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Most of the canal and Central Pacific sites lie within 30 minutes to two hours of Panama City, so if you're based there, plenty of attractions can be visited on a spare morning or afternoon; others are amenable to spending an extra night or two. The best time to explore the area is the December to May dry season, or when rains let up in July and August. Note that Panamanians generally travel between Christmas and New Year's, during the weekend of Carnaval, in mid-February, or during Easter week; hotels fill up quickly at these times, and you will need to reserve rooms well in advance. Colorful Congo dances are performed in Portobelo for New Year's, Carnaval, and the Festival de Diablos y Congos (which takes place shortly after Carnaval).