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12 Step Planet: Panama
The crossroads of the Americas, there’s more to Panama than the canal! A fantastic party atmosphere, paradise islands and stunning scenery for a start...
Eamonn Seoige, 02 Nov 2012
When should I go?
It really depends on where you plan to stay. The Pacific coastal region is best visited in December to February when rainfall is at its lowest and temperatures warm, but not stifling. All in all, you can’t really go wrong during the December to April dry season. Panama is at its liveliest with festivals and activities, including the world renowned Carnaval in Panama City.
What’s my challenge?
Experience one of Central America’s most beautiful countries, a place where over thirty percent of the countryside is designated National Park. It’s a land of contrasting landscapes and peoples, high mountains, rainforests, coastal paradises and urban jungles. Most importantly, locals are warm and friendly. The greed and crass commercialism that has blighted neighbouring countries has yet to make its way to rural Panama.
What’s the currency?
There are two currencies in operation. Well, kind of... The Panamanian Balboa is the official currency, but the government stopped printing it in 1941 and adopted the US Dollar as legal tender. However, Panama continues to mint its own coins and, unsurprisingly, they are the same size, shape, weight and denomination as the US versions.
Something to remember...
There are few places on the planet with richer biodiversity than Panama. Despite the fact that it’s the size of North Carolina, Panama has over five million acres of National Park and is home to almost a thousand species of bird. That’s more than Canada and the US combined! Its unique geographical position, linking two great continents and oceans has contributed to the sheer variety of animal life. There are tours aplenty, into the tropical rainforest regions, where such unique creatures as sloths and armadillos can be seen in their natural environment. You don’t have to travel more than an hour from the paved streets of Panama City before you’re lost in a lush green world. The coastal regions are equally bountiful; Panama can boast some of the best spots for whale and turtle watching in the world.