Top 20 apps for Backpackers

The Top 20 apps on every seasoned backpackers phone

Apps you don’t leave home without 

AppNeededForTraveling

Here is a list of my TOP 20 Apps that are paramount during your travels. This list encompasses affordable accommodations, options for offline entertainment, free financial transfer and visibility, offline maps and more. If you feel have left anything out please make use of the comments below.  

  1. Hostelworld – Every backpacker’s resource for finding and researching hostels. Find all you need to know about hostels here.
  2. Airbnb – Is to hotels what uber is to taxis. Community-based accommodations where you can rent a bed, room or entire apartment or house for an agreed duration. Often cheaper than hotels and sometimes cheaper than hostels.
  3. Couch surfing – Everyone has that friend who will let you crash on their couch. Couch surfing is an app you can use to find a couch to crash on all over the world. As well as amazing people along the way. Free accommodations!
  4. TripAdvisor – This app needs no introduction. Where to go to hear real experience and reviews as well as find exciting things to do.
  5. Maps.me – A new addition to the arsenal that I love. This is the perfect solution for those who travel without cellular reception and rely on WiFi, or just traveling through a dead zone… Maps.me allows you to download the map of your area and view your location while not connected (many people are under the impression you need cellular/WiFi to view your GPS location but this is untrue.) Not only can you view your location, you can easily bookmark locations, share those locations and get directions to and from with a couple of clicks. Like Hostelworld, you’ll find few backpackers without this helpful app on their phone.
  6. Skyscanner – A great resource for finding budget-friendly flights. Search by month view to see the cheapest flight possible given flexible dates. Set up email alerts for when the price drops considerably.
  7. CheapOair – I consistently find the cheapest flights on CheapOair (even when compared to Skyscanner) always cross-reference the two to find the best deal. I found a round-trip flight from Quito to Galápagos for 400 bucks and a one-way ticket from Medellin to Rio for the same price.
  8. Paypal – It’s always recommended to bring several sources of cash along with your journey. Paypal is a tried and true solution that many people feel comfortable using, even hostels. I say open up a Paypal account in the event you need to transfer cash or receive cash instantly for a very nominal charge. This service is free if you choose to send money to “friends and family”. I seriously recommend getting the debit card for it as well which can act as another source of cash in the event you lose your debit or credit card.
  9. Mint – If you don’t already know Mint is the business when it comes to the insight of your finances. Track and categorize transactions throughout multiple accounts. You can even view your credit score and pay your bills… all from one place. Makes taxes easier too. Set up your accounts before you leave so you are never surprised or suffer from the overdraft, late fees, and dings to your credit from missing your payment!
  10. Cash app – Similar to Paypal, completely free. Uses your bank account and is quick and easy to set up. You can set it up so that money is automatically redirected to your account after it enters your cash app account. You can make it instant for a fee. Otherwise, it takes 3 business days. You even get a digital card you can use to make online purchases. Made by square so you trust it’s validity!
  11. Speedtest – This one is a little geeky but stays with me. With Speedtest you can check the speed of the WiFi or cellular signal you are on. This is helpful when you want to find the best bed in the dorm, best dorm in a hostel, the best network between hostels or comparing cellular carrier data speeds.
  12. Audible – Great audiobooks for long bus rides, or drowning out partying hostel roommates.
  13. Kindle App – eBook and Pirated Lonely Planet Reader (Jk)
  14. Spotify – A great way to discover new international music by following playlists of your newly acquired friends.
  15. WhatsApp – The universal, international messaging app everyone unanimously agreed on, seemingly. No matter where they are from you can expect they have WhatsApp.
  16. Uber – Works well in larger cities (Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, don’t know about Cali but assume so. Usually around half as cheap as a taxi. Do not take uber from airport, my driver got busted by the policía, more on that here<- link>
  17. Find friends (Location Sharing App) – Great way to make sure you are never separated and can always find each other. You can allow the family to track your location as well, for peace of mind. You can revoke privileges whenever you want.
  18. Find my iPhone (Lost Phone Recovery App) – Allows you to track, lock, wipe, display a message or play sound on your iOS device. This literally saved my a** in palomino, read this amazing story here.
  19. Duolingo – To learn the fundamentals of the language of wherever you are headed to.
  20. Google Translate – The best translation app. Use voice or images to translate as well.

