Viewing the ships entering Panama canal
The Panama canal is the crossroad between the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. This was built to cut travel time between the 2 oceans. On the pacific side is the harbour town called Balboa and on the Atlantic side is the Colon harbour which is part of the City of Cristobal. At the pacific side of Panama are 2 big locks or gates known as The Pedro Miguel and the 2nd lock known as Miraflores. On the Atlantic side there is only one lock which is the Gatun Lock.
Along the locks are view decks for visitors to see how the ship is being moved by rail locomotives from one lock or gate to the other .I consider this as the worlds busiest canal when it comes to ship's movement.
From Pacific to Atlantic through the locks and Gatun river lakes , it takes about 8 to 10 hours to transit a ship to complete the entire piloting from Pacific Ocean side to Atlantic Ocean side or vice versa.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Boquete - on the highlands of Panama!
On the verdant slopes of Volcan Baru is the peaceful, picturesque and full of life village of Boquete. On its streets resound the steps of very different people; the Indians living around the village, in the lush slopes of the surrounding mountains; the villagers going to and coming from work; the locals coming from other cities around, who have set businesses in the small town; and the tourists, many of whom have become happy residents, welcome by the locals. The fresh air, the picturesque views of the fertile valley, the majestic walks in the lush vegetation, the peaceful streets with plenty of local flavour, the fascinating hike to Baru Volcano, the wonderful odour and enchanting colours of the flowers abounding both in the gardens and out in the wild...everything casts its spell and makes the thought of staying for long inevitable. Or even for ever!
I made friends who have abandoned their conventional life in the big western chaos and are building small houses to secure their healthy, serene future in this mountain nest of tranquility. The notion of respect both to Nature and to fellow people is dominating among the city's dwellers. There is cultural sensitivity and a tendency to a turn to a more natural life. In the morning the melodious bird singing is part of your pleasant awakening, the fresh air comes through the open windows with the green views, and the cool rejuvenating climate prepares you for a smiling day!
For more information please go to my Boquete pages!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
One of the highlights of a Panama trip is this archipelago of pristine, Caribbean little islands. Once you have been on these gems you will never ever forget them!
The islands of Kuna Yala or Comarca de San Blas as their official name is, are lovely small pieces of sandy ground with coconut trees. They are the most exotic islands I have ever stepped on! The water has the perfect colour and the serenity of the scenery makes it the ideal destination for your dreamy exotic vacations! I found a tiny one with only one coconut tree!
The Kunas living on the small islands usually make a small hut and put their family in it while they are on the island trying to keep it as clean as possible. Some of the more known ones near Porvenir are El Perro, Coco Blanco, El Pelicano, isla Hierba, El Diablo.
The best time to visit the islands is late January, February or March.
For more go to my San Blas page.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Beaches - Boca Brava,Chiriqui
There are two beaches near the hotel Boca Brava. The first is nothing to write home about. The second is much better and is more popular. It's not a dreamy sandy beach but it is pleasant enough. The water is murky and warm, maybe too warm for some of you but perfect for my case. I relax in warm water... There is a small wooden hut funcioning as a beach bar run by Christine, a nice German woman but the variety of drinks doesn't go beyond beer, coke and tap water. But the jungle all around and the beautiful walk to reach it makes up for its shortage in beautiful white sand. There are shady parts on the beach to lay out and relax reading your book. And generally it's not a bad place at all to have a nice swim.
There are more beaches around the island but I haven't heard they are much better. The only solution is take a boat trip to other precious islets.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Going out on a boat-Boca Chica, Chiriqui
Boat trips for one or more days are easily arranged through hotels or private boat owners who will find you, don't worry... They are usually extremely enjoyable as they visit pristine little islands with perfect white sand beaches and unspoilt tropical vegetation. The water around it is enchanting and the aquatic life very interesting to explore. A meal is included for a day trip and full board is always the deal for more days. The price goes between 20$ to 30$ per day depending on the boat and your negotiating skills.
