When we, as travel consultants, visit a country, we are inevitably hosted by hotels, given the best rooms and generally looked after so we return home with a favourable impression. Our role is to decide if we would actually pay to repeat that trip or not. John, who has travelled extensively throughout Central America, gives Panama a definite thumbs up and would return even if he had to pay. What a tough life!
Why we like Panama
Panama has not, until very recently, figured as a major place to visit, but as the country re-invents itself as an eco-tourism destination, its popularity is going to explode. For the moment it remains slightly quirky - which of course appeals to us enormously - with some interesting places to stay and things to do. But for those with a love of travel and adventure then Panama must move up the list of places to go.
What to expect on your Panama holiday
Panama is best known for its iconic piece of engineering, but there is so much more to this beautiful country. Few realise the biodiversity found in Panama.
Interestingly Panama acts as a natural biological corridor connecting north and South America, and with a third of the country protected by reserves and national parks, it is perhaps not surprising that it plays host to over 1,000 species of bird (largest number in Central America), 10,000 species of plant, 218 species of mammal and 226 species of reptile.
What is surprising, perhaps, is the stark contrast between the wealth of Panama City and the fact that a short distance away the indigenous Embera tribe still travel by canoe rather than Ferrari. You will find other tribes in Panama’s remote regions, including the Kuna, with their pre-Columbian heritage, who inhabit a semi-autonomous area which includes 365 Caribbean Islands.
Don’t expect to find Panama hat weaving – Panama hats are made in Ecuador!
Some ideas for a Panama holiday
- A visit to the famous canal is a must. It was an extraordinary feat of engineering and 2014 marks the 100th anniversary.
- Take a dugout canoe past pristine rainforest to visit an indigenous Embera Community.
- Hike up dormant Baru Volcano for views to both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
- Snorkel over colourful coral gardens within the Bocas del Toro island archipelago.
Beyond the ordinary
Charter a yacht and sail through the picture postcard San Blas Islands.