And so here we go, part III.
We’ve been warned by many people – cab drivers and hotel employees that we should stay away from an area called Colon – so what do we do? Yup you guessed it – we stayed away 🙂 Technically we ventured into Colon but not for the sake of experiencing another life and death situation but to visit the Gamboa Rainforest. It’s about a 40-45 minute drive from Panama City and overall a pretty cheap cab ride. If you want really cheap clothes, venture to Colon – but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Apparently one area of Colon is nice, nice enough for locals to go on weekend beach trips but the rest of it, even locals avoid.
Gamboa itself is a small town along the Canal. The name itself is the name of a tree. Driving into this region it felt as if it was a very old town that’s mainly been deserted except for a few official buildings. I can’t recall the day of the week we visited this area but it was a ghost town.
We got dropped off at Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Just walking into this resort we were in awe. Take a step in, and in front of you are massive 30-40 feet windows that look directly into the rainforest. Real sweet. We booked a Rainforest tour here. Even in the middle of rainy / hurricane season Panama was dry – not one drop of rain, except here. We thought our tour might be cancelled due to the downpour. Luckily 20 minutes before our tour was to begin, the clouds moved out and the sun started to shine again.
As we were making our way up to the lookout – we heard drums in the distance. When asked where the sound was coming from, our guide told us about a tribe that’s still living in the rainforest. They can continue to live the way their ancestors did (hunt for food), and we are not to disturb them. I believe they do allow visitors, however that needs to be pre-arranged. If I’m not mistaken they’re called Embera. We were not fortunate to see a tribesman/tribeswoman, sometimes, we were told they can be seen from the lookout.
What a difference a 40 minute drive makes – from dry, dirty, populated land to a lush, green, natural wet rainforest.