assr rental in David, Panama
Please make clear what exactly to need to know. As this is not understandable.
That post is 5 months old. He is probably not coming back.
I am an experienced renter looking for the basics on ranting an economy car in David. We'll probably return it to PTY a couple of weeks after taking it (Nov 24 - Dec 8) as there is some ground in central Panama we have yet to cover. I have no interest in paying a $180 one way fee that Thrifty would like to charge. I figure there may be a local franchise that might be able to work with us. Any suggestions?
We rented from Thrifty at the airport in David after arriving downtown by bus. The location was easy to find (by Taxi) and the rental process took less than ten minutes without any serious upsell (on insurance, GPS or other stuff) attempts. One staff member spoke English well enough to make the whole process very smooth. All staff were friendly. Our rate worked out to about $35 a day with the mandatory insurance included for a 4 door Toyota Yaris compact automatic on a ten day rental. That we arrived a day early and dropped the car off in Santiago ($55 drop fee) did not impact on our the rate we obtained a couple of months in advance on-line.
The vehicle had a few scratches and was a couple of years old with 55,000 kms on it. Its condition was good and it handled all hills and roads adequately. Fuel economy was about 7.5 LT per 100 km
combined highway, slow hilly rural and city. Fuel averaged about $0 99 a liter. As is standard in Latin America we left a $500 credit card "deposit" via an imprint of a credit card which was refunded on completion of the rental.
Road conditions were generally good with all major roads being paved with reasonable (for Central America) signage. We did not need to use a GPS and had only basic maps. David was a little confusing, especially at the core. After a couple of days the central thoroughfares become familiar. There is a lot of congestion along the InterAmericas highway around junction with the new Boquete Highway because they have not completed the overpass and this is an area where they have a lot of new retail space. The short cut when going to Boquete is to turn at McDonalds and then work your way to the 4 lane Boquete highway which will be to the right. The other confusing junction was in Santiago. There they have completed their one and only overpass, but signage identifying it as the road to take to San Francisco and Santa Fe is easy to miss as the InterAmericas Highway is very busy at that point. This road is to your left and accessed by a turning lane right under the overpass.
We enjoyed the 4 lane highway to Boquete to the extent it was smooth and predictable. It now takes takes about half an hour to get between David and Boquete. We found two other roads that are newer that were considerably more exciting and scenic. They are the two lane Orange Blossom Trail that cuts over to the Volcan road about midway up the Boquete Highway. This collection of rural roads is not really that well signed but is in good condition and can largely be kept to by watching a basic map and the small villages you pass through. The other road was what can really best be termed "The Highway to No Where". It runs west out of Santa Fe for about 25 kms through the coast mountain range up and down and around hills and valleys covered in jungle. It ends in a small village, about 40 kms shy of the coast. The local politician who got it underway (and owned land on the coast?) lost his seat before the job was complete. The road is newly paved and all curves and hills well signed. The views and picture taking opportunities along this route make it worth going the distance to Santa Fe.... aside from the other things that make Santa Fe worth a visit. Remember, there are no gas stations after Santiago. If you don't remember you will have to pay a premium to buy gas out of a barrel. The road through Caldera to the Bocas highway is also full of interesting vistas. The first part is a little rough, but the last 25 kms are very nice, high up on the mountain sides amongst the pines.
On the whole I would recommend renting in western Panama as worthwhile and safe expereince
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