El Valle

Check out my video filled with wildlife found in El Valle

Facts about El Valle, Anton Valley
El Valle de Anton is a town in central Panama. It’s in the crater of an extinct volcano, surrounded by mountains and cloud forest. To the north, Cerro Gaital National Park protects 3 hills: Cerro Gaital, Cerro Pajita, and Cerro Caracoral. Its trails have ocean views and the park is home to hundreds of species of native birds, including the red-legged honeycreeper, the bay-headed tanager, and the blue-crowned motmot.

You can get there from Panama City for about 12 bucks altogether.

Best Hostel
What makes El Valle so cool is the deep mountainous rainforest vibe. The sounds at night are amazing. I stayed at the Bodhi Hostel which I would recommend. It has a very nice Asian/buddha vibe with unique handmade from local material furniture. It is clean and the staff is very polite. Included with your stay: free breakfast, high-speed internet WiFi, lockers, bikes for rent, communal kitchen, bbq area, Shisha/Hookah lounge and bar with affordable beer.

The guy at the front desk pulled out a printed map with all the POIs emphasized. He spoke about each one giving brief details in a timely fashion. He made it clear if wanted to learn more I could always ask. You will find cool people from all over the world here as it is the most popular hostel in El Valle.

Prices are reasonable a $12usd for dorm and $28usd for private room

Prices vary by season

bodhi hostels

tripadvisor

If you prefer sloths over people then keep reading.

Want to Pet a Sloth? Zip Line the Jungle? Test your manhood on an awesome ATV tour? If not there is a very nice Butterfly Haven you can walk through…. Haha all jokes aside I did it all (Estoy hombre y mi gusto mariposa)

The ATV trip is the top of my list (unfortunately its also the most expensive)

G0043075.JPG

Taharaa ATV Tours
#1 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Price: $160 per ATV (tell him Tyler from Trek with Tech sent you, can’t promise it will do much but we spent a lot of time together so its worth it)
If you want to throw someone on back add $25
Only 2 people per ATV, this is not your mama’s ATV ride by the way….with that said my Mama did it. However, she has spent a fair amount of time on the back of dirt bikes so she had a bit of experience. I don’t mean to scare anyone away I think anyone can do it, the machines are new, and four-wheel drive. The rain can make the final climb difficult though.

tripadvisor

Butterfly Haven
#2 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
I was somewhat dragged here but very glad I went. Butterflies are mother natures living flowers and you really see that here. The tour guide was extremely polite and knew English fairly well. He made sure to show us at least 25 different species of
tripadvisor

El Nispero Zoo and Botanical Garden
#6 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Not the most extravagant zoo but a zoo in the rainforest nonetheless. A tourist pays roughly 12 bucks to enter. However, as usual, my memory is foggy.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g635545-d1978054-Reviews-El_Nispero_Zoo_and_Botanical_Garden-El_Valle_de_Anton_Cocle_Province.html

El Valle Panama Hot Springs
#9 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Did not do personally, however, my sister did and she said she had a good experience so I felt it was worth mentioning as she rarely steers me wrong. The water may not be steam hot but warm.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g635545-d6224389-Reviews-El_Valle_Panama_Hot_Springs-El_Valle_de_Anton_Cocle_Province.html

Canopy Adventure
#20 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Not quite sure why this is so low on the trip advisor list. Maybe that south park episode about zipping had a impact. It was enjoyable but as you can imagine the highs are brief and a little too topical. It was interesting never the less. Cost was

