Panama City itself is actually three cities in one. La Vieja is the ancient ruined city that the Spaniards burned down on the approach of the pirate Henry Morgan. He still sacked the remainder of the city and stayed a month to ensure he had squeezed all the gold out of the inhabitants. Then there is Casco Antiguo with its Spanish feel, boutique hotels and excellent bars and restaurants and finally the modern city of business skyscrapers and interesting architecture.
Certainly, visit the Miraflores Lock on the old canal to learn about its construction and to watch the huge ship navigate the lock. But also head to the rainforest in a powered dugout to meet the indigenous tribes that still live their traditional lives here.
Finally, finish on a white sand, palm fringed beach on the Caribbean. Home of clear warm water and ideal for spectacular snorkelling and diving.
A country that has so much more to offer than just the Panama Canal (well two canals as the new one is up and running).
Day 1: Panama City
Day 4: Bocas del Toro
Day 7: Panama City
As you descend in to the International airport, look out for the islands and the huge number of vessels awaiting their turn to navigate the Panama Canal. The new canal takes the largest of the ships waiting. While here ensure you explore the 3 different aspects of the City – an insight in to the influence of Europe on this region.
Certainly you should explore the Casco Antiguo, the Spanish part of the city, as it is lively and has an array of good restaurants and bars. Be here for sundown and join the locals parading along the waterfront before deciding where to eat.
On another day take the powered dugout to the village of Embera Drua, well up stream and deep in the rainforest. You will be made very welcome and have a chance to learn about the tribe’s traditional way of life. Fresh fish from the river will be your lunch before you head back down river.
On the way back, stop at Miraflores Lock to watch the boats traversing the isthmus on the Canal. There is an excellent little museum here and information centre about the construction of the Canal.
3 nights Panama
Time to relax on the beach or take your snorkel out over the coral reefs to see the amazing colours of the coral and all the fish here. Very much a get away from it all destination. With 7 major islands to choose from and Bocas Town being clapboard houses down by the waters edge, you are long way from the big hotel chains found elsewhere.
3 nights Bocas del Toro
Back to Panama City to connect with your onward flight. Perhaps home but you could make this part of a trip that includes Costa Rica.
Enjoying the freewheeling life at the village of Embera Drua. While everything was put on for our benefit, everyone seemed so happy that we had made the effort to visit them.
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