The Adventuress is a blog for women with adventurous spirits.
It's a source of inspiration, planning, tips, and advice from experienced travelers and outdoor adventurers
with the extra flair of being for women and by women only.


women crossing bridge Hiking in the rain forest
women crossing bridge Hiking in the rain forest
women's group tour Rafting Chiriqui River
Kayaking Lake Gatun
women's tour Ziplining in central america
Coffee beans in costa rica
Boca Beach
Boca island

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica

Destination: Bocas del Toro and Boquete, Panama

Panama is what Costa Rica used to be. Only recently emerging as a popular Central American destination, it combines a stable government, diverse ecosystems rich in bird species, and indigenous populations that are both in touch with modern life and still keeping traditional customs. And because most of it is still not well known as an active destination, it receives fewer visitors than neighboring countries: thus it is possible to feel that you have truly gotten off the beaten track here. We'll spend nine days exploring this beautiful country, from Panama Canal to the beaches of Bocas and the Chiriqui highlands. Maximum: 12

*Please Note*: Registration for the February 1, 2020 departure is now based on availability. If you register for this trip we will need to determine availability before that registration can be processed, and will be in touch with you as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please call the office at (877) 439-4042, Extension 4. Thank you!


  • Visiting an incredibly beautiful country that is still off the mass tourism radar
  • Discovering the amazing ecodiversity that Panama offers, from beaches to highlands
  • Snorkeling and swimming among coral reefs
  • Hiking and rafting in Panama's Chiriqui Highlands
  • Sampling Panamanian culture and cuisine

Departures and Prices

February 01 to February 09, 2020
$3195.00 - FULL
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  • A Panamanian guide (who may be male) and an Adventures in Good Company guide
  • Eight nights double occupancy lodging
  • All activities specified on the itinerary, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, and ziplining
  • All transportation within Panama, including internal flights
  • Meals as specified on the itinerary
  • Gratuities for drivers and day guides
Not included:Travel to Panama city; one dinner and two lunches; guide gratuities; alcoholic beverages


This trip is rated 2 and is an excellent choice for women who enjoy being active and trying lots of different activities, and who want to experience the incredible diversity of culture and natural history that Panama offers. No previous experience in any of the activities is necessary. Rating: 1 2 3 4 5. A rating of 2 is suitable for any woman who regularly walks at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. These trips typically involve 3 to 5 hours of daily activity.

This trip includes swimming, hiking, cultural sightseeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, ziplining and relaxing. No experience is necessary in any of them - your guides will teach you everything you need to know.

All of our accommodations offer modern amenities, including ensuite bathroomsl. We stay the first two and the last night at a hotel in Panama City; two nights in Bocas del Toro at El Limbo; and three nights at a resort in Boquete, Hotel Valle del Rio

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Arrival in Panama. Our trip officially begins at 5pm at our hotel in Panama City. We will have group introductions, a trip orientation, and then go out for a welcome dinner. Whenever you arrive, you will be met at the airport by one of our Panamanian representatives and transferred to our hotel. Panama City is quite safe and if you get here early, its an interesting city to walk around. Overnight Hotel in Panama City (D)
Panama is best known for the Panama Canal, so it's fitting that our first day here should be spent learning about it. After breakfast we drive along the Panama Canal to Gamboa Public Ramp. We then continue our journey through the Canal for another hour by motorboat, before switching to 2-person expedition kayaks once we are in Gatun Lake. The lake was created by flooding the area now contained in Sobernia and Chagres National Parks, turning many mountain tops into islands and creating an amazing kayaking resource with endless channels to explore. We spend the next few hours scouting channels through the forest, with a break for lunch and a rest on our motor boat. While wildlife is never completely predictable, we are almost guaranteed to see sloths and different types of monkeys, including Capuchin (white-faces), howling, spider, and titi.

