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Panama

Travel on Your Own

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Panama

Travel on Your Own

Panama is home to a amazing variety of wildlife, from howler monkeys and red-eyed tree frogs to kinkajous, hawksbill turtles and toucans. There are still places where no human has ever laid foot. Most regions that have been explored are still wild and rugged, with an array of natural wonders and wildlife that includes the  Panama Canal watershed zone,

Individual itineraries crafted to meet your budget. 

 

Panama Lodging

PANAMA CITY

Country Inn & Suites El Dorado

The Country Inn El Dorado offers cozy accommodations, easy access to the all the best Panama destinations, and superior customer services. The happy, welcoming staff are committed to making sure you are comfortable and happy.

SANTA CATALINA

Santa Catalina Inn

On Panama's Pacific Coast, Santa Catalina & nearby Coiba National Park offer pristine beaches, turquoise waters & incredible sunsets. Come visit this beautiful location off the beaten path!

BOCAS DEL TORO

Al Natural Resort

Between jungle and sea, Al Natural Resort is a comfortable and private retreat, perfectly integrated into the lush tropical environment. The resort elegantly combines the ancestral craftsmanship of the Ngobe-Bugle Indians with new technologies that allow us to harvest energy from the sun and limit our impact on the ecosystem. The resort is situated on a small secluded beach far from Bocas town, surrounded bu luxuriant vegetation and close to the natural wonders of Bastimentos Island National Marine park. In order to provide each guest with maximum privacy, it is our goal to maintain an intimate scale for the resort, there are only seven beach bungalows, each of a different size and unique design. Al Natural is an authentic eco-resort with a relax atmosphere and a friendly team which offers a comfortable level of personalized services. Gourmet meals, prepared with fresh local products by our European Chef, are served in our two-story restaurant.

Eclypse del Mar Aqua Lodge

Eclypse del Mar Aqua Lodge is committed to the environment and biodiversity and aimed at proving that communities are able to live in harmony with nature. This resort has exclusive individual bungalows carefully furnished and built over the water on the Caribbean Sea (with private bathroom, hot water shower, fans, hammocks, room service, and private terrace from where you can have a spectacular sunset view over the ocean).

La Loma Lodge (Upgrade Option)

If you want to escape everyday life, relax in a secluded hillside rancho overlooking a majestic bay, participate in tropical farm life, or engage in a range of activities designed to bring you closer to the natural environment and local communities of spectacular Bastimentos Island, La Loma is for you.

BOQUETE

Finca Lerida

This 23-room Boutique Hotel is located 10 minutes away from central Boquete. It is hard to believe within the quality and comfort of its walls, that outside begins a reign of more than 550 different species of birds, making it an ideal and accessible place for bird watching in the Highland Region of Chiriqui.

 

The coffee plantation founded by Engineer Monniche, surrounds the hotel and borders with Volcan Baru National Park (Baru is the only volcano in Panama). Further away arises the impenetrable and rich forests of the magnificent cross border La Amistad International Park (PILA), declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This natural reserve is made up of more than half a million hectares (1.200.000 acres) and hosts a unique and invaluable biodiversity shared between Panama and Costa Rica.

BURBAYAR RAINFOREST PRESERVE

Burbayar Lodge

Burbayar is a family owned and operated lodge in the Burbayar Rainforest Preserve. The lodge is atop a mountain summit within a tropical rain forest, inhabited by hundreds of species of birds, monkeys, coaties, tapirs, agoutis, deer, pumas, jaguars and many other animals of the forest, as well as majestic trees, ferns, palms, orchids and heliconias.

Burbayar provides all the basic comforts and is totally natural. It is the place for those interested in quiet immersion in nature. You can spend the night in the forest, eat delicious food, relax in hammocks, hike trails, dream and truly get away.

CHIRIQUI

Mount Totumas Eco-Lodge

Mount Totumas Lodge is perched on a ridge top overlooking the canopy of primary forest with sweeping views of La Amistad National Park. The design of the lodge was envisioned with large wrap around windows to allow guests to enjoy wide open views of the forest from many angles. In the living room accordian french doors open to the deck, perfect for wildlife observation and star gazing at night.

Suites and rooms are designed to provide each guest a private luxurious space. Private bathrooms have large skylights and planters to create a garden space in your room.