Casa Mariposa (Sloth Hotel)
#3 of 15 B&Bs / Inns in El Valle de Anton
Where do I begin? First of all, thank god this place exists. The property is stunning. The creek running through it is a haven for frogs that lull you to sleep
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g635545-d3140531-Reviews-Casa_Mariposa-El_Valle_de_Anton_Cocle_Province.html

El Valle, Panama

Check out my video filled with wildlife found in El Valle

Facts about El Valle, Anton Valley
El Valle de Anton is a town in central Panama. It’s in the crater of an extinct volcano, surrounded by mountains and cloud forest. To the north, Cerro Gaital National Park protects 3 hills: Cerro Gaital, Cerro Pajita, and Cerro Caracoral. Its trails have ocean views and the park is home to hundreds of species of native birds, including the red-legged honeycreeper, the bay-headed tanager, and the blue-crowned motmot.

You can get there from Panama City for about 12 bucks altogether.

Best Hostel
What makes El Valle so cool is the deep mountainous rainforest vibe. The sounds at night are amazing. I stayed at the Bodhi Hostel which I would recommend. It has a very nice Asian/buddha vibe with unique handmade from local material furniture. It is clean and the staff is very polite. Included with your stay: free breakfast, high-speed internet WiFi, lockers, bikes for rent, communal kitchen, bbq area, Shisha/Hookah lounge and bar with affordable beer.

The guy at the front desk pulled out a printed map with all the POIs emphasized. He spoke about each one giving brief details in a timely fashion. He made it clear if wanted to learn more I could always ask. You will find cool people from all over the world here as it is the most popular hostel in El Valle.

Prices are reasonable a $12usd for dorm and $28usd for private room

Prices vary by season

bodhi hostels

tripadvisor

If you prefer sloths over people then keep reading.

Want to Pet a Sloth? Zip Line the Jungle? Test your manhood on an awesome ATV tour? If not there is a very nice Butterfly Haven you can walk through…. Haha all jokes aside I did it all (Estoy hombre y mi gusto mariposa)

The ATV trip is the top of my list (unfortunately its also the most expensive)

G0043075.JPG

Taharaa ATV Tours
#1 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Price: $160 per ATV (tell him Tyler from Trek with Tech sent you, can’t promise it will do much but we spent a lot of time together so its worth it)
If you want to throw someone on back add $25
Only 2 people per ATV, this is not your mama’s ATV ride by the way….with that said my Mama did it. However, she has spent a fair amount of time on the back of dirt bikes so she had a bit of experience. I don’t mean to scare anyone away I think anyone can do it, the machines are new, and four-wheel drive. The rain can make the final climb difficult though.

tripadvisor

Butterfly Haven
#2 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
I was somewhat dragged here but very glad I went. Butterflies are mother natures living flowers and you really see that here. The tour guide was extremely polite and knew English fairly well. He made sure to show us at least 25 different species of
tripadvisor

El Nispero Zoo and Botanical Garden
#6 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Not the most extravagant zoo but a zoo in the rainforest nonetheless. A tourist pays roughly 12 bucks to enter. However, as usual, my memory is foggy.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g635545-d1978054-Reviews-El_Nispero_Zoo_and_Botanical_Garden-El_Valle_de_Anton_Cocle_Province.html

El Valle Panama Hot Springs
#9 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Did not do personally, however, my sister did and she said she had a good experience so I felt it was worth mentioning as she rarely steers me wrong. The water may not be steam hot but warm.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g635545-d6224389-Reviews-El_Valle_Panama_Hot_Springs-El_Valle_de_Anton_Cocle_Province.html

Canopy Adventure
#20 of 20 things to do in El Valle de Anton
Not quite sure why this is so low on the trip advisor list. Maybe that south park episode about zipping had a impact. It was enjoyable but as you can imagine the highs are brief and a little too topical. It was interesting never the less. Cost was

Casa Mariposa (Sloth Hotel)
#3 of 15 B&Bs / Inns in El Valle de Anton
Where do I begin? First of all, thank god this place exists. The property is stunning. The creek running through it is a haven for frogs that lull you to sleep
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g635545-d3140531-Reviews-Casa_Mariposa-El_Valle_de_Anton_Cocle_Province.html

