Manual Explorers Guide Panama: A Great Destination (Explorers Complete)

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Back on board, the bar becomes a busy hub for excited chatter about whale sightings, photo comparisons and refreshing pisco sour cocktails. Those looking for a quieter spot head for the Yamana Lounge, where coffee is available all day and comfy sofas are positioned in front of panoramic windows. We learn about the Yamana — the tribe that used to inhabit Tierra del Fuego — during one of our evening talks about the history and nature of the area. They were a canoe-based community, paddling from island to island, living off seal blubber and setting up transient camps. With the introduction of Westerners to the area, the hunter-gatherers lost access to their vital nutrient-rich food and were introduced to illnesses they could not survive.

By the end of the 19th century the Yamana as a tribe had become extinct. On our second night I feel a gentle lurch as we emerge from the protected Magellan Strait into open waters and make our way to the Beagle Channel.

In the Channel itself, the walls of the waterway rise up more steeply, creating what feels like a fjord. Now and again a split in the land reveals a great river of ice suspended ominously over the channel — as if it could defrost at any moment and plunge into the waters below. We disembark to get a closer look from a slice of land a safe distance away.

She creaks and moans as if trying to free herself from the tight channel in which she is wedged. Sections of ice calve off and fall into the sea and we wait, cameras poised, to see if we can catch the event. But the pinnacle of this cruise for most is the chance to see Cape Horn.

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We are warned the night before we are due to arrive that near-constant high winds mean we may not be able to set foot on the craggy outcrop. The following day we emerge from our cabins at 6am to see the sheer rock, topped with an Albatross memorial to the lives lost in the area. There is also a modest hut, home to a military family that has signed up for a year-long stint to keep guard and run a sideline business selling souvenirs to tourists.

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You might describe Playa Venao as comfortable, as it is, after all, a tropical beach. Thus, reaching Venao gives you that often sought after, yet rarely attained, sense of authentic adventure. Like its neighbor to the north, Costa Rica , Panama has an incredibly diverse ecology. Panama serves as a biological corridor between two major continents, allowing for an invaluable natural exchange of plants and animals across borders known as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

Located on the Azuero Peninsula, Playa Venao has a clean beach, pristine water, dense mangroves, and lush tropical forests that rise up through the adjacent hills. This proximity to the protected national park helps protect an abundance of wildlife and marine life, including curious monkeys, sea turtles, and whales.

In addition to its mission of offering a sustainable, low-impact lodging, the Eco Venao is committed to maintaining a reforestation project covering acres of hilled, tropical jungle right off the beach. Approximately 12 years ago, a traveling surfer from Israel was making his way down the Pacific coast of Central America when he stumbled upon Playa Venao. At the time, the area was mostly untouched by tourism. There might have been a hotel or two, but surf tourism was completely absent.

He set up camp and stayed for months, surfing by himself. At the end of his stay, he went to the only house nearby, knocked on the door, and offered to buy a lot of land on the beach right in front of the break.

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The owner of the house and the entire stretch of beach in front of the break declined. He told that surfer that, if he wanted it, he had to buy the whole lot. The traveling surfer, along with a number of his Israeli friends, later returned and took up the offer, buying the entire stretch of beach in front of the surf break and dividing it equally among themselves.

I stayed at the Beach Break Surf Camp , where you can get coaching tailored to your surf level. While each of these friends operates their beachfront businesses, many of which are restaurants or surf hotels, Playa Venao is safe from vertical growth. Due in part to the influx of Israeli travelers, Playa Venao possesses a unique blend of cultures. Playa Venao has no grocery store. Many travelers choose not to leave, and when they stay, the food cultures from their home countries remain as well.

Panama's island vacations offer all this and more.

‎Explorer's Guide Panama: A Great Destination on Apple Books

Snorkel or dive from Solarte Island. Learn how the Pearl Islands were named by a man who never reached them. Enjoy lavish resorts, laid-back beach towns, private islands, deserted islands, and more.

Whether you want to play volleyball or experience a true moment 'all to yourself,' Panama's islands are at your disposal. Panama's rainforests are full of beauty and natural wonders. Love rugged treks and amazing views?

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Then you'll want to spend your next vacation exploring Panama's mountains. In Boquete, you can hike, birdwatch, and raft. Time to hang ten from the beaches of Central America. Surfing in Panama makes for a fun and active vacation, so pick your skill level and your beach. The great thing about Panama's surf spots is that there's a wave for everyone — from beginner to professional.

The sun is shining on the sands of Playa Venao and Santa Catalina, the only thing missing is you! From the cosmopolitan hub of Panama City to the colourful and funky vibe of Bocas Town, Panama's cities are diverse. Explore everything from charming villages to up-and-coming destinations, because there's no shortage of Panama cities to visit. It's time to get the party started! Panama's nightlife has something to offer you, regardless of how you prefer to spend your time after the sun sets.

Enjoy a glass of wine at an upscale establishment in Panama City or grab a beer in Bocas Town. Dance all night or chat until sunrise — this is Panama's nightlife your way.