Panama has everything you can ask for: two oceans, a stunning capital and staggering jungle. Tim spent one week here in late September 2016 and came back with monkey-, sloth- and rum-content. In 60 seconds.
Here are our recommendations in order of appearance:
0:06 Biomuseo, Panamá
The Biomuseo is, for a museum, a pretty interesting place. It focusses on the biodiversity in the country and also on the impact of the channel on it. But it is funded by companies like Shell – so don’t expect it to be very self-critical. Anyway: The architecture is quite interesting.
0:11 Rio Gatun
The Gatun River feeds the artificial lake that makes the Panama Canal possible. Its arms are still very rural and easily to be explored by boat. Several companies, like Gamboa Tours, offer small cruises that they like to call „expeditions“. Well… it’s not exactly livingstoneish but worth a try.
0:13 Embréa Village
The Embréa Community is the native people of Panama. Their villages are situated in the jungle. In contrast to similar countries the Embréa are well respected in Panama and encouraged to promote their heritage. A visit might be seen as a tourist trap but it isn’t. Most of the villages do not allow tourists at all and those who do only invite very few a day. Sometimes you can even spend the night there. The good thing about it: You get the full experience. The drawback: It is extremely expensive! Starting at 250 Dollars per person, but getting cheaper the bigger the group is.
Panama City recently became pretty infamous because of the “Panama Papers” and for being the tax paradise it is. And yes, you do see how much money there is by just looking at the stunning skyline.
0:26 James Bond Location
In the movie “Spectre” agent James Bond into the Andean Grand Hotel. The hotel isn’t available in real life – but instead you can visit the National Institute of Culture in Panama City which was transformed into the hotel for the film.
0:28 Panama City Waterfront
The good thing about Panama City: Even though it’s hot and pretty much 100% air-conditioned, there is still life on the streets. The waterfront at Bella Vista is a meeting point for a lot of locals that love to do outdoor sports.
0:36 Bajareque Coffee House
This ist the home of the best coffee in Panama. And the geisha-coffee they make is massively expensive, sometimes costing more than 1000 Dollars per kilo.
0:39 Restaurante Diablicos – Casco Viejo
Yes, you can argue about the panamese cuisine. It’s not what you’d call creative. Basically they’re deepfrying everything they get into their hands. The other thing that you might love or hate is the excessive use of garlic.
0:43 Bocas del Toro
A visit to Panama is not complete without a visit to the caribbean coast. Bocas is an archipelago and pretty much everyone’s idea of a caribbean paradise.
Air Panama Viajes flies there for est. 100 Dollars from Panama City. The other option: The bus that takes you more than 11 hours.
0:47 Boat hire in Bocas
There are water taxis – but the best way to get around is a private boat. I met a local who was willing to take me around but there is an infinite number of tour operators that take you to all the spots you want to see: Red Frog Beach, Dolphin Bay, Starfish Beach and Cayo Zapatilla. Prices start, depending on the season, at around 35 Dollars.
0:49 Starfish Beach, Isla Colon, Panama
…is called Starfish Beach for a reason. There are uncountable numbers of big starfish in the water. Furthermore this place has a lot of beach bars and is accessible by land and water.
0:52 Cosmic Crab Cafe
This place is one of the reasons you came to Bocas: It is a lovely restaurant and hotel on the water.
0:54 Selina Hostels – Bocas del Toro
There are a lot of hostels on the main island of Bocas del Toro, but the most famous is definitely the Selina Hostel. It offers a very relaxed atmosphere and danceable tunes at night. But the best thing is the little marina right next to the bar that invites for a swim at night.
0:55 Canal de Panamá – La Ruta
This is where all your christmas presents come through – sort of. The impact on the world’s economy of the Panama Canal is huge. Recently they opened bigger locks on both sides for bigger ships to come through. But the government is already planning to expand it even further. The Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal are just a short drive away from Panama City and have a very interesting viewing platform from where you can watch the ships coming through.
1:00 Puente de las Américas
Locals are very proud of it since it is one of their major landmarks. When you get the right timing, you can pass the bridge while a ship is approaching the Miraflores Locks right behind it.