You can sight big fish as dolphins or sting rays. You can taste your own fresh catch of tuna fish. You experience great snorkelling over colourful coral reefs and swim in pristine water, lay on white sand and observe small beach creatures you have never seen before.
We had such a trip to a small island called Bolanos, 13 kilometers from Boca Brava. I can describe it as the perfect day trip as the environment helped us relax and open up. So we all soon became very close and friendly and spent the whole day laughing, joking and getting so enthusiastic that on the way back we all jumped off the boat and left our captain speechless. We knew it was very dangerous as the boat was moving but it was really a great way to end up a successful excursion to paradise. Of course everyone was broadly smiling when we gathered at the dinner table and the usual escape to the 'upper deck' lasted until the small hours, seasoned with a lot of philosophising and open hearted confessions...Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
Boca Chica - Chiriqui
In the gulf of Chiriqui on the Pacific side of Panama there is a paradise of numerous exotic islands. The 200 islands belong to the National Park of the Chiriqui Gulf and sustains great wildlife including howler monkeys, turtles, and many kinds of birds even scarlet macaws. The nature has still been kept unspoilt as construction has not yet destroyed this corner of earth. Although I am sure it will not last for long. Some of the islands are private but most of them are pristine little treasures with white sand beaches, and dense tropical forests. Already lots of yachts have discovered it and have moored there to spend some wonderful boating vacations or take other tourists to trips to small uninhabited islands.
The islands are spectacular and the coral reefs house a great number of colourful fish. Larger aquatic life is present, too, such as whales, sting rays and dolphins. The scenery is amazing, and the waters are usually calm and romantically inviting. Fishing trips can be arranged by hotels as aquatic life is abundant in the surrounding area.
Boca Chica is a small village not yet developed because the road from the main highway has up to now been in a bad condition. Unfortunately for the nature and fortunately for the local people it is now being built and will soon become good enough for the hordes of tourists to come. The hotels already built in the dense forested environment are priced at 100$ to 150$ for a double. There are also a couple of hotels in the village and a couple more in the surrounding area, but I know nothing about them.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Boca Brava is an island in the gulf very close to the mainland. It is part of the National Park of the Gulf of Chiriqui. It is 14 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide. There are a few small cabins, a house and two or three hotels well absorbed by the vegetation. A variety of birds and families of Howler monkeys can be spotted everywhere. Their mating calls can often be heard in the tranquility of the night and their playful jumping from branch to branch is a nice surprise for the newcomers. A boat will take you from the wharf in Boca Chica to Boca Brava in five minutes. It is usually paid by the hotel.
The most popular hotel is Hotel Boca Brava and Restaurant keeping prices affordable and offering nice views all around.
Cala mia is an upmarket hotel on the other side of the island offering luxurious environment and rooms for 154$ to 300$ for low/high season. www.boutiquehotelcalamia.com
Coiba island belonging to the Coiba National Park is to the south but it is really expensive to get to it.
Good time to go is November to April.
For more transportation info look at the transport tips.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Hiking and Walking
Panama Canal – The Land Divided, the World United
In 1899 the US Congress created an Isthmian Canal Commission to think about the possibility of a canal in Central America. Initially they examined the idea of a canal through Nicaragua but later they decided to buy the assets and rights from the French 'Lesseps company' for 40$ million. The USA and Panama signed a treaty, by which the USA guaranteed the independence of Panama from Colombia and undertook the construction of the canal. It was operated by the Canal Commission consisting of 5 US citizens and 4 Panamanians. It was inaugurated in 1914 and on December 31, 1999 the Republic of Panama assumed full responsibility after long and persistent protest of the Panamanian people who thought the canal was rightfully theirs.