How to get to San Blas

San Blas, Panama

If you haven’t already make sure to check out this video I made during my time on San Blas

The trip to San Blas is advertised everywhere for a premium. These All-inclusive packages may sound amazing but I’ve always been a skeptic. I was determined to find the cheapest way to get to San Blas. So I did what we all do. I googled “San Blas on a budget” the first non-advertised hit was an article by Seven Continent Sasha who is a world explorer from down under. In her article, Sasha mentions the Franklin family that she was unable to stay with. Taking her advice I was lucky enough to reserve the Franklin family (thanks to her awesome article). I also decided to stay at hostel mamallena (also mentioned her article) which the tour company knew instantly allowing everything run smoothly. Great hostel by the way.

Tourism in San Blas is still fragile and on small scale, this makes the islands a beautiful place for you to explore. It has one of the best-preserved coral reefs in the world where you are allowed to snorkel. One of the main spots for tourist to try out snorkeling is Dog Island also known as Isla Perro. This island is famous because there is a shipwreck in front of the island reachable by snorkeling and swimming. On the Dog Island, you will also find a very nice beach.

Much of the information below was taken directly from the email received after booking with Lam Tours (contact info at bottom of page)

Panama City hostel to San Blas

Pick Up in the Morning: The pick-up time is between 5-5:40 AM

Land transportation from Panama – Port Barsukun – Panama.

Takes roughly 3-3.5 hours

Boat transportation from Port Barsukun – Cabanas Franklin (Tubasenika Island) – Port Barsukun.

Takes roughly 30-40 minutes

What to do when you get to San Blas

Aside from snorkeling around the island and eating coconuts off the ground, you can get to know thy neighbors. Visit many other islands for $5-$10 bucks. So you don’t have to worry about getting marooned on an island you don’t like (unlikely but nice to have options). You can stay with more than one family so you if you find one you like during your tours, speak to the family you are with to arrange the transition. The community profits directly from tourism so they do not mind sharing tourists with a fellow native.

TOURS: You can make any tour to get to know other islands or the indigenous community, ask for Pali and will help with the cost of the tours that are paid directly on the island. Tours start from $15 per person.

G0166370.JPG

Drink costs I can recall

Balboa beer can 1.50

Coca-Cola can 1.50

Closo Wine – 10/box? (surely not 10 bucks a glass right?)

Total Costs

How much does it cost in total? Below are figures that the Tour Company does not include in your total. Make sure to bring cash with you as It does not seem like they take VISA.

NOT typically INCLUDED:

–  Entrance Fee to San Blas $20.00

–  Port Taxes $2.00

–  Any Types of beverages: Water, sodas, beers, etc. (Your driver will stop at the Grocery Store on the way).

IMG_1734.jpg

Total Breakdown of one person

a 4×4 trip to and from Guna Yala Port: $60

Boat ride to and from San Blas islands: $30

Entrance Fee/Port Tax: $22

Total including Entrance Fee/Port Tax/RoundTrip Transportation= $112

…Then it’s just a matter of how long you want to stay.

$26 dollars a night for shared cabin (includes 3 meals a day)

+$18 more per night for Private which will most certainly put you directly on the beach with ocean view. 

I recommend you stay for at least 5 days. The hardest part is getting there so soak it up while you can.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0004.JPG

My money saving TIP: Keep in mind I booked a shared cabin and received an empty cabin so depending on the time of year couples may not have to pay more for privacy. You can always change your reservation on the island (given its available) so you may be able to get by booking shared and upgrading based on the population of the shared room.

Are you a picky eater? Great, I am too. Youll is happy to hear its mostly edible. The scariest thing was a fried fish (where it looks like it jumped out of the ocean and into a deep frier). They have options for lobster as well for those of you who want to splurge.

What did I eat?

