Colon Journals

Daytripping Around Colon, Panama

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A July 2005 trip to Colon by Dennis Ko

Melia Panama Canal Photo, Colon, Panama More Photos
Quote: Panama is a wonderful place to visit whether you're interested in ecotourism, history, Native American crafts, or just lounging by the pool. Our week-long vacation was a brief, but thouroughly enjoyable introduction to a country that is much more than the canal and one of Central America's best-kept secrets.

Daytripping Around Colon, Panama

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Overview

Quote:
My fiancée and I wanted to go someplace warm and relaxing this summer. Plenty of places would have fit the bill, but we found our choices limited by timeshare vacancy and the desire to avoid hurricanes (to allay the fears of my future-mother-in-law). When the Melia Panama Canal in Colon came up as a possibility, my initial reaction was, "Why would anyone go there?" After spending seven wonderful days in Panama, I must admit that my initial thoughts about Panama (boring canal, uncomfortably hot jungle, bad U.S. politics) were all wrong (except perhaps the politics). Although its neighbor to the west, Costa Rica, is a well-known ecotourism destination, Panama’s ecotourism industry is still in...Read More

Melia Panama Canal

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Hotel

Melia Panama Canal Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
Best Things Nearby:Portobello, Lake Gatun, Soberania National Park, Gatun LocksBest Things About the Resort:Clean, air-conditioned rooms. Helpful staff. Tours offered by Adventuras 2000 (desk in lobby). Pool.Resort Experience:This is a very good resort. The resort is located in a gated residential area on a peninsula in Lake Gatun. The building used to house the US Army School of the Americas, notorious for training numerous Central American human-rights violators including Manuel Noriega and Roberto D’ Aubuisson. Other than a artillery cannon on the front lawn, there doesn’t seem to be any inkling of it’s military past remaining. Rooms are clean, fa...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 23, 2005

Melia Panama Canal
Antigua Escuela de Las Americas - Lago Gatun
Colon, Panama
+507 4701100

Restaurante Los Canones

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Restaurant

Restaurante Los Canones Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
After coming back from the Gatun Locks, we decided to drive down to the seaside town of Portobelo. On the way there, we stopped at a great restaurant: Restaurante Los Canones. The restaurant is located along the road to Portobelo from Colon, just a couple minutes from the town on the left side of the road. Located right on the coast, this restaurant gives a great view of the Caribbean Sea, stretching endlessly to the horizon as you enjoy your meal. The restaurant has two open-air levels, as well as an outdoor-dining option that puts you just a few feet away from the water. Bring bug repellent if you go around dusk! The restaurant gets its name from the old Spanish cannons in Portobelo, one ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 25, 2005

Restaurante Los Canones
Road from Colon to Portobelo
Colon, Panama

Restaurante Jenny

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Restaurant

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One of the drawbacks to staying at the Melia Panama Canal in Colon is that dining there is pretty expensive ($8 for a sandwich, $20 for the buffet), and the service is slower than a two-toed sloth. One of the closest restaurants to the resort is Restaurante Jenny, just a few minutes away and next to the 99 supermarket. We saw a few other Restaurante Jennys driving throughout Panama so it may actually be a chain (or Jenny may be a more common Panamanian name than I realized). We decided to give it a try, expecting some down-home Panamanian cooking. What we found instead was your typical Chinese-Panamanian truck stop. First the good: The food there is dirt-cheap, and there’s plenty of it. We ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 26, 2005

Restaurante Jenny
Cl F Sur y Av 4 Oeste
Colon, Panama

Gatun Locks

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Attraction

Gatun Locks Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
No trip to Panama would be complete without visiting the Canal. Creating a canal may seem like a relatively straight-forward, though laborious, task of just lots of digging. The reality of the task was much more difficult than anyone had ever anticipated and this is chronicled in David McCullough’s wonderful book, "The Path Between the Seas." Building the canal required overcoming political intrigue, mudslides, malaria and yellow fever, limitations in technology, questionable financial arrangements, and turns of bad luck. Although a trip to the Canal shouldn’t be missed by anyone in Panama, it’s especially worthwhile if you go there having read some about the history of its construction. The...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 25, 2005

