The Best Latin Country for …
This fabulous, tiny Latin country is best known for one things, but we thought we would have some fun and give you a series of fun facts to see if you can guess what country this is first:
• It’s the only place in the world you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic
• It was the first Latin American country to adopt the US currency as it’s own
• They don’t own the rights to a certain type of hat, whose name maybe suggests they do (unlike France owning the word Champagne)
• The majority of the locals have never heard the famous song by Van Halen naming them, but that’s OK, it’s not actually about them
• It has the only capital city that includes a rain forest within it’s city limits
• In 2013 it was selling a particular type of coffee bean for $350 a pound
Have you guessed it yet?
Panama: A culturally rich country of approximately 4,000,000 that is nestled in between Costa Rica and Colombia. An absolute treasure of a country that we are itching to tell you more about, There’s so much more than ‘just the canal’!
Lets start with Bocas del Toro, or more precisely Bocas Town or as it’s sometimes known as Isla Colon.
A zippy speedboat ride from the mainland town of Almirante, you can’t help but arrive feeling relaxed with the absolute chill vibe of this town. Despite the fact that you might have crossed over from Costa Rica today, you can forget all the bureaucracy of the border, take a deep breath and prepare to relax!
Diving, snorkeling, surfing, eating and drinking are all delightful in this town.
There are unforgettable beaches about 25 minutes out of town reached with your own golf buggy, ATV or on the public bus. If you’d like to be catered to the nicest option is to get on board with Jager Knights Tours who will ferry you around on a 42ft catamaran. Highlights include Starfish Beach, Dolphin Bay and Coral Gardens.
At night you can cruise the main street and take your pick of fantastic restaurants. Start out in one place for some sundowners with some fancy cocktails, move on to the next spot for dinner and finish up relaxing with a night cap in front on the water listening to the island vibe.
Heading away from the island another must-stop spot is the mountain town of Boquete! Hiking, bird watching, coffee tasting and more recently micro brewing it’s definitely worth a visit. That coffee we mentioned for $350 a pound is found right here. You can take one of a couple of coffee tours that not only focuses on coffee but also the history of the area and Panama in general!
If you are really feeling up for an adventure you can take the challenge and hike Volcano Baru. At approximately 4000 meters, it’s not easy but seeing the sun rise from within the clouds makes your effort worth it.
Now we move on to Panama City – which has absolutely everything you could want in a destination. The modern part of Panama City is filled with skyscrapers and hosts numerous large corporations and hotels. The Casco Viejo district is like stepping back in time with gorgeous colonial buildings from days gone by. A walk to the fish market along the Cinta Costera (coastal beltway) is a must. As is the fresh ceviche when you get there. Cerro Ancon is a spectacular viewpoint where you can see the new, the old and of course ‘that canal’.
The Panama Canal, even if you are not an engineer or even interested in boats and shipping is still a site to behold. You have a couple of options if you want to visit. Head to the Miraflores Lock, and up to the 4th floor viewing platform and watch the absolute monsters of steel come through. Or if you want up close and personal with excellent commentary and guiding then either the half transit or full transit on a boat is for you! Or for the most laid back option simply head to the Balboa Yacht Club where you can sit in the sunshine, sip a tasty beverage and watch the boats on one of the two shipping lanes that cross right in front of you, with a view to the Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas). Before you decide which option is best for you though, we want to give you some more facts about the Panama Canal, which add to it’s impressiveness:
• The idea for a canal across Panama actually goes back to the 16th Century, but construction didn’t start until the 1900s! It opened in 1914
• America wanted to build a canal in Nicaragua, not Panama. That conversation has actually been bought up again in recent years
• More than 25,000 people working on the canal died during construction
• Approximately 14,000 ships use the canal yearly
• The US transferred control of the canal to Panama in 1999, after riots and protesting from Panamanians.
• The cheapest toll ever paid to transit the canal was 36 cents. Richard Halliburton decided he would swim it.
• The most expensive toll ever paid to transit the canal was around $900,000USD by Mitsui O.S.K Lines for MOL Benefactor.
Panama is worth at least a week of your time, we have only just touched the surface and really we could turn this article into a book. It’s a country the most definitely be on your list to visit!