What to see and do in Panama?

Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 05:48 PM
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What to see and do in Panama?

Hi,
I am curious about Panama and don't really know much about it. I would like to know your opinions on what to do and where to go, if it's worth going and for how long.
I am an active person who likes hiking and would like to combine some of that with sightseeing, etc.

Am wondering if Panama is the place to tour independently and then pick up some hiking tours once I'm there or is it wiser to go with some of the adventure/ecological tours?
I have used this forum for many of my trips and have gotten great advice and tips. Looking forward to hearing from you.
thanks
Susan
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 06:28 PM
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Not sure what your interests are. . .birding or just hiking through forest?

I'd recommend 2 areas, primarily because I only know 2 areas besides Bocas del Toro. But I am convinced we chose 2 of the best parts of the country to visit for our first time this past July.

1. Boquete Highlands area, province of Chiriqui--lots of good trails, lovely climate, Boquete an excellent little town with good restaurants.

2. Gamboa area, 30 min. outside of Panama City (very convenient). Sobernania National Park, the canal, more specifically Miraflores Locks Visitor's Center (don't miss!). Excellent hiking in this part of the country, fabulous birding. Lots to see and do within a compact area.

Hope this helps just a little. I don't know how much time you have, but I can't imagine better highlights than these 2 locations--equal, perhaps, but not better!

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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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thank you for your help. Are there any websites you would recommend to get more information. I am surprised that Fodors does not have a category in their destinations on Panama.

Also, how's the dollar doing there?
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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We spent a couple weeks in Panama three years ago. It's a wonderful place.

We spent two nights in the San Blas islands. Very interesting stay. The Kuna Indians govern the islands semi-independently. The village we toured was fascinating. Good snorkeling. We stayed at Dolphin Lodge, no hot water, one of the few with indoor plumbing. Had to chase a lizard out of the sink every morning. It was awesome.

We also spent a couple nights at Canopy Tower. Mainly a birder's place, but we enjoyed the hikes, despite being only casual birders. Even saw a jaguarundi while hiking the pipeline road.

We would have loved to do some hiking around Boquete, but we chose not to go to that area since we're from the midwest and were looking for sun and heat in January.

We used a travel agent in Panama City to set things up. We usually don't use one, but she made the scheduling of domestic flights really easy. Her name is Tammy Liu, agency is Panoramic Panama.

Let me know if you'd like to see our pictures, [email protected]
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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We r just back from our 2nd trip to Panama. Spent 2 nights in PC and 5 nights in the Chiriqui province on Isla Boca Brava.....

Amazing experience. This country has TONS to offer. Look for my trip report soon.

Faithie
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 04:22 PM
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Thank you for your responses. I am not familiar with the areas in Panama... just starting to look them up. I am thinking that for the first time, 7 full days there (not including flying in and out) would be good. What itinerary would anyone out there recommend, and Faithie did you plan the trip yourself or go through an agency. Am looking forward to your trip report. thanks
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 04:53 PM
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I planned the trip myself. It's definitely doable by yourself.

You could do the 1st and last night around PC. Do the pipeline road, an Embera tour, a boat tour on the canal to the Smithsonian institute, see the Canal at Miraflores Lockes.

After that choose an area that interests.... be it mountain, jungle, or beach.

It's an incredible country with endless possibilities. Like Costa Rica 20 years ago. We love Costa Rica and have fallen in love with Panama and can't wait to explore further, start googling!
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 04:56 PM
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Frommers has a Panama guide book that just came out this year. It may be helpful to figure out where you might want to go.
I went to Panama almost two years ago.. can't belive it's been that long. We also only had about six days.
We started in Panama City. Our first day we went on a birding tour to the pipeline, visited the Panama Canal Museum and watched the boats come in. It was very interesting but one afternoon was enough for me to get a good idea about the canal. That night we went to Tinjas rest. for a folklore show that was a lot of fun.
The next morning we flew to Bocas Del Toro and spent a couple of nights there.
From there we headed to Boquette. We really loved it there. Wonderful hiking. We also went on a birding tour to see Quetzels. We went with a local guide named Chago and we saw many.
It was a quick but great trip. There are many other places to visit but for our short trip we were able to see quite a bit. We would love to go back..
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