OUR SPECIALTY: Cultural immersion in rural Panama:
Overnight stay in a local family (with guide/translator):
Join us for an immersion in our partner and guide Saul’s community. Experience the simple rural life of a modest family and learn about their reality. Prepare food, feed the animals, take care of the children, and connect with them. Cultural differences are in the little details: the sense of humor, the mannerisms and etiquette, the taboos, the beliefs and hopes. In many ways you might find yourself out of your comfort zone, but I many ways you will recognize yourself and your loved ones as you create a real bond with this lovely and welcoming family.
Farm visits or farm stays (vegetable, cereals, coffee, fruits, dairy, etc):
Traditional farming is a harsh and unpredictable practice. Nevertheless it is respectful and necessary to most rural communities who strive on their own resources. Come and meet these sun weathered men (mostly) of few words who have a deep look in their eyes, as deep as their knowledge of the land and climate. Experience a mixture of traditional and modern techniques. Observe the influence of the global market on their small scale production.
Traditional dancing class and demonstration:
Panama’s culture comes alive when they are dancing. Many indigenous dances show the different origins of their cultural heritage. The Spanish inspired Punto and Mejorana or the Afircain inspired Congo, Cumbia, or Tamborino are great demonstrations of aesthetic and theological symbols, of the relation to the local environment and the folkloric mythologies. The traditional dress (the Pollera) and musical instruments used also add to the experience.
Traditional cashew nut preparation (in season):
Did you ever wonder why some nuts are so expensive? In the case of the Cashew the tedious transformation required is one of the reasons why. The cashew fruit itself is very peculiar as it is very juicy and astringent at the same time! Both the fruits and the nut can stain your skin and clothes so we maneuver with precaution. The untreated seed is poison so pay attention while you help Saul and his family members crack this one open in a flaming demonstration. The end result is of course delicious!
New corn bollos preparation (in season):
This traditional and indigenous specialty is made of corn and cooked in the corn husk. Our Panamanian friends will teach you this ancient technique. Enjoy it on its own or with a traditional Chicheme drink made of corn and milk for the perfect combination.
Traditional coastal fishing in the Pacific Ocean:
Hop onboard with the traditional fisherman of the Pacific coast. A mix of artisanal and modern techniques is used along with tools that have been kept alive for generations. Their resourcefulness is impressive and necessary to survive in this ageless profession. Learn about their socioeconomic realities and challenges. Be ready to get up very early, to get dirty, and to be in the sun and other elements (no roof).
This delicacy is prepared with local limes to cook the seafood or fish meat with the acidity of the fruits. Lean about the important dos and don’ts of this traditional dish. Healthy and refreshing it comes in many stiles depending on the condiments and can be prepares with specific fish, seafood or as a “mixto” blend of seafood.
Like to learn how products are made in Panamá?
Sugar cane farm and rum factory, Cigar factory, Panamanian hat factory, traditional handicraft fabrication, etc.
Half day discoveries from Panama City:
Miraflores locks and Visitor Center:
Unavoidable! Up close experience of the Panama Canal where vessels are lifted (or lowered) 54 feet (16.5 m) allowing them to transit between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The visitors’ center allows tourists to have a plunging view of the locks in operation. Also includes access to the Museum and the 3D video presentation. Best time to visit is in the morning when many ships are transiting.
Not to be missed! The Old Quarters of Panama City is a treasure full of culture, architecture, and activities. The neighborhood was declared a UNESCO world heritage site for its Spanish, French, and American influences. Strolling along the centuries-old cobblestone streets you will be captivated by the surprising mix of tastefully restored restaurants/cafes intertwined with crowded humble citizens’ apartments as well as abandoned buildings.
