itinerary Details [+]
For Joanne and I, traveling to Panama for the first time was truly an adventure. The fact that Latin Destinations put this trip together for us in the short amount of time we gave truly amazes me.
Such a relief to arrive in Panama and find a gentleman with our name on a sign waiting for us. He was very polite. Between his limited English and our Spanish we had a very nice 1 hr+ ride to our hotel in Gamboa.
At the Gamboa Resort, the accommodations were terrific. We were able to upgrade to the main hotel, instead of staying in the apartments. I think that was a good choice, as the hotel was so convenient to everything. We arrived there late in the evening and were hungry - looking for a quick bite we decided on the buffet. The buffet food was pretty good, but nothing really stuck out. The following nights, we ordered off the menu and were pleased to find how nice the entrees from the menu were prepared. Service was very good, the staff were accommodating. The included breakfasts offered a wide variety of hot and cold breakfast foods, eggs and omelets cooked to order. Certainly something for everyone. All in all, Gamboa Resort met or exceeded all our expectations.
Gabriel, a young man that worked at the Gamboa Resort, led us on a fascinating walk through the rainforest. The next day he accompanied us on a kayaking tour around the Charges River. Both were offered for free by the hotel. I have to tell you, he helped make our stay at Gamboa the wonderful time that it was. He was polite, well spoken and interesting. Truly an asset to the Gamboa Resort.
I had received a message in Spanish on our hotel phone. Since I did not fully understand it, I asked the Gamboa Tour representative at the hotel to listen and translate for us. I think because our last name was DeLorenzo they thought we were Spanish. The message was a change in our flight time to San Blas (6 hrs later than on our itinerary). The Gamboa Tour rep at the Gamboa resort was OK. She answered questions that we had, but did not go out of her way. I thing she could have been a bit more pleasant.
San Blas and the Kuna was a fascinating experience! We were met at the appropriate time and taken to the airport. Once again by a safe and courteous driver. Arriving in Achetupu was like going through a time warp. I have to tell you, chills were running down my spine I was so excited. Henryk, a guide from the camp, met us at the Achetupu air strip. He was fantastic, spoke English very well, polite and very informative. He and the staff were very accommodating. They took us on tours to two of the other islands, the cemetery. So interesting!
One thing I was a bit nervous about before arriving in Achetupu, was the food. What would we eat? Quite frankly, we packed some trail mix as a backup, just in case. To our amazement, the food was quite good, better than we anticipated. Basic, yet tastefully prepared and nicely presented. A pleasant surprise. The staff at Uaguinega were extremely accommodating and really made Kuna Yala a special place.
Back to Panama City. Henryk at Uaguinega called to confirm the return flight time before he brought us to the airstrip. I am glad he did since the flight was delayed by 4+ hours. Once again, we were promptly met by our driver. Unfortunately, the driver did not get the flight change info and had been waiting at the airport the whole time. Since it seems the flights to and from San Blas are often not on schedule, there might be a way for the drivers to get that info. Anyway, he was polite and courteous as our other drivers and delivered us safely to our hotel.
The Suites Ambassador Hotel did not look like much from the outside, making us a little nervous. We were pleasantly surprised to find our room, newly renovated and absolutely terrific. I guess the outside of the hotel is scheduled for a facelift as well. The staff there was polite, full of info and made our stay there pleasant. The breakfast was basic continental, limited, yet nicely done. One morning, we wanted to take a hike in the rainforest right outside Panama City. They set us up with a driver "Vladimir". He was a true gentleman and if anyone was looking for someone to take them around the city, although his English was limited, I would truly recommend him.
On another note, I think the Country Inn & Suites Amador is in a better location and better suited for tourists. I know you tried to get us in there, but it was fully booked.
We were picked up promptly, 8:30 AM, as scheduled for our "Half Day Tour of Panama and the Mira Flores Locks". Turns out we were the only 2 on the tour, a bonus. The driver was polite and spoke perfect English. Very interesting. Perhaps rushed the city part of the tour a bit. We were done by 11:45 am. I think he could have offered to let us out of the car a few times to take some pics or something. Not a complaint, just a suggestion. All in all it was fine.
The pick up and drop off to the airport - once again on time and well done.
I could go on and on about all the details of our trip, but that is it in a nut shell. We are not ones to go somewhere and sit on the beach for a week and this vacation met our every expectation of being relaxing yet adventurous.
I did not realize when booking how much your staff and your local tour operator had to do to put all the pieces together. I must compliment you all on a job well done. We didn`t give you much time, and you pulled it off - perfectly. Every pickup was on time. The accommodations terrific. The flights scheduled without a hitch. You fit each piece of the puzzle together perfectly. I would surely do business with you again and I promise to give you more time.
Thank you for a job well done.