Earlier this Fall, my work flew myself and my entire department to Panama for 48 hours. It was an absolute whirlwind trip — we spent one full day exploring as much as we could in 24 hours and the second day we were cooped up in meetings. Of course 24 hours can’t encompass all of the many things this colorful country has to offer but I think we did a pretty good job of nailing some of the highlights! So if you are planning a trip to Panama here are some things you should definitely make sure to do and see!
Our first activity of the day was a boat ride around Gatun Lake.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect. All I knew about the lake was that it was a large artificial lake that makes up part of the Panama Canal. What I found was a massive lake (that you would never in a million years guess was manmade unless you had been told) with lots of little islands and tucked away areas where you can spot monkeys!
Our next stop was a visit to the Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary & Wildlife Rescue Center.
When I was in middle school I was absolutely OBSESSED with sloths. So when I saw this was on my itinerary I freaked out and our visit did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded expectations because not only did we get to get up close and personal with sloths, but we also saw butterflies and frogs. At the sanctuary we learned about the importance of wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation.
Then, we spent the afternoon exploring Casco Viejo or ‘old town’ Panama City.
Casco Viejo is the historic district of Panama City and was declared a World Heritage site in 1997. We didn’t have too much time here but we did have some time to look around and take pictures. It did have a totally different feel from the rest of Panama City that we had seen earlier.
We also visited this great little cafe called Mahalo.
Not only was it adorably decorated but the guacamole and drinks were fantastic — what more do you need?
Finally, we headed to the Miraflores Locks for a once-in-a-lifetime private party right on the Panama Canal!
There we enjoyed drinks, dancing and dessert while taking an up-close look at the Panama Canal, one of the most influential engineering projects ever undertaken and one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Completed by the US in 1914, the canal revolutionized international trade by bridging the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. We even got to see a ship go through the canal (it took ages) but definitely pretty cool to witness something so iconic.
This was my first trip to Central America (and I’ve never been to South America) but it was a great first taste! To be honest, European and Asian countries always tend to have the most appeal to me but this visit really made me interested in coming back and experiencing places like Belize and Costa Rica.
Have you been to Panama before? What activities would you recommend? Leave me a comment below!