Friday, January 9, 2015

Recommendation about an exclusive mountain place ? Yes, we do and love it! Altos del Maria 1.5 hours from the city

We have decided to publish our secret place, Altos del Maria.

Altos del Maria is a private residential community between 500 and 1000 meters above sea level and just 1.5 hours from Panama City and 30 minutes from the beach. For us, staying in Altos del Maria over our weekends is an escape, fresh air, beautiful natures, trails, canopy towers, lakes, it is like living in a national park and better than any others mountain places we have visited so far (El Valle, Boquete, Cerro Punta). They have done great job in creating easy access to over 10 nature trails (including one along the river) over 1.6 miles in length, more than 12 look-out points where you can see the Caribbean and the Pacific Oceans, 3 bird watching towers and an artificial lake has been built at 900 meters above sea level with more than 20,000 fish stocked to attract eagles and other species of birds. Statistically, over 30% of the 944 species of birds in the country have been spotted in Altos del Maria. For this reason, a large handful of serious bird watchers have made of Altos del Maria their permanent home. But still... travelers can get there (you will need to rent a car) and we can recommend you some cabins through our expat friends living there. The night costs between 65 - 150 dollars for a small house or cabins (for 1 to 4 people) + 25 dollars cleaning fee for your stay. We usually spend two night there and sometimes we also take the opportunity to go to the beach and return to sleep in the mountains. There is as well a private paved road which goes to El Valle to enjoy the Sunday's market.

We definitely highly recommend Altos del Maria. Please contact us for any booking with our friends living there. Herewith some pictures of Altos and small houses for rent. By the way, the featuring houses are for sale as well! secretsofpanama@gmail.com






Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ocean View - Bedroom for rent - Chambre a louer - Luxury Building - 15 minutes walking distance to Casco Viejo

We have now met several travelers in the city after answering questions or organizing their trip into Panama and we really love it. We have now extended our services and welcome guest to our modern flat in Balboa Avenue. We have one bedroom with separated private bathroom for rent with the best view of Panama, roof, pool and more. Breakfast and trips organization are included.  Airport pick-up can be organized as well. For more information, see the complete description https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4930552?preview. If interested you can also send us an email. secretsofpanama@gmail.com

Monday, December 29, 2014

How look the cabanas in San Blas ?



We took the opportunity during our September 2014 trip in Isla del Diablo to take picture of the cabins as many of you are asking us about what to expect ? Again, all cabins are very basics in San Blas and you must be flexible!. Herewith the picture of the cabanas inside/outside and the bathrooms. Cheers! Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A quoi ressemblent les "cabanas" de San Blas ?

Nous avons profité de notre séjour en Septembre 2014 sur Isla del Diablo pour prendre des photos des cabanas étant donné que beaucoup d'entre vous nous demandent à quoi s'attendre? Encore une fois, toutes les cabines sont rustiques dans les San Blas et vous devez vous montrer flexible ! Ci-dessus, dans notre article en anglais, vous trouverez les photos des cabanes prisent de l'intérieur et depuis l'extérieur ainsi que les toilettes et douches depuis l'extérieur. Saluations! Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Where To Stay in San Blas (Guna Yala) ?


There are many "Cabanas" in San Blas, but we recommend you one Island Isla Del Diablo which is owned by our Kuna friend. It is in front of Isla del Perro (Dog Island). It is a great place for snorkeling, as there is a nice reef and a shipwreck. The island is situated at 45 minutes from the San Blas dock. They offer also free snorkeling gear and free hop on / hop off islands Tours. Tours are also offered to the deserted Cayos Holandeses, prices to be confirmed. This place is amazing specially if you want to mingle with the Kunas and experience a bit about their culture. 2015 Prices: USD 180.00 (4x4 transport from the city round trip, taxes, boat to the islands round trip, the night with breakfast, lunch and dinner, free snorkeling gear and day tour. You must pay the totality to the driver and if you wish to stay an extra night, you will have to pay USD 50 per person to the Kunas on the island. Do not worry, our Kuna friends coordinate very well your pick-up at the dock with our friends from the 4x4 carriers. You might be waiting around 30 minutes at the San Blas dock to have all the logistics ready. Take a rain coat with you and/or but your belongings such as camera, mobile phone in a dry place as it can be raining or the sea can be a little rough. Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com















Sunday, August 24, 2014

Où se loger à San Blas (Guna Yala)?

