When is the best season for adventure travel to Panama?
Is it safe to travel in Panama?
What are the accommodations like on a Wildland Adventures' Panama tour?
Can I reserve a rental car through Wildland Adventures in Panama?
What essential things should I pack for my Panama vacation?
What is the electrical current in Panama? Will I need a converter or adaptor?
What are the visa and passport requirements for travel to Panama?
Will I need any vaccinations, immunizations or special medications for a Panama vacation?
Is Panama a good destination for traveling with babies and toddlers?
Is Panama a good choice for single travelers?
What is the local currency in Panama? Are U.S. dollars accepted? Can I use credit or debit cards while on a Panama adventure tour? Are ATMs available?
Can I drink the water when traveling in Panama?
What is the food like in Panama?
I have many questions about arranging a trip to the Panama. Who should I speak with?
Will my cell phone work while on an Panama adventure?
In which time zone is Panama?
Are your Panama tour dates flexible?
Can I create a custom Panama adventure tour?
How far in advance should I book my Panama vacation?
Do I have to partake in all the daily activities?
Do you offer any discounts on your Panama tours?
What is recommended for tipping in Panama?
What is the one piece of key advice you give all clients?
Do your Panama tours include international airfare?
Is purchasing travel insurance recommended?
Will I experience any anti-Americanism?
Panama, much like its neighbor Costa Rica, is a year-round destination. The travel industry designates several business seasons with variable rates depending on the season: "High season" coincides with the dry season from December until April; "Peak season" is during the Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays; and the "Green or Low season" coincides with the rainy season, from May until November.
December is a good time to travel as there is less rain and increasingly more sun but the landscapes are still very lush and green from the rainy season. February and March are the driest months and you can expect mostly sunny and dry weather. May and June are good travel months because they are part of the green or low season where rates are lower, the weather is still nice as it's just the beginning of the rainy season. Mornings are usually sunny, with afternoon rain showers and clearing in the evenings. The forest is lush with vibrant greens and landscape is more alive and great for photography. July and August have become a popular time to travel and are usually considered high season, though not all hotels charge high season rates. Ticos call this time of year “veranillo” (little summer), a period of about 2-3 weeks little rain and more sun. September, October and November tend to be the rainiest months but since Panamahas a wide variety of microclimates, we can plan a trip that focuses on the regions with the best weather this time of year. An important note: In Panama, expect rain at any time of year in the rainforest! Hiking under the rainforest canopy when it’s raining is a magical experience and rain rarely interferes with the activities of the day. Back to Top
Panama is one of the safest tourist destinations in the region. Taxi robbery is unheard of and purse snatching are rare. Caution is recommended whenever on the street or in crowded public spaces or bars/restaurants. Always avoid carrying your original travel documents or large amounts of money in your purse or wallet. Leave jewelry at home. The dangers of travel anywhere can be minimized by simple common sense, awareness and precautions. Do not leave your luggage unattended at the airport or with a stranger, do not carry any stranger’s luggage through customs or immigration, and always carry your money within an inside pocket or a security/money belt. Email yourself a copy of your passport identifying pages of your passport, e-tickets, and emergency phone numbers. Valuable items should be left in the safety box in your room. Take the same precautions you would anywhere in the world. Back to Top
There is a wide variety of accommodation available, but you can expect well-appointed eco-lodges to upper scale boutique hotels and lodges with private bath and hot water. We use small boutique-style hotels whenever possible. Lodging close to protected areas, national parks, and remote locations can fill up quickly, particularly in high season, and it is recommended that we reserve your preferred hotels as far in advance as possible. Back to Top
We strongly recommend that visitors traveling to Panama(especially those who visit this destination for the first time) let a professional Nicaraguan do the driving. Besides their friendly companionship, you benefit from their excellent driving skills which are necessary to negotiate unpredictable road conditions. Your driver will make sure you arrive at your destination is a safe and timely manner. Rental car agencies generally require a damage deposit of between $1,000-$1,500 and because of the road conditions and potential damage you are likely to lose some or all of your deposit. Some rental cars have GPS systems but the maps are not nearly as good as in the U.S. or Europe. It will be much more relaxing to have your own van with driver and to take local flights. We can assist you with a rental car if you are staying at a beach hotel and want to explore on your own. Back to Top
Pack light. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable in Panama City (during the day, if planning to go out in the evening slacks are highly recommended as some restaurants won't admit you in shorts or sandals). Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended if you want to avoid sun. Bring a large hat to block the sun from your face and neck. Pack a light sweater or jacket for Panama City's cool nights and early mornings and for trips up to volcanoes and highlands. Sturdy sneakers or hiking boots are essential if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing and hiking. Waterproof hiking sandals or other footwear that lets your feet breathe are good for strolling about town, and also for beach walking, fording streams, and navigating the myriad mudholes you'll find on rain and cloud forest trails. In general bring light-weight, quick-dry clothing usually designed for outdoor-oriented adventure travel. Panamais a beautiful destination and you'll be surprised how many pictures you take! Make sure to bring extra memory card and batteries and a telephoto lens if you like to take pictures of wildlife. In addition, bring a day pack, binoculars, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, light weight clothes, a hat, plastic bag for wet clothes (all the hotels offer laundry service), good walking/hiking shoes sandals, additional socks, swimming suit, power snacks for walks, headlamp/ flashlight, ear plugs (sometimes people are not used to sounds of the ocean or the jungle or the wildlife at night, especially the howler monkeys at 5 a.m!). It is always recommended to please leave your jewelry and valuables at home. Back to Top
Panama uses 110 volt electricity, same as the U.S. However, there are unpredictable variations with some sockets that are 220 volts. Ask the hotel before plugging in your devices. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so U.S. travelers will not typically need a plug adaptor (unless your device requires 3 prongs). Back to Top
