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“A great family experience!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Gamboa Rainforest Resort

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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
3.5 of 5 Resort   |   Goethals Blvd. | Soberania National Park, Gamboa 7338, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
NYC area
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“A great family experience!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2010

I had some concerns going from the US to South America (especially after reading the CDC travel guidelines). I will address each one.

The room: We stayed in the hotel and the set up was interesting. We had a king sized bed downstairs and an upstairs with 2 twin beds. It was fine for my 2 kids (7 and 13) but if you had younger kids it could be a problem. The floor was hard tile and my daughter fell and hit her head - again, if you have small kids (or rough ones) keep this in mind. The nice side of this is the maid service washed the floors every day. It could have used a coat of paint and smelled damp, but with the humidity this could not be avoided. I did not see the inside of the villas, but I would not have liked to stay in them. They were far from the main building and didn't look well kept from the outside.

Language: We do not speak fluent Spanish, but we able to get by. The front desk and activity desk employees spoke english. We hired a car to take us to the canal and he did not speak english. If you do not speak Spanish and are going anyplace with a driver, I would ask for an English Speaking driver. The difference in language was not a problem for us.

Water: We started out drinking bottled water but the entire hotel was filtered and toward the end of the week I was drinking the hotel water. I had no trouble.

Food: There are a lot of bad food reviews. There was one restaurant for the family (and another higher end one we didn't try) and while it was boring eating at the same restaurant, we ate the buffet (when it was available) which had great Panamanian cuisine. From the a la carte menu I tried the Hamburger and the stuffed Sea Bass - both were great meals. You could also get lighter fare at the Monkey bar. I packed a few bag of snacks for the room and some Starbucks Via iced and hot coffees. We had a refrigerator and coffee pot in our room, but the coffee they give you is weak (we used one coffee pod for every 3 cups of coffee-the maid service was happy to give us extra).

Activities: The activities and length of them were great for my family. We did at least one activity a day and spent the rest of the time at the pool. We went to the Miraflores Locks, Aerial Tram, Embera Indian Village, Monkey Island Tour and trail walk. I looked for a gym, but didn't see one (I could have asked, but wasn't that motivated with the heat). One thing I would have liked was a game room or indoor activity for the kids. When it rains, there isn't much to do. Luckily we brought some cards and activities. I didn't book ahead of time and glad I didn't. Some of the prices I was quoted via e-mail were 2 times the actual cost - not sure why this happened. At the time we were there, it was the off season so there was no trouble booking the activities. The tour desk is located in the lobby and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. They were excited to share their surroundings with you - this was more than just a job to them - they love what they do for a living!

Weather: I checked to weather before we left and it called for thunderstorms every day which had me worried. During the rainy season it rains, but this is what makes it lush and green. The rain was not predictable, but when it cleared it was beautiful. Bring a raincoat and go on the tours anyway if they are going. Also bring a large plastic bag for your camera (or a waterproof one). The humidity is like nothing else I've ever experienced.

Mosquitos: I soaked 2 outfits (quick drying materials) with permethrin (purchased at REI), Ben's 30% DEET Spray (also purchased at REI) and some deep woods off wipes -20% Deet (from CVS). We were deep in the jungle with the Embera and could see the clouds of mosquitos around us, but had only 1 bite (it was me and at my hairline which I did not apply anything to). Leave the Skintastic at home and bring something heavy duty. I would also invest in a long pair of pants for hiking to cover your legs if you plan on going out in the woods. At the hotel, we didn't experience any mosquitos unless we went for walks in the grass.

Service: Everything was slow, but the employees were nice. There was one time we sat at the Monkey Bar for a snack and drinks for more than an hour and were never approached by the waitress. She may have thought were were just there to play cards, but we did ask for menus - luckily we have a good sense of humor and are still laughing about this! Don't expect the wait service to move like they do up North - it's just culture difference!

Toiletries: Bring any medicine or personal products with you just in case you need them. The gift shop if small and while I noticed some travel size medicines, there is no place to go to on the property if you shop for personal products..

What surprised me?
The birds! I had no idea there were so many beautiful birds - there were a flock of wild parakeets that filled a tree every night!

With the humidity nothing dries if you hang it outside! I brought this Octopus thing from Ikea with clips on it to hang in the bathroom and hang our damp clothes on.

