We have been travelling with friends over the New Year’s holiday for several years. We've been to Vegas, done cruises and done the beach thing, but this year we endeavoured to do something a little different.
In our search for "off the beaten path" natural tours we came across the tours offered by Eco-Adventures through Xplora. We booked the trip in the Spring (months before travelling). About a month before heading on the trip, we finalized the details with Briant and Lita and got our “what to pack” info...and did a little shopping.
We arrived in Panama (29 Dec) at the tail end of the rainy season...literally, I think the rainy season ended that day. What this meant was that many of the lakes and rivers were at very high levels.
We did the 9 Day Eco adventure tour. We did caving, visited the Kuna natives in the Caribbean Sea, watched a ship traverse the Miraflores locks, travelled to Santa Fe and did moderate hiking to a waterfall, swimming, lunch at an organic farm, a night hike to a small lagoon in the rain forest to see the “night life”, visited a beach resort on the Pacific coast to relax for the day, then to Boquete for some rafting and other activities. The activity level was moderate, so not too difficult for a person doing regular light to moderate exercise.
Our goal on the trip was to do some “off-the-beaten-path” activities and experience as much of the Panamanian culture and lifestyle as we could. This trip gave us that and more. We managed to get to both coasts (I know, not that difficult in Panama), and visit several communities in a rather natural setting.
Briant was an informative guide. He did his best to answer the questions we posed and provided details on every stop of the tour. There were times when I think he could have been more informative, but I think it was generally appropriate given the situation of each visit.
I’d strongly recommend this trip for someone wanting to experience Panama culture other than what you see at a resort or in the city. It was interesting, challenging, a little dirty and exciting. There were only two things I wish I had that I did not bring...a dry bag and a spare pair of hiking shoes. The dry bag would have been very useful to keep things dry during the caving and boat rides. We did a lot of stuff where there was mud and water. One pair of shoes would have been good to keep dry while the others used for the wet and dirty jobs.
Go visit Panama!