Breakfast: fried egg on Untoasted bread served with tea and coffee

Lunch: fried fish with rice and vegetables served with tea and coffee

Dinner: fish and papa fritas (french fries) served with tea and coffee

Try the cinnamon tea it’s amazing.

How will you know when it’s time to eat?

A man blows a Conch! The island is small enough you will definitely hear it!

Additional info about the Gala/Yala Kuna community

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 12.19.16 PM.png

As you can see, San Blas will remain informal until the Panamanian laws are effective in the region of San Blas, and no one can force them to change their laws because they are independent, the government of Panama may require that they must respect as his first law, the Constitution of Panamá.

Mandatory Documents Requirements: DON’T FORGET YOUR ORIGINAL passport, Migration and Border Police will review all passports before arriving in San Blas and out of San Blas. Must travel with your original passport or cedula Panamanian as will go through a review of migration and border police, will review the entry stamp to our country, and no one can be illegal crossing borders to go to Colombia or arriving from Colombia (ORIGINAL passport – DO NOT ACCEPT COPIES – THERE IS NO EXCEPTION).

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPG

Drone footage: Despite the Drone footage you may see on my page. Please be advised Drone footage is strictly prohibited on the Franklin Island. I found out the hard way. The drone footage you see was taken during the brief moments I did not know about this policy. I took down my drone immediately upon learning of violation and implore those who go in the future not to mimic my behavior.

Pictures of indigenous people: There was a moment when a man was paddling his canoe down the river, I grabbed my phone to take the shot and was informed by the boat driver not to. It’s easy to forget about sensitivity and privacy (especially when you grew up in North America) however it’s always a good idea to ask permission before taking shots of people on and around this community.

Starfish: Never bring starfish above water, you can kill it this way.

Contact info to arrange San Blas Trip from Panama City

I recommend using WhatsApp as Judy is very on top of it, she responded quite promptly to my messages starting at 8:30pm. Her English is exceptional and she made Booking this trip a breeze.

Judy E Lam

www.lamtourspanama.com

USA: 1 (704) 469 – 9146

Panama: 507 395 – 7105

WhatsApp: 507 6706 – 2810 | 507 6088 – 9000

E-Mail: info@lamtourspanama.com

You found this helpful please remember to subscribe to my youtube and social media channels so you can learn more about great places like San Blas.

How to get to San Blas, Panama

San Blas, Panama

If you haven’t already make sure to check out this video I made during my time on San Blas

The trip to San Blas is advertised everywhere for a premium. These All-inclusive packages may sound amazing but I’ve always been a skeptic. I was determined to find the cheapest way to get to San Blas. So I did what we all do. I googled “San Blas on a budget” the first non-advertised hit was an article by Seven Continent Sasha who is a world explorer from down under. In her article, Sasha mentions the Franklin family that she was unable to stay with. Taking her advice I was lucky enough to reserve the Franklin family (thanks to her awesome article). I also decided to stay at hostel mamallena (also mentioned her article) which the tour company knew instantly allowing everything run smoothly. Great hostel by the way.

Tourism in San Blas is still fragile and on small scale, this makes the islands a beautiful place for you to explore. It has one of the best-preserved coral reefs in the world where you are allowed to snorkel. One of the main spots for tourist to try out snorkeling is Dog Island also known as Isla Perro. This island is famous because there is a shipwreck in front of the island reachable by snorkeling and swimming. On the Dog Island, you will also find a very nice beach.

Much of the information below was taken directly from the email received after booking with Lam Tours (contact info at bottom of page)

Panama City hostel to San Blas

Pick Up in the Morning: The pick-up time is between 5-5:40 AM

Land transportation from Panama – Port Barsukun – Panama.

Takes roughly 3-3.5 hours

Boat transportation from Port Barsukun – Cabanas Franklin (Tubasenika Island) – Port Barsukun.