As they say about the canal it was 'the land divided, the world united'. More than 80,000 men and women worked hard for more than a decade to realize this extraordinary task. It is one of the most admirable and imaginative engineering projects. The idea of a canal dates back to the 16th century but it was only in 1914 that human endeavour succeeded. Even Columbus when he first arrived in 1502 had thought of a land route which would shorten the sea travel between the two oceans.
Lago Gatun , an artificial lake, the Gaillard Passage, an excavation of 13 kilometers and the gates on both sides are the main human structures which made this difficult achievement possible. The boats are elevated 26 meters from the level of the sea . It cost more than 400 million dollars, an astronomical sum for that time. In their first attempt the French had to come up with enormous problems such as deaths from tropical diseases, especially malaria and yellow fever, the geology, the difficult excavations because of the landslides, the difficulty of communication and organisation of the construction. At that time they didn't even know about malaria or how it was transmitted. The total death toll came up to 30,000 lives. Finally the Americans succeeded to complete the task. The lock gates are made of steel and measure 2 meters thick, and about 20 in length and width. Since 1914 more than 700 million boats have passed through. Some gigantic boats pay about 400.000$ to get through. The average boat takes about 8 hours to navigate through the 80 kilometers of the canal that connects the Pacific with Colon on the Atlantic side.
As the ships become bigger and wider the administration of the canal has a project in mind of extending the whole canal system by constructing a third set of locks, widening and deepening of the existing channel and parallel making artificial tanks for water storage which will quicken the procedure of emptying and refilling the locks.
Bocas del Toro
Geological evidence shows that the Bocas del Toro archipelago has only existed for 5,000 to 10,000 years which is indeed a very short span of existence. It is located just 35 kilometers from the border of Panama with Costa Rica and the whole province has a population of about 90,000. It is consisted of 9 principal islands some inhabited and some not. Isla Colon is the most populated island with the town Bocas del Toro - or just Bocas - as its capital. The town was once an important Fruit Trading port. The local people are mainly indigenous tribes and descendants of slaves from Jamaica, which contributes to Bocas' diverse and lively culture. The white sand beaches are shaded by palm trees or mangroves. Unfortunately there are no easily accessible beaches close to the town. You have to take a water taxi and venture to outlying islands. However the town is pleasant for its safe cool atmosphere that has still kept its afro-caribbean flavour. Snorkeling is quite good and I have read the fees to take diving tours in Bocas is one of the cheapest in the world. At least up to now...
There are some excellent restaurants with eclectic food and elegant atmosphere.
Accommodation is plenty from very low budget to luxurious rooms with superb views on the sea front or cabanas romantically built on the water!
February to March and mid-August to mid-October are the safest periods to avoid rains. However even then a strong shower is not a surprise...
You can choose to stay on Bastimentos or Carenero islands which are a short boat ride from Bocas. They are more laid back, the beaches are easily reached and you are closer to nature. Water taxis are available between the islands for a couple of dollars.
For more details get into my Bocas del Toro pages.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Panama City has the face of a cosmopolitan city with hundreds of skyscrapers, modern house blocks and hotels and all the necessary entertainment amenities.
Lately a great construction boom has changed things rapidly. A lot of foreigners with bulky wallets or just retirees from North America have seen Panama as the perfect solution to invest or spend their second half pf their life there. They have bought houses and have decided to stay. Wealthy families from Venezuela and other South American countries have moved in, as their countries have taken a more left turn....
I have met a lot of retired Americans, some of them very young, indeed, not only in the City but in the countryside, too. The scenery, the climate, the low cost of life, the beaches, and the low touristic development so far contribute to this.
By contrast, the public infrastructure has not grown at the same pace. The city has run out of wide avenues and can not afford any more high rise constructions. But still there was a 10% expansion last year!!! The traffic, water, energy and telecommunication systems seem unable to to keep up. Great problems have arisen, as traffic congestion and contamination of the environment. Panama City has to make urgent changes to welcome the new era.
Read more in my Panama City pages...
