TOUR: Panama Experience
OPERATOR: G Adventures
DURATION: 14 days
DESTINATIONS: 6 in 2 countries
(Costa Rica & Panama)
START: San Jose, Costa Rica
END: Panama City, Panama
STYLE: Nature, Adventure, Cultural
AGE: 18 – 39
RUNS: All year round
If you’re interested, I would recommend booking through TourRadar – it’s got the best price guarantee – www.tourradar.com
For a more in-depth look at each of the locations, have a look at my blogs from the Central American Journey tour:
Itinerary: (The itinerary varies slightly sometimes, depending on conditions during the trip)
Day 1: San Jose (Costa Rica): You arrive at any time, the group meeting is at 6pm. You don’t spend much time here so if you want to explore, I would recommend arriving early.
Day 2-3: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (Costa Rica): The first taste of the Caribbean on the tour – I would recommend renting a bike and riding up and down the coast to see all the beautiful beaches. Try the Fish with Caribbean sauce (it’s on the menu everywhere). Check out Jaguar Rescue Center for some wildlife education and to see native animals such as sloths, toucans, and monkeys (you can read my review here).
Day 4-6: Bocas del Toro (Panama): Crossing the border and continuing along the Caribbean coastline, you spend a few days in an archipelago – this area is a lot more touristy, which makes for a great nightlife, but if you’re wanting peace and quiet, rent a bike and ride, you’ll be able to find some nice secluded beaches.
Day 7-8: Boquete (Panama): Travel into the mainland. This is the adventure activity section of the trip – lots of options available like zip lining, climbing volcanoes, and white water rafting. If action is not for you – you can explore the town, and visit coffee plantations.
Day 9-11: Santa Catalina (Panama): A small surf town – after those long travel days, this is where you get to spend time relaxing by the beach (pack a book). There’s also a snorkelling day trip option.
Day 12 – 14: Panama City (Panama): The final destination of the trip is the modern capital of Panama City. Walk around Casco Antigua (old town), explore the new city, visit the Panama Canal, and eat at the seafood market (Mercado de Mariscos). Just be mindful of your surroundings and belongings if walking around by yourself!
Transportation: Expect long travel days. Transport varies from public transport on buses, to private vans, boats, and planes.
Accommodation: The hotels are basic, but that’s all you really need with such a full schedule since all you really do is sleep at the hotel. You’ll also have a roommate for the entirety of the trip, unless you opt for a single room.
Meals: Majority of the meals are not included (but food is affordable in this region anyway).
Value for money: This tour gives you a good bang for your buck. It’s one of the cheapest considering the amount of ground you cover. Don’t forget to leave some extra money for tipping!
Like most other tours, you pay for the basics like accommodation and transport, and extra for whatever activities you want to do. You’re also paying to have a guide – which is a great help when travelling in a region where English is not widely spoken, your guide is also good for suggestions of places to go/eat and things to do. They also take care of the most troublesome part of the trip – transportation and border crossings, ensuring a smooth process.
I’ve marked (*) the optional activities I really recommend doing based on my own experience and feedback from fellow group-members. Overall, the activities they offer are pretty good and if you have any questions I would ask the guide.
- San José:
Adventure Combo (Canopy & Horseback Riding) (L) $107
Adventure Combo (Canopy & Rafting) (L) $107
Combo Tour ( Doka – Poas – Cataratas) (B,L) $96
La Paz Waterfall Gardens (Late departure) $75
Manuel Antonio National Park
(Tues,Thurs,Sat and Sun)(B)(L) $99
Poas Volcano ( Half Day ) $46
San Jose City Tour $39
The Best of the Pacific ( Punta Leona) (B)(L) $115
Rafting Class IV Pacuare (B)(L) $99*
Irazu, Orosi and Lankaster Gardens(L) $81
RAM LUNA ( Show and Dinner) $69
Arenal Volcano &Baldi Hot Springs(L)(D) $99*
Arenal Volcano & Tabacon Grand Spa (L)(D) $121
Arenal Volcano & The Springs (L) (D) $110
Kayak (2hrs) $50
Dolphin Watch Sailing tour(L) $100
Rent a Bike $5 to $10 *
Manzanillo Natural Reserve hike with local guide(4hrs) $30 *
Surf Lesson (1hr) $50
Scooter rental $70 – $100 *
Boogie Board/Surf Board Rental $15 per hour
Waterfall Tour (3 hrs) $25
Bocas del Toro:
Scuba diving $60 (2-tank dive) *
PADI open water course $195
Snorkel trips $15-$30 (depends on location and operator) *
Boat taxi to Red Frog Beach $10 return, $2 entrance*
White water rafting $70-$95 (full day) *
Naturalist tour $25 per person
Kotowa Coffee factory tour $30
Horseback Riding $30
Hiking trips range from $0 to $120, depending on necessity of transportation and/or guide
Surfboard rental $10-15/day*
2-tank dive in Coiba Nature Reserve $180
Snorkeling in Coiba Nature Reserve $80*
Horseback riding $15
Tour of city and Canal $50
Self guided tour of same approx $15 (for transportation, locks entrance, museum)*
General Entrance to Canal + museum $8*
Panama Viejo $3
Taboga Island Ferry $10 (return trip)
Visit to Emberà village and waterfall $50