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“Much Better Then Expected” 5 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
Chester, New York
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Much Better Then Expected”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2010

After reading all the reviews, I approached my recent 4 day stay with a bit of trepidation. However, this resort came through.

Rooms;
We stayed in the most expensive room in the resort, with a loft, which worked great for my 12 year old son. The price was decent, better than a similar room in most Caribbean and Central American lodges/resorts of a similar class. The room was very nice, bed was great, TV had a limited number of channels but we were not there for the TV. Air conditioning worked well, and the balcony had a great view of the grounds and the Chagres River. Internet was expensive and was slow at times, but just having wireless internet in the rainforest was nice. Rooms were thoroughly cleaned each day, staff in general was very good. Laundry is expensive, wash you clothes elsewhere.

Food:
We ate at the main restaurant , Corotu, each night, off the menu. 20 meals purchased over four days, 19 were great. Prices per normal entree (the 10 ounce NY strip for $35 was the exception), were around $15, which in my experience is very, very reasonable for this type of accomodation. And there is nothing around, so they really do have you over a barrel. Dinner menu was limited, but the food was very good and i did not get bored eating the same thing two nights in a row. Breakfast (room service) was expensive, but comprehensive, and worth it dollar wise.

Free Tours:
We did the night safari a couple of times, it is quick tour of the grounds and you will see some things (opposums, armadillos., night birds, caimans, etc). Not a life changer, but it was quick and free.

Pay Tours:
Did the Pipeline Road tour. Not a bad tour, but probably could have used a more expert guide. The guides for their paid and free tours are somewhat interchangeable. For example, we crossed paths with another tour, tour guide had a spotting scope, which all guides should have at this price point. Our guide did not. We did see birds, nothing earth shattering, and keep in mind it is a 2-3 hours of walking in very humid conditions on a slippery path. I would recommend this tour for serious birders only, not enough bang for your buck at the current quality of the tour if you just want to see a toucan (we did see all three of the main species by the way). There is a private place, the Rainforest Discovery Center, which we did on our own, much less walking, they have a tower, a lake overlook, and a deck with a million hummingbirds flying over you to get sugar water. We saw alot of stuff with a free tour, guides were very knowledgeable, this would be a better option for most folks, especially those with children, before deciding to do the pipeline tour.

Fishing
We did a 6 hour Gatun lake fishing tour, used minnows, and caught between three fishermen and the guide, about 90 peacock pavons, generally aaround a pound or so. Action was non stop, and while this is not a cheap tour. it was a heck of alot of fun and I would do it again. Birdwatchers should bring a camera, you will see hawks, kites, etc, and we even did a short trip to monkey island. saw sloths, holwer and capuchin monkeys on our way back to the marina. The marina restaurant is good (if it is open) and it is not expensive.

Monkey Island
A quick trip to see monkeys, a sloth, caimans, etc. Not as hokey as it seems, recommended.

Night Boat Ride
Expensive tour, limited on the night we were there due to floating debris in the Chagres River. Stayed in the marina, but not at a discount, no earth shattering encounters here. need a really, really good guide to make this sort of tour work, since so much is subtle at night. Their guides were very friendly and tried hard, but nature guiding is a very tough thing to do really well.

The Grounds:
Pool is very nice, and their are lots of birds on the grounds if you take the time to look. One of the trees near the pool was loaded with a number of different species of tanagers, some of the best birding I experienced on the trip.

In all, I think this is a very nice place. Maybe the food is expensive by Panamanian standards, but not by US or Caribbean standards. Stock up on beverages beforehand, the small store charges $1.50 for a can of soda, which can add up. it is only 45 mintues or so from Panama City, hit the Canal Museum in Miraflores on your way there or back.
Bring good bug spray, and try to put most of it on your clothes and not your skin. Long pants for tours are a great idea.

