Amazing vacation in Panama

Old Jun 15th, 2015, 11:31 AM
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Amazing vacation in Panama

After taking advantage of Fodors for my family travels I decided to make my own contribution to this amazing travelers tool.
Few months has past since our visit to Panama and I could not say more wonderful things about this small lovely country.
We are a family of 6 with two children and two teens so as you can imagine travel planning is important to keep everybody happy and engage.
When looking for a vacation we look for several components; no crowds, educational, good food, fun, important factors are cultural and nature experiences.
When we planned our trip to Panama we decided to visit some of the most visited areas such as Panama and Chiriqui but also go out of the beaten path and explored Pedasi.
We also decided to rent a car ( Not for everyone, Panama city traffic is chaotic, but once out of the capital is better and the roads are in good conditions) http://www.budgetpanama.com/
We stay in Panama City at the Trump Plaza hotel, amazing rooms and the infinity pool was a favorite of my kids.

Day 1 Crazy traffic
While in Panama City in day 1 we tried to explore in the rental car and decided after a brief visit to the French quarters to go back to the hotel and look for day tours that included transportation, I have to say that it was the smartest decision we ever made. Not just we had a experienced driver while in tours, we also got inside useful information by the local guides to how to get to places and get around the city, this help was invaluable.
In Panama City we decided to go with Sendero Panama for our day tours http://www.senderopanama.com small very reputable tour company with a flawless service, the guides were very experienced and with an amazing knowledge not just about the places we were visiting but about any question we had. As I mention before, the information they shared with us made our vacation so much better.

Day 2_ Tour of the City of Panama.
http://www.senderopanama.com/Day%20T...t%20Panama.htm
Much to our surprise Panama city happen to be full of history, culture
Our guide Cris explained how when thinking about Panama City a visitor needs to analyze the city as a body with four main areas, all of them with their own history and architecture.
We visited the Unesco sites of Panama Viejo and French Quarters, the former US Canal zone and the Modern Panama. It was eye opening and following our guide recommendation we had dinner at the Bristol hotel that night, fantastic food, a upscale version of Panama's cuisine. Love it.

Day 3_ Embera natives
http://www.senderopanama.com/Day%20T...e%20Embera.htm
This was my favorite day of the trip, we drive from the modern city of Panama to a river were we got into dugout canoes to go up the river, the river was beautiful and the rainforest that flanked us on both sides was spectacular, we got to see many birds, river otters and a caiman.
Once in the village there was traditional music waiting for us and a many of them came to share with us about their lifestyle and traditions. Our guide Beny was welcome in the village not just as a visitor but a family member which made us feel even more welcome. The art work by the Embera is beautiful, we have a gorgeous Plate on our living room.

day 4_ Wildlife boat inside of the Panama canal and the Locks
http://www.senderopanama.com/Day%20T...ma%20Canal.htm
Following the recommendation of the tour operator we decided not to visit the Miraflores locks with the city tour but to leave the visit for the day we explored the Great lake of the Panama canal.
My little ones favorite days because we saw so many monkeys, parrotgs, toucans and Peresosos (Lazys) Sloths... It was from the page of a National Geographic magazine and the guide was full of information about the animals and the Panama Canal.
We had lunch at the Gamboa Rainforest resort http://www.gamboaresort.com/default-es.html and visited latter the Panama canal locks, there is a small museum that tells you everything about the Panama canal and at the end a cruise ship transiting the locks helped by this amazing small but powerful locomotives.

day 5_ Drive to Azuero
Following the directions we got from tour our driver Otto we found very easily the Bridge of the Americas and we were on our way to Azuero.
We stop at Quesos Chela just about 1 hr out of Panama city for empamadas and made our 5 hr drive to Pedasi, once we got over the bridge of the Americas over the panama canal we were in the country side, small roads, no crazy traffic and beautiful landscape.
In the town of Chitre we got lost but we approached a police officer that escorted us back to the rd that we needed to follow to get to our destination.
We arrived to Pedasi late at night, we stay in Pedasi Sport Club, very basic and dark rooms but clean.

Day 6 Beach day
While the kids play at the swimming pool my husband found another hotel for us and by noon we were at Playa venao hotel
http://www.playavenaohotelresort.com/
We spend that day between the swimming pool and the Pacific beach.
It was wonderful.

Day 7 Relax
By popular vote we just stay at the hotel, enjoy the beach, surfing and swimming pool.
It was paradise.

Day 8 Isla Iguana
We did a visit to Isla Iguana with Pedasi Sport Club, the boat captain was so much fun, we spend the day snorkeling, playing in the white sanded beach or swimming in the turquoise water. Iguana island is gorgeous.

Day 9 Drive to Boquete
This was a long, long, long drive and great part of the road was been repaired, It took us many hrs to get there and the kids were in pain... At that point we decided that instead of driving back to Panama, we were flying, which we did and was the best decision. It was more expensive but worth every dollar.
In Boquete we stayed at the Valle Escondido spa. http://www.veresort.com/
The place is beautiful, service can improve.

Day 10 River rafting
Incredible fun, highly recommended. http://www.boqueteoutdooradventures.com/
We used the services of Boquete outdoor adventures, our guide Papito was hysterical.

Day 11 Zip Line
We were out of luck that day, the morning was with rain and it was hard to enjoy the zip line that day.
We also did a coffee tour that day and it was very informative...

Day 12 Flight to Panama City
We got the afternoon flight to Panama and drop the car at the David city airport.
In Panama we took a cab to the hotel and it was insane. The cab driver drove like crazy in rush hr, quite an experience. We do not recommend using the yellow cabs in Panama city, it was simply scary.
The last night by the recommendation of our guide in the first day we stayed at the Bristol and it was perfect. Amazing service and impeccable beautiful rooms.
http://www.thebristol.com/default-en.html

Day 13 Flight home
The hotel provided transportation to the airport and by that night after many hrs we were home sweet home.
drcolingreensmith is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2015, 08:24 PM
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Thanks for the information. Nice report.
Femi is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2015, 06:39 PM
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Thank you for the great trip report. Sounds like you had a very nice trip with a lot of variety.
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Old Jun 17th, 2015, 06:33 AM
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Thank you for sharing useful information here. It's awesome article.
JackSM is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2015, 09:12 AM
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Thank you for the info. Oldest grandson is going to South America on busines. After Peru, the Amazon and Chile he is extending ten days on vacation in Panama where his lovely fiancee' will meet up with him...I'll pass this along to him...it's invaluable.
tower is offline  
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