The San Blas Islands in Panama were one of my favorite destinations, when I was working onboard the cruiseships M/S Sagafjord and M/S Vistafjord for 4 years.
The San Blas Islands are a group of very small islands, some of them are only 20 metres wide with a lonely palmtree on it - these looked exactly like the islands drawn for an "island-joke".
The island that most of the cruiseships are going to is a bit bigger, with a small village on it and even a lighted Coca-Cola-sign, that you can see in my photos here. Most of the Cuna-Indians come to their native islands only to sell souvenirs to cruise-passengers and return to their homes afterwards.
Molas are these works of their art called,that they sell to the tourists and the native ladies fix such molas to the front and to the back of their costumes, but they sell tem like pictures / paintings to the tousists.
I bought a lot of them and in my last pics you can see 2 of them.
These are cloths, with different colors, sewed and fixed in a very special way.
Paradise Gardens is a wildlife sanctuary set up Paul and Jenny Saban from England. It is a lovely place to spend half a day in. You can see a variety of Panamanian wildlife in a beautiful setting. There are ocelots, margays, kinkajous, macaws, several monkeys, toucans and a large number of species of smaller birds. Each of them has been rescued from a sorry situation, for example, being used as street performers or kept as maltreated pets. Several of the macaws belonged to a drug baron who's now in prison. I think they were brave to take them!
If you are lucky, Paul and Jenny will let you get really close to some of the animals and even hold a few.
I spent three pleasant days hiking the huge network of rain forest trails developed by the owners of this isolated mountain lodge. The trails, steep, muddy, and slippery, are not for amateurs, but the views--beautiful waterfalls, scenic vistas, and rainbows and the rain forest ecology--more than make up for the effort expended. Eating lunch at the base of a waterfall that must have been 50 meters high was one of the high points of all my years of hiking. I was disappointed by the lack of impressive wildlife, but perhaps I simply experienced a run of bad luck.
The lodge offers spartan but pleasant accomodations. The owners are of Swiss descent, which shows in the cleanliness and orderliness of the place. A good breakfast and supper are available at reasonable prices, and the owners will prepare sandwiches for day hikes. There is not much to do here but hike, so you'd be well advised to bring novels and board games to keep yourself entertained while not hiking.
The lodge is about a mile from the highway that crosses Panama from David to Chiriqui Grande. It is marked with an easily visible sign by the highway. Bus drivers will stop there on request and can be flagged down for a return trip.
If you take one of the many tours that different touring companies or hotels on the island provide whether its dolphin bay, Frog Island, or snorkeling tour. I've discovered that the best place to snorkel is under the restaurants that the guide will end up taking you to for lunch. These areas under the restaurants are completely filled with all kind of different species of fish. The fishes hang around these restaurants looking for, of cause an easy hand out.
On the outskirts of El Valle de Anton is a forest trail which will lead you past the Arboles Quadrados, or square trees. These trees have a trunk which is square at its base, but gradually becomes rounder as it ascends, taking on the look of a normal tree. There aren’t many of them. I only saw five.
The trail begins in the grounds of the Hotel Campestre. It takes about fifteen minutes to reach the square trees. When I was there, a storm had left the trail littered with fallen trees, which I had to crawl under or clamber over. Wear good footwear as it can get muddy.
Probably when you get there, you'll be scratching your head deciding wther or not you are actually looking at a square tree. I really didn't know what to expect. I thought they might have massive box-like trunks, but they are actually very slender, rather unspectacular trees. Hopefully, my photos will help you recognise them.
Cayos Zapatillas are a pair of unihabited tropical islands in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, off the Caribbean coast of Panama. You can reach them by hiring a water taxi for the day from Bocas del Toro town on Isla Colón, at a cost of around $20 per person including snorkeling gear.
They are in a protected marine park 30 km south-east of Isla Colón and you must pay an extra $10 to enter the park, but once there, you will find paradise: deserted white sand beaches, coral reef, palm trees and virgin forest. Four species of turtle lay there eggs here. It is just about perfect, but there is literally a fly in the ointment: there are plenty of sand flies here, so you will need to use insect repellant.
From the top of Ancon Hill you can see the whole of Panama CIty and a great section of jungle. This is a safe way to see the forest primeval. It is in the province of Balboa and easy to find. It is the hill with a huge Panamanian flag on it.
If you are out driving on the interamericana it is an interesting drive to Chiriqui Grande.
The scenery along the way is rich in vegetation, mountains, and an maybe a water fall.
The small port city of Chiriqui Grande is not very attractive but it is worth a visit. Plus there is a gas station there.
Mi Jardin Su Jardin is a beautiful garden surrounding a private estate. The gardens are open to the public. If you love flowers this is a don't miss place to visit. You can also go inside some of the buildings to look around. Don't miss the glass top dining room table with the pool beneath the floor. There is also a small gift shop.
Playa Las Lajas is a long palm lined beach near David. You will probably find that you have it all to yourself during the week, like we did. If you go on the week-end it will probably be very crowded. The waves are perfect for surfing. You might even see some shore birds.
The cloud forest in Amisted National Park provides lush habitat for birds.
A 20 minute four-wheel-drive ride will take you up to the cabanas in the park.
Early on the morning after we arrived, a guide came to lead us to where a Quetzel was nesting.
Barro Colorado Island, located in a lake that is part of the Panama Canal, is a living tropical laboratory for Smithsonian Institute of Tropical Research which has a world famous research center on the island. It is located in a lake that forms part of the Panama Canal and has an amazing 381 bird species, 102 mammal species and 1316 plant species. Previously only research scientists were allowed on the island, but now tour operators can take tourists on day trips along its nature trails.
YOU HAVE TO MAKE A RESERVATION.
Took a local bus that the hotel workers use to come to work into the town of Penonome and what an experience. Cheap shopping, good food and cheap beers. Felt very safe being a lone female walking around here.
Its easy. Just head down to the dock right near the Panama Canal entrance at the Pacific end. Ask about trips out to the islands. They have regular services and also informal trips as well. The islands are all beautiful, especially the less well known ones. If you can stomach the 1 hour boat trip, there is an airport on on of the islands. There are regular and charter services from the small domestic airport near the Miraflores locks on the Canal.
I don't think this is a common tourist spot but it is an amazing place! I went with a student exchange group and got to watch traditional Embera indian dances, get tatooed with their black vegetable dye and eat a traditional meal. I don't know how one would get invited because it's rather remote and not a touristy place at all; this is where they live. After an hour long car ride from Panama City, we were met by indians who took us in canoes(look at the pics!) on a fifteen minute boat ride down beautiful rivers to their village. The men wear thongs mostly and the women skirts. We saw poisonous snakes and beautiful birds. Also, they took us to a beautiful water hole where we swam under waterfalls! It was really interesting to see their houses which are open-air huts raised above the ground to avoid flooding. I highly reccomend trying to schedule a visit!!!!I didnt use this company, but I found the website online if it's any help...
All in all, we enjoyed our experience at the hotel. It is well located, hence you are close to...more
Private island off Bocas del Toro Panama, , Panama
Good for: Business
Valle Escondido, Boquete, Panama
Good for: Business
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