Il ya beaucoup de "Cabanas" à San Blas, mais nous vous recommandons l'Isla del Diablo qui est détenue par notre ami Kuna. L'Isla del Diablo est en face de Isla del Perro (Dog Island). Cette une île idéale pour la plongée, car il ya un joli récif et une petite épave avec plein de joli poisson surtout le matin afin l'arrivée des touristes sur Isla del Perro. L'île est située à 45 minutes du port de Carti. Nos amis offrent également des équipements de plongée (masque-tuba) et un tours gratuit d'environ 3 heures dans les îles alentours. Des tours payant sont également offerts aux Cayos désertes "Cayos Holandeses", prix à négocier sur place suivant le nombre de personnes. Prix: 180 USD (transport 4x4 Panama-City et retour, impots, bateau aller-retour, nuit en cabane privative, petit déjeuner, déjeuner et dîner, tuba, masque et tours compris dans le prix. Le tout a payer au chauffeur. Nuit supplémentaire 50 USD à payer sur place . Ne vous inquiétez pas, nos amis Kuna coordonnent très bien votre arrivée/départ avec nos amis du transport terrestre et soyez flexible! N'hésitez pas à nous contacter: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com

SAN BLAS - Isla del Diablo with our friends - VIDEO!

Our friend Pascal who visited us in January posted our San Blas trip on Youtube. This is the island we highly recommend to travellers. Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to get to San Blas (Guna Yala)


You have 3 options! Plane, boat and by Car 1) By car, we do not recommend you to go there with a rental car as you will have to pay more taxes (5 dollars to enter into Guna Yala + USD 5 the night) and your car will stay overnights at your own expense but we have posted a map on how to get there with your own transportation. The road to San Blas through the densely forested jungle highlands of Panama is operated by licensed 4×4 transporters. Our friends are the pionners of the road to San Blas since decades, they leave Panama City daily between 5am and 5.30am or at noon. The drive is approx 2.5-3hrs, depending on road and weather conditions. The 4×4 transporters can hold up to 7 passengers, it can be a little squeeze. It is recommended to take only small bag with you for your stay and leave your main luggage at your hotel (if possible). For they way back, they will pick you up at the port between 9am and 10am or in the afternoon around 4pm. They are always in touch with our Kuna friends to coordinate your arrival, don't worry, just be patient sometimes. 2014 prices per persons: Both way: USD 60 Kuna Yala entry taxes: USD 20 (as from Jan1st 2015),Kuna Yala Port taxes: USD 2.00 If you do not want to share the taxi with 7 people and would like more space, they also offer private charter for USD 350.00 (both ways) Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 2)By plane, you better take the plane if you want to go to the south of the San Blas Islands. Check Airpanama. 3)By boat, (transport and sailing boat) are passing through the San Blas Islands. You can take them from Colon (Panama) or Cartagena (Colombia). There also some "lanchas" going from Miramar (Panama) to San Blas. As we have not experienced it and listen more bad stories than good stories, we cannot recommend you this mode of transportation. Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sailing from San Blas islands to Colombia - be aware!