Santa Ana and/or Casco Viejo with the LiveWalks experience:
More than an audio guide, these LiveWalks are audio experiences taking you through Panama's history in an entertaining way by using a Smartphone. This colorful auditory immersion into the best stories from these old parts of town is designed to share the past culture of Panama while visiting the main sites and monuments. Discover at your own pace, follow your own path, see what the other passersby miss, listen to the locals, and step back in history to witness events of the real Panama of past and present. (earbuds or headsets recommended and available upon request)
This scenic land bridge connects four small islands to the mainland next to the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. Built of excavated and dredged materials from the canal it offers a spectacular view of the impressive skyline of Panama City. Home of many private marinas, the landings for the ferries servicing the Pearl Islands, and the docks for the cruise ship’s tender boats, this refreshing nautical environment also offers restaurants, duty free shops, and activities for the visitors.
This flamboyant structure located on the Amador Causeway was designed by Frank Gehry as his first design for Latin America. Within its 4,000 square meters, the Biomuseo has 8 galleries designed in sequence as well as a public atrium, a space for temporary exhibits, a gift store, a coffee shop and exterior exhibits in a botanical garden. Starting with a multimedia presentation, this succession of exhibits presents Panama’s biodiversity: from rising from the sea 3 million years ago, through the extraordinary exchange of species that is still occurring today, and raises awareness to the modern challenges we are faced with. An educational and inspiring adventure!
Punta Culebra Nature Center:
Part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, this marine exposition is conveniently located on the Amador Causeway within a rare plot of Tropical Dry Forest and along a rocky beach overlooking the Panama Canal. Exhibit pools hold sharks and sea turtles swimming along tropical fish. Take this great opportunity to touch marine organisms such as sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins. Not to be missed the frog exhibit is impressive and raises vital awareness to the current crisis these amphibians are facing. You might also spot iguanas, raccoons, birds of all kinds, armadillos, and sloths on this site!
Summit Municipal Park, Botanical Gardens and Zoo:
On the way to the beautiful Gamboa area only 30 minutes from the city center, this oasis exhibits a simple, respectful and diverse collection of tropical and subtropical plants in a relaxing setting. In the small zoo you can observe squirrels, alligators, owls, coyote, gray herons, gulls, parrots, jaguars, ocelots, margays, monkeys, agoutis, pumas, doves, foxes, lizards, and the famous harpy eagles.
Monkey Island Boat Tour from Gamboa Rainforest Resort:
Navigate inside the Panama Canal right along the huge ships and head towards the Gatun Lake’s myriad of little tropical islands where various species of monkeys can be observed. Keep you your eyes peeled for alligators, turtles, iguanas, sloths and many fascinating birds (a birding society has spotted over 500 species in only 24 hours in the nearby national park). Your guide will point out the Panamanian fauna and flora as well as the challenges faced in this unique environment.
Local Fish and Seafood Market
This bustling trade center is raw and alive! At the front the numerous stalls sell fresh catch to individuals and small restaurant owners. At the back the wholesalers are pilling huge containers of ice and produce onto their trucks. Everywhere the fish and seafood is being transformed before your eyes. The upstairs restaurant offers the best seafood and/or fish soup in the country only for a few dollars. Along the edge of the ocean front promenade an endless string of small restaurants offer prepared fish, seafood, and more than a dozen varieties of the famous Panamanian Ceviche.
This municipal market specializes in food products. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and transformed products congregate here from every corner of the country. Trucks are being loaded and unloaded by hand, flying through an acrobatic human chain. Discover tropical and exotic fruits, meet the hard working and colorful vendors, taste a freshly made sugarcane juice, a handmade shaved ice treat or prepared palm fruits.
Panama's cultural diversity following the subway stations:
Explore the real urban Panama. The popular commercial streets of Santa Ana outside the Cinco de Mayo Station, the banking district plus the night life scene of Uruguay Street near Iglesia del Carmen Station, the young university and transient area of via Argentina just off the station of the same name, the lower income neighborhoods of the northbound stations.
Also called Panamá la Vieja, it is located in a close by suburb of Panama where you can observe the remaining ruins of the initial European settlement of the area. Fascinating to the history and archeology enthusiast, the site also has a museum with Hispanic and Pre-Hispanic artifacts.
