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How un/safe is Panama - Mireflores Visitor Center on our own?

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Oct 19th, 2009, 06:29 AM
  #1
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How un/safe is Panama - Mireflores Visitor Center on our own?

DH would like to see the locks from the land and I was considering just taking a cab from the tender site to the Mireflores Visitor Center. Do you think it is safe to do this?

How far roughly is it from Fuerte Amador? Approx cab fare?

I've read a lot of cruisers who normally take independent excursions, take ship organized excursions in Panama so am wondering about this.

Any input much appreciated!

Enjoy-la!
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Oct 19th, 2009, 08:20 PM
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It's completely doable and completely safe, but do take a taxi. I was at the locks one afternoon this summer. I took a taxi from the center of Panama City and paid $15 one way. I think from Amador it's a comparable distance, but maybe taxis waiting at a cruise dock charge more. There's a nice museum that gives good background on the history and operation of the canal, and you are right there to see the big ships passing through.

I'm kind of a technology junkie, so I make a visit every time I go to Panama, but I'd recommend the visitor center to anybody. Do it.
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Oct 20th, 2009, 06:08 AM
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Jeff_Costa_Rica, thx a mint for your reply - details much appreciated!

I checked on cc boards but no one there had any comment on it so I was getting a bit worried, esp. having just heard that 11 cruisers were held up at gunpoint in Nassau at the Queens Staircase. We just did the sights there on our own in May and was shocked. I know stuff can happen anywhere, even in my lil suburb but...

We'll catch a cab from the dock. Besides trying to see the museum at the exact same time as hordes of other people, the ship's excursion takes passengers all thru the military bases; we'd prefer to spend our time at the locks.

Enjoy-la!
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Oct 20th, 2009, 12:57 PM
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There are areas of Panama City where you shouldn't go, day or night, but these aren't there. A taxi ride between Amador and Miraflores should be fine.
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Oct 21st, 2009, 08:05 AM
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We went to the Miraflores Locks on our own in June and it was perfectly safe - and fascinating! Don't worry - just go and enjoy. My cousin lives in Panama and was our driver so I don't know about cab fares. We were in Panama City for three days and felt very safe, but like any city, know the neighborhoods to avoid. Have fun!!
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Oct 21st, 2009, 10:42 AM
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To add to your reassurances- this past March, we also took a cab from our accomodation in PC to Miraflores locks,-- felt it was very safe, the cab will let you out right near the entrance where you go up to by entrance tickets-- didn't seem like there would be much opportunity to robbed there, so don't worry.
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Oct 26th, 2009, 06:24 AM
  #7
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Thx a mint for the extra replies and security Faboolous Fodorites! We will definitely do this as our excursion.

Enjoy-la!
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Oct 26th, 2009, 08:34 PM
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We returned from a 5 day trip to Panama last week. Miraflores was good but I have to say that the Gatun Locks really round things out. You get a much better view and a different perspective. The ships coming through were so close we almost felt we could reach out and touch them. The gal who led the "tour" was very good. There were only about 10 visitors and she made personal contact with all of us, speaking in three languages. The Panamanians on the ships loved smiling and waving for our camera. Both locks offer something different. We rented a car and drove to both locks. We made our hub in Panama City and spent a night in El Valle for the Sunday market and then took several daytrips out of the city. This allowed us to see a lot, although driving in Panama is a bit of a thrill ride.
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Oct 28th, 2009, 07:21 PM
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spend some time on this web site: http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
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Oct 29th, 2009, 05:59 AM
  #10
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So does the Gatun Locks have a visitor center too? Do you know approx how far away it was from Miraflores Visitor Center? We're only in port for a day (cruise) so will be cabbing it.

virginia, thx a mint for the webcams!

Enjoy-la!
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Jan 4th, 2010, 05:52 PM
  #11
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Just wanted to report back and say it was certainly worth the trip. Thx a mint again Jeff_Costa_Rica for the approximate cost you gave.

We were greeted at the end of the pier by quite a few selling tours but when we made it clear we only wanted a taxi to MVC, not a tour, they let us move on to the cabbies waiting en masse behind them. Two competing drivers approached me and said one said he would take us for $24...each! If had no idea it might be around $15 total, I would have never guessed I could negotiate taxi fare down that much - I would have thought getting it for $30 would be lucky.

I said, it was too much to the first cabbie, thanked him and kept on walking past him. Another one came up to us so the first guy, said okay, "$20 each". I said I was only planning on $15 for the both of us and expected them to negotiate it higher but lower than $40 total. The guy just shrugged and waved for us to follow him. Not sure if we understood each other, I confirmed before we got into his cab in the parking lot. Boy, was I happy.

The cabbie's English was limited but he was very nice and pointed things out as we drove by (former military bases, etc.).

He offered to come back to get us and since he was helpful we agreed. After we were finished, we waited at the agreed upon time for 25 min but he didn't show up. There were lots of cabbies at the MVC entrance waiting for fares. When we initially came out, we had multiple offers but we said we were waiting for someone. When they saw we were still waiting, one came up and since we weren't sure if Eduardo was going to return, we took up the offer.

Going to Old Town...$12 the older fella says. I said $8 and he points to another cabbie and tells him to take us. Who would have known fares were so negotiable?>!

BTW, several Princess cruisers who'd I met on the ship saw us at the MVC while they were on their tour and asked us which tour we were on. We said we just wanted to go at our own pace so were on our own. Invariable, the next question was, 'how much did it cost you to get here?' They paid $69pp of course that included their entrance fee, driving thru the military bases, and not having the stress of finding a cab.

Enjoy-la!
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