Driving
We rented a car, which was ok for driving to and from Gamboa, but unless you have the spirit of adventure, driving in Panama City (Motto: Street Signs: We don't need no fricking street signs) is an experience to be avoided at all costs. Being lost in the poor section of town after dark, requiring a police escort to figure a way out, and still being left far from where we needed to go, stopping and asking for directions every five minutes...I think i can do without this next time. For a city with a million sky scrapers being erected, the planning department might want to put a few dollars into signs, or limiting roads to one name only....

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • 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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (211)
Date | Rating
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English first
Santiago, Chile
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2010

It's a hotel 30 km from the city. it has many tours but they arequite expensive. if you want to stay a few days here, its fine, but you'll get bored after a week. if you're on a budget, find tours youself for 1/3 the price.

restaurant overpriced.

rooms were nice and comfortable.

small disco in the hotel but nobody in it.

they close the pool everytime it rains and make everyone go inside

absurd price for internet which was slow.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Toronto
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
121 helpful votes 121 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2010

We decided to try two different hotels in Panama in order to get a feel for the types of accommodations. I thought staying in the rainforest would be a pretty unique opportunity. Indeed it was. Waking up to a glorious rainforest and one of the largest rivers in the world was an awesome experience. The staff was helpful and advised to avoid the balcony after 7pm due to the mosquitoes. And they were correct! 7pm on the dot, the biting pests came out in vengeance. I'm not sure if many people know that you can use the hot tube for free. It was really relaxing after a long day full of activities. Other than the location, a great selling point of the hotel is the free tours that it provides it's guest. We took full advantage of the night tour, and kayak ride. We also took the bikes out for a ride around the property and learned very quickly that we are totally out of shape city people. One of the best treats of the trip was the ceviche. It was the best ceviche that I've ever had. The pool was nice and relaxing as was the hammock on our balcony. The only disadvantage of the hotel was the meal times. If you missed one you are basically SOL and have to pay for room service. Additionally, there are no options to eat off site because the resort is located in the middle of the rainforest. When we did make it in time for meals, the food was respectable. This is a great hotel if you want to experience nature, a tranquil setting and something different. Pack snacks and make sure you get to the restaurant on time and you will enjoy the experience.

To read more about Panama and the Gamboa Rainforest resort, log on to www.urbantravelite.com

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Clemente, California
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2010 via mobile

My husband, son (11) and I loved our stay at this special resort. We had read reviews regarding the expensive and distasteful food and were pleasantly surprised. The grounds are well maintained and groomed. The hotel is stunning. I encourage anyone considering this resort to leap at the opportunity. We will certainly be returning.

  • Stayed November 2010
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Whitby, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2010

We travelled with sunwing with the "inclusive plan"

The flight was FULL and we did not get seats together, even after checking in more than 3 hours ahead of time. We had a stop-over in Costa Rica so it was about 8 hours from Toronto.

Once we landed, going through customs was a breeze and our shuttle was waiting for us after we got our luggage. There were only 2 of us from the full sunwing flight going to Gamboa resort. The driver did not speak one word to us the entire hour it took us to get to the resort.
Check-in was quick as it was just the 2 of us but there was no explaination as to what was included. we were just handed our room key and told where it was. We got to the resort around 3:30 and we were starving as the last meal we had was breakfast on the plane. The only food available at that time until 6:30 pm was the Monkey bar snack menu which we had to pay for a meal. The only drinks that were included were national brands and even then, staff did not know if they were included. This seemed to be a common theme throughout our stay. None of the staff spoke english and were not helpful in answering questions at all.They also seemed annoyed to be serving us and we never saw them smile. And we were very generous with tips but still no change.

As for the "inclusive" part of the trip, nobody knew what was included so it was extremely frustrating.
The 2nd day we were there was a holiday and no alcohol was served. We were not informed of this until we tried to order drinks. Other people we spoke to from other resorts did not encounter the same problem, they were still served. As it was a holiday, many locals stayed at the hotel. That is when our service went from bad to worse. It was like we didnt exist, especially not being able to speak Spanish. There was never food left at the buffet, no matter what time we went. The A la Carte restaurant was closed every day so the only dinner option was the buffet.
We decided to leave this resort after only a few days because even after speaking to the general manager, nothing changed.

