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Friday, July 25 2014 @ 07:18 AM EDT

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Wow - What An Amazing Video - Breathtaking... (Don't Miss)

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Someone turned me on to this video today. It's an amazing piece of footage that really highlights some of the most beautiful things about Panama. Simply gorgeous. Don't miss. Have patience, it takes awhile to load. Or if the flash version doesn't work you can load the html version. Enjoy - http://vimeo.com/12469947.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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73% OFF Las Olas Beach Resort Getaway

Travel & TourismWhen it comes to not-to-miss vacations, this Pacific Coast escape is off the charts. For the next 3 days, OfertaSimple.com (now available in English) is offering ocean view rooms at Las Olas Beach Resort at Playa Barqueta at 73% OFF– buy now and redeem anytime during the coming six months. Whether you choose to take a quick weekend trip or spend the entire week basking in the sun, you’re guaranteed to come back refreshed and rejuvenated. The resort has unbeatable amenities, ranging from two panoramic ocean view pools with full bar to a complete exercise room for those trying to keep in shape. In addition, the resort offers direct access to the beach, the use of tennis courts, and parks for children. Feast on fresh seafood rich in flavors at the two resort restaurants and pass away a sunset sipping cocktails at one of the resort bars.

Now at OfertaSimple.com, purchase oceanfront rooms at Las Olas Resort for $43 per night, a 73% savings off the $146 regular rate. OfertaSimple.com launched in August of last year and is quickly building a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, OfertaSimple has attracted over 40,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members as loyal users. Some of the best sellers on OfertaSimple.com have included half off at LaMar Restaurant, $13 for $50 worth of food/drink at Ego y Narciso Restaurant in Casco Viejo, 70% off at LT Burger in Hotel Manrey, 50% off a stay at Hotel Los Mandarinos in El Valle, 72% off food and drink at Habibi’s and 57% off a jump at Panama SkyDive.

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Tourism in Panama Up 9.7% In First Quarter 2011

Travel & Tourism Panama received 558,000 tourists during the first quarter of 2011, representing an increase of 9.7% or 49,000 tourists more than during the same period last year. The figure, published by the Comptroller General of the Republic, would be in line with the expectations of the Government and the tourism industry, and they expect during 2011 to exceed for the first time the barrier of more than 2 million tourists received in the country. In March alone 176,000 tourists entered Panama, 6,000 more than the same period last year. Especially important was the growth of cruise ship passengers during March, with 6,000 more than last year, an increase of 14.8%. Tourist spending has also increased considerably. In the first quarter tourists spent $488 million dollars in Panama, representing an increase of 11.1% or $49 million more than during the same period in 2010. The increase of tourists will be accompanied growth in the industry. This year 13 new hotels will open in Panama. (La Prensa)
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Panama Promotes their Most Current Tourism Initiatives during Expotur

Travel & TourismPanama has become a tourist threshold for the Central American region, attracted by the energy of its capital, natural beauty and wide travel connections, considered “the hub” of Central America. From the 11th to 13th of May, Panama will be participating in Expotur 2011, an exhibition organized by the Costa Rican Association of Tourism Professionals. A large group of tour operators, airlines, hotel chains and tourist destinations will promote their services and specific products for audiences such as, destination weddings and honeymoons, water activities and many more. This event provides an important platform for advocacy in the Central American region, highlighting the different attributes of each country and brand participating. Panama will continue to promote during Expotur the multiple offers and initiatives that the country is developing to promote their tourism. The Tourism Authority of Panama and Copa Airlines have initiated the "Stop Over" campaign. This gives travelers who are in transit to other destinations with Copa Airlines the possibility of stopping in Panama City at no additional charge, with special rates for hotel and tourist activities. According to IATA, Panama has been ranked the eighth most important international aviation hub as the country's GDP. Tocumen International Airport receives more than eighty direct routes that serve a large influx of leisure tourists and business travelers. The most recent ones will be to Toronto, Canada; Porto Alegre, Brazil and Nassau, Bahamas. These last three will be launched in June, 2011.Panama has also increased their air connectivity with Europe, with direct flights from Madrid to Panama City with Iberia airlines. KLM and Condor Airlines are flying six times a week. These way European travelers can now visit one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the region, as well unparalleled ecotourism experiences. (more)
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Did The US Yank Salo Shamah's Visa?

Travel & Tourism Panama's Minister of Tourism, Salo Shamah, could not travel to Washington DC on an official visit with President Ricardo Martinelli because it appears his visa has been suspended, according to an inside source with full credibility. La Estrella repeatedly tried to obtain the version of events from Shamah and from the Presidency, but there was not response. (La Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Whoops! If the US did yank Shamah's visa, that would be hilarious. A minister of tourism who can't visit the United States? You can't make this shit up...

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Playa "La Angosta" on Colon's Upper Coast - Road Toward Portobelo (Not "Playa Langosta")

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - One of my favorite places to spend the day is on the beach at "Playa La Angosta". Now, many people mistakenly call this place "Playa Langosta" - even the locals - but the correct and proper name is "Playa La Angosta" which means "Narrow Beach." I went there yesterday with my wife and daughter, and it's a really nice place to just spend the day kicking back with the warm Caribbean waters up to your neck. The beach is very nice, the water is clean, and yesterday (Good Friday) there were a bunch of SINAPROC lifeguards on duty. Now, I don't think that's the norm, and I believe there were they only because of the additional push the government puts on to protect people during holidays such as Holy Week, but in any case they were there and actually watching the water. There were also