoyed three Chinese meals (I am sorry, not very Panamanian), including drinks for $11.( That pays for your cab each way, dinner at Gamboa is $20 x 3 = $60. Cab each way is $15 plus dinner at the Mall is $11 = $41)
We sat and watched the Panamanian families, who were all friendly to us, like at a Parisian cafe. Then my wife bought several boutique tops for $1.99/$2.99, which really made her day.
The second day we drove to the Panama Canal and for $20 total for three people, we had a great time, exploring the museum at Miraflores, watching the movie of the canal, etc, before driving 133 kilometers south to the Decameron Resort.
The roads were great, the views were incredible, El Vallee is unbelievable and not to be missed, the highlight of our visit, the perfect Garden of Eden.
I fell in love with Panama and it's people and look forward to exploring the Caribbean coast
Panama -- Even the Parking Lots are Fantastic!
I have a day-by-day trip diary in my online journal on this page:
Peachfront's Diary -- My Trip to Panama
My trip was too short, and I can't wait to return. I stayed at the Gamboa Resort in the Soberania National Park area, and it was a paradise for birds. Even the parking lot featured everything from toucans to hummingbirds. And this was the off season? I would love to return in autumn when the hawks are migrating through.
UPDATE: Here is my report on the spring 2005 raptor migration:
Spring Bird of Prey Migration in Panama
Gamboa Rainforest Resort Lobby
Immature Yellow-Headed Caracara at Gamboa, Panama
Hercules the Crane resting at Gamboa
Gamboa orchid garden. Panama
my husband and i are going to panama for the first time. we will be staying at the country inn amamdor for 4 days and then gamboa rainforest resort. we are planning to see the new tucan country club property that is being built, and also plan to go up and see the property at altos de maria, we are very interested in mountain properties where it is cooler and more rural. any suggestions about any of these properties? and any suggestions for good, locale, authentic food,crafts, sites, beaches, etc.
we also had planned to rent a car, but are now thinking it may be wiser and safer to use taxis..comments?
Advice for Day trips from Gamboa please
I'm new here and my husband and I are planning our first trip to Panama on March 7 2005. We'll be staying at Gamboa for one week and we hope to do as many day trips as possible to see the culture, flora and fauna. Here's where I'm running into trouble because I have only one week and I can't decide which day trips should be priorities. We're both pretty active and outdoorsy so we plan to take advantage of the hiking trails around the resort on our own.
Here's our priority list so far:
Visit Embera People
Panama City - Summit zoo, metro park, PC ruins & old city -- we're wondering if we could do all of this in one day?
Taboga Island -- Beach and snorkelling day
Barro Colorado Nature Monument
Any other trips that are must-sees?
Any suggestions of tours to use? Do we need to book day trips through tour companies from home or can we book the trips once we arrive at the resort?
Thanks for your help.
Re: Advice for Day trips from Gamboa please
I was at Gamboa for my Honeymoon a year ago. It's about a 20 minute drive from the city. I would say give yourself a day just for Panama city including the old part. The ruins do not take more than a hour or two, but it takes a bit of a drive to get there, so I'm not sure you'd see much if you tried to combine the two.
The Zoo is half way between the resort and the city and is pretty. I think its a 2-3 hour thing. You could do the zoo and then go to one of the key Canal viewing spots - worth it to watch the massive barges go through.
As for booking things from the resort- it's quite expensive. i'd just try and find a taxi driver you like and get his card. You can do most things on your own.
RE: Advice for Day trips from Gamboa please
I have a company with fixed with you requirement, and they can give you best price than any other (e.g. indian village tour for USD70 p/p and more),also you will enjoy the same trip that they offer to the cuiser, I invite you only to quote with them and compare the price. write off to email@example.com and I will give the the website of them.
RE: Advice for Day trips from Gamboa please
Hello, feel free to contact me, if you dont found best prices for private transportation plus bilingual guide, from Gamboa to
Embera village + chagres river: couple: USD150 or only 1 for USD80
Panama City: USD15/hour, the trip include Old Panama, Casco viejo, Ancon hill, Costway, Miraflores locks (minimum 4 hours)
Rainforest exploration: 15/hour (Metropolithan park and any Soberania Park trail) minimum 5 hours
El Valle: USD110 round trip
Portobelo: USD125 round trip
Maje Cave: USD160 round trip
3 nights - 2 days Suggestions please
Were suppose to only change planes there on the way home from S. America. However the airline called today and stated that our 4 hour lay over just got changed to an overnight.
I'm NOT going to land, claim bags, check into a hotel for 8 hours, and rush back to the airport to check in again!!!!! There is an old saying... when life give you lemons, you make lemonade.
I have now changed our air tickets to give us 3 nights (2 full days) in Panama and need suggestions.
Will be there Nov. 29 - Dec 2.
Will be me and my 12 year old grandson.
I had seen the Gamboa Rainforst Resort on TV and it looked nice. However most of the online reviews are pretty bad. So is it good or bad?
Would like a hotel that won't cost too much to get to from the airport, or better yet has it's own shuttle. This will be our last stop of a 5 week trip. Bags will be heavy by then, so public bus is out of the question.
Would like a few of the better things in life... hot water, air con, safe, good food....
Also need to set up tours. Would love to see some of the Indian culture, wildlife and what ever else I don't know about. Any suggestions for GOOD tour operators or better yet private tour guide (with car) would be greatly appreciated.
Re: 3 nights - 2 days Suggestions please
Check out this new hotel in panama city. we loved that!!! and they can come personally to pick you up from the airport.
We have some pics of the canal on our travel story if you wanna give them a look!
Have a wonderful stop over!
Re: 3 nights - 2 days Suggestions please
We stayed at this great B&B: www.pattyscasitas.com it is a lovely colonial house located in the best area of town Bella Vista (very safe) 5 Min's walk to very good restaurants (most of which are advertised in the guide books). They only offer a suite (so early booking is a must) composed of 2 bedrooms (one can be a sitting room) a bathroom and even a very big private terrace! It has all the comfort: P.C. with Internet..actually my husband had his laptop so he was happy to find that they had WiFi, flat screen T.V. in each room with cable, a mini-bar and Patty serves a great breakfast with fresh products every morning and Rudy (her husband) took care of the sightseeing part as he is a tour guide: www.rudystours.com and doesn't take more then 6 people.
It was great staying with them as we felt like visiting friends! And of course they came and picked us up at the airport.
We didn't stay at the Gamboa resort as it is too pricey for us but we took a tour with Rudy there, we did the Monkey Island and the areal tram. Something not to miss is the trip to the Embera...we had great fun as we could swim in the waterfall. It was a great trip just to mention the Panama City part as the rest of the country is fantastic too!
Hope my suggestions don't come too late...have fun!