The trails into the cloud forest start from the front door of the lodge.

The restaurant creates dishes drawing from our gardens and the local produce vendors in Volcan. Lemon Grass, ginger, thai basil, kafir lime, galanga, anise, fennel, beets, oregano, rosemary, naranjilla, salzamora, cherimoya, loquat, just a few of the ingredients we use in preparing delicious and unique meals.

COIBA ISLAND

National Park Ranger Station

Until recently, the only way to dive Coiba was on a dive live-aboard. However, in 2004, the Panama National Park Service fully renovated the old guard barracks from the former prison, and turned them into a comfortable eco-lodge. The station offers several modest 2 room cabins with air conditioning.

DARIEN GAP

Darien Canopy Camp

This new camp combines a great birding site with comfortable quarters, outstanding food, and unsurpassed attention to a great birding experience.

Accommodations are in large, almost elegant safari-style tents slightly elevated on metal platforms with wood decking and adjacent private bathrooms. A central building houses the dining room, kitchen, library, and an open veranda (with hammocks), which is an ideal spot for scanning the surrounding forest where parrots, toucans, and puffbirds perch and raptors soar over the nearby ridges.

SOBERANIA NATIONAL PARK

Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Boasting views of the river, garden or tropical style pool, the 137 guest rooms and 27 suites at Gamboa Rainforest Resort offer your own private sanctuary amidst the pristine natural beauty of Soberania National Park. With a rustic yet comfortable eco-lodge-style, all accommodation feature comforts that include complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service and mini refrigerators.

Locally inspired architecture and décor along with stunning views of the Panama Canal and Chagres River inspire the senses while soothing the spirit. With warm breezes and tropical birds singing over your room’s private balcony and hammock, it’s easy to lose yourself in the tranquility of Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

 

Panama Activities

At a Glance

We know you've chosen to travel with us for our wildlife emphasis, so we've included a wide variety of adventure activities designed to educate, inspire, and bring out the wonder in you. All of our activities are flexibly designed to accommodate different skill levels and interests, while exposing you to a variety of unique eco-systems in order to see the most amount of wildlife. And did we mention fun?

  • Wildlife Viewing in more than 4 National Parks & Exclusive Private Wildlife Preserves
  • Bocas del Toro Islands, Snorkeling & Beaches
  • Rainforest Hiking and Canopy Tour in Remote Chiriqui Cloudforest
  • White Water Rafting on Chiriqui Viejo River
  • Cultural Interaction with Indigenous Ngoble Bugle or Embera tribes
  • Expert Local Naturalist Guides
  • Beautiful Rainforest Lodges & Beachfront Cabanas

Other Activities

Unparalleled Wildlife Viewing

The most value of any professional wildlife tour in Panama, including wildlife viewing in more than 4 National Parks and Wildlife Preserves. Visit Soberania National Park, Rainforest Discovery Center, Finca Lerida Private Cloudforest Reserve, Burbayar Rainforest Preserve, and Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

Wildlife Viewing in a Virtually Unknown Private Wildlife Reserve

Burbayar is a virtually unknown private reserve located at the narrowest part of the wildlife corridor that goes from the Darien to the San Blas mountains. Because of this, wildlife specialist Josh Cohen, our director, has seen animals such as bushdog and ocelot, both of which are predatory indicator species that reflect an abundance of prey, with exceptional biodiversity. In fact, scientists from the Smithsonian Institute rank it as one of the world's top 10 reserves in terms of its wealth of flora and fauna. Our indigenous Kuna guides will help you identify the birds, butterflies, medicinal plants, trees and flowers. Monkeys, sloths, agoutis, frogs and iguanas are often encountered along the your hikes each day. Some of the trails lead to lovely waterfalls and crystal-clear pools that invite for a refreshing dip.

Spectacular Snorkeling and Beaches of Bocas del Toro Archipelago

Because Bocas is outside the hurricane belt, much of the reef has escaped the kind of damage the characterizes the Belize reef. Coral around Bocas - especially in the Bastimentos Marine Wildlife Sanctuary - is abundant, including a wide array of unusually colorful soft corals. In these days of global warming, it is nearly impossible to find such vibrant colonies of coral as are commonly found around Bocas. Enjoy snorkeling the barrier reefs of Bocas, including Zapatillas Cay, Coral Cay, and Old Point Beach, home to some of the most colorful coral - and abundant marine life - in all of Central America! Relax on pristine tropical beaches or by your beachfront cabana.

