You know one of the best things about summertime, besides the non-rain factor? Travel. Yes travel. In Panama about 20% of families can afford international travel during their summer vacation. So what about the other 80%? We all have been involved in the rush over and back on the bridges for summer weekends or the “interior” of the country. The true question is “why not be adventureous ?” Get out there and explore. There are 9 regions of Panama and all of them are distinctly different from the others and all are with in driving distance.
Pack up the car (don’t have one? Rent one) plug in the IPOD and head off on an adventure for your summer.
We will be highlighting weekly articles on two regions of the country to help you navigate through summer icon smile Summertime Activities
This week we are highlighting the Mamoni Valley and Guna Yala
Just about 90 minutes outside of the city you can take some “off the grid” tours of amazing projects such as Kalu Yala and Earth Train in the Mamoni Valley. Both have their own tour and travel availablities and are definitely worth the trip. While Earth Train is recognized world wide with the likes of Jane Goodall as a partner with her ground-breaking Roots and Shoots program, contact them for details. http://www.earthtrain.org/?pg=about
Both offering individual, children and family trips, Kalu Yala, has been touted as the holy grail of the modern take on a sustainable city. http://mashable.com/2014/02/06/kalu-yala/#:eyJzIjoiZiIsImkiOiJfOWs0anpwZDg0bDRuc2pnbCJ9
Set in a gorgeous valley bordered by a river chalked full of waterfalls, swimming holes and old growth forests, you are in for a treat by visiting these two hot spots.
Just past the turn off to The Mamoni valley, you will encounter the Guna Yala (San Blas) province and its autonomous nation in Panama. The Guna are recognized as a cultural power house in Latin America and are also the second shortest indigenous tribe next to Africa’s Pygmies. The islands of Guna Yala is crystal clear blue waters checkered with some 365 atolls and tropical reef fish. Plan on a rustic setting with delicious seafood cuisine.
You can rent a car or book a jeep ride. The ride costs $30 one way or $60 roundtrip and takes between 3-4 hours. The jeep drops you off near the island of Carti, where boats will transport you to to your island. The boat costs from $20 – $30 round trip. When the jeep enters the Guna Yala territory there is a $10 tax that goes to the indigenous population and make sure that you bring your I.D. In addition there is a $3 dock tax when you leave the port to head to your island.
You can also fly directly from Panama City for around $45-$60 each way. Once on the island, accommodation costs between $20-$45 per day and all meals are included in your stay. But where is the adventure in that?
Costa Abajo is a fabulous day trip and still fairly undiscovered. It will make you feel like you are on a treasure hunt as you get to drive through the actual locks of the Panama canal and can go all the way to the end of the road only to be greeted by an abandoned fort making you feel as if you have stepped into a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Fort Lorenzo has no charge to tour the ruins, which have cannons, rooms and even the bovedas or underground jails with shackles still on the walls! There are no food options near the fort so you can pack a picnic for the real adventure or stop by Shelter Bay Marina and enjoy their cuisine and view of some of the most luxury yachts in all of Panama.