(Forbes) At a time when repair, rejuvenation and togetherness are needed more than ever, it is a wise choice to make Panama the cure-all for the pandemic blues. The geographic meeting point of North and South America, Panama appears as the outstretched arms and comforting hands between Costa Rica and Colombia. The diversity of experiences and the unique manner in which nature acts as the perfect replenisher, places Panama on the top of the travel wish list for 2021.
As there is nothing ordinary about travel in this peculiar climate, so it is with any of the top destinations in Panama. This destination can act both as an escape as well as a place to truly find oneself. However, care must still be taken, so, currently, travelers are required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR or antigen test taken no more than 48 hours prior to entering the country. In lieu of this, rapid tests are available at the airport for $50. The country has found a sensible balance between openness and pragmatism to allow visitors to trek toward the new normal.
One uniquely Panamanian experience can be found up a tree, literally. Jungle Treehouse at Bocas del Toro is affordable and unconventional. Imagine playing in a tree house as a child, but now that tree house is suspended 30 feet in the air, stylishly decorated with natural elements and local resources. Imagine that tree house had a working kitchen, one or two bedrooms, running water, lights and all in close proximity to the Caribbean Ocean. You would have the coolest tree house in the neighborhood. This Panama destination on the Caribbean coast, a true paradise with pristine crystal clear waters, offers opportunities to encounter nature, especially monkeys and exotic birds, fish for your dinner, hike through a lush rainforest and find tranquility far from the urban, frenetic experience.
From the treetops to the ocean floor, a change of perspective need not be a world away. Staying within the Bocas del Toro area, travelers can enjoy a fish-eye view of the coastal waters through a window on the floor in their cabin bedroom. Several of the cabanas are positioned upon the water with easy access from a pier that extends to the beach. More cabins, perfect for the land-lovers out there, are positioned on the beach in close proximity to a tiki bar and locally sourced food.
To enjoy another elevated experience, travelers and their family should consider Finca el Oasis Hotel and Lodge in Volcan Baru, in Boquete, within the Chiriqui Highlands. The only farm located in a national park and active volcano, Finca el Oasis Hotel and Lodge rests 2400 meters above sea level and offers hiking experiences that will linger in the memory forever. Along the trails, lucky hikers can spot the Resplendent Quetzal. There is a saying among birdwatchers regarding this popular bird: “In the rest of Central America, there’s 1 quetzal per 10 tourists and in Panama 10 quetzals per 1 tourist.” The biggest draw of the hotel and lodge is the 2.4 km total length of ziplines where guests can get a Quetzal-eye view of the jungle canopy, all led by trained instructors. End each active day with a tasty dinner; fresh, roasted lamb straight from the farm is certainly a favorite.
Finally, for a little less rustic and more refined experience, The American Trade Hotel, in Panama’s Casco Antiguo, is the top choice. A boutique, luxury hotel with ample event space, the hotel combines old world elegance with a clean, contemporary design. The property is restored from 1917, and like Panama itself, links two distinct worlds, the Spanish Colonial architectural aura and the burgeoning vitality of Panama City, which is only a 20 minute drive from Tocumen International Airport.
A member of Small Luxury Hotels, The American Trade Hotel offers rooms and suites which feature classic styles in refined tastes, fine dining with a fusion flare, Unido Cafe, Danilo’s Jazz Club where the sounds of live entertainment mingle with the sounds of nature. The event space is ideal for meetings, corporate events and weddings.
An excursion to Panama for so many travelers will redefine leisure. There is something pure and natural about immersing oneself in the lushness of the tropics. As much as the rain is replenishing, the solitude reaffirming and the sensory experience of nature all-inclusive, just the feeling of “getting away from it all” will make Panama a place to return to in good times and in bad.