The Gamboa hotel itself is absolutely beautiful as is the location. It is surrounded by rainforest and has breath taking views. The rooms were also nice and clean and beds were very comfortable.
The free trips around the resort were also very worth while. As was the monkey boat tour and the aerial tram. We were happy we got to see the wildlife we did in staying there but would not return because of the lack of service, no english speaking staff and zero personality. Nobody cared whether we were happy or not.

As for sunwing, we never had the chance to meet our representative at Gamboa as he was never there, only on call. I had to pay to call him and explain why we wanted to leave our resort. He was not very helpful and really didnt want to go through the extra work to see what other resorts were available. I told him we wanted to stay at the Breezes and he made every excuse to make me change my mind and tried to stick us in a 3 star place that is part of the same company as Gamboa. We had to pay our way to Breezes which was 2 hours from Gamboa and we had to pay a couple hundred dollars to switch to the different resort, even though it was way cheaper to stay at Breezes then Gamboa, Once we got to Breezes, the Sunwing representitive was not there and they had no record of our reservations, even after our credit card was charged. It didnt get sorted out until 2 hours later!!!! We were then told that "Daniel" from Sunwing wanted to meet us in the lobby at 7pm. We were told at 7pm that he was on his way. 45 minutes later, he still hadnt showed up and when we asked reception, we were told he was eating dinner. Meanwhile, we still had not eaten our dinner. He never did show up. The next day we had to hunt him down again to see what he wanted and to ensure that the rest of our trip was sorted out.

We travel alot and never complain about anything, but we were very disappointed in this resort, especially for the price that you pay and with Sunwing. Breezes was a wonderful way to end our trip and we wished we stayed there from the start.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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.
Toronto, Canada
Top Contributor
74 reviews 74 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
108 helpful votes 108 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2010

I stayed at the Gamboa Rainforest for 2 nights from Oct 4-6th. This was part of a Sunwing All inclusive package that started 5 nights at Breezes Panama. The transfer was included but I choice to forgo the transfer and use the day to see Panama City and the canal. I used the wonderful services of panamaroadrunner. I highly recommend this. Ashley is a truely a great person.

Room - Historical Villa #2511

This second floor room was the closest villa to the hotel. Perhaps a 3 minute walk at most. I loved the room. Yes it's old but has so much character with it's high ceilings and many windows. I saw many birds and loved the neques.

Hotel - simply beautiful.

I have had this hotel on my radar for a couple of years now and am so glad I finally got the chance to visit. The views are simple breath taking. The lobby is spectacular.

Tours

The hotel offers 4 free tours, birdwatching, kayaking, bike riding and the night safari. We only had time for the night safari which we did on the first night. You are taken around the resort on a safari type truck looking for animals. We did see birds and owls and some type of monkey. The guide was very informative and was trying very hard to find animals. Of coure you're in the wild. You can't guarantee alot of animals.

We paid for the monkey & aerial tram tour. Both were great with the monkeys being my favorite.
I found the tour desk very helpful & pleasant. There is a board there to sign up for the free tours. The paying tours you pay for prior to going in case of weather.

The morning of our departure we did walk into the town of Gamboa/ We saw an armidillo on the way. It's a lovely walk.

Food - great!

As mentioned, we were an all inclusive but pool & bar snacks were not included. We did buy lunch at the pool bar which cost $40 for a club sandwich & chicken wings which included fries and we had 5 heinkens during the afternoon (national beer would of been included). Coming from Toronto I don't find this expensive for a lunch, especially at a resort.

Dinner buffet was included but you do sign for it - $60 for 2 buffets & a drink each. Again, not expensive in my eyes for a resort. The buffet was great for dinner & breakfast.

