My experience with Panama Rafters in Boquete was the worst experience I have ever had with a tour company, or any company for that matter. There were no issues for the beginning of the whitewater rafting trip, but towards the end, the rafting guide put us in a very reckless, stupid, and life-threatening situation. He led us over a hydrological dam spillway with about a 4 foot waterfall. I have a lot of kayaking experience on dammed rivers, and I know how dangerous spillways are and have always been taught to stay as far away as possible. The rafting guide took us over the spillway and had us stay there--in the waterfall that was shaking the raft all around. Then we were ordered to back paddle. The raft hardly budged, and we were tossed back into the tumbling waterfall. If this hadn't been a dangerous situation, the guide would have been able to get us out. As spillways are constantly cycling water, the current is extremely strong and can so easily cause drowning. If one of us had fallen out of the raft....
The guide panicked a little bit and asked a male tourist for help, but the tourist had no idea what to do. Another guide jumped in the water to grab a rope our guide had thrown. The guide then told all the tourists to jump into the water, against the current, to swim to the rope. This situation was handled extremely poorly. Not only was there a much safer way around the spillway that another raft has taken, but the guide put us in a further dangerous situation by having us jump out of the raft into the strong current by the spillway.
After we returned to the office, I asked to speak to the manager and told her that I didn't want to make a big scene but that something extremely dangerous happened on the trip. I told her about the incident and that I wanted a refund because I didn't pay to get stuck in a dam. She belittled the experience saying that the municipality said they could use that part of the river (which means nothing), other people hadn't complained (which is a lie), and that I am just a tourist who wants a free trip (also not true). She was incredibly rude and unprofessional, and continued to tell me that I am anti-Semitic and was unhappy that I had to be in a boat with two Jewish women (I hadn't even brought up other people on the trip, and my sister is Jewish...). She yelled at me, continuously interrupted me, and seemed like she was trying to start a cat fight with me. It was a very strange and AWFUL experience. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT TAKING A TOUR WITH PANAMA RAFTERS IN BOQUETE due to serious safety concerns that the manager and guides do not understand are unsafe or take seriously. As a note, the manager has not been out to this area. I've heard the other rafting companies in Boquete are great, and Panama Rafters has been complained about for multiple reasons. Steer clear of this place.
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