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What comes into your mind when hearing of Panama? First thing most of people would reply with is its world-famous canal that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean. But beyond that many people do not know much about this country in Central America. Bordered by Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the southeast, lies this narrow land bridge with its endless jungle, high rising mountains and beautiful beaches, just waiting to be explored.
Rediscover the World - Panama
To be honest - when Lufthansa approached me I was one of the people mentioned above. First thing that came into my mind was the canal and I had no idea if there is something attractive to a photographer mainly into nature and adventure photography. While researching my interest to Panama grew and grew and I saw the potential of the country! Panama turned out to be unexpectedly beautiful, friendly and fun. But let’s start from the beginning. With a direct flight from Frankfurt to Panama City the journey was pure pleasure. Arrived in Panama we picked up our rental car and went straight to El Valle de Antón - a town in a valley in the mountains, 2 hours drive from Panama.
Here 2 friends guided us through the jungle to a place called 'Cerro la gaita' . After a few hours in the heat we eventually reached a system of stairs which are build among the treetops offering spectacular views over the landscape.
After El Valle de Antón we made our way over highway Panamericana that connects the 2 ends of Panama. Next destination was Boquete, a small village in the mountains next to the tallest mountain of Panama.
Volcán Barú with a height of 3,475 metres (11,401 ft) offers breathtaking views on a clear day. Due to its height and Panama's narrowness it is possible to see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from its peak. However, unfortunately we were not blessed with a clear day when we reached the top, but the experience was well worth it! To reach the summit it takes either a 13 hours hike through the night or - the method we had chosen - a bumpy and rough 2 hours 4x4 jeep tour.
From the tallest mountain of Panama to the biggest waterfall - next location was the mighty Kiki Waterfall. To get there is really sketchy - it starts with a long muddy 4x4 trail, crossing through private land and down a super slippery way to the basin of the waterfall (we actually needed ropes to secure ourselves!). For a tour like this I do recommend hiring a guide as he knows the way, gets along with the locals and keeps an eye on your safety! Our guide was Oscar from Mucho Gusto Panama, a local guide office in Boquete, which I can recommend for operating this tour.
After we made our way down we got soaked. The spray of the waterfall is immense and you should be prepared of getting absolutely wet! Take all valuables in dry sacks and simply wear swim shorts as you won't be able to resits taking a dip in this giant natural shower!
Just before our departure back to Panama City we went on a sunrise tour through the jungle of Boquete. In the deeps of the forest you can find Tree Trek Boquete where you are able to hike among treetops on suspensions bridges next to waterfall and over deep valleys. It is a great experience that everyone not afraid of heights should try during their stay in Boquete!
Before flying back to Frankfurt again, we had the chance to jump on a helicopter ride during sunrise. The flight took us along Panama City and deep into the jungle where we even saw indigenous villages!
After the heli ride we went back to the airport and had a comfortable flight home with Lufthansa. Those who doubt going there as they cannot speak Spanish or have safety concerns - I can tell you that you don't need to have worries about this! I cannot speak a sentence Spanish and yes, there will be many people in Panama (especially in the rural areas) who won't speak English. But in the end you will find a way to communicate. As well as safety, we had no point at any time where we felt unsafe and we were always welcome.
All in all my trip to Panama was a great journey to an unexpectedly beautiful country!
Lisa Schmidingeron November 14, 2016
heading to panama soon - what was on my mind when i heard first about it? "panama schmeckt von oben bis unten nach Bananen." janosch.
was it easy to rent a car and go around? looks like its quite cheap to rent one down there, just not sure if the roads and everything is easy to go!? is that tree walk in boquete possible in one day?