Citizens of the United States and Canada only require a passport to enter Panama and may stay for up to 90 days. The passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the date of entry. If you don’t have that amount of time left on your passport, you will need to renew it before your trip. This period of time fluctuates from 30 days to 6 months. In order to be on the safe side we suggest having it valid for at least 6 months. Make sure your passport is in good physical condition- you may be denied entry if it is not. There is also a $20 departure tax but it is normally included on your international airfare. Back to Top
No vaccinations or immunizations are required except for a yellow fever certificate if you are arriving in Panama after visiting an infected area, such as the Amazon. It is good to have Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. When you put down a deposit for any Wildland Adventure, our destination expert Program Directors will provide detailed information about health precautions and possible immunizations for travel to your destination. Wildland Adventures' staff are not licensed medical professionals, however, we do know the exact areas, environments and conditions under which you will be traveling, all of which can affect the relative risk of exposure and help you make a decision concerning immunizations and prescription medicines. All travelers should consult their physician or a travel health clinic and refer to the Center for Disease Control website for complete information on health considerations in your destination. Back to Top
We are eager to work with families to create a memorable adventure for everyone, including young children. Many of our clients have traveled with toddlers and with appropriate expectations and planning they enjoyed a wonderful time. It is never too early to start exploring the world with your children! Back to Top
Yes and no. Although solo travelers are welcome on any of our tours, our Panama trips often tend to attract families and couples. Ask your Program Director for recommended tours and/ or departure dates, as some departures tend to attract more diverse groups than others. If no good options are available for your chosen timeframe, consider a trip to Belize or South America. These countries also offer similar activities and may have a more diverse group departing during your chosen dates. If we are able to pair you up with another single traveler willing to share accommodation then there will be no additional single supplement. However, if we are unable to find a suitable match prior to your trip departure then the single supplement fee will apply. Back to Top
Panama uses the U.S. We suggest bringing $300 per person in small denominations for tipping and shopping. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels and shops. There are ATM machines in the main cities. Your guide/driver can assist you. Back to Top
The water is safe in nearly all locations. When in very remote or rural areas, you should drink bottled water. If you have a sensitive stomach, stick to bottled water. Back to Top
Panama has its own unique and rich cuisine. As a land bridge between two continents Panama is blessed by nature with an unusual variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs that are used in native cooking. Also, as a crossroads of the world, Panama’s cuisine is influenced by its diverse population of Hispanic, native Indian, European, African and even Chinese migrations. The hotels will accommodate vegans and vegetarians and children who are picky eaters. Please be as descriptive as possible when you fill out the dietary restrictions section of the reservation form to be better prepared to accommodate your needs. Back to Top
Our Central America Program Director Grettel Calderon is a local Tica who lives and works in our San Jose, Costa Rica office. She has over 15 years experience organizing itineraries in the region including 5 years as Wildland Adventures’ in-country expert. Grettel will work with you on designing your Panamaadventure and then, working with our operations team, finalize all the details of your trip, from coordinating your air and land arrangements, to fulfilling any special needs you may have. Once you have decided on the itinerary you envision, we will send you a comprehensive Pre-departure Dossier including travel tips for Panama, packing lists, suggested reading, dining recommendations, maps and more! Contact Grettel Calderon by email or by phone at (800) 345-4453 and start planning your PanamaAdventure! Back to Top
This is a good question for your cell phone service provider. To work internationally, you'll most likely need a cell phone which uses a "GSM" network which is most widely used globally. In the U.S. AT&T and T-Mobile operate GSM networks while Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and several smaller carriers such as U.S. Cellular use the "CDMA" network which has less worldwide coverage than GSM. You'll want to check with your service provider regarding international coverage and make sure you understand exactly what you'll be charged for making calls and, if you have a smart phone, for using data (email/internet). Rates can be extremely expensive and we've heard horror stories of travelers returning home to find unexpectedly large bills for using their phone while traveling. Due to this, we generally recommend you unplug and don't use your cell phone while traveling. Your guides will be able to give you the best options for calling home and loved ones can contact you using the local phone numbers we provide on your final itinerary or Wildland's 24-hour emergency number. Some of the lodges we use have a telephone at the front desk. We recommend reviewing CNET's World Phone Guide for more information on international cell phone coverage. Back to Top
Panama is five hours behind GMT (same as Eastern Standard Time). They do not observe Daylight Savings Time so during these months, from April to October, Panama time is the same as Central Standard Time. Back to Top
Yes. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of 2 or 4 travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available. Back to Top
Certainly. A private or custom departure is a Wildland Adventure that's just for you and your group. You can set up a private departure for most of the trips we offer, additional costs might apply depending on the trip. Pricing for private departures varies by trip and is based on the size of your group. We would be glad to give you an estimate by phone, give us a call! Back to Top
You can book your Panama tour at any time but generally the earlier you book, the better. For departures during the dry season (December-April), you will usually find better availability if you book at least 4 months in advance (6 months to 1 year is recommended for travelers visiting during the busy Christmas/ New Year's holiday, Easter Week or Spring Break) but we are happy to help travelers booking with short notice. Travelers visiting outside of the busy dry season months can often book last minute, though 4+ months notice is still recommended to take advantage of the best airfare rates. We usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available.
