Category Archives: Panama

Ready to travel around Panama with me?

An Adventure To The San Blas Islands, Panama

Time to travel to The San Blas Islands in Panama.

“The most content people on the planet”.

That’s what the article in Wanderlust magazine said. It was talking about the Guna Yala – the indigenous people living on the San Blas Islands just off the east coast of Panama. My plan? To capture some of that happiness to take home!

The draw of this archipelago is more than just spending a day lazing on a deserted beach; it’s to witness the Guna Yala culture first hand. These indigenous people live in a handful of places in Panama and Columbia, with the islands of San Blas being the most densely populated. Panama’s government has tried to control and change these communities against their will. After a few revolutions, there is now a treaty in place, which permits them to have a certain degree of autonomy. Some islands are tiny, with little more than a dusting of sand and a few palm trees, others have small shacks or basic hotels, while a few are more developed and home to large communities with their own schools and churches.

How To Get To The San Blas Islands

If you research how to visit, you’ll find a lot of websites offering expensive package deals. They collect you early in the morning from Panama City, transport you by 4×4 to the water taxi port where you then take a boat to the island you’re visiting. If you want to stay overnight, that can be arranged, otherwise you return in the evening. These organised tours are pricey and you’re restricted to a rigid itinerary, not to mention travelling with a bus-load of tourists.

We looked at other ways to get there, but felt nervous about the options. Many forums said that you could be stopped from going along the road to the port, and that some of the roads were in such bad condition they might be difficult to navigate even in a 4×4. Add to that, the main road wasn’t even listed on Google Maps!

Wanderlust Chloe San Blas Islands Panama01 Continue reading An Adventure To The San Blas Islands, Panama

Panama Article Featured on MSN Travel!

My recent article for Huffington Post on Why Panama Should Be On Your Holiday Radar has been featured by MSN Travel. Read the full piece here.Panama City

Panama: Top Places To Visit

There’s plenty more to Panama than the canal! Find out the best places to visit including Bocas Del Toro, Boquete and the stunning San Blas Islands.

How much do you know about the Central American country of Panama? Before I went, I knew there was a famous canal and they had their own type of hat. However, what I found was a country with breathtakingly diverse landscape, friendly people, buzzing cities and relaxed desert islands. The climate was tropical with high temperatures all year round on the coast, and some welcome cooler temperatures in the mountains.

With two weeks, you can cover a lot of ground. A few months ago I fell in love with Guatemala, and didn’t expect another country to come close, but Panama really won me over. If you’re not convinced yet, perhaps this will help…

Bocas Del Toro

Wanderlust Chloe Bocas Night
Bocas Del Toro at night

Bocas Del Toro is an archipelago of nine main islands and over 50 smaller islets in the Caribbean. They are beautiful and it’s very easy to settle into the relaxed pace of ‘island life’. On the main island Colon you’ll find several hotels, restaurants, bars and shops, but venture away from here and you’ll have a more authentic Panamanian experience. I stayed on Isla Bastimentos (the second largest island) at the family-run Hotel Caribbean View. It was all hands on deck – parents in the kitchen cooking, the son driving the water taxi, small kids running around helping rent out kayaks. It was a really local experience! Continue reading Panama: Top Places To Visit

Bright Lights, Big City – Panama City

Want to come on a tour of Panama City!

What a breathtaking skyline. It’s hard not to be wowed as you drive towards Panama City. For anyone who has grown up in big cities, there’s a strange comfort in seeing skyscrapers. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but after being away from London for so long, I felt a strange satisfaction being back in the hustle and bustle again.
No trip to this city is complete without a trip to the Panama Canal. It’s an amazing feat of engineering, and impressive to learn the history of the canal (and the previous failed attempt by the French!) However, after an hour or so of watching container ships, I had geeked out enough for one day!Wanderlust Chloe Panama Canal

Wanderlust Chloe Panama Canal 2

For me, the place to be in Panama City is Casco Viejo (the old town). It’s stunning. The architecture, the narrow streets with shops selling traditional Panama hats, so many delicious looking restaurants, bars overlooking the water with views across to the big city, traditional plazas with crumbling ruins…. There is so much to take in. I found myself taking photos of everything! There was always something catching my eye.

Wanderlust Chloe Panama City Casco Viejo Wanderlust Chloe Panama City Casco Viejo 2Wanderlust Chloe Panama City Street Art

I took a walk from the old town along the waterfront to the modern, commercial area. This area along the water has been landscaped and there is a real buzz about it! People everywhere, running, rollerblading, playing with their kids, street vendors selling popcorn and hot dogs, couples holding hands, teenagers using it as a catwalk. I loved it – it was so vibrant, particularly with the view of the towering city beyond the tropical palm trees.

Panama City

One evening, in need of a good steak, we ventured to Gaucho’s Steak House on the famous Calle Uruguay. This street is home to the biggest and best nightlife in the city. The restaurant was busy, so the only thing for it was to order a bottle of Malbec while we waited. I ordered the brochette of steak which was delicious, and enormous! Unfortunately there was no way of finishing it but I left very satisfied.

Wanderlust Chloe Gaucho Grill Panama City

I had heard Panama City was famous for its jazz scene, so one evening I headed to The Wine Bar, located in the Hotel Suites Las Vegas. It was a beautifully designed (and overly air-conditioned) bar with tables made from wine labels. The jazz was simple – just keys and sax, but excellent all the same. It perfectly matched the setting.

Wanderlust Chloe Panama City Wine Bar

No trip to this city is complete without a trip to one of the enormous super-malls! There are plenty to choose from but the largest of all is Albrook Mall where I spent an afternoon. It was only ten minutes drive from the centre of town, and it really was enormous – probably four or five times the size of Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush. As a guide, it takes around an hour to walk from one end to the other, is spread across two floors, has a cinema inside and a huge food court (mainly fast food) with a full-size carousel in the middle. In terms of the shopping, there is pretty much everything, and lots of it is very reasonable compared to UK prices. Big brands like Casio, Adidas, Converse and GAP all have shops here but I preferred to explore the Panamanian stores and pick up some bargains I wouldn’t find back home.
Wanderlust Chloe Panama City Albrook Mall

As I had a five days to enjoy the Panama City area I looked around for some more places to explore… So next stop – the deserted islands of San Blas and the sweeping mountains of El Valle De Anton. Time is flying!