Canal Visiting Center– Miraflores Lock
Miraflores is the canal visiting center closest to Panama City. From its three terraces visitors can enjoy a close view of the vessels passing through the locks, learn about the history of the construction and the importance of the Canal. In its four exhibition halls historic pieces, interactive modules, video presentations and models of the tools and machinery used in the canal are very well displayed. In the History hall the background and the technological innovations of the canal construction are presented and the work of thousands of people who contributed to the construction is honoured. In the second one the importance of water and biodiversity is emphasized as well as the commitment of the Center to protect the environment. There is also a simulator where the visitor can experience and understand how the canal operates and a virtual trip through the whole canal , which I found the most amusing. Also information is provided on the importance of the Canal to international trade and the project of the canal expansion is explained in details. There is a 10' documentary in the theater of the center. If you get hungry and tired you can sit in the snack bar or in the restaurant with the panoramic view. Finally you may want to visit the gift shop for souvenirs.
Entrance is 8$. Open every day from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
This is all you have to say once you see them. They have about 4-5 buses around the town that transport locals to other surrounding towns/villages, and also some for tourists to take back to the main city.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
San Blas Island via the The Andiamo!!!!
Sailing San Blas Island with my boyfriend and two sisters and we all agree that it was the best trip ever! I looked on the internet and discovered, The Andiamo. beautiful boat. very easy to make reservations. Anyways. We had too much fun!! Phil was our Captain and he was a gracious tour guide. Talk about Paradise and more Paradise! Phil showed us all points of interest and really opened our eyes to all the beauty that the island had to offer. It was quite affordable considering all the crazy fun we had. We shared the boat with another couple which made the trip even more fun. I enjoyed all the fresh seafood and cooking !! The sleeping arrangement was pretty cozy. The heat was almost bearable. All in all, we had a great trip!! You can find Phil here!!! tell him I sent you : ) http://theandiamo.com/sail-sanblas
VALLE DE ANTÓN: atractions in
Orquidiario: muy completo y muchas variedades. Asistido por pasantes de varios países. Charlas interesantes. 2 horas de visita
Serpentarium: sencillo pero interesante.
Piedra pintada: antiguos jeroglíficos. Sendero muy bien mantenido. Abundantes aves. 2horas de visita
Zoológico: Sencillo muy amplio y bien mantenido. Espectacular espacio para la conservación de las últimas RANITAS AMARILLAS. 2 horas de visitaRelated to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Nature Park only 5 min from Downtown Panama City
El Parque Natural Metropolitano (Metropolitan Nature Park) is a natural and and recreational treasure that is only a 5 minute drive from downtown Panama City. Within its 232 acres of grounds you will tropical forests where more than 200 species of birds have been observed. There are also many other types of animals living in the park, including monkeys, sloths, deer,ant eaters, gatos solos and other smaller tropical forest animals.
There are 5 trails of differing difficulty within the park that take you through the rich and varied vegetation. Along the way you will see many animals. There are 2 major Miradores or Look Out Points that offer great bird viewing and vistas of Panama City.
The day I was there, we walked for about an hour, uphill at first until we reached the Mirador Cerro Cedro. Then we looped back down to the parking lot. During this brief journey we saw many types of birds including Wood Peckers and others whose names we did not know. We also saw a 3 clawed Sloth, a gato solo, 2 monkeys and some unusual smaller animals. IT IS BEST TO VISIT THE PARK IN THE EARY MORNING BEFORE IT BECOMES TOO HOT. THE BIRDS AND ANIMALS ARE MOST ACTIVE IN THE EARLY PART OF THE MORNING.
It was a great break from the urban hustle and bustle of Panama City. The entrance fee is only $2 per adult and Tours Guides are available to take you on a tour if you wish. I don't know if most speak English.
The Park Office is open M-F from 8AM to 5PM and Sat from 8AM to 1PM, but the Park itself opens at 6 AM. Visit the website.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
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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