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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Panama 4.3.-12.4.23

Near Panama City we visit the Visitor Center at the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. In the IMAX cinema we are impressively told about the creation and the extensions of the Panama Canal. It turned out to be difficult to build a canal through the jungle, so the river was dammed and a huge lake was created. As a result, the ships have to pass through three lock chambers on both sides of the lake. On the observation platform we can watch how a freighter is brought from one to the other lock by four locomotives. Unfortunately, the upper floors are closed and therefore we can't get an overview of the whole facilities. But we were able to take a photo from the plane flying in from San Blas.

Near the Panama Canal, in Paraiso, we spend a few days in a golf resort that borders the rainforest. We explore the area by hiking through the jungle to a viewpoint and go on a safari with golf carts where we observe birds and crocodiles.

In Boca Chica we move into a B&B high up with a sublime view of the sea.

There we take a walk to the aviary of the lodge and make a boat trip to three offshore islands where we swim in the pleasant warm water and spend time under palm trees.

We continue towards Boquete with a detour to Gualaca to the small rock gorge 'Los Cangilones' where you can also take a bath in the stream.

Boquete is located in the coffee area of Panama where the best coffee is said to grow. Since it always rains heavily from noon on, we decide to take a morning trip on the Ruta Naranja, where we stop at the Finca Ladeira. Here you can join a coffee tour, or like us, take a walk past many flowers into the coffee plantations.

We also have free access to the barns and outdoor areas where the coffee beans are dried.

In Bocas del Torro, where you can only get by boat, we spend three nights on Solarte Island in a beautiful lodge surrounded by mangroves. The beautiful calm bay is ideal for kayaking or swimming but unfortunately there are some jellyfish in the water.

Via Las Lajas we go to Santa Catalina to the recommendable Villa Coco Lodge with very good food and cozy bungalows with a view.

There we take a trip to Coiba Island, which is the most beautiful spot in Panama for snorkeling and diving. On the 1 ½ hour trip by speedboat we meet a large, playful school of dolphins on the way there and back. We visit three different beautiful picture book beaches where we snorkel in the warm water. Unfortunately, there is hardly any coral here either, but we discover some schools of fish and can photograph water turtles.

Near Pedasi at Playa Venao is a small tourist village with many young people, simple restaurants and nightly disco music. Our somewhat worn out hotel 'Villa Marina Lodge & Condos' is located a bit away from the village directly on the beach.

Back in Panama we fly to the San Blas Archipelago, with beautiful flying views of Panama and the islands, where we have booked a 7 day sailing trip on a catamaran.

Our crew consists of two young people who belong to the indigenous people of the Kuna. There are 365 islands here, all dream islands lapped by turquoise water with white sandy beaches and palm trees.

On many islands we meet Kuna families who live in very simple huts without electricity and water. Our hosts always bring some cans of coke and our leftover food and we walk around the island looking for a shady spot. Sometimes the aperitif is brought from the ship to the island or even the whole lunch, which we enjoy under a shady roof.

A volleyball net on an island prompts us to move a bit more....

Unfortunately, we have the opportunity to snorkel only once, because on many beaches the current is too strong.

The lobsters and crabs for dinner can be bought directly from the fishermen in exchange for diesel and coke.

At the port of departure we go on a dinghy safari on the river to the mainland in the evening. We do not visit the simple village itself, but catch a glimpse as we sail past.

It was a great experience, very solitary, very relaxing and very authentic.

We spend the last week in Panama City in a vacation apartment. Since it is very hot, we are content with a walk through the old town 'Casco Viejo', which is worth seeing and in part very beautifully restored. We had a nice view of the district on the return flight from San Blas.

The restaurant 'Salvaje Costa Del Este' is a cool restaurant in African design with an excellent Japanese cuisine. A DJ plays music and every now and then there is a dance performance by the crew.

Now we are going to Switzerland for a good two months. During this time our car will be shipped to Colombia, where we will continue on the Panamericana in early July.

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