Travel to Panama – Episode 400

categories: central america travel

Hear about travel to Panama as the Amateur Traveler talks to Chaundra from London about her recent trip to that country.

She spent a week in Panama before a Silversea’s Silver Explorer cruise in the area to see wildlife. As part of the cruise, they visited the Pearl Islands as well as the Darien Gap. On their own, they visited Panama City, the Old Panama City, Casco Viejo, Fort Sherman, Colon and Soberania, and Chagres National Parks.

Chaundra found that traveling in the rainy season in Panama was a good way to save money. Many of the hotels would throw in a day tour. They, for instance, did a day trip to Panama City and Old Panama City. Panama City was originally on the coast of the country, but it was sacked by the English Privateer Henry Morgan. The Old Panama City is a 10-15 minute drive from modern Panama City and is in ruins. “The ruins are pretty extensive. There is not a whole lot that’s left standing there because a lot of it was carted off to be used as building materials. There’s the old tower, there are significant portions of an old abbey. So it’s a really cool place to poke around. If you go with a guide or a printed guide, they will point out all the history.” There is a really great museum at the entrance. The museum does tours, but most of the signage in the museum is in Spanish.

They also visited the second incarnation of Panama City, which is at Casco Viejo. Both Old Panama City and Casco Viejo are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Casco Viejo would have been the city at the time that Ferdinand de Lesseps, the Frenchman who endeavored to build the Panama Canal, visited. The Interoceanic Museum covers the history of the failed French attempt to build the canal.

Chaundra says Panama City reminded her of a cross between Miami and Singapore, although “clearly not as clean as Singapore.” Because Panama has been the crossroads of the world, there are representatives from many cultures in Panama City. Something like 96% of the population in Panama describe themselves as mixed race.

If you drive back to the Atlantic side of Panama, you get to San Lorenzo & Portobello, which were the Spanish outposts on the Atlantic side. They did a day trip from Colon to these forts. While Chaundra does not really recommend Colon, these forts are UNESCO World Heritage sites. On the way there, they drove through Fort Sherman, which was the old U.S. base that protected the canal when the U.S. was running it.

Much of the old canal zone is now the Soberania National Park. In the park, they visited a village of indigenous people on an island in the middle of Gatun Lake. The tribe they visited originally lived in the Darien Gap. This village provided many of the trainers for the U.S. Army for jungle survival training.

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes

Travel to Southern Israel – Episode 318
Dragon Dream
Silversea Silver Explorer
Darién Gap
Panama City
Ancon Expeditions
The Old City
Panama Viejo (page in Spanish)
Casco Viejo
Interoceanic Canal Museum
Portobelo-San Lorenzo
Chagres National Park
Fort Sherman
Black Christ Church
Soberania National Park
Chaundra’s Flickr


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Hi Mary Jo and Chris,

Just wanted to let you know I just had a chance to listen to the Belfast interview. Great job!

Mary Jo… I love that you were able to give your well-rounded, upbeat reaction to the city… and I’m still giddy that we bumped into each on the streets while there.

I’m sharing with the Irish Firesiders… I think they’ll appreciate it.

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Only 2 years after it’s first show, it was ranked as one of the top 10 tourism website in Chicago Sun-Times in 2007. The podcasts in the show include both tourism information and traveling stories.

This introduction focuses on the audio episodes and video episodes offered on the website, and enables advanced English learner to practice listening as well as learn more about traveling around the world.

Jeff wrote about Travel to Flanders in Belgium – Episode 399

Congrats on the soon to be 400th show! Saw you were recently in Flanders. Last month I went to Verdun and also saw were my great uncle was station during WWI. Very moving. Jeff

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

8 Responses to “Travel to Panama – Episode 400”



Congratulations on Episode #400, Chris! An important milestone and many years of educational and fun listening.

George Rajna


Is this 400 episodes just on Panama or in total? Either way, an impressive milestone.





Hey Chris,
Congratulations for this episode.You’ve done a great job.Keep it up!!



RT @chris2x: Travel to Panama – Amateur Traveler Episode 400 #travel #podcast



RT @AmateurTraveler: Travel to Panama – Amateur Traveler Episode 400 #travel #podcast



I loved Panama City, jarring, vibrant & nothing I expected RT @chris2x Travel to Panama Amateur Traveler Episode 400



RT @KWanderlust3: I loved Panama City, jarring, vibrant & nothing I expected RT @chris2x Travel to Panama Amateur Traveler Episode 400 http…

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