We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one month!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice tour may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can probably recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting! Many lodges will not hold spaces less than 30 days before departure so for last minute bookings, you may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces. Back to Top
No, of course not! The sightseeing, park visits, museum visits, and activities are included for your enjoyment. But, if you prefer to do something else, or just rest and take a siesta, that is fine. You are free to join all the sightseeing activities, or just half the activities, or none of the activities. We strive to accommodate you, so that you will be as comfortable as possible on the tour. You can do as much, or as little as you please while on tour however we have carefully created our trips to expose you to the diverse range of ecosystems and habitats this small country offers including cloud forest, rain forest, volcanoes, rivers, beaches, etc. As you traverse these beautiful landscapes we also make sure our active and inquisitive travelers have plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor adventures, see lots of wildlife including some great bird watching, and a chance to relax in some of the lovely lodges and boutique hotels we recommend. Back to Top
Yes, we offer Alumni Discounts: Previous travelers on Wildland Adventures, our Wildland alumni, are eligible for increasing discounts on additional trips. On your second trip with us you qualify for a 5% discount, with discounts increasing by 1% for each subsequent trip up to a maximum of 10%. Discounts are subject to change, are not applicable on child rates, when booking through a third party or in combination with other discounts. We also offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Wild Special Deals page for the latest offers and on-going discounts. Back to Top
A reminder that tips for porters, waiters in restaurants and local trip assistants are not included in your trip cost. Tipping is entirely up to you. The quality of service, whether or not you feel comfortable tipping, and your budget are all important factors. The following suggestions for tipping are meant as guidelines based on industry standards. We suggest:
• Naturalist guide/Tour leader: US$10.00-US$20.00 per person/day
• Day tour guide: US$10.00 per person/day
• Transfer driver (airport/hotel/airport): US$2.00 per person
• Tour driver: US$5.00 per person/day
• Tour boat driver: US$5.00 per person/day
• Hotel bellman: US$1.00 per person per suitcase
Most lodges and hotels have a tip box near the front desk should you wish to compensate all the hotel staff individuals who made your stay a pleasant one. Back to Top
Make sure you have allowed time to relax and enjoy your trip. Many people don’t plan this into their vacation schedule because they want to “see and do as much as possible.” Planning extra time is especially important during peak dates when there can be flight delays due to weather. We recommend you arrive and/or depart a day earlier/later to avoid travel inconveniences. Back to Top
None of our Panama adventures include international airfare. While Wildland Adventures does not book international airfare directly, we are pleased to provide a quote and schedule for your international air with our partners at Exito Travel, a leader in air travel worldwide. They offer highly competitive fares along with the knowledge to book the best airlines, routing and schedule for your Wildland Adventure. Contact your destination Program Director for more information. Back to Top
Yes, we highly recommend you protect your investment by purchasing travel insurance, especially for unexpected trip cancellation and trip interruption (for specific covered reasons), as well as medical coverage for accident or illness and related evacuation expenses that may be incurred during your trip. We recommend the policy offered by Travelex as an outstanding travel insurance product. The policy application is included in your pre-departure dossier and you can get more information and sign up online by using this link: Travelex or call them directly at 1-800-228-9792 referencing our location number: 47-0066. Important Purchase Date: It is necessary that you purchase the Travelex insurance within 21 days of your initial reservation deposit in order to receive additional coverage for three important conditions: 1) pre-existing health conditions for you or an immediate family member, 2) protection in the event of default or bankruptcy of a supplier, and 3) the optional Business Travel Upgrade protection which covers trip cancellation for certain business reasons. After the initial 21 day period you can still purchase travel insurance, but these additional benefits will not apply. Complete coverage details can be found in the Evidence of Coverage on the Travelex website or by speaking with them at the number listed above. Back to Top
Panamanians are some of the most pro-American citizens anywhere. They are proud to have complete sovereignty over their country with the transfer of the Panama Canal, but are delighted to see Americans back as tourists and investors. Due to their long historical association with the United States, Panamanians understand and appreciate Americans. A local joke is that Panama is just like Miami except that Panama is safer than Miami, more people speak English in Panama than in Miami, there are no hurricanes and Americans are more popular in Panama than in Miami. Panama has one of the most stable democracies in the Americas. Since 1989, when the dictator Noriega was deposed, Panama has been a fully democratic country. Back to Top