Canopy Tour in Remote Soberania National Park

Enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing, including canopy bridges that allow you to explore the rainforest at canopy level for a birds-eye view of Lake Gatun and the park's astounding wildlife, which includes monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and more.

White Water Rafting on Chiriqui Viejo River

Experience the thrills and excitement of riding the rapids and floating the calm portions of one of the most beautiful rivers in Central America. The river passes through a spectacular canyon with breathtaking waterfalls that spill high off the canyon's moss-laden walls and tumble into the river.

Option to Visit Salt Creek Ngoble Bugle Indigenous Village

Choose to upgrade to Al Natural on Bastimentos Island and canoe amongst the mangroves, a nursery for young tropical fish, followed by a hike with indigenous Ngoble Bugle guides into the island's wildlife-rich interior, searching for Night Monkeys and other rare wildlife. Sloth and monkeys are found on the island, and the electronic-sounding "bonk" of migrating bellbirds can often be heard throughout the entire island.

 

Panama Wildlife

Rare or Endagered Possible Sightings

Mammals: Jaguar & other cats, tapir, porcupine, silky anteater, grey fox, olingo, paca, grison
Reptiles, Insects & Amphibians: Fleishman's glass frogs (see-through), leatherback turtles, green turtles, Hercules beetles
Birds: Ornate hawk-eagle, harpy eagle, great green macaw, king vulture, white hawk, great potoo, scissor-tailed flycatcher, royal flycatcher, and many more.

Likely Sightings

Primates: Squirrel monkeys, night monkeys, Geoffrey's tamarin
Other Mammals: Tamandua (anteater), kinkajou, agouti, tayra, peccaries (collared & white-liped), dolphins
Reptiles & Insects: Red-eyed tree frogs, walking sticks, sea turtles, fer-de-lance, leaf-cutter ants
Birds: Resplendent quetzals, scarlet macaws, lovely cotingas, scarlet-thighed dacnis, green honeycreepers, roseate spoonbill, woodstorks, crested caracara, purple gallinule, northern jacanas, great curassow

Prolific Sightings

Wild Planet's wildlife eco-tours are designed for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Our "Ultimate Wildlife" eco-adventures are specially designed for maximum wildlife viewing. We take care to seek out wildlife that is rare, off the beaten path, and in greater numbers than you will see on conventional tours.

Our expert naturalist guides will educate you in the field so your experience is intimate and unparalleled. Still, wildlife viewing can unpredictable and requires patience and sensory awareness.

Primates: Howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys
Other mammals: Three-toed sloth, two-toed sloth, coatimundi, bats
Reptiles & Insects: Crocodiles, caimen, blue morpho butterflies, basilisk (Jesus Christ lizards), poison arrow frogs
Birds: 600 species including parrots, trogons, mot-mots, tanagers, Montezuma's oropendulas, hawks, squirrel cuckoos, owls, herons, kingfishers, 60 species of hummingbirds and much more.

 

Panama FAQ

Panama Facts for Visitors

Climate/Best Time to Go:

Average year-round temperatures are a balmy 75°F to 85°F (24°C-29°C), varying only with altitude. Humidity is always high in Panama, and rainfall varies noticeably between the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country, with some areas in the Caribbean receiving almost twice the yearly rainfall of Panama City. The best time to visit Panama is during the summer dry season from mid-December to mid-April. This is also high season. Caribbean destinations such as Bocas del Toro have a shorter dry season, usually September/October and February/March, but really showers can occur on any given day.

Best time to go: late November through April

Government:

Panama is a Presidential Representative Democratic Republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Since the end of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship in 1989, Panama has successfully completed five peaceful transfers of power to opposing political factions. The political landscape is dominated by two major parties and many smaller parties, many of which are driven by individual leaders more than ideologies.

Location:

Panama's location on the Isthmus of Panama is strategic. By 2000, Panama controlled the Panama Canal which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to the North of the Pacific Ocean.

