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Curious what backpackers do in Panama? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Going from cold Chicago weather to humid post rain fall weather in Panama isn't so easy. I arrived in Panama City today, flying over the canal was pretty cool. I'd arranged a shuttle to pick me up, but since I was the only one I more or less got a private ride to the city from Guillermo who gave me the low down on Panamanian politics and how their former president was very much like our soon to be. Oh did I mention I almost wasn't able to board in Chicago? Long story, glad it's over.

    Checked into the hostel and took a long walk around Casco Viejo, ended up getting out of the tourist area and seeing a bit more of how life is there. Luis a man from Illinois who grew up there showed me around into a little housing area where remnants of the city's first wall is.

    Back at the hostel now cooling off. My bags were checked straight to Quito so I'll be trying day three in these clothes I'm wearing ;)
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  • After a sleepless 10 hour overnight bus journey with a chillingly unnecessary amount of AC (even for Tom) and a fairly smooth 6am water taxi as the sun rose, we arrived safely on Isla Colon, the main island of this archipelago, on Tuesday morning. We are staying in Bocas, the capital, and safe to say it's a lot larger and more built up than the San Blas! The streets are lined with colourful bars, restaurants and hostels and there is a real buzz here - particularly as we arrived at the tail end of Carnaval.

    The last two days we have spent our time lounging on the shores of 'Starfish Beach' on the north coast of the island, a 2.50$ 30min hilly minibus ride through the thick rainforest. You'd have thought we'd be used to all this erratic driving by now, however each bus left us dizzy for a while! Starfish beach did everything it said on the tin, we saw many of the bright orange and yellow creatures through calm, clear turquoise waters. Our 10$ snorkels are proving to be a good investment so far!

    Tomorrow we are crossing the border to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Although it's only around 55 miles away, we have opted against the touristy, overpriced shuttle bus, and are planning to make the crossing for a fraction of the price using local water taxis/minivans/our legs! Wish us luck...
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  • Christmas in Panama. We awoke to see the jungle going by as we slipped into the first lock of the Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. We were locked up beside a huge chemical tanker and had a local guide narrating the trip from the bridge. We took our morning walk around the deck while we rose 85 feet to the level of the Gatun Lake. The canal is 100 years old the year and it is amazing in it's efficiency and simplicity.
    We anchored in the Lake for several hours while we waited to travel to the other side. We took advantage of that to open Christmas presents and rest up for the Christmas feast that awaited us at brunch.
    Full from lunch and having opened all our presents we set sail across the peninsula toward the Pacific Ocean. Down the locks at Pedro Miguel and Miraflores and now in the Pacific. We have a day to travel to Puntarenas tomorrow in Costa Rica. Should be fun.
    For now we have formal night and Christmas dinner so I will leave you here and pick up after I recover.
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  • At 6 in the morning we woke up to get all our stuff and bikes to the airport. We were way to early so had to wait to check in. But when the check in counter finaly opend we were the first to be there. There was some confusion about the bikes and the total weight that we were alowed. But after half an hour of negotiations we got ourselfa and all our stuff checked in with only 20 euro's for oversized luggage. Sounds like a good deal to us!

    We were flying in a small fokker 100. A dutch plane build for dutch people. A lot of legroom and a really comfortable flight. After assuring the Doane guys that the bikes were not new. (A quick peek in the box cleared that up prety quickly). We even found a relatively cheap taxi (20 dollars) wich fits our bikes. And before we knew it we were at the hostel. Really tired. The next 7 days we will chill out and explore Panama City. After that it is time to go home!
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  • After a 2.5 hour jeep journey with our gangster driver Jorge we entered Kuna Territory on the Caribbean coast (if you think that sounds bad you should see their flag with a swastika bang in the centre!). The Kuna is in an independent territory so we had our passports checked and had to pay an entry tax of 20$ which seemed a bit steep! After some sitting around (classic Central American style) we boarded our small boat with destination Isla Diablo (Devil's Island). It's fair to say it was quite the bumpy ride and we all got completely soaked - turns out the Caribbean isn't actually completely flat?!

    Words can't really describe Isla Diablo so I will let the photos do the talking but let's put it this way - we were not disappointed. Checked into our luxury 6 person tent with two double inflatable mattresses on the beach only 2m from the water for 35$ each a night which included all meals and boat tours - again not a bad price for paradise? For the rest of our time on the island we snorkelled, swung on hammocks and ate freshly caught fish twice a day. Unfortunately it isn't lobster season so that wasn't on the menu but I think we can let them off that one.

    Back in Panama City for one night and then we are taking an overnight bus to Bocas del Toro - another archipelago of islands in the Caribbean. Life really is tough...
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  • Panama City is unbearably hot! Flight here was easy and we bumped into a friendly old American couple who took us on the local bus into the city and talked at us the whole way! Can't complain they paid all 0.50$ of our bus fare and even took us right to the hostel.

    We walked around Casco Viejo yesterday, the most 'touristy' area we could find, with many crumbling old buildings and others which had been carefully restored. The rest of Panama City is modelled on Miami so it is high rise everywhere you look! Today we visited the Canal which was interesting and watched a few cargo ships on their way through. Off to meet some friends tonight and then waking up at 4:30am to go to our first Caribbean archipelago - the San Blas Islands. If I can recommend a Google image search you can see for yourselves where we are going to be spending the next 3 days...Read more

  • More pancakes for breakfast (plus apples to make it a tad healthier). We checked out and went over to the docks to get a 10 min boat ride for $5 each to Isla Bastimentos. As soon as we stepped foot onto the dock it started pouring and despite having raincoats and ponchos we were drenched by the time we checked into our next hostel: Bubba's House ($40). BH is a lovely big wooden house built on stilts over the water. There are hammocks on the balconies and the back opens out onto it's own dock.

