Thursday, February 2, 2023

Panama, land of adventure

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Diplomat Magazine
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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

So many unique experiences within hours of landing at the airport!

Referred to as ¨Bridge of the World¨ (Puente del Mundo) and ¨Heart of the Universe¨ (Corazón del Universo), Panama is a country to be discovered!  Panama achieved a remarkable 30% protected marine area and 32% protected land mass by 2021, becoming one of a handful of countries to meet the 30 x 30 ODS goals 9 years ahead of time!

Panama’s Corredor de Coiba allows for the protection of an ecosystem that is one of the last major refuges for rare and endangered species of tropical America. Although the yearly average temperature of 27 degrees varies only slightly, from December to April rainfall is unusual and it is dry, while May through November is humid and a daily tropical downpour is almost guaranteed but sandwiched between sunshine before and after.

With a direct flight departing from Amsterdam, you arrive to a city that amazes most first-time visitors with its unexpected skyline.  Panama City, capital of the Republic of Panama, is home to some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America, resembling Miami or New York.

Although we have countless beaches, mountains and exotic adventure, it is highly recommended that time be spent in the dynamic city of Panama. Panama City is home to the ruins of Panama Viejo (Old Panama), the first Spanish establishment on the Pacific, which is separated from Casco Viejo (the renown historic district) by 5 world class shopping malls, the banking and financial center, many architectural wonders, multi-cultural neighborhoods and restaurants offering a varied gastronomic experience, all within a distance of 14 kilometers.

Casco Viejo, a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site since 1997, is the historic area composed of picturesque brick-paved streets with renovated buildings on either side.  Walking around or relaxing in one of its numerous plazas, discovering history, boutique shopping or enjoying the evening rooftops attracts both locals and foreigners alike. 

A short hike up Cerro Ancón gives you a magnificent view of Casco Viejo, the city, the Pacific Ocean, the Panama Canal and Taboga island, called Isla de las Flores (island of flowers).  Taboga is a beautiful and relaxing day trip that is accessible only 30 minutes away by ferry boat.

You can head west or east from the city depending on what experience you seek.  Daily flights depart from the smaller airports but most destinations are connected by road. To the east you head towards the most remote province, commonly called the Darien Gap, as it is a primary forest considered the most important “natural lung” in the Americas. This protected area contributes to Panama’s being one of three carbon negative countries in the world. 

The Comarca de Guna Yala (previously known as San Blas), is home to the Gunas, the first indigenous group to gain autonomy in Latin America. The reservation, comprised of its mainland as well as 365 islands in the Caribbean, is known for its beautiful pristine white beaches surrounded by turquoise water, its warm sea breeze and waving palms, the indigenous cultural tourism, kayaking, snorkeling, and ocean-to-plate gastronomy.

Guna Yala is certainly worth a visit if you seek a once in a lifetime experience in paradise! 

Men playing drums and women performing congo dances at San Lorenzo spanish colonial fortress. Chagres, Colon province, Panama, Central America.

However, if you choose to go west, upon crossing one of several bridges over the Canal, you venture into a reality that includes secondary cities, small villages and numerous beaches with warm tropical waters and a range of sand that goes from almost black to white. Restaurants or side of the road “fondas” serving traditional food are very reasonably priced and delicious. You can enjoy a number of folkloric festivities primarily between January and April.

El Valle, Panama.

A mere 2 hours away from the bustling city life, you can also visit El Valle de Anton, a micro climate utopia. El Valle is the largest continually inhabited volcanic crater in the world with an average temperature of 22 degrees.  El Valle offers endless possibilities of adventure, horse-back riding, relaxation, flora and fauna appreciation, outdoor market shopping or simply enjoying the gastronomical variety.

The weather is usually perfect for a hike along the numerous trails, or a canopy tour after wandering through the jungle enjoying the splendor of the waterfall and the river. There is nothing comparable to an afternoon walk while listening to the sounds of the surrounding wildlife. Hiking up Cerro Gaital you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, a unique experience that only Panama can offer. 

Palm tree islands and thatched houses. San Blas archipelago, Caribbean, Panama, Central America.

Chiriqui is the most westward province.  Located here is the Baru Volcano, the tallest mountain in Panama at almost 3,500 meters. Because of the fertile soil it has provided over centuries, this province is known for agriculture.  Our Geisha coffee stands out worldwide as the most expensive coffee sold at auctions, year after year. The Circuito del Café (coffee farm tour) is equaled only by the wine tours in Europe or Australia.  Chiriqui is known as Little Switzerland and its beauty is breathtaking.  You can enjoy bird watching, hiking, river rafting, and so much more.

A drive or short flight will transport you from Chiriqui to the province of Bocas del Toro.  Bocas, a brightly colored and laid-back Caribbean city, is a combination of races, ethnicities and religious groups. A magical feeling of being lost in time permeates as you stroll the streets or travel by water taxi. The unrivaled natural beauty of Bocas is to be enjoyed while walking or biking, eating or reading a book under a palm tree.

Panama City, Panama

Be it the historic center, mountain trails, the Pacific Ocean or the Caribbean Sea, volcano craters, lush tropical rainforests that house 10% of all known bird species, farmland or laid-back living, it is all within reach in a few hours.  Panama is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise in the Pacific over a cup of coffee and set in the Atlantic with a cocktail in hand while the Panamanian people welcome you during your journey!

Panama, the undiscovered country to LIVE FOR MORE!

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