Takes roughly 30-40 minutes

What to do when you get to San Blas

Aside from snorkeling around the island and eating coconuts off the ground, you can get to know thy neighbors. Visit many other islands for $5-$10 bucks. So you don’t have to worry about getting marooned on an island you don’t like (unlikely but nice to have options). You can stay with more than one family so you if you find one you like during your tours, speak to the family you are with to arrange the transition. The community profits directly from tourism so they do not mind sharing tourists with a fellow native.

TOURS: You can make any tour to get to know other islands or the indigenous community, ask for Pali and will help with the cost of the tours that are paid directly on the island. Tours start from $15 per person.

G0166370.JPG

Drink costs I can recall

Balboa beer can 1.50

Coca-Cola can 1.50

Closo Wine – 10/box? (surely not 10 bucks a glass right?)

Total Costs

How much does it cost in total? Below are figures that the Tour Company does not include in your total. Make sure to bring cash with you as It does not seem like they take VISA.

NOT typically INCLUDED:

–  Entrance Fee to San Blas $20.00

–  Port Taxes $2.00

–  Any Types of beverages: Water, sodas, beers, etc. (Your driver will stop at the Grocery Store on the way).

IMG_1734.jpg

Total Breakdown of one person

a 4×4 trip to and from Guna Yala Port: $60

Boat ride to and from San Blas islands: $30

Entrance Fee/Port Tax: $22

Total including Entrance Fee/Port Tax/RoundTrip Transportation= $112

…Then it’s just a matter of how long you want to stay.

$26 dollars a night for shared cabin (includes 3 meals a day)

+$18 more per night for Private which will most certainly put you directly on the beach with ocean view. 

I recommend you stay for at least 5 days. The hardest part is getting there so soak it up while you can.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0004.JPG

My money saving TIP: Keep in mind I booked a shared cabin and received an empty cabin so depending on the time of year couples may not have to pay more for privacy. You can always change your reservation on the island (given its available) so you may be able to get by booking shared and upgrading based on the population of the shared room.

Are you a picky eater? Great, I am too. Youll is happy to hear its mostly edible. The scariest thing was a fried fish (where it looks like it jumped out of the ocean and into a deep frier). They have options for lobster as well for those of you who want to splurge.

What did I eat?

Breakfast: fried egg on Untoasted bread served with tea and coffee

Lunch: fried fish with rice and vegetables served with tea and coffee

Dinner: fish and papa fritas (french fries) served with tea and coffee

Try the cinnamon tea it’s amazing.

How will you know when it’s time to eat?

A man blows a Conch! The island is small enough you will definitely hear it!

Additional info about the Gala/Yala Kuna community

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 12.19.16 PM.png

As you can see, San Blas will remain informal until the Panamanian laws are effective in the region of San Blas, and no one can force them to change their laws because they are independent, the government of Panama may require that they must respect as his first law, the Constitution of Panamá.

Mandatory Documents Requirements: DON’T FORGET YOUR ORIGINAL passport, Migration and Border Police will review all passports before arriving in San Blas and out of San Blas. Must travel with your original passport or cedula Panamanian as will go through a review of migration and border police, will review the entry stamp to our country, and no one can be illegal crossing borders to go to Colombia or arriving from Colombia (ORIGINAL passport – DO NOT ACCEPT COPIES – THERE IS NO EXCEPTION).

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPG

Drone footage: Despite the Drone footage you may see on my page. Please be advised Drone footage is strictly prohibited on the Franklin Island. I found out the hard way. The drone footage you see was taken during the brief moments I did not know about this policy. I took down my drone immediately upon learning of violation and implore those who go in the future not to mimic my behavior.

Pictures of indigenous people: There was a moment when a man was paddling his canoe down the river, I grabbed my phone to take the shot and was informed by the boat driver not to. It’s easy to forget about sensitivity and privacy (especially when you grew up in North America) however it’s always a good idea to ask permission before taking shots of people on and around this community.

Starfish: Never bring starfish above water, you can kill it this way.

Contact info to arrange San Blas Trip from Panama City

I recommend using WhatsApp as Judy is very on top of it, she responded quite promptly to my messages starting at 8:30pm. Her English is exceptional and she made Booking this trip a breeze.

