(Panama City, Portobelo, El Valle de Anton, Playa Blanca)
With the perfect blend of city, coast, culture, beach and bucolic natural highland beauty, this trip simply has it all!
Discover the bustling city of Panama with its impressive engineering feat that is the locks system on the Panama canal. The port of Portobello, an historic stop along the trading route between Spain and the Americas is home to a special enclave - perfect for retreating from the urban stresses of daily living. Discover a tropical paradise far away from civilization, and soak in the living culture of the Embera tribe - one of the native tribes of the country. The Anton valley is the world's only inhabited volcanic crater and the rich soil is home to countless species of flowers and trees, and hundreds of species of mammals and reptiles, and an incredible 500 species of birds. Playa Blanca may well be described as a headons' paradise with fabulous spa facilities, state of the art golf courses and luxurious accommodations - the perfect component to any perfect vacation br/>
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
Upon your arrival you will be met by a local representative who will help you locate your vehicle.
Relax on your private airport transfer with English speaking professional driver in Panama city. This transfer will take approximately 1 hr.
Your English speaking driver-guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a private tour to Panama City and the Gatun locks. The Gatun locks are a series of three lock chambers where the huge container vessels are lifted or lowered at a total of 26 meters. Each lock is 33.5 meters wide and 306 meters long and takes 8 to 15 minutes to fill with water. With this excursion you will also have the opportunity to visit the Canal Expansion which consists of the construction of two new sets of locks which double the capacity of the Panama Canal and will create a new lane of traffic allowing more and larger ships. This part of your tour is completed by some free time at the visitor center where you can gain a better understanding of the expansion project. From here, you’ll continue onwards with your guide from Colón to the port of Portobelo. This port was the gathering point of the Peruvian treasures in the 15th century. Gold and silver were shipped from here towards the metropolis of the empire, and in addition, Portobelo was the center of control and inspection of goods which arrived from Spain. The ruin complex is built and set up in the middle of the tropical jungle and covers a set of fortresses, castles and military bases. At the end of the tour you will be dropped off at your hotel in Portobelo. This transfer will take approximately 6 hours.
Upon arrival at Portobelo you will be taken on a short 5 - 10 minute boat ride to El Otro Lado property which is located on the other side of the bay (hence the name "El Otro Lado" - "The Other Side").
With the El Otro Lado property boats, the trip to the nearest beaches is fast and convenient. Once there, you will enjoy an idyllic place, with white sands and surrounded by palm trees. Swimming and snorkeling are popular activities in the crystal-clear, transparent water. Observe the fascinating species which can be seen in this underwater universe. Distances: La Huerta is 10 minutes away, Puerto Francés 20 minutes and Playa Blanca 30 minutes. The hotel's boats are equipped with life jackets and dry towels. A wide selection of equipment for all sizes if you wish to snorkel.
There is a wide range of engaging activities to choose from during your stay at El Otro Lado, from active to cultural. Consider taking a guided historical walk through the World Heritage declared port town of Portobelo in the company of a guide who can show you the forts, the Customs house, the Church of the Black Christ and other historical buildings.
Alternatively, be privy to a local activity - the Congo dance, with its rhythmic drums accompanied by voices and handclapping. Originating from the Afro-Panamanian culture, this iteration of traditional dance is accompanied by percussion from a local Rhythm School.
A third option is to gain an insight into local carpentry where you can learn about local artwork in a hands on session with a local artist where you can develop your skills in painting, carving or cabinet making. The perfect souvenir for you to take home at the end of your trip!
Snorkeling equipment is provided for those interested in checking out the local marine life.
In the morning your guide will pick you up at El Otro Lado hotel and take you northwards towards Lake Alajuela. There you will step into small boats, which will carry you up the Rio Chagres. Take in the views of the dense jungle on your boat trip before stepping out of the dugout canoes upriver to enjoy a short hike (can be a bit muddy) to a beautiful waterfall in the midst of the rain forest. Enjoy this tropical paradise far away from civilization, take a swim in the refreshing pool just beneath the waterfall and submerge in this true tropical getaway.
From here you will have the chance to visit the village of the Embera Indians, one of seven indigenous tribes in Panama. The people of the Embera tribe will welcome you at the pier and gladly give you an idea on how they still live today. The village chief will give you a brief explication on the history of the tribe, its traditions, cultures, beliefs and handicrafts. Then, a traditional lunch of fish and plantains prepared by the Embera women will be served to you.
In the afternoon you will experience a traditional Embera dance and have the opportunity to shop for handicrafts. The sale of local products directly benefits the village and helps to pay the school fees for the local children. If you feel daring you may even opt to get a temporary Embera tattoo painted on your arm or leg!
Your final destination today is the Anton valley – a very special area of the country which is in a wonderful, natural setting.
This 4 hour trek takes you to the India Dormida (Sleeping Indian Girl), a centuries old impressive mountain, which when viewed from a distance, reflects an accurate silhouette configuration resembling of a sleeping girl. The trek is moderate and offers stunning views of El Valle and on the Pacific Ocean. On the downhill you will pass several water falls and end your hike at the Petroglyphs. (Includes: Taxi Transportation, English speaking driver/guide, entrance fees).