Gatun Locks
20-25 min. by taxi from Colon
Colon, Panama

Portobelo

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Attraction | "Strolling through Portobelo"

Portobelo Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
After coming back from the Gatun Locks, we took a nice half-hour drive up the coast to the seaside town of Portobelo. Navigating around Panama isn’t a trivial matter, but we obtained a hand-drawn map from the tour desk at the Melia Resort. This was one of the few times we did not get lost driving to our destination. After getting back on the Transithmica Highway going towards Panama City, make a left just before you pass the Rey supermarket. Keep going along this road until you see a church on your left. Then it’s straight to Portobelo (and you’ll pass by the nice Restaurante Los Canones along the way). Now a sleepy fishing village, Portobelo used to be one of the wealthiest places on earth—a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 25, 2005

Portobelo
Colon Province
Colon, Panama

Aventuras 2000 Tours

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Attraction | "Panama City Tour by Aventuras 2000"

Aventuras 2000 Tours Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
The day after visting the Gatun Locks and Portobelo, we took an organized tour into Panama City. This tour was offered by Aventuras 2000 from the hotel tour desk and included transportation, a 6-hour tour of Panama City and a forgettable lunch for $50. It’s a good value and saved us the headache of having to find everything by ourselves (which would have been a lost cause). Our tour group of about a dozen was slanted slightly toward English speakers. The tour guide was bilingual, and he explained everything in both languages. The tour took us from the Bridge of the Americas, through old Panama (Casco Viejo, founded 1674), and ended at the original Panama (Panama Viejo, founded 1519). Just a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 26, 2005

Aventuras 2000 Tours
Avenida Balboa Edif. Bahia Balboa Mezzanine Level
Colon, Panama
(507) 227-2000

Mi Pueblitos

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Attraction

Mi Pueblitos Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
We drove to Mi Pueblitos (my little villages) a shopping area just before the Bridge of the Americas and near the Panama Canal Administration Building. It’s a little tough to find but everyone we asked for directions knew where it was (if only we could have understood their Spanish directions a little better). But we weren’t disappointed once we found the place. There’s plenty of free parking, and admission is $1. The three villages that make up Mi Pueblitos each represent one of the main cultural influences of Panama. There is a Spanish village with whitewashed buildings surrounding a courtyard, an Afro-Caribbean village with more colorful Caribbean architecture, and an indigenous village o...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 26, 2005

Mi Pueblitos
Cerro Ancon
Colon, Panama

Soberania National Park

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Attraction | "Exploring in Soberania National Park"

Soberania National Park Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
One of our most memorable days in Panama came about due to some bad luck. We had made reservations to visit Barro Colorado Island and this required being at the docks in Gamboa at precisely 7:15am. Just to be safe we left about an hour early (at the ungodly hour of 5am). After three detours and an unbearably long wait to go over a 1-lane bridge, we arrived at 7:22 and had literally missed the boat. So we decided to do some hiking in the national park we had just driven through. Soberania National Park is situated along the eastern edge of the Panama Canal, halfway between Colon and Panama City. This moist tropical forest is an amazing place to explore the richness of Panama’s biodiversity. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 26, 2005

Soberania National Park
Between Panama City and Colon
Colon, Panama

Barro Colorado Island

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Attraction | "Tour of Barro Colorado Island"

Barro Colorado Island Photo, Colon, Panama
Quote:
After missing the boat earlier, we were able to reschedule our tour of Barro Colorado Island for our last day in Panama. This island is a world-renowned research area run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). To protect the integrity of the island’s ecosystem, visiting the island is limited to researchers and support personnel and small tour groups. Our guide books recommended making reservations up to a year in advance, but they had a cancellation and were able to fit us in. The contact person, Patrizia Pinzon, is fabulous. Barro Colorado Island is a product of millions of years of evolution combined with the construction of the Panama Canal. Building the canal required da...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 26, 2005

Barro Colorado Island
Panama Canal, Lake Gatun
Colon, Panama