From idyllic, deserted islands scattered on warm, turquoise seas to cosmopolitan cities, this 10-day Panama experience offers a wealth of surprises and experiences.
Your first two days in paradise are spent in Panama City’s Casco Antiguo, built by the Spanish in 1673. Soak up its pastel-hued, colonial architecture and get acquainted with its warm inviting people. Dance to the beat of West Indian congo, calypso, jazz or salsa and feast on traditional sancocho (Panamanian chicken stew with vegetables) in one of the many restaurants or cafes.
The next three days will be spent at the Caribbean coastal and Spanish colonial period village of Portobelo, located in Colón Province. Explore the fortresses and San Felipe Church, learn about Congo culture and visit one of the many art galleries with a Congo craftsperson to learn how to create masks, hats and other traditional costumes used for dances.
Mingle or even jam with a group of young musicians who are part of the ONG Bahia de Portobelo, an organisation created to keep this rich culture alive. Learn about their music, rhythms and folklore. In the afternoon, transfer to an idyllic, white sandy beach or try your hand at fishing and learn about the thousand different species of fish found in the Caribbean Sea. Afterwards, make your way to a farm to harvest some cassava that will be turned into lunch with the fish you caught and some green plantain.
The Congo Festival dates back to the 1500s and is one of the most colourful and unique manifestations of folklore in Colón. You’ll get the chance to experience it, discover traditional dances and learn about the Afro-American.
In the morning, after you dust yourself off from the previous night’s festivities you’ll fly to David City in the Chiriquí Province. In the village of Cerro Punta take part in the harvesting and roasting of coffee beans, before sampling some of the wares.
You’ll also have the opportunity to spend some time with the Ngobe community, one of the oldest native communities in Panama, in a government-created indigenous reservation.
Kick back and spend your final day resting or exploring Cerro Punta before your transfer back to Panama City where you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner. For something different give Panamanian tortillas or carimañolas (stuffed yuca fritters) a try, washed down with seco, a sugar-cane-distilled alcohol commonly served with milk and ice.