Enjoy some time at leisure in the lovely surroundings of Los Mandarinos Boutique Spa & Hotel. A range of facials, massages and body treatments are available onsite as well as a thermal circuit (sauna, turkish bath, biothermal sequential shower, jacuzzi). There are also a number of activities that can be arranged directly with the hotel from horseback riding, bird watching, hiking, a crater tour and a canopy adventure. Of course, you may simply want to take advantage of having some down time and catch up on that book that you have been meaning to read!
You will be picked up and transfered from El Valle to Playa Blanca by private vehicle and professional English speaking driver. The transfer typically takes approximately 50 mins - 1 hr.
For golfing enthusiasts (or fanatics!) there is the Buenaventura Panama Golf Club by Nicklaus deign that may be of interest. Here you can discover an unmatched golf experience at the 18 hole 72-par course. Making use of the natural landscape, the course cuts into the Pacific coastline with views of the Panama beach. There are also threee local courses within the vicinity - Manta Raya, Vista Mar and Playa Blanca.
The Corotu Spa has five multi-functional treatment rooms and offers everything from pampering massages to facials and polishing body scrubs. A hydrotherapy area also features whirlpools, deluge showers, sauna and steam room. Please arrange either golf tee times or spa treatments directly with the concierge of the hotel if you are interested.
(Please note that this property is not a beach front property. It is about a 10 minute walk to the beach from the hotel).
Enjoy some leisure time on the Pacific shores of Playa Blanca. Optional activities are available at your resort (watersports, snorkelling, kayaking). (Please note that this property is not a beach front property. It is about a 10 minute walk to the beach from the hotel).
Relax on your private transfer from Playa Blanca to Tocumen International airport in Panama City. The transfer should take approximately 2 hours.
American Trade Hotel and Hall opened its doors in the fall of 2013 in Panama City, occupying a lovingly restored landmark building in Casco Viejo. The property stands at the ecological and cultural crossroads of the Americas, deeply connected to both the historic Old Quarter and the nascent new Panama City – a meeting place for influencers, and cultures from around the world. The property and surrounding area are steeped in local heritage and culture, while the hotel has been thoroughly outfitted with the contemporary conveniences and modern luxuries today's traveller requires.
El Otro Lado is a private retreat situated in an exceptional enclave of Portobelo Bay, mixing design, culture, nature and luxury in a unique manner. El Otro Lado is divided into 5 gorgeous individual Carribbean-style bungalows. Sip a refreshing passion fruit Mojito or sample delicious International/Caribbean Fusion cuisine at the Gazebo: a convenient combination of a restaurant, bar, parlor, game room, library and gathering place. Relax and sunbathe by the swimming pool and enjoy the infinite views, or enjoy a magical massage at the El Otro Lado spa.
With a tender, humble ambiance, Los Mandarinos Boutique, Spa & Hotel is tucked into the bosom of the Anton Valley. Sharing an intimacy with its natural surroundings, the hotel is small and cozy, with 14 rooms. Each is individually decorated to taste, and offers simplicity with all the amenities of home. A genuinely caring staff is available for all concerns. Los Mandarinos is popular for its restaurant, which serves meals with an authentic Panamanian flair. Enjoy the culinary expertise of local chefs, who also dabble in international fare. Then consider your options from planning a horseback riding trip, hike, or short drive into town to visit the market or perhaps a rejuvenating spa package onsite.
Discover a distinctive oasis at the JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort. This premier luxury resort in the luxury community of Buenaventura offers elegant accommodations and suites set amongst lush gardens and a lagoon with vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Here, every desire is anticipated – from a round of golf at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, a relaxing treatment at Corotú Spa, or a splendid meal of locally sourced produce at Tamarindo. Indeed, with the freshest of ingredients from nearby organic farms, local fishermen, and the world's leading purveyors, the Resort cuisine expertly blends flavors and masterful techniques to create gastronomical delights that are second to none. The sustainable farming program provides a direct connection with the surrounding community and supplies seasonal ingredients to the Chef's larder. The service includes twice daily maid service, attentive pool attendants and a beach butler to ensure umbrellas and extra towels are at hand. (Please note that this property is not a beach front property. It is about a 10 minute walk to the beach from the hotel).
Bob More ,
April 21, 2014
"Every detail was taken care of, and all connections were on time. We were extremely pleased, couldn't stop telling everyone about our great trip. Each room / hotel was better than the last. Wow great holiday!"
Steve Walling ,
January 20, 2014
"We are home safe and sound from the best vacation I can remember. It seemed seamless to us but I know that you worked very hard to make our experience so good.
The guides and drivers were always punctual and reliable. They were very knowledgeable, personable, and funny. They provided us with very helpful information and helped us work on expanding our Spanish. The hotel staff was friendly and helpful and the rooms were very nice.
I especially appreciate our ability to update our plans while we were in Costa Rica. The zip lines were the highlight of our trip. I hate to think we almost missed out by not including it in our original plan.
You have made a friend and supporter for life. I will certainly recommend you to anyone I know going to Costa Rica.
