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Panama

Such extraordinary regional diversity within a country as small as Panama is a rare find, and means there’s plenty to do without the hassle of long journeys. Panama City’s Casco Antiguo (old historic quarter) is a UNESCO protected site with a fascinating maritime history, delectable food scene, and beautiful colonial architecture – the perfect starting point for a Panamanian adventure. From here, discover the world-famous Panama Canal; a marvellous feat of engineering and one of the most important inventions in the history of trade, which connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans over a hundred years ago. It’s well worth a visit to watch how vast cruise ships pass through the Canal’s intricate lock systems.

For lush rainforest and mountain scenery, venture west to the highlands of Chiriqui, a nurturing landscape for wildlife where you’ll spot an abundance of birds and monkeys, and coffee plantations grow bountifully thanks to a lovely warm climate and the perfect altitude. Small lodges in Chiriqui provide peace and quiet in the heart of nature.

Blessed with both Pacific and Atlantic coastlines; the Pacific Coast boasts endless white beaches and excellent surf, along with Humpback whale watching from July to October. The calmer Caribbean coast is a shimmering scene of crystal clear waters and tropical palm trees, with a handful of rustic-luxury retreats set in private bays. But the San Blas Islands are where you’re transported to paradise; an archipelago of mostly uninhabited white sand islands surrounded by pristine coral reefs. Explore by luxury yacht, stopping to swim and snorkel, or enjoy a private picnic on the warm Caribbean sands. Here you can also discover the indigenous Kuna Yala tribe and their unique traditions.

To learn more about Panama’s folkloric traditions and witness the artisanal skill of those keeping its cultural heritage alive, the small villages of the Azuero Peninsula are worth passing through (a few hours’ drive from Panama City) and we can arrange for you to visit workshops and home-studios to see traditional devil’s masks being made from papier mache, hand-made drums and intricately designed traditional Pollera dresses that can take up to a year to sew.

Locations

  • Panama Carts
    Chiriqui
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  • Punta Coracol Bocas del Toro, Panama
    Bocas del Toro
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  • Panama City Old Town Architecture
    Panama City
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  • Luxury Yacht, Panama
    San Blas Islands
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Best time to travel

Year round

Flight time

from London / New York: 14 (connecting) / 5 hours (direct)

Combines Well With

Costa Rica or Colombia

Read

David McCullough – The Path Between The Seas

Listen

Cumbia

Eat & Drink

Sancocho & Panama Seco

What people say

  • There is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to Panama. You did a fabulous job at exposing us to all its little known treats - the eccentric bars and restaurants in Casco Viejo (Donde Jose was a fave), venturing down the Chagras River to meet the indigenous Embero tribe, the wonderful sound of the cicadas and monkeys from our beach side lodge. That, and watching the sloths and toucans in the Soberania rainforest, was a real highlight.
  • I cannot tell you what an amazing time we are having...how did you manage it?!
  • We were delighted with the trip we have just completed to Brazil and Argentina. We walked down Copacabana beach, watched a tapir swim past our canoe in the Pantanal, were submerged in the Iguazu falls, conquered desert and vineyards in northwest Argentina, experienced a snowstorm in the Andes, fed Cayman off horseback and enjoyed a tango show in probably the finest city in South America. A truly memorable experience: we have no hesitation in recommending Plan South America.

The Inside Track

Take a look at some of our recent articles about Panama

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