On the way back we'll stop at the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks. We'll learn how locks work and watch ships rise (or descend) over 40 feet as they transit through it. The Canal is still vital to world trade today and indeed, without it there isn't world commerce as we know it. Dinner is on your own tonight so you can check out any restaurants you may have heard about, or you are welcome to join your guide. (B, L)
We will catch an early domestic flight to Colon, gateway to the Caribbean Archipelago and the Province of Bocas Del Toro in northwest Panama. Bocas del Toro , the "Caribbean West" area of Panama, is a place that looks exactly like a picture postcard of paradise. Pristine white sand beaches, brilliant blue sea waters, and small islands that seem as if they were made by the hand of a talented designer all add up to immediate relaxation. Formed by the mainland, a lagoon, nine small islands and a bay, Bocas Del Toro includes the city of Bocas Town (on Isla Colon), Almirante, and Changuinola. The archipelago contains 68 different islands, and all of them are open for exploring, bird watching, swimming, or just enjoying as you sit on the sand and soak in the sun.
After checking into our lodge by the sea, we will head toward Playa Estrella to relax, swim, and snorkel. Overnight Limbo Hotel. B, L, D
Another day in Paradise! After breakfast we get in a motorboat to tour the mangroves areas and then cross Dolphin Bay, where, true to its name, encountering dolphins is almost guaranteed. Our final destination is Cayo Zapatillas. We'll have lunch, relax, and swim and snorkel among its coral reefs. We'll return to our lodge in late afternoon, in time to clean up before going out to dinner. After dinner we'll walk through town and explore the local nightlife. B, L, D
After breakfast, we will depart for a short 30 minutes boat ride to the mainland, where our shuttle will take us across the continental divide in a 2 hour drive through beautiful mountain scenery to our lodge in Boquete. Boquete is a small and charming mountain village tucked away on the eastern slopes of "Baru Volcano". The mountainous area of Boquete is the coffee heartland of Panama, and home of some famous gourmet varieties such as the Geisha. This region is also popular because of its remarkably pleasant weather. It is also one of the most protected locations, meaning that a majority of the area is natural and pristine.

After lunch we are up for a completely thrilling zip line. Imagine gliding through the tops of trees that are over a century old, high above pristine rivers, traversing a cloud forest of century-old trees and waterfalls where at any time you may encounter fog and the gentle rain called "bajareque", as well as monkeys. Fortunately you will be attached securely in a harness to an overhead line. Ziplining is an activity where adrenaline is high but the actual risk is quite low, something that becomes obvious once you see how it is actually constructed. However, it's definitely not mandatory and another equally great option is to go on a bridge walk where the birding is excellent. We'll check back into our hotel, clean up, and then investigate the town for our new favorite restaurant. Overnight: Hotel Valle del Río. B, D
This morning we hike for about three hours on one of the many scenic trails in magnificent Baru Volcano National Park, home to Panama's tallest peak (11,400 ft) and an enchanting cloud forest. Cloud forests, also called fog forests, occur only in tropical or subtropical mountainous environments, where the atmospheric conditions allow for a consistent cover of clouds. Often taking the form of fog, these clouds hover around the upper canopy of the forest before condensing onto the leaves of trees and dripping onto the plants below. This forest is home to some of the tallest trees in the hemisphere and 5,000 species of plants found nowhere else on earth. We'll keep our eye out for howler monkeys, sloths, deer, peccaries, and any of the hundreds of species of birds that live here. And of course we'll make sure there is plenty of time for pictures.

After lunch we'll visit a local organic farm where coffee is planted and processed. You’ll learn about the process of coffee, from farm to cup, taking in the sights and tastes of a place that artfully balances traditional methods with modern advances. We'll return to our hotel before going out for dinner. (B, L, D)
Today we spend rafting on the Chiriqui Viejo River. With most rapids being Class III, the river is eminently suitable for beginners. The river passes through a canyon and spectacular waterfalls characterize it. Depending on the water level and section used we will be rafting about 3-4 hours. We will return to our hotel, clean up, and have some free time this afternoon before gathering again for dinner, either at the hotel or a neighboring restaurant. (B, L, D)
Sadly we bid farewell to Boquete and the Chiriqui Highlands early this morning for our return flight to Panama City. Panama City is pretty darn interesting however! It's rapidly changing, and we will visit the colonial Panama, "Panama Viejo", the old Panama, "Casco Viejo", and the modern Panama City. We'll visit historic buildings such as San Jose Church, the National Theater, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Old Slave Market, and Old Spanish prisons. We'll end our tour at the Amador Causeway, where three islands were united with the mainland by using materials that had been removed when the Panama Canal during its excavation. We'll gather again at the Panama City hotel for a Farewell Dinner, toasting our accomplishments, the beauty of Panama, and the fun we had together. (B, D)
This morning we bid a fond farewell to this country we have come to know and are transferred to the International Airport for our flight home or on to other adventures. (B)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

The locations, activities, camaraderie of the group, the fabulous guides! I particularly enjoyed the visit to the Kuna village and the whitewater rafting, as well!

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

Seeing AND kayaking on the Panama Canal was a treat! The trip offered a wonderful variety of experiences and landscapes.

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

Snorkeling in the Caribbean (even though I seem to have picked up 'swimmer's itch dematitis, but I thought it was bed bugs). Also, the Yandup Lodge was amazing - felt like I was in Tahiti in those over water palaces. Wonderful. Also, loved the highlands area, the lush vegetation. It was great having choices for our days - taking a day off for relaxation, a massage, a walk into town, etc. was great. Having choices on the trips is a very good idea. Being able to go on the wonderful bridge walk instead of zip lining was also a plus.

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

Many highlights - I loved seeing three distinct parts of Panama - city, Kuna Village on the San Blas and Boquete.

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

Snorkeling, cloud forest experiences, rafting, kayaking

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

Per the itinerary I was expecting a full day of hiking in the Volcan Baru park- although I enjoyed the visit to Hacienda Mamacillo, it was not the same. I found the tour of Panama City frustrating - there is so much to see and do in that city and yet we spent (wasted) time in a souvenir shop (which was right around the corner from what looked like an incredible Panama Canal Museum). Too much time on the bus, and randomly walking. (I realize that these are both handled by Aventuras Panama, but thought you needed to know). On the plus side, the trip to both Yandup and to the Boquete area were terrific. Definitely piqued my interest about this fascinating country - we are already planning a return trip! Liz was excellent, and the group was lots of fun.

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

I really liked the fact that there were multiple activities and locations, as described in the itinerary. And, as a solo traveler in a double room, I was very concerned about having a roommate...and that worked out better than I could have imagined. Moreover, although I don't see myself becoming friends with most of the people on the trip, I would gladly travel with any of them again. (Very unusual for me...I am grumpy and misanthropic.)

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

I really loved all parts of trip. The logistics of travel from place to place took some time;however, I’m sure you all have tried to be as efficient as possible about that.

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

This trip was amazing from every aspect. The itinerary was perfect bringing us to the different climates and terrain offered by Panama. Our AGC trip guide Liz anticipated our every need and was always one step ahead as if she was reading our minds and the local guide Enrique was so incredibly helpful with his knowledge of the country by teaching us everything possible along the way and both worked so well together.

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica 2/3/2018-2/11/2018

  1. Why do you call it the new Costa Rica?

    The biodiversity of Panama is at least as great as that of Costa Rica. But whereas Costa Rica started trying to attract tourists in the 50s, it's been a more recent effort for Panama. The tourist infrastructure isn't quite as well-developed but it's improving every year and it means there are fewer tourists, especially once you're away from Panama City.
  2. Where do we eat?

    Most breakfasts and dinners will either be at the lodges or at restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches may be in restaurants, a packed lunch, or occasionally lunch will be picnic style.
  3. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but may be more limited than you are used to. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. If you cannot eat gluten or if you have other dietary restrictions i.e. vegan, you will need to bring some supplemental food with you.
  4. I have never kayaked before, is this the right trip for me?

    This is the perfect trip for new and more experienced kayakers. The first day there will be instruction on safety and basic kayaking strokes. The guides are experienced kayak instructors and will teach you everything you need to know.
  5. What is the weather in winter like?

    Delightful! Days are typically in the 70s and 80s, warmer in Bocas del Toro and cooler in the Chiriqui highlands.