The CDC and travel doctors had me panicked about disease and bugs. I didn't feel threatened or at risk in any way.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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Santa teresa
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2010

The accomodations at the Gamboa Rainforest resorts are simply lovely. The rooms were quite comfortable with large balconies overlooking the pool and the Chagres River. The hotel offered a large number of options for exploring the area with very pleasant and knowledgable guides. Do not miss the Arial Tram! Be prepared to spend a little once you arrive. There are few options for food and tours outside the hotel. The food is good. I highly recommend the ceviche and the sea bass.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salinas, California
Level Contributor
85 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2010

We stayed 6 nights in one of the historic apartments. The apartments are not all the same.
The first one we got looked like the picture on the web-site. Very nice but the windows did not open and I hate air-conditioning. It was not hot during our stay so we switched to an apartment with screens and windows that opened. I did not want to stay in the rainforest and listen to a noisy air-conditioner all night. The second apartment was not as charming, as the bathroom was not in good condition. There was rot around the old stained tub unit and it was not updated like the first apartment. The floors were tile not the original hardwood. It went through my mind that the tub might fall through the floor. To me it was worth it to have the windows open and be able to hear the parrots, toucans etc. we also heard traffic pass by but that really didn't bother me; it wasn't constant. The apartments are very spacious with a small kitchen with fridge, microwave, a few dishes and coffee maker with coffee everyday.

After reading the reviews about food we brought oatmeal, tuna snack packs and goodies with us so we only ate out once a day. We ate the recommended items that the lady from Texas wrote about. The food was fine and they give you large portions. There is a little hidden store in Gamboa town. We walked there one rainy afternoon. You can pick up some groceries there if you don't have a car. You can also use the hotel bikes to bike there. The store is behind the bright pink house on the corner as you are headed toward Soberania National Park. There is a drive way between two houses and it is down this driveway behind the wall with the Coke sign on it.

One day we took the bikes and went to pipeline road by ourselves. It was really fun riding the bikes and we spent an hour or so watching a troup of howlers. They finally came down low enough for us to see their faces. I was only a few feet from getting peed on! I think this was the best day for me because we did not have a time limit. We stopped at the little store in Gamboa and got ice cream on the way back. We were hot sweaty and hungry. That ice cream was great.

The resort was deserted when we first arrived. The first few nights we were the only ones at dinner and we were the only ones on most of the tours we took. We did the free Kayak, the free walk, the free bike, and free night time tour. They were all fun. We did the radio tour; we were the only ones and really enjoyed going into the canal next to the huge ships and our guide was very good. We also did the guided pipeline tour; I dont' know if I would have seen the sloths without the guide but we saw more birds at the hotel. The tram ride is fun but we did not see any animals in the middle of the day. Like another person wrote you can take a trail up to the observation tower yourself; it's just pass the orchid farm. I was not that impressed with the displays that were included with the tram price. I did enjoy the butterfly house but it was pretty pricey and if you go early before it gets to warm I bet you could see a lot of stuff walking up to the observation tower. (It's pretty steep) The view from the tower is awesome your guide is there to answer questions.

The pool was wonderful. It's huge. We were usually the only ones in it. The hotel is in need of some maintenence repair. Painting, replacing light bulbs etc. I was shocked to learn that it is only 10 years old. I got the feeling that it was more like 30 years old. (Must be the humidity) They play this old elevator music and the sound system is not good--scratchy sounding. Very strange.

We enjoyed our stay and received good service from a friendly staff. The staff was pretty quick to fix anything that wasn't right: change our room; change our microwave; get us hot water; order a taxi and help us with our tours.

The jungle is at your door.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
73 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2010

Room was confortable but expected better food and service.Could never reach anyone on the phone when there was a problem.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marbella. Spain
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2010

We booked on the internet for 4 nights they wanted credict card details but we inform them we dont give any on internet,anyhow they kerp the booking,when we arrived on the 17 july saterday about late night 22,30 we check in at a discounted rate from 400 us to 195 us plus taxen and we get a historic villa ok sounds ok. We get to the villa appently a apartment in a old army house 2 bedrooms,whòooooo we get in site and the stairs was looking like a dump house in a squatter area we get in the appartment whooooo. The whole furniture rattan was dameges or broken the wooden floor everywhere was broken and dirty the kitchen was 19 centery whoooo was a mes rubbish and that that for 220 us dollars ,i complain the next day and i inform them they should be a shame to rent this rooms and for this type of money,thaey change my [--]bapparment within 10 minutes for a junior suites. When i look atvthe face of the female maneger shevlooks guilty,ok we changed to this better suite for the samevmoney. Then we get inform thst internet connection wi fi cost 15 us a day plus taxen nowhere mention. Man this hotel is a tourist trap all movenment have to be paid,the same night we had buffet with all type of the most cheap food. 25 us each. But you had to buy the drinks juices apart a 5 us each plus taxen and service charge.after this we decided to check out the next day of this tourist trap hotel where every thing is top money ,for break fast they come to ask you 4 or 4 times your room nr man incredible ,also this hotel is far fromevery where nothing at all near by. Nothing what soever.my advice is stay in panama and take a taxi for the day. More cheaper. And after one day there is nothing else to do but eat and sit. Or go on this hotel expence tours .

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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Los Angeles
Level Contributor
29 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2010

Stayed at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort this past July.. came with my husband and some good friends. We had a good time.. the location is excellent!! What a view from our room (424). We were all the way down from the main lodge and I loved it.. we had a wonderful view of the river and the grounds.. there was a hammock on the balcony that could put you to sleep in seconds it was so comfortable.