Overall - all staff were freindly and attentive. A beautiful place with a great pool. I will return to Gamboa. I would of loved to spend at least another day here.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2010

We decided to stay here last minute because our other plans fell through. We managed to get the special internet rate – $95 + 7% tax, which sounded too good to be true. It included a day/night tour, kayaking on the Chagres River, free use of the jacuzzi and gym. Like I said, too good to be true. We were told our rooms were down the street in the historical "Village" and we could go down after they checked our rooms, which I assumed meant it was clean enough to inhabit.

The "Village" consists of old subdivisions built for former Canal workers. Historical I can go for – I am in a rainforest afterall (this can also be disputed), but 5 star hotel quality is so far from the reality I almost turned around and left. My husband convinced me to stay since we only had 2 nights left in Panama and our sole purpose was to get to the rainforest. It was low season so we were a part of maybe half a dozen unlucky patrons to be put in the "Village" area. Walking down the street at night was incredibly eerie. It was like walking through a fake stage of houses at Universal Studios backlot. I felt unsafe at night and refused to go out unless I was with my husband.

Our accommodations included a living/dining room, bedroom, small kitchen and a bathroom. The furniture looked relatively new, but the rooms itself looked like it had not be renovated and/or cleaned since the Canal workers last lived there. The floors were sooooo dirty (we know this because not only did it feel disgusting, we watched the maid sweep the floor up the next day and it was seriously GROSS). The toilet barely worked, we had to flush 3-4 times to even get toilet paper down. Talk about being a "green" establishment. Also, granted we're in the rainforest and bugs get in, but that doesn't explain the dead carcasses littering the bathroom, and the moldy, stained shower curtain – I thought they checked the rooms??? I seriously gag thinking about it.

The TV had plenty of (English) channels, but it was a super small model probably manufactured in the late 90's that came with a universal remote that stopped working and my husband had to re-program. The hot shower also stopped working after day one, but it was because someone didn't tell the maintenance guy we were in the room and he shut off the circuits. The AC also had like three settings. AC/Fan/OFF. Two which worked. AC and OFF. We didn't bother with the Fan setting since it seemed to spew equally cold air as the AC. Also, no internet out in the "Village." You have to hike to the main lodge to hang around the lobby to get spotty internet.

So, the room was severely lacking, but we thought we might as well take advantage of the free tours that were included. DO NOT bother going on the night tour. It was the most pathetic tour I have ever been on. We saw one rodent (they are so common around the area you can see them yourself if you have eyes) a bird, which may have been a duck, but the tour guide dismissed us because he didn't know what it was and continued to point out the sand that was imported in, the aerial tram, the animal/reptile/orchid exhibit, the marina, the former mini-golf course, and what used to be the former beach for the Canal workers. They should rename it the "facility tour" because we saw and got more explanation of the hotel grounds than we saw wildlife. We didn't bother with the day tour. We also scheduled for the kayaking on the Chagres, but it was rained out.

What we really wanted to do was get to Pipeline Road, which leads to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. We went up to the friendly people at the tour guide desk and they asked if I wanted to hire a driver to take me there. I insisted I wanted to walk and I just needed directions. They had no idea how to walk there, but provided with me a map that wasn't much help. My husband and I ended up walking about approximately 16km roundtrip. Totally worth it.

We ate at the one restaurant (not the fancy one, don't think they were even open while we were there) which was overpriced. Everything tasted fine (had the cheeseburger, sancocho soup and the salad), just not worth the price. Pool area is amazing. Jacuzzi was just meh. The views are pretty spectacular, this I will agree as being a 5 star view.

They don't have a business center where you can log-in to print out your boarding passes. They said I could use their printer, which was no help since I had to actually check in first on a COMPUTER. They finally got it, but said I could use the customer service desk computer if I paid $2.50 + 7% tax for 15 minutes. FAIL.

In summary, don't come here if you're going to book a "Village" room. I've stayed at nicer Motel 6's/hostels in my time. Don't come here if you want to experience rainforest, unless you're willing to hike/hire someone to take you there.

Might be worth it if you're not in the "Village" and you're looking for a place to drop some cash to tell your friends you spent your vacation in the rainforest without actually really being in one.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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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
Amenities:
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*
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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