Merrel Bowles ,
November 07, 2013
"I would highly recommend this company for overseas travel. We had personal drivers that spoke perfect English and were also very knowledgeable in conversation pertaining to their country. Drivers were always early and eager to please. Your wish was their command!!!Every tour included educated guides who knew how to make our experience fun and exciting! I loved having personal drivers and guides, as well as many inclusive meals. We will definitely use this company for future travels."
April 09, 2013
"Our Costa Rica trip was amazing. The whole family thinks its the best we've ever taken! Kensington did an excellent job of organizing everything. The two hotels they picked were amazing.
Arenal -- The Springs Resort & Spa was almost too good since as soon as the family saw it they wanted to cancel activities so they could take full advantage of all it offered. We ultimately did cancel the safari to give us a free day to spend a day at the spa, pools and Club Rio (riding the river in innertubes!). The activities Kensington setup were excellent and very adventurous. Our favorite was canyoneering (repelling), We were all terrified at the first drop-off! It's more thrilling the zip lining (also lots of fun) and river rafting (a blast as well).
Manuel Antonio -- The Preserve at Los Altos was very nice. It was like staying in a 3 bedroom apartment at a boutique hotel (same feel as Athenum in London but nicer). The drive to get there was a bit long but worth it when our driver made a surprise stop at the the "crodillio bridge". The tour through Manuel Antonio National Park is a must do for nature lovers (3 types of monkeys, sloths, etc). Our guide was excellent. If you go MA NP, try Kapi Kapi for dinner.
I'd highly recommend using Kensington (Brandi was our rep) for a Costa Rica trip. Thanks for hooking us up with them.
L Huber ,
April 03, 2013
We returned yesterday from our wonderful Costa Rican vacation and I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed it. We loved staying at the El Silencio (the kids would have liked to stay even longer so we could have taken some of the nature hikes). Being surrounded by the cloud forest was an amazing sensation that really helped us to feel that we were in a completely different world and was a perfect way to begin the trip. Maria Lucia was a very kind tour guide and showed us the all sites in a huge day (the waterfalls, Poas volcano, the coffee plantation & Sarchi). The staff at El Silencio was wonderful and Jeff and I very much enjoyed the food and the very elaborate wine tasting there.
In La Fortuna the activities ruled. We loved everything, the exhilarating waterfall rappelling, the zip lining (& tiger swing - the kids LOVED IT) the volcano hike and we had a FANTASTIC time on the river safari with Gerald and his friend Tom. Gerald was a great guide and was able to share many stories while letting us see the wildlife. We saw a spectacular Toucan flock and of course the monkeys were a huge hit. Ending up at the farm was a fun end note to the trip. Of course we enjoyed the hot springs at the Tabacon - they are pretty amazing. Jeff and I had a chance to have a massage at the Tabacon spa and it was spectacular. The service at the hotel was lovely and our room did have a beautiful view of the volcano. I think the hot springs & spa are far superior at the Tabacon.
Alex drove us from both El Silencio to La Fortuna and then from La Fortuna to Punta Islita (that is a lot of driving and he did a great job - he was so friendly and made the travelling very enjoyable). On the way to La Fortuna he made a point of showing us the Iguana restaurant and it was a great wayside stop for everyone.
Punta Islita was stunning. Our villa Ilan Ilan was ideal, the view and the setting were spectacular. The kids loved the pool (when they weren't swimming & playing in the ocean), Jeff loved being able to finally drive around a bit like a native (the villa came with a small 4 wheel car), and I enjoyed waking up every morning to see the sunrise over the cliffs at the ocean's edge, and hear the incredible variety of birds (and on the last day even the howler monkeys). We enjoyed so many of the activities the hotel had to offer. Andrey & Hector and the whole staff were so warm and hospitable. They really worked hard and made every effort to make our stay so much fun. Hector helped us plan some more zip lining, surf lessons, a dolphin sighting/fishing boat trip and a sunset horseback ride which was the perfect way to wrap up the trip.
Ronald picked us up and got us to the airport in plenty of time. Ronald was very interested in showing us the wildlife as we drove through the different areas and we really enjoyed that.
Everywhere we went the people were absolutely wonderful, kind, and proud to show us their country and it made our trip spectacular.
Erika, thank you for all you did to help make the trip such a huge success.
Brian Blades ,
April 24, 2013
"Very prompt at getting information back to us and very helpful with any changes we wanted.
This trip was as good as the last trip we did with Kensington, could'nt have been any better. Our guides were excellent, especially Gerald.
Stephen Strom ,
April 22, 2013
"The transfers went flawlessly; the guides were all superb (knowledgable; thoughtful; sensitive; responsive to our needs). The recommended hotels were, with one exception (see below), also first rate and well matched to our needs and temperaments.
Our thanks for providing 3 wonderful guides: Gary Ortiz (Antigua); Carlos Antonio Lopez (Tikal and Yaxha); and Israel Canto (Belize). All of them understood that we have ‘peculiar’ tastes (for example: photographing lichen covered tree trunks while the magnificent structures at Tikal were but meters away!). It is really critical that guides not try to make sure that we see every ‘important’ thing, but recognize instead that ‘importance’ is very much a personal thing.
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