Purely Panama: A Guide to Your Holidays

Pirates once frequented its shores, but these days Panama, in Central America, is a highly-touted holiday destination. Backpackers will surely enjoy trekking through its lush rainforests, swimming in its pristine waters, and meeting its warm and friendly people, who are “so beautiful you could cry,” as author John Le Carré wrote.

What’s a Panama holiday without a trip to the world-famous Canal? Constructed by over 250,000 people, it has been called “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and enabling trade between countries in both hemispheres. The Miraflores Visitors Center tells more about its history, function, and preservation.

Get wild in all 50,000 acres of the Panama Canal Rainforest. Enjoy the wild birds found here, including the Harpy Eagle, the world's largest predator bird, and amphibians, like the Strawberry Poison-dart Frog. Join animal tours, or go fishing and kayaking.

Footsteps of Spanish conquistadors from centuries ago mark Casco Viejo in Panama City, the capital’s historic quarter. Plaza Mayor, surrounded by the Municipal Palace, Cathedral Church, and Canal Museum, witnessed the declaration of Panamanian independence in 1903. Paseo Las Bovedas, a favourite promenade for couples, offers a view of the sea, passing ships, and the Bridge of the Americas. Plaza Santa Ana is another popular spot, where a variety of goods ranging from fruits to religious objects is sold. Tapas restaurant Macarena is very popular, as is Granclement Ice Cream, where homemade frozen treats are served.

A holiday in lava-land is possible in Panama’s El Valle de Antón, perched on the crater of the second largest volcano in the world. It’s spring here all year long, and popular activities include hiking on La India Dormida (“Sleeping Indian Woman”), browsing through the handicrafts market for Indian souvenirs of soap-stone figurines and wood-carved trays. A soak in the thermal springs or volcanic mud baths offers the ultimate in relaxation.

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