Half day for the active type:
Ancon Hill Hike + Mi Pueblito Visit:
This oasis of greenery wedged between the old city and the Canal Zone offers the best views of Panama. On the way up you might observe parrots, hawks, toucans, agoutis, coatis, sloths, opossums, and even deer. The Mi Pueblito touristic exposition represents 3 types of Panamanian villages: the Colonial Style, the Caribbean Style, and the Indigenous Style.
Parque Metropolitano Hike:
Walk on the trails used by the Spanish caravans transporting gold and silver to Europe. Nowadays this park is the lungs of Panama City and one of the rare rainforests within a capital city’s limits. This reserve trails of various lengths with many great lookouts, and even more variety of wildlife, including the small Tamarin monkeys. Depending on availability and with prior reservation the park offers visitors to be raised up to 45m above sea level in a specially designed gondola for an impressive outlook of the wildlife and Panama’s skyline.
Pipeline MTB ride or hike:
This rainforest reserve has a 40 meter high tower and quiet trails for bird watching. It also has kilometers of trails along a pipeline which is a perfect mountain biking playground. The wide trail is easy to negotiate, moderate hills make the ride exciting, and the rivers under the many bridge crossing are totally clean and waiting for you to cool off in them.
** Combine of any of these half day activities to turn them into a full day of discovery. We can help recommend various combinations depending on your preferences and logistical concerns.
Full day and/or overnight activities:
Embera Indigenous Village:
Less than an hour away from the city limits, our Embera captain will take us down the river for a 45 minute boat ride passing through the rainforest where many birds and animals can be observed. Upon arrival at the village you will experience the warm and exotic Embera greeting. You will welcomed in their traditional dwellings and taught about their history and culture I an interactive way. Lunch will be the traditional fresh fish with plantains and local fruits. In the afternoon you will have time to meet the villagers or play and swim with the children. You can buy handicrafts directly from the artists: intricate woven baskets and masks made from palm fibers or carvings from wood and Tagua nut (Vegetable Ivory). You can get a traditional Jagua tattoo (temporary). Before departure you will witness their sacred dancing and affectionate farewell.
Jungle Land (house boat experience):
Navigate along the Panama Canal and through the jungle to reach this floating lodge. From the lodge you can observe the surrounding fauna while lying in a hammock. Jump off the top floor if you dare and swim in the lake. You can join a guided kayak excursion through a maze of small rivers crisscrossing in the jungle. Then join a quick hike to a natural cascade. You can also go out fishing for Peacock Bass on the Gatun Lake. If you have chance to spend the night get ready for the jungle to come alive and the most unforgettable starry sky. Don’t miss the wildlife spotlighting tour!
Caribbean Coast: Portobello, Colon & Historical Train:
The Panamanian Caribbean coast is totally unique. Experience this luscious costal climate with pristine waters, meet the colorful and laidback Afro-Antillean descendants, learn about the true pirate history of this area, witness the vibrant Congo culture, and visit the adored black Christ. Explore this other side of Panama!
Taboga Island Cruise and Beach:
Sail in style to the closest island from Panama’s downtown aboard the biggest open catamaran of the city! Sunbathe and enjoy the big deck with huge nets and speakers while light snacks are being served. Or you can sit back in the shade and capture the breathtaking views of the city's skyline while the crew is zipping between all the huge ships waiting to cross the Panama Canal. In about 60 minutes you will reach the back side of Taboga Island where an amazing bay with lots of vegetation and a small waterfall awaits for you to swim and explore. The second stop will give you the opportunity to visit the small picturesque village of Taboga. The included lunch will be conveniently served onboard leaving more time to relax in the catamaran's big nets, enjoy the sun, snorkel, float around using the provided noodles, or jump from the boat to the water. Later, we sail back to port with the sails up if the wind is favorable.
The Green Volcano Crater Village - El Valle de Anton:
The cooler temperatures of this inhabited crater valley are perfect for the many activities it offers: Hiking to the sleeping Indian or another peak, bird watching the 500+ species of birds, zip-lining from tree to tree, mountain biking down the crater’s edge, swimming and/or jumping in the many waterfalls, horseback riding along the farms and humble houses, four-wheel driving in the muddy trails, finding the famous square tree, visiting the butterfly farm, the snake museum, the small zoo home of the unique golden frog, or treating yourself to the minerals waters of the public baths. Do not miss visiting the cute markets for locally grown products and handmade arts and crafts.