We often receive request from our followers about sailing from San Blas to Colombia. Unfortunately, we cannot provide any good companies but can update you on the following: We have met lots of travellers in Panama, San Blas and have been reading lots of stories as well. We have received more negative inputs (space, seasickness, bad service, expensive, security) than positive comments. Make sure you choose the right sailing boat! or fly to Colombia with Copa airlines or air panama (new route to Medellin) for less than usd 500 which will be even cheaper than the sailing trip. We suggest you to better visit San Blas by road transportation, stay 3 days on the islands and fly to Colombia! Be aware the some sailing boats are operating in Comarca Kuna Yala without any permit and the Panamanian government is notoriously absent with regards to these sailing vessels that regularly and routinely ferry travellers from the San Blas islands to Colombia. Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Monday, August 11, 2014

How much costs a taxi in Panama-City ?

For a tourist, taking a cab in Panama-City can be very irritating. No taxi meter are available and not all taxi are honest! So you better know approximatively what you should pay for a ride and agree on the price before to jump in. You will into link herewith attached the official rates by area and a map that we suggest you to print and show to your taxi driver if needed. http://www.transito.gob.pa/tablas-tarifa-de-taxis. As a basic rule, if you stay in the same area, you should not pay more than 1.20usd per person and the second person should pay less. Obvioulsy, if you reserve a taxi or take a cab in front of a shopping mall you will pay more. *If you are looking for a taxi driver to drive you through the city and or outside, please let me know, was can always arrange something with some professional driver that we trust. Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Isla Iguana in Pedasi - beach, snorkelling, whales watching and fishing with our friend Eytbar



Pedasi is a town nested on the tip of La Peninsula de Azuero (Azueros peninsula) and is approximately 30 minutes from Playa Venao (surfing spot). You can visit the beautiful Isla Iguana (natural park) from Pedasi (20 minutes boat ride). It costs 70 dollars (max. 6 people) and 80 dollars if 7-10 passengers. Whales watching is also available (sept-oct) and it will cost you 100 dollars (incl. Isla Iguana). Fishing trip around the area from 6am to 2pm can be organized as well. All are very reasonable prices and with a very cool guide. On our september trips, we could observe green turtles, small sharks and tuna while snorkelling and could watch whales and even caught a giant grouper fish. Please contact us to coordinate your trip with Eytbar. Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Isla Iguana - plage, plongée, observation des baleines et pêche avec notre ami Eytbar

Pedasi est une ville nichée sur la pointe de la péninsule d'Azuero et est à environ 30 minutes de Playa Venao (spot de surf). Vous pouvez visiter la merveilleuse Isla Iguana (parc naturel) de Pedasi (20 minutes de trajet en bateau). Cela coûte 70 dollars (max. 6 personnes) et 80 dollars si 7-10 passagers. L'observation des baleines peut être également organisée sept-oct) et il vous en coûtera 100 dollars (incl. Isla Iguana). Egalement disponible, une sortie de pêche autour de la zone de 6am - 2pm (attention: gros poisson!). Les prix son très raisonnables et avec un guide super sympa. Contactez-nous pour organiser votre visite avec notre ami Eytbar. Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where to rent a car in Panama-City and what you should be avoiding ?

1) Only rent a car if you only plan to get outside Panama-City, in the city use taxis or the new Metro. 2) Avoid renting a car at Tocumen International airport - A) If you don't understand Spansih and are in a hurry, B) people are anxious to get the car and get gone without checking to see what they've agreed to and C) when they return they are in a hurry to catch their flights and will not argue with lame, fraudulent claims or overpriced add-ons. 3) Don't rent a car if your plan is to only get to Bocas del Toro - By the time you add up all the costs for a rental car, the airfare doesn't look quite so expensive. Also, keep in mind that the express busses from Panama City to Almirante and return are no slower than what you can drive that distance. It's a very long and tiring 10 to 13 hours in a car 4)Our suggestion: You will be better off picking up the car at Albrook (Gelabert) Domestic Airport because the traffic is less rough than the other areas in the city and you will be closer to the Corredor Norte if you plan to go to Portobello or the American bridge if you plan to drive along the pacific. You will avoid experiencing the traffic and the lack of signs in Panama-City. There are many agencies, Dollars Car rental is OK

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fishing in Panama Canal and sightseeing ?

