Panama has a rich and fascinating history. The first Europeans to arrive over 500 years ago were the Spanish, including Christopher Colombus. They enslaved and robbed the local indigenous tribes of the gold and other precious metals found here. One of these explorers, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who is the first European to "discover" the Pacific Ocean, did so by befriending the local indigenous people and simply asking them if they knew of a big ocean to the West. Then came the famous British pirates, Sir Francis Drake and Henry Morgan who attacked and destroyed the original town site of Panama City. The Spaniards rebuilt Panama City in what is now known as Casco Antiguo, which is a beautiful part of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
500 years ago. The Spanish explorers came with African slaves in search of riches, the British pirates followed them to steal the gold from the Spaniards. Chinese were brought in to work on the railroad, and many people of Afro-Caribbean descent to work on the canal. Today, Panama has a colorful mix of people who live and work in Peace.
Panama is a land bridge connecting South America with North America giving us a huge biodiversity. There are over 30 species of cetaceans, (whales and dolphins) that can be found along Panama's coastlines. It is also a birdwatcher's paradise with over 975 species of birds that can be found here. There are many beautiful and wild places to observe the rich diversity of flora and fauna here in Panama. From 3 unique island archipelagos, The Pearl Islands, San Blas and Bocas del Toro to dry, almost desert conditions on the Azuero peninsula to rich tropical rainforests in the Chagres, Soberania
Panama City was recently declared to be the safest city in all of Latin America. It is a thriving and modern metropolis with skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants, historic areas, culture and safe to explore on foot, taxi, bus or the new subway.
Panama is much closer, less expensive and easier to get to than most people realize. It is only 2.5 hours directly South of Miami, costing around $300.00 roundtrip! There are direct flights from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Atlanta, Washington DC, Newark, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and for our European friends, there are direct flights from Amsterdam on KLM, Madrid on Iberia and Paris on Air France.
Panama (along with Costa Rica) is the only place in the world where Humpback whales come from both the Southern hemisphere, July-October with over 2,000 whales, and the Northern hemisphere, December-March with about 300 whales to breed and give birth. If the whales from both ends of the world think Panama is a great place to be, then you will too.
Panama is virtually undiscovered as a whale watching destination. What that means is that we are often the only boat out with the whales and you will never be on a tour
Panama has a wide cultural diversity, including 7 unique Indigenous tribes that make up 10% of the population. Our co-owner, Otniel Barrigón, is a member of one of these tribes, the Emberá, who still live in traditional villages in the rainforests of Panama. Otniel and Anne, our company owners also offer tours to visit the village where Otniel was born and raised, Emberá Purú. www.EmberaVillageTours.com
Panama also has a wide cross section of people from many countries, races and creeds. It is a true cultural melting pot. Starting with the arrival of the Spaniards over
There is so much to see and do here in Panama, we really need a whole website for this section! In Panama city, you can visit Panama viejo, the original site of Panama city, then go through the ultra modern city with its sky scrapers, on to Casco Antiguo, the rebuilt Panama city where old meets new. Getting out of the city, you can visit a traditional Emberá Indian village in the rainforest or go out to the San Blas Islands and spend time with the Guna tribe.
You can visit El Valle de Anton, the only town in the world that is located inside the crater walls of an extinct volcano. If you like a bit of Caribbean flair, visit Bocas del Toro, one of three island archipelagos in Panama with a lively town with hotels and restaurants all built on stilts over the water and water taxis are the mode or transport.
Or if you like fresh mountain air, check out the cute little town of Boquete with a river and cool, eternal spring-like temperatures. In Boquete there are world class gourmet coffee plantations, hiking the dormant volcano, Volca Baru, birdwatching for the Resplendant Quetzal, white water rafting or simply relaxing by the fire at a beautiful eco-lodge.
You can check out quaint surf towns with world class surf breaks in Santa Catalina and from there check out Isla Coiba, the largest island in Latin America and a National Marine Preserve, with its fabulous scuba diving and snorkeling and reliable dolphin, whale and whale shark sitings.
There truly is something for everyone in Panama.
Of course, there is the 7th man-made wonder of the world, the Panama Canal. The canal was first attempted by the French who tried to dig a trench across the isthmus of Panama. The French gave up after losing over 22,000 workers due to Malaria, Yellow Fever and landslides. Then 10 years later, (and after the discovery of Penicillin and that the mosquito transmitted the diseases) the United States successfully completed and opened the Panama Canal in 1914. Don't worry, Malaria and Yellow Fever are no longer issues except in the most remote areas of Panama. In more recent times, we had the colorful political leader, Manuel Noriega, who was trained by the United States and became a powerful dictator before being forcibly removed by the USA in 1989.
and Darien national parks to cloud forests and dormant volcanoes in the Chiriqui highlands where you will find world class gourmet coffee plantations and the much sought after Quetzal bird around Volcan Baru and Boquete. We also have the largest island in all of Central and South America, Isla Coiba, where you can see dolphins, whales, whale sharks, monkeys and wild scarlet macaws. El Valle de Anton is the only town in the world inside the crater walls of an extinct volcano. As a result it is the only place in the world where the golden frog and square trees are found. It is easy to spend weeks exploring all the beautiful and diverse natural areas of Panama.
with 100 of your closest friends. On our tours we limit the group size to 15 people maximum to give you an intimate and personal whale watching experience. Another great thing about whale watching in the tropics, is that you will never be cold on our tours. No jackets required. Sunscreen and a bathing suit are the appropriate attire for our tours.
This is a common question. "Why should I come to Panama for whale watching?" or even "Why vacation in Panama? It only has a canal." The truth is Panama has over 2,000 Humpback whales from July-October and is a virtually undiscovered whale watching destination. We are often the only boat out with the whales. Most first time visitors to Panama comment, "I had no idea how much there was to see and do here!" Panama and the Pearl Islands are an uncrowded tropical paradise that is safe for travelers. Panama is much closer, less expensive and easier to get to than most people realize. Panama is so much more than just a canal. Come see for yourself.