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Trip Report Panama trip report

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We recently returned from a two week visit to the beautiful country of Panama. Flew from the midwest using FF miles of American Airlines. Unevenful flights, we even left a day early to avoid a possible ice storm without problems.

Arrived in Panama City and stayed at Sevilla Suites, downtown in the El Congrejo district. Large room, full kitchen, nice staff. We were only there one night, taking off early the next am for the San Blas islands. Sevilla Suites kept a bag in storage for us since we would be returning.

The domestic airline we used, Aeroperlas, gave us fits on this leg of the trip. Our 6am flight didn't leave until 10am. They said it was mechanical, but another couple who had had the same problem the day before was told it was a schedule change. At any rate we finally were in the air. I kept thinking it was taking an awfully long time to get there. Finally we landed. Hmmm. Soldiers and drug sniffing dogs all over. Even sandbag bunkers. Hmmm again. Where in the heck are we???? I never did really find out exactly where we were, but I'm pretty sure it was the furthest south airstrip in the islands and pretty darn close to the Columbian border. We were only there a few minutes and were airborn again. After another uneventful stop, we finally arrived at Mamitupu and trudged down the path to the boat to get to Dolphin Lodge.

Dolphin Lodge was fun. Nine cabanas, each with a private bath, cold water shower. Certainly nothing fancy, but pounding surf and a hammock. What more could we ask? The tours were fun, the snorkeling good. Food was pretty variable, certainly not great most meals, but I didn't starve.

Two days later back to Panama City and Sevilla Suites. We did some wandering around on our own, ended up at the Causeway for dinner. Nice views. Next day was a full transit of the canal. The best word I can use to describe it was LONG. Left the hotel at 6:30 am, returned 9pm. The locks were interesting, but I would have preferred a partial transit. Live and learn.

Next day we flew to Bocas del Toro. No problems with Aeroperlas for this trip. We stayed at Cocomo on the Sea, nice four room B&B on the edge of town. No complaints here, good breakfast, clean rooms, honor 'bar' for sodas and beer. However, we were there for six days and it rained every single day. I was expecting lots of rain, but what caught us by surprise was the fact that it was chilly. Only in the 70's while we were there. That was a bummer. We still toured the other islands, tried to snorkel (too strong a current for wimpy me) and read lots of books.

After six days it was back to Panama City with a transfer to the Canopy Tower. In the jungle, it's a converted radar station. It's quite a place. The focus is bird watching. We are big birders, but we did enjoy our two night stay there. It certainly isn't cheap, but I'm glad to decided to stay a couple nights. Food was decent, the people were interesting. Management was a little off. The onsite manager was on vacation for a couple of days, and there didn't seem to be anyone in charge. Only the guides spoke any English. I realize that I'm not in the states, but the place is geared to Anglos, all the signs and notes are in English. It was confusing, we were just sort of led to our room and left alone. Having read alot about the place, I had some clue what was going on, but it was odd. The manager returned before we left and said she had left welcome letters to be handed out, but no one received one that I know of. Anyway, the tours were wonderful. The highlight for us was a sighting of a jaguarundi, a small cat.

Leaving Canopy Tower, we spent our last night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort. We usually aren't resort people, but it was nice to relax and lounge by their beautiful pool. I had heard that the food wasn't the greatest there, but our two meals were very good.

We used Tammy Liu, of Panoramic Panama to assist with travel arrangements. She was great, all scheduled transfers were right on time, hotel reservations came off without a hitch. She's in Panama City, so is available if there are problems.

Any questions, feel free to ask. Jean

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