You can have almost any type of vacation you desire in Panama. If you’re the type who longs for a relaxing beach vacation with just a few activities, then Panama is for you. If you want vigorous physical activity, then Panama is the place for you. Panama is host to the most diverse wildlife and bird populations in Central America, so if you’re a bird watcher, a trip to Panama is a must. If visiting indigenous tribes and exploring exotic cultures is on your bucket list, you’ll want to visit Panama. If history is your hobby, and you want to experience colonial ruins or see the Panama Canal, then pack your bags.
Lori Snow, the owner of Condor Tours and Travel, is a native of Panama. No one knows Panama tourism like Lori. She is a 4th generation Panama-American, or as she prefers, a Pana-Gringa (I made that word up). She is fully bilingual in Spanish and English and leads many of our groups in exploring this amazing country.
Panama is an isthmus with Caribbean beaches on the northern coast and Pacific Beaches on the southern coast. The international airport is located on the Pacific side of Panama. The Caribbean beaches are characterized by smooth clear water and white sand. The area around Bocas Del Toro near Panama’s border with Costa Rica is a rising beach, nature and diving region. This region is fairly remote, and offers a relaxing beach vacation. The best way to access this area is by air from the domestic airport, Albrook Panama, which is a one hour flight. Additionally, the area around Bocas has some great bird watching. Panama’s Pacific Beaches have larger waves and offer some excellent surfing opportunities. There are beach options just 20 minutes from Panama City plus others that are from one to one and a half hours away, or you can go to the Azueros Penisula , or even up to the Boca Chica region. These areas can be accessed by a seven hour road trip or by short flights from Panama City. The Pacific beaches also have some five star resorts and Eco lodges for travelers who desire more pampering or who want to experience nature with all the creature comforts.
For the sport fisherman, several great options are available. Fishing in Gatun Lake, the main lake for the Panama Canal, you can catch and release Peacock Bass and the occasional Tarpon or Snook. We also offer fly fishing on the Bayano River. Or, if fishing in the ocean is what you prefer, we can arrange sleep- aboard trips, off shore or day trips out into the Pacific waters.
Bird watching is popular throughout Panama. The country is covered by large areas of rain forest and farm land which nurture more different species of birds than any country in Central America. No bird watchers book is complete without a visit to Panama.
Adventure travel in Panama is a must for thrill seekers. Hiking the Las Cruces trail, a road first built by Spanish Conquistadors, will really test your endurance. Canyoning or water fall repelling is available, and this trip also includes paddling a dugout canoe. Finally, traveling through the rain forest canopy on a zip-line is a one of a kind way to experience the jungle. There is white water rafting available if you are in the Chiriqui Province. If you are an adventure seeker – check out this package.
The Embera people of Panama, one of the indigenous tribes living in Panama before the Spanish arrived, have preserved their culture and allow tourists to visit one of their villages near Panama City. This is a special tour for those interested in glimpsing the pre-colonial life of this tribe.
Old Panama in Panama City contains the ruins of the original Spanish settlement of Panama. The town was sacked and burned by the English pirate Henry Morgan, and the site was abandoned for a more defensible site nearby. The ruins have been preserved and offer the amateur historian an interesting morning of site-seeing. We usually combine the visit to Old Panama with a visit to “Casco Antiguo.” This is the colonial city and has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. A walk down these old streets is a walk into history, and brings back the French Quarter where the French based their ground team when attempting to build the Panama Canal.
Finally, seeing the Panama Canal will cap any vacation to Panama. The construction of the Panama Canal was begun by the French in 1881 and completed by the United States in 1914. The Canal is actually a water bridge. Ships are lifted by three sets of locks from sea level up 85 feet to the level of Gatun Lake. Ships then sail through Gatun Lake and are lowered back to sea level through three more sets of locks. Construction of the Panama Canal cost $375,000,000 (roughly $8,600,000,000.00 in today’s dollars), making the Canal the largest peacetime engineering project in US history. You can experience the Canal at the Miraflores locks visitors center, or, for a more up close encounter, you can take a Panama Canal transit and actually sail the Panama Canal. We also offer tours to the new locks being built by Panama to increase the capacity of the canal. The opening is scheduled for late June so it is the final stretch.
Let us help you plan your trip to Panama – the vacation of your dreams!