We came here mainly for the wildlife viewing and it was good.. not great but good. We did a few tours-- Monkey Island ( in my opinion rather expensive for what you get.. believe it was 50 dollars per person for a one hour boat ride.. so it totaled 200. Wondered if we could have done something privately ??).... we also walked the famous pipeline road ( too expensive again for what we paid.. 50 dollars per person ... ) My main issue was that we really could have done this on our own and we did not need a guide.. took us 3 hours from start to finish and was just so so with wildlife viewing... we did the tram ( again I think expensive ) and this was ok... you must go up with a guide which I think is odd but .... then they keep you all together as a tour which in our case amounted to about 40 ish people.. my only issue was that there were a lot of kids with parents who were not controlling them and they were scaring away any wildlife we encountered so we tried to stay ahead of them to see what we could.

The resort offers some tours that are free.. the first night we did the night drive.. it was just ok. Did not see a thing but we were sooo hot that driving on the open bus was nice for the breeze... they also offer up a night cruise which was in my opinion THE BEST thing we did there... that night we saw baby caymans.. sloths!!! etc and our guide was wonderful... she had such a great sense of humor. I would highly recommend... it's funny because we almost did not go since it rained so hard just an hour before we left... we thought there would be nothing to see.

The food was the only issue.. and why I gave the resort an average rating... the only good meal was breakfast.. how can you go wrong with eggs and toast... so we tried to eat a late breakfast (they stop serving at 10:30) so we would not have to eat lunch... Both lunch and dinner can be ordered off the menu or buffet (rather expensive buffet for lunch at 24 dollars.. dinner is 25 per person) and to be honest it was terrible!!!! One night they had fish fingers ( totally frozen fish sticks ).. and the buffet was almost all empty yet they did not bring anything else out that was fresh so we refused to pay.. and they took the meal off our bill. Two of us ordered off the menu and it was just so so.. a veggie sandwich (ok so how can you screw that up you ask.. just don't put on any veggies!!!) and then a chicken dish that was so dry... here is my take. There is really nothing else to do here but hike.. do the tours or lay out by the pool so your meals become a source of entertainment and when it's this bad it's truly a disappointment.. I had read this in past reviews and agree.. they could be a 5 star if they fix this....

We had cocktails at the bar... nice bartender worked there.. on one night we tried the bar food.. don't be tempted. The pizza was the only thing that was ok.. stay away from the fish fingers.. chicken fingers (again all frozen) and the civiche.

The only other comment I would make is to try to avoid this resort on Sundays. It's located about 30 min outside Panama City and it got very crowded with the locals.. and they did not have enough staff to help all...it' was a bit crazed that day with very limited tour times due to the excess of people...

Hope you find this helpful!...one last thing..bring plenty of BUG SPRAY.. we all got eaten alive here.... they are hungry!!!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 12, 2010

We stayed at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort for a few nights at the start of our week vacation in Panama. The resort was lovely. We had a junior suite which was a bedroom with a king sized bed and a loft with two twin beds. There were also two full baths and a balcony with a hammock. The room was a bit dated, but everything worked and it was very clean. The pool at the resort was also very nice - it's pretty large and there were plenty of chairs and tables around.

The food at the resort is not great. It's kind of expensive, the service is slow and it's just not very good! Since we were only there a couple of days, it wasn't that big of a deal to us but if we spent a whole week there, I'm sure it would have gotten old. There is nothing else around so eating other places isn't an option without a fairly long drive.

We did the Monkey Island Tour and the Tram Tour. Both were good and our kids (ages 6 & 8) enjoyed them. If you go to Monkey Island, try to sit in the front of the boat as you'll see the monkeys much closer up.

The best part of this resort is the location. We spent the majority of our week in Panama at Coronado Beach and found ourselves driving back to Gamboa for fishing and for our partial transit of the Panama Canal.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Address: Goethals Blvd. | Soberania National Park, Gamboa 7338, Panama
Location: Panama > Colon Province > Gamboa
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Gamboa Rainforest Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 165
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Deep in the heart of the Panamanian rainforest lies the completely unique Gamboa Rainforest Resort. This magnificent five-star destination rests where the scenic Chagres River meets the Panama Canal and is the only resort property in the area. Few places on earth offer such an amazing natural experience while providing an unsurpassed level of luxury. Escape the noise and hectic pace of everyday life and surround yourself with the tranquility of the mystical Soberania National Forest. Here, just a short 30-minute ride from Panama City, on 340 acres overlooking the stunning Panama Canal, you can commune with nature in a pristine environment where explorers and pirates once tread. Our Panama Tours offer an exhilarating variety of jungle adventures such as an aerial tram, guided boat tours, fishing expeditions, and much more. Our tours are designed to show you wildlife in its natural setting amidst the colorful splendor of the jungle flora. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gamboa Rainforest Hotel Gamboa
Gamboa Rain Forest Resort

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