    We waited a while for the rain to die down...ate my left-over pizza...then got ready... then waited some more as it started to rain some more. The lady in our last hostel said September was usually nice but maybe El Nino was messing with the usual weather patterns.

    Finally it looked safe and we set off up the hill for a supposed 15 min walk through the rainforest - it took us a bit longer as the whole path was a muddy mess! Anna whinged the whole way as she was wearing flip flops (despite me telling her it'd be slippery) - from the girl who does mud runs! She agreed our destination was worth the effort though.

    We arrived covered in mud at 'Up in the hill' and were hit by the most wonderful smell of cacao. It is a small house surrounded by a jungle garden that makes and sells 100% organic cocoa, organic beauty products and various other hippy things. Anna had her coffee fix (sadly burnt) and we shared some vegan truffles and a brownie, which had a lovely, rich taste ($9). We bought some coconut oil, natural bug repellent and cocoa face cream ($19). We also saw a teeny red poison-dart frog in the garden which is only found on this island.

    On the slippery walk back down the hill we saw some more red frogs, dragonflies, and a hummingbird. We walked along the concrete path that goes through the town, Old Bank, to either end (no roads but many houses).

    We went back to Bubba's and sat at the back overlooking the water and played some chess (from the many boardgames here). As we walked to a small place, Marco's, that we'd found earlier, we could hear really loud animal calls - unsure if they are the frogs?? along with some cicadas. We sat out on the deck over the water and were the only customers, likely because the hostels seem to try and monopolise dinners - BH offers a set meal each night, which nearly everyone seemed to have, but we thought it was overpriced. We shared some good, spicy nachos and enchiladas ($15), watched some lightning and got a little damp on the walk back. We lay in the hammocks, watching the lightning, and I wrote my blog as Anna serenaded me with her guitar.
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  • From San José 5h by bus to Sixaola, crossing the border by foot, 1h by Taxi to Almirante and finally 1/2h by boat to Isla Colon.

    Immediately brings to your mind 'Oh, wie schön ist Panama', the famous German children book telling a story about two friends, a bear and a tiger, heading for the their country of dreams, Panama. Actually, it might not be that dreamlike at first sight regarding all the trash in the streets. At a second glance, however, it definitely is as soon as you have seen all the colourful wood houses, felt the Carribean wind and flair, so different from the Pacific, and caught the right bus or boat to stunning beaches such as the Starfish Beach on Isla Colon with clear water, star fishes of course and sometimes challenging trails to get back to civilization.

    At night, the place to be is certainly the Selina Hostel, where you meet travelers from around the world, and the la Iguana Bar, where Jamaican Reggae meets Salsa music <3
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  • Just waiting for the final connecting flight now to get us to Lima. Three very tired travellers who just want to get to bed! Aside from the length and lack of sleep, a good flight with KLM, good food and service throughout! Think our brains will need a recoup on the beach tomorrow before hitting the jungle.
    Going to stop there as God knows what I will ramble on about with so little sleep...21 hours and still counting 😔Read more

  • Flying from Puerto Obaldia to Panama City

    Bought a ticket on Air Panama to fly from Puerto Obaldia to Panama City.
    First of all, it is such a joke the amount of money the guys charge to drive you on a speedboat from La Miel or Sapzurro to Puerto Obaldia. They know you have no options left, so they charge whatever they want to. I paid 55$. Felt ripped off.
    Well, anyhow, getting there you have to pass though the Police Station and open up all your bags and most of the times take it all off to show you have nothing like drugs, ,guns, or whatever they are looking for.
    Then you walk to the Air Panama Office to check in, which is close to the square and from there walk to the "airport". All two minutes walk.
    I met a lot of Cubans trying to "scape" from Cuba by flying to Equador, crossing all over Colombia as ilegals and finally getting their "freedom" by heading to Panama City. Some of them stay there and some others try to go all the way up till the US. All ilegally. So dangerous.
    Well, back to the flight. Mine got overbook and guess who had to stay for one night in a 5 star hotel in the charming Puerto Obaldia?
    Well, at least i met this really nice Colombian man who lives in Panama City. We had loads of good talks.
    You will fly on a small plane but the whole trip is enjoyable. Really beautiful sights from the Caribbean sea to the Darie forest when you finally reach Panama City with its high buildings. Such a nice view.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Panama, Panama, ፓናማ, パナマ, 파나마, ପାନାମା, ปานามา, ປານາມາ, ប៉ាណាម៉ា, ประเทศปานามา, สาธารณรัฐปานามา, i-Panama, Orílẹ́ède Panama, Pa-na-ma, Panamá, Panamà, Panamā, Panamaa, Panamaja, Panamän, Panama nutome, Panamo, República de Panamá, بنما, پاناما, پنامہ, פנמה, Παναμάς, Панама, པ་ན་མཱ, པ་ནཱ་མ།, Պանամա, პანამა, पनामा, पानामा, પનામા, పనామా, ಪನಾಮಾ, பணாமா, பனாமா, പനാമ, পানামা, ပနားမား, පැනමා, 巴拿马