Gamboa Rainforest Resort (Inclusive). If I was traveling with kids to Panama this would be my choice of hotel. Only ½ hour drive from Panama City brings you into the heart of the rainforest just minutes from the Canal. It has the feel of a really upscale lodge and is set right in the middle of the Soberania National Park. It is reminiscent of a Disney themed property. The rooms are large with a rustic feel and large glass windows that overlook the property and swimming pools. Some have 2 twin beds and a loft bedroom with a king bed accessed by a circular metal staircase. The bathrooms are nicely appointed and done in white and blue tile. There is internet access, a library, and family’s activities room as well as a world class spa. There are 3 restaurants with the highlight being the Chagres River View, which offers fine dining and an extensive selection of wines. The highlight of the property however is the numerous optional excursions offered by the resort, which include biking, boat tours and aerial tram views of the rainforest and canal. The hotel has a tour desk which co-ordinates all of its excursions.
I did the following tours:
Monkey Island Tour
Clients travel by boat thru the canal in search of regional wildlife such as alligators, caimans and monkeys. You are escorted by a naturalist guide and are able to observe Capuchin and Howler monkeys at a very close range as they often jump on the roof of the boat. This tour would be great for kids.
Lunch at Los Lagartos Restaurant/Gamboa Resort
The Las Lagartos Restaurant is in a unique setting at the marina with a terrace overlooking the water where you can view turtles, caiman and fish from the dock while you are eating. The menu consists of normal sandwich/hamburger fare as well as locally caught fish. Food and service were both excellent.
Clients travel the rainforest canopy in a tram up to an observation tower where they have incredible views of the Canal and Chagres River. You are able to see monkeys and exotic birds both on the way up and down. After the tram trip you are taken by the naturalist to a butterfly farm, an orchid farm, a reptile house and a small aquarium with indigenous fish and turtles from the surrounding area.
Also available at the Gamboa Resort are kayaks, fishing excursions, hiking tours, bird watching, boat tours on the Chagres River and safari night excursions.
We dined at Chagres Riverview Restaurant at the Gamboa Resort. This is their fine dining restaurant. Menu consisted of typical continental fare as well as locally caught seafood. They have an extensive wine list. Food and service were excellent.