Years ago when I graduated from college, I made a plan of places I wanted to travel. If I’m being 100% honest, Panama was never at the top of that list. But when a couple of friends invited me to tag along for a weeklong trip several years ago, I was intrigued and immediately started reading up on the country.
I had only been out of the U.S. a couple of times prior to this trip and was eager to add a stamp to my passport. I am always up for checking out a new place and exploring an area I know so little about. This trip provided a great opportunity to do just that.
I was living in New York at the time but had business in Atlanta the week leading up to the trip. So I booked the pretty easy flight from Atlanta to Panama City and met up with my friends in the airport there.
We landed at night and hopped in a car to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, our first of three places we’d be staying while in Panama. Because of the time, it was really hard to see where we were going and due to the darkness, it was hard to see what the area looked like. Pulling up to the resort, I was unable to appreciate how beautiful it was until daylight.
When I woke up that first morning, I immediately rushed to the balcony of our room and was stunned at the scene. The rainforest was unlike anything I could imagine, with views of the Chagres River and the massive amount of trees as far as the eye could see.
With just two days at the hotel, we tried to make the most of our short time in the rainforest. We decided to book a kayak tour to monkey island, and it was, by far, one of the most fun things I’ve done on a vacation.
We boarded a boat at the resort that took our kayaks out close to the island. From there, we hopped on the kayaks with our guide and started paddling to the island.
Kayaking along the river, with the huge ships from the Panama Canal in the distance, was peaceful and fairly easy to do. Monkey Island was exactly as I anticipated.
Monkeys were everywhere! Climbing up the trees, hiding behind branches, and as curious about us as we were about them. We managed to get close enough to get a few decent photos but didn’t want to get too close to disturb them.
I wanted to stay out there for hours, but alas, our kayak adventure was only for a short time. We made our way back to the boat for the short trip back to the dock with huge smiles and stories to tell for years of the island filled with monkeys.
Although I didn’t really know much about Panama prior to my trip there, I now consider it a return destination and hope to be on a kayak near the monkeys again soon.
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