Judy E Lam

www.lamtourspanama.com

USA: 1 (704) 469 – 9146

Panama: 507 395 – 7105

WhatsApp: 507 6706 – 2810 | 507 6088 – 9000

E-Mail: info@lamtourspanama.com

You found this helpful please remember to subscribe to my youtube and social media channels so you can learn more about great places like San Blas.

TrekWithTech PreFlight Tip #1 Do you need Proof Of Onward Travel for ONE WAY TICKETS?!

This video answers the question of “Do you need Proof Of Onward Travel for ONE WAY TICKETS?!” with a clever new age solution thanks to an innovative company who won’t break the bank.

 

PreFlight Tip #1 Do you need Proof Of Onward Travel for ONE WAY TICKETS?!

This video answers the question of “Do you need Proof Of Onward Travel for ONE WAY TICKETS?!” with a clever new age solution thanks to an innovative company who won’t break the bank.

 

Gamboa Rainforest Resort (Jurassic Park minus dinosaurs)

Gamboa is located off the Gatun Lake where you can see thousands of tons of freight being moved, above sea level, through the recently (2015) expanded Panama canal.

Took the Bus from Albrook Mall Station

Vending Snacks while waiting

$1 can coke

$.40 crackers

$.60 Doritos

Bus from Albrook to Gamboa

$1.50 for bus ticket

…Additional 1 dollars paid to bus drivers for seemingly no reason other than white boy tax haha I gladly handed it over, still a great deal.

I stayed at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. A prestigious Hotel located in the heart of the jungle. There is nothing quite like it anywhere around it, which makes the view from your “River-View” room absolutely immersive.

This is not your typical “BackPacker Spot” as prices are inflated however not completely unreasonable especially if you keep reading and learn how to enjoy the Rainforest Resort on a budget.

First thing’s first. The Gamboa Rainforest Resort is located in a rather remote part of Gamboa. You will not be able to easily find restaurants, convenience stores and the like. Sure, you can take a bus or taxi to a place somewhat nearby, however, I recommend bringing a majority of your food and especially your drinks with you.

There are 2 ways to get food while at the resort either you can choose the all-inclusive breakfast lunch and dinner buffet (including drinks) for 80 bucks. The other option is to form the Monkey Bar which is open late but seemingly shuts down completely after 2am. I will take this moment to compliment the chef on a fine Angus burger by America standards, keep in mind it comes at a premium of $14 so savor your bites.

There is a 3rd option for the last minute backpacker, you will find the most affordable drinks and snacks in the gift shop, visible from the monkey bar.

Cokes, water, and Gatorade will be a dollar cheaper here than at the bar.

Couple prices I can remember off the top of my head

Total paid for three-night stay with promotion: $328

Monkey bar prices

Pizza $9 (pretty awful)

Angus burger $14

Lesser burger $9

Coke $3

Bottled Water $3

Gift shop

Coke $2

Gatorade $2

Water $2

Crackers $.50

Doritos (small bag) $1.00

Granola bars $.75

Tours

Safari night tour $0

They offer a boat trip down canal where you will see monkeys and caimans, tour of rainforest animal sanctuary featuring a sloth, and tours of dart frogs, butterflies, and native flowers…You can get the entire trip for $90. However, they do have options to break up the packages for the selective.

If it’s nature you are looking for, you will not need a tour to find it. There is plenty of interesting wildlife readily available such as Agouti (jungle rat haha) and Capybara. When you are walking through a rainforest you will find life everywhere you look. We saw 3 different types of monkeys, toucans, Carmen, dart frogs, tamarins, amazing amphibians, insane insects and cool reptiles (thought I was going to use something starting with an “r” right?).

 

 

 

Overall I really enjoyed my time at this resort and will include a link to more amazing drone footage I was able to capture while here.

Gamboa Rainforest Resort Website

Trip Advisor Reviews