A Travellerspoint blog

Panama

Panama - Panama City

34 °C

We flew into Panama City, and having few pre-conceived ideas we soon discovered that the city is comprised of a flashy new centre and an old crumbling historical centre. There were many buses running through the city to ferry people in and out, we got to take our pick between the new air conditioned buses, or the colourful old American school buses. It was stifling hot, so more often than not we chose the air conditioned ones!

The old town was left almost abandoned until recently, and now lots of work is being done to restore it's grandeur and it has quickly become the main tourist area. Full of crumbling buildings and empty mansions with gardens taking over the insides, it was a very interesting place to wander through. The charm is that it hasn't yet been made to look perfect, but there are beautiful plazas, streets and buildings amongst the older ones. A nice walkway along the waterfront gives a great view back across the modern sky scrapers of the commercial city centre.

The Panama Canal is an amazing feat of engineering, opened in 1914 to connect the Atlantic ocean with the Pacific, making trade between Europe and the rest of the world a lot easier. There is an inland water system, which has had several giant locks added to it to create the Panama Canal. The whole canal stretches 77.1km. We were lucky enough to see a giant cruise ship, followed by many cargo ships pass through the Miraflores lock where the tourist centre is set up. The centre has loads of info about the formation of the canal, well worth a visit.

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 22:38 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Panama - San Blas Islands

29 °C

Our stop in Panama was convenient for our forward journey to other destinations, and we also had the opportunity to visit the San Blas Islands. When we were travelling in the north of Colombia we heard lots about the San Blas Islands as it's a popular trip to sail between Panama and Colombia via the San Blas Islands.

Since they recently upgraded the road it's much faster to reach the islands from Panama City (approx. 2hrs in a car, then a short boat ride depending on which island you're heading to), however it is a roller coaster of a road, be careful if you get motion sick! The Islands are an archipelago comprising approximately 378 small islands, of which only 49 are inhabited. They are small sandy islands covered in palm trees, and pretty much define 'tropical island paradise'. We weren't really sure what to expect in terms of accommodation and facilities and we were in for a bit of a surprise. The inhabitants are indigenous and live in a traditional way, which was great to experience.

We payed for an all inclusive home stay with some locals which included all meals, accommodation and boat transport to explore some of the islands. The downside? The facilities were well, rustic. The toilet? Perched directly over the ocean. Shower? A bucket. Still, it didn't take anything away from how beautiful the islands were. Some no bigger that a football field, with palm trees, white sand, crystal clear water, tropical coral and fish, not to mention giant star fish! Camping in a small tent and exploring these islands was fantastic, and we had some great sunny weather. Isla Perro even had a ship wreck from 100 years ago which Paul spend hours exploring. Then a group of us decided to take on the challenge of a swim to a neighbouring island, well it looked fairly close..!

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San Blas is an ideal getaway for back packers, and if you're after something slightly more comfortable we hear there are islands with resorts which are a little less basic!

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 22:30 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

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