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Thoughts on Panama

Quite a few people have asked me about Panama. I went there primarily for a birdwatching trip to Cerro Pirre in the Darien Gap. This was a lot of fun, camping up on the mountain, no other tourists, lots of birds which are hard to see elsewhere. Mammals would be great to see too, but inevitably we didn't see many. Most are nocturnal and it's not much fun going out hiking at night in the rainforest. But there are certainly a lot of mammals there, including the tapir which made such a mess in the stream above our water supply that it even prompted my guide, Euclides, who had assured me that he always drank the water untreated, to ask me for a chlorine pill to purify it.

Some people have this idea of going for a big adventure in the Darien, based on the past enthusiasm for crossing the Darien Gap into Colombia (not allowed these days). Euclides told me of a group who had done a 14 day hike in the area recently, but to me it sounded miserable - the path is very hard work, and if you're not looking for wildlife it's going to be plain boring really - the views are nothing special.

Other than that, the Canal has a visitors' centre which is worth an hour or two, and Panama City is impressively modern, and certainly worth a bit of time. The Pearl Islands might be good to explore, although I went to Contadora Island there and didn't find it that special - the water was a bit cold and not as blue as one would hope. Also you can go to the highlands in the west of the country, but I think they would be similar to the highlands of Costa Rica, which are more expansive.

So, sure, Panama is great. But unless you are an ardent birdwatcher, or canal enthusiast, you might find that Costa Rica is better geared to meet your needs.


Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at 17:32 by Registered CommenterRobert Ulph | CommentsPost a Comment

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