The dominant feature of Panama's geography is the central spine of mountains and hills that forms the continental divide. The divide does not form part of the great mountain chains of North America, and only near the Colombian border are there highlands related to the Andean system of South America. The spine that forms the divide is the highly eroded arch of an uplift from the sea bottom, in which peaks were formed by volcanic intrusions.

The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Costa Rican border. Farther east it becomes the Serranía de Tabasará, and the portion of it closer to the lower saddle of the isthmus, where the Panama Canal is located, is often called the Sierra de Veraguas. As a whole, the range between Costa Rica and the canal is generally referred to by geographers as the Cordillera Central.

Size:

Approximately 28,640 square mile--about half the size of the state of Iowa.

Population:

Panama had an estimated population of 4,176,869 in 2018. The proportion of the population aged less than 15 in 2010 was 29 percent. 64.5 percent of the population was between 15 and 65, with 6.6 percent of the population 65 years or older.

More than half the population lives in the Panama City–Colón metropolitan corridor, which spans several cities. Panama's urban population exceeds 75 percent, making Panama's population the most urbanized in Central America.

In 2010 the population was 65 percent Mestizo (mixed white, Native American), 12.3 percent Native American, 9.2 percent Black or African descent, 6.8 percent mulatto, and 6.7 percent White.

Language:

Spanish is the official and dominant language. The Spanish spoken in Panama is known as Panamanian Spanish. About 93 percent of the population speak Spanish as their first language. Many citizens who hold jobs at international levels, or at business corporations, speak both English and Spanish. About 14 percent of Panamanians speak English; this number is expected to rise because Panama now requires English classes in its public schools.

Entry Requirements:

A passport (valid for at least 3 months past date of entry) and return ticket are required to enter Panama. No visas are required for citizens of the US, UK, Canada, Japan and many others.

Departure Tax:

Approximately US $35.00, typically included in cost of international flights.

Currency:

The Panamanian currency is officially the balboa, fixed at a rate of 1:1 with the United States dollar since Panamanian independence in 1903. In practice, Panama is dollarized: U.S. dollars are legal tender and used for all paper currency, and whilst Panama has its own coinage, U.S. coins are widely used.

Telecommunications:

All telecommunications services (direct dial phones, fax, telex, cable) are available; but calls from Panama are much higher than an equivalent call to Panama. The country code for Panama is (507) Remote jungle lodges usually have short wave radio communications linked to cellular service.

Time Zone:

Panama is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, and does not utilize daylight saving time. There is very little seasonal variation between dawn and dusk due to the proximity to the equator, dawn is usually 6:00 am and dusk 6:00 pm.

Sales Taxes:

Panama has roughly 7% sales tax and there may be 15% service charge in many hotels and restaurants.

Tipping:

Tipping is voluntary; tips of 15% are acceptable; more if the service is exceptionally good. Some hotels and restaurants add a 15% service.

Water:

Tap water in Panama City is safe to drink, as is the water in most other parts of the country. However, you're better off buying bottled water or purifying your own water in the provinces of Bocas del Toro, the Darien Gap, and Guna Yala.

This Trip's Exclusive Wildlife Features:

Choose Your Panama Travel Style! Any of our wildlife adventures are also available as fully customizable private trips, honeymoons or family wildlife adventures.
CONTACT US | EMAIL US | CHAT NOW | RESERVE A TRIP | 1-800-990-4376
We're Wild for Wildlife...
  • Best Snorkeling in the Americas - Bocas is located completely outside the hurricane belt and off tourist radar. The reef is amongst the most pristine in the world with very low levels of bleaching or damage
  • Special Wildlife Activities - Hike with indigenous Ngoble Bugle guides to see rare night monkeys
  • Private Eco-Lodge Reserves - Burbayar and Finca Lerida offer astounding biodiversity and exclusive access to rare wildlife populations
We're Wild for Wildlife...
  • Best Snorkeling in the Americas - Bocas is located completely outside the hurricane belt and off tourist radar. The reef is amongst the most pristine in the world with very low levels of bleaching or damage
  • Special Wildlife Activities - Hike with indigenous Ngoble Bugle guides to see rare night monkeys
  • Private Eco-Lodge Reserves - Burbayar and Finca Lerida offer astounding biodiversity and exclusive access to rare wildlife populations
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