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30 Aug

Why you need to book a ticket to Panama

After my Panama vacation, I received lots of questions on Facebook and promised I’ll do a post about my recent beautiful experience in this country and about my first trip there also. That was last year, in 2015. If Panama is on your travel list, hope this tips will help.

As a first tip, it would be ideal if you visit the country at the end of May – beginning of June, for two reasons. Plane tickets are cheaper, from Bucharest with Turkish Airlines it is about 480 euro and with KLM 520 euros, and you avoid the rain season also. True, it is quite awesome to go during winter holidays but the tickets are quite expensive.

Also, I recommend you rent a car and make the most of the trip. We did this and it was a great decision. If you can, go for a terrain one. The prices are ok, the insurance is bit expensive, more that the rent fee itself. Don’t go for a high end car because it doesn’t worth it, especially if you are on a tight budget.

Start with a tour of Panama City, so you can get used to the locals and let me tell you that their style isn’t like the European one. If you aren’t open minded, to explore, you might not be pleased. I went for the landscapes, for something new and I loved it. I would go back anytime, visited twice, so there’s your proof.

Photography by Rares Pulbere

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Don’t miss Casco Viejo, the historic centre of Panama City which is constantly changing. In 1977 it was appointed World Heritage Site by Unesco. After a couple of flourishing periods, it was attacked by pirates, it was a gang headquarter and it is an remodelling period. If you have the budget for it, stay at least a night at the American Trade Hotel, it is the most beautiful and central hotel. The ground floor features a cafe that has many coffee specialities, one of those being Gheisa, one of the rarest types in the world. Unfortunately, I was only passing through.

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The best place to eat, drink #coffee and also a place with a great story. <3

A photo posted by Carmen Negoita (@carmennegoita) on

Also in Panama City , go see the Panama Canal and take a tour. The canal was a great engineering project, which helped enormously the navigation and it is the point where most goods go through. Moreover, the  port city of Colon is a Free Trade Zone and from what my friends are saying you can buy many things there at great prices. Unfortunately I didn’t visit it yet, but I would not go there without a local, because the area is not the safest. If you go, go with only small bills.

The oldest road bridge over the Panama Canal is Puente las Americas, which you will definitely cross on your way to the north west of the country.

After a full day of driving stop for 2-3 days at Venao beach. I stayed at Selina Hostels, a very modern chain of hostels. It is small corner of civilisation, away from the world where you can do surf, paddeling or simply linger at their beach or explore pristine beaches in the area. On the way to La Playa there are many monkeys.

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At and hour drive you’ll find the Andromeda Complex, where’s a Beach Club, Los Vientos, with a gorgeous pool, restaurant, and many other activities. Also the town of Pedasi in the area is quite picturesque.

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Last year, around the same area I visited the Catalina beach, I read that it is an important beach for surfers, but frankly I was not impressed. I never got to see the island of Coiba, starting from the port of Mutis. Arrived a little late in port, to our sorrow.

The next point of interest is the Baru Volcano, the highest point in Panama, but before you go up there I recommend a detour to eat, or to stay for one day if you have time to Las Lajas Beach Resort. I suntanned with iguanas and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets. The food is not healthy, but does it matter? ☺ On holiday the calories don’t count.

This day ends with this amazing view!

A photo posted by Carmen Negoita (@carmennegoita) on

On the way to the Volcano you have two paths. One by Boquette where you can go rafting, tour coffee plantations and trails on foot or by car to the top of the volcano. By Cerro Punta there are beautiful landscapes and I recommend you to stay at Los Quetzales Ecolodge and Spa, the only place where I was cold (except for the top of the volcano). Pack warm clothes, because the don’t have heating and I didn’t know what to layer. Otherwise the place is very eco friendly and you can do many things in the are. I went to see Finca Dracula and no, there’s no connection to our Dracula. The name comes from a species of orchids that grow there. In fact the whole farm houses over 2,200 species of orchids from Central and South America. The whole area is part of the National Parque Amistad, a Unesco heritage.

To climb the volcano you have the daring option to leave on foot in the evening and arrive at sunrise. But do not do this alone because there are cougars in the woods. I met some crazy Londoners who survived but were nearly frozen and we took them in our car. We chose the safe way with a jeep with huge wheels, in which you will feel like in a carousel. Slow, but a carousel on the huge stones, which the car escalates. If you take the 4 am tour you catch the sunrise on the highest point in Panama.

And after all the adrenaline and cold weather it is time for the beach….but that, in the next post of the Panama Series.

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This day ends with this amazing view!

A photo posted by Carmen Negoita (@carmennegoita) on

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