We love spending our Sunday's with our friend Luis fishing in the Panama-Canal, this is a very different way to visit the canal... All our friends who have been with us just loved this experience close to the city. It is amazing to be on the canal in a small fishing boat at 20 meters from a huge ship! You will also enjoy the wildlife, see some monkeys, birds, etc and enjoy fishing Peacock Bass or Oscar. Afterwards you will take a break in a fresh water secret pool and cascade before to have a barbecue and a ceviche with your own freshly caught fish on a small island. Our friend only provide tours during week-ends and you need to book in advance as he works outside the city. The trip start from 6am from your hotel until 2-3pm or before if you wish to be back earlier. Total price including transport from your hotel to the dock, the boat, fuels, fishing gears, baits, barbecue, coolers with ice costs is usd 250 as from two persons. Bring your own drinks! Feel free to contact us Secretsofpanama@gmail.com.






Monday, May 26, 2014

Is there any Day Tour to San Blas available ?

Day tous are now available as the new road allow to arrive in San Blas in 2.5hours vs. in 5hours some years ago. It can be a good alternative if you do not have the time to stay over night or if you wish to keep the comfort of your hotel room in the City :-) We suggest you to avoid weekend or national days off in Panama. The San Blas day tour starts with transportation from Panama City to Carti with a shared 4×4 leaving between 5am and 5.30am. They can take up to 7 passengers and you might be a little squeeze. The journey to Carti on the San Blas island mainland is around 2-3 hours through the rainforest. In Carti you will be picked up by our Kuna Friend who will take you to Isla Diablo where you will have the time to go snorkelling, have lunch before to go for a two hours tour around the others islands. The day tours of the islands will finish around 3-4pm and you will be transported back to Carti Port and meet with the 4×4 transport back to Panama City, you will arrive back in Panama City between 6 and 7pm normally. Price: USD 142.00 (all included, incl. taxes) to be paid to the transport company. Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com

Saturday, February 22, 2014

FAQ - Facts about Panama

Let us share with you the best Panama map with tourist attractions and provide you general facts about Panama. LOCATION: Panama is located between Central and South America on the Isthmus of the same name. Its surface is of 75,517 square kilometers, slightly less than the surface of the State of South Carolina. The width of the Isthmus is between 80 km and 192 km. CLIMATE: Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius and humidity is always high. SEASON: There are only two seasons, the “dry” during the months of January to April and the “not so dry” from May until end of the year. LANGUAGE: Spanish is the language. CURRENCY: The U.S. dollar. Panama’s own coins match U.S. coins in size and value, and are thus acceptable in casino slot machines. TIPPING: Check with management if in doubt. 10% to 15% of the bill would be acceptable. DRIVERS LICENSE: Visitors can drive up to 90 days with a foreign driving license. HOSPITALS: Panama has a number of very up-to-date hospitals the principals being Clinica Paitilla Clinica San Fernando Hospital Nacional and Hospital Punta Pacífica AMBULANCE SERVICE: Emi Panama 236-6060 ELECTRICITY: 110 volts; 60 cycles. TIME ZONE: Eastern Stardard time. Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Panama. Special national holidays of Panama It is wise to be aware of Panama’s National Holidays when the whole country closes down and businesses and banks are closed. Jan 9 – Martyr’s Day Feb 12 – Carnival Tuesday Nov 3 – Independence from Colombia Nov 5 – First Cry of Independence (from Colombia) in Colon Nov 10 – First Cry of Independence from Spain in Los Santos Nov 28 – Independence from Spain Dec 8 – Mothers´ Day

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Embera Village Tribe community tour













It has been an amazing private tour spent with the Embera. Canoe, waterfall, dances, lunch.  The price for this was USD200.00  per person (minimum 2 persons - 1 person costs usd 300) including transportation from Panama City and also a local english guide.  Prices for groups are reduced.