Glamping (luxury camping):
For nature lovers this new type of lodging is an intimate way of experiencing Panama's flora and fauna. Located in the pristine and exclusive peaks of Altos del Maria this luxury camping experience is sure to recharge your batteries. Activities include indulging in the gastronomic delicacies of the restaurant, huddling up near a camp fire or riding the safari-style vehicle to easily reach the different trail heads, viewpoints, and waterfalls of the area. The guided trekking can take you in the cloud forest right up to the continental divide at 1,000+ meters (3,000+ feet) above sea level where on a perfectly cloudless day you could see both oceans at once.
Active full day:
Panama’s 2,500 km of coastline offer everything from sandy beach breaks for our beginners’ classes to barrel forming points for the adrenaline junkies. Don’t waste valuable time guessing what the right tide will be or getting lost on the way because the surf spot was poorly indicated. Come ride the best waves to make your surfing experience memorable. Weather permitting (swell). Equipment and classes are available.
In less than 2 hours drive from Panama you can reach Chame Point which is a kiteboarding world cup site. From December to April the wind and ocean conditions are just ideal for the sport. Equipment and classes are available.
Standing tall on your board not only will you get a fun workout, but you will see the marine ecosystems come to life underneath your feet. This is the best way to appreciate the quasi-deserted coastline of pristine beaches, tropical river mouths, rocky cliffs, and traditional fishing boats. Equipment and classes are available.
Hiking Campana National Park and/or Chame Mountain:
Give your sneakers or hiking boots a workout on these rustic trails crossing various terrains and ecosystems: primary rainforest, tropical dry forest, cattle farmland, and secondary tropical forest. The rewards totally outweigh the efforts spent on these hikes of moderate intensity because of the surrounding fauna, the potential viewing of wild animals and the climatic endings boasting panoramic views of the pacific coast.
Many scenic rides await inside and outside the city limits. We will assist in choosing the appropriate trails according to your experience level, the time available for the activity, the weather conditions, and your expected exertion intensity. This is a great way to get an awesome workout while entering deeply in the luscious nature of Panama. Adapted transport, bikes, and accessories are available.
Four wheelers can be rented in a few mountain and beach locations in Panama. Adrenaline is guaranteed as you explore the trails and back streets of the rural neighborhoods. Guided or not, this is a fast way of getting around without exerting too much.
We only encourage operators who are respectful of the animals. This exhilarating experience will take you as far as your heart and horse want. Enjoy this special bond with the natural world that only happens when riding horseback.
Lake fishing on pontoon boat:
This relaxing way to explore Panama’s giant manmade lake, Gatun Lake, could quickly turn into a very busy fishing episode as the Peacock Bass and Oscars start biting by the dozen. Back onshore you will get to eat your catch as our captain’s staff will cooks the fish onsite.
Ocean coastal and deep-sea sport fishing:
Anglers of all levels will find their match in Panama. Panama’s coastal fishing offers many opportunities to catch Sierra Mackerel, Corvina (Sea Bass), Barracuda, Tarpon, Needlefish, Snook, Groupers, Amber Jacks, Roosterfish, and Red Snappers, while the deep-sea experience is recognized world round for Black and Blue Marlin, Tuna, Sailfish, Dorado (mahi-mahi), Wahoo, and more.
Fortaleza Gang Tour
Traditional Dance Show with dinner
Professional Football Game (if scheduled)
Nightlife: dancing, rooftop bars, Etc
Join us for an immersion in our partner and guide Saul’s community. Experience the simple rural life of a modest family and learn about their reality. Prepare food, feed the animals, take care of the children, and connect with them. Cultural differences are in the little details: the sense of humor, the mannerisms, and etiquette, the taboos, the beliefs, and hopes. In many ways, you might find yourself out of your comfort zone, but I many ways you will recognize yourself and your loved ones as you create a real bond with this lovely and welcoming family.
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