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Self-drive Panama: Discover the Pacific Coast

Transport

9 days car hire, Toyota Yaris Advance or similar. 1 domestic flight (1hr), 2 short motor launch transfers (20 mins each).

Accommodation

This trip combines friendly mid-range hotels with good facilities, amenities and well-equipped rooms; a coffee estate  and superior small beach hotels. Accommodation throughout Panama is of a high standard.

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 30 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

  • Panama Canal at Miraflores lock..
  • Guided walking tour of old Panama City.
  • Devils' mask workshop, Chitre.
  • Hanging bridges adventure in Boquete.
  • Gatun Lake rainforest boat adventure.

Summary of nights

13 days, 12 nights: Panama City 2, El Valle 1, Chitre 1, Playa Venao 2, Boca Brava island 3, Boquete area 2, Gamboa Rainforest Reserve 1.

Included in the journey price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office.
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
  • All land and air transport.
  • Self-drive hire car with full damage waiver insurance
  • Accommodation as specified.
  • Meals as specified.
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Meals other than specified.
  • Roadside assistance for car hire -can be purchased at rental agency desk.
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
  • Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Panama the US dollar known locally as the balboa.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more. Optional excursions may add another $50-$250 per person to the overall price.

How to take it

The national currency in Panama is at parity with the US dollar, and only US banknotes are used (there are some local coins equivalent to US cents. There are ATMs in most towns where you can use a UK credit or debit card. You may have to ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK and amounts may be limited, and vary from bank to bank. Notes can be obtained from exchange houses and also from banks which will supply and advance on credit or debit card. We also  recommend you take a supply of clean dollar bills.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our briefing dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommend policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.
 
For the car, total Damage Waiver (LDW - zero excess) is included for your car rental. Roadside assistance charges are not covered but you can buy this insurance at the hire car agency desk for around $US3.00 per day. Please let us if you are wanting to increase the Liability Insurance cover.  

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors, including families with children.

Climate

The trip covers climates ranging from tropical lowland to more temperate zones in the highlands. Those travelling between May and October journeys should encounter high temperatures (around 35°C) and high humidity in the lowlands. The ‘official’ rainy (green) season is May to November. December to April visitors will still encounter high temperatures in lowland areas, but cool evenings around Boquete with temperatures falling to around 5°C. Rainfall and humidity will be much lower at this time.

Clothing and special equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes.  A waterproof jacket and/or umbrella is also advisable. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos may be lurking. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellent are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying around sunblock, guidebook, water and any extra layers.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP. You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Visitors with different nationality should refer to our Briefing Dossier and check with the Panamanian consulate.

Passports must also be digital e-passports with an embedded chip. Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to, or via, the USA, you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online. This costs $14 per person, and must be applied for by you personally.
APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

Water-To-Go

We’ve partnered with Water To Go to offer Journey Latin America clients a 50% discount on 7cl filtered, reusable water bottles with every booking. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink.
Contact your Travel Consultant for more information and to include the purchase in your booking.
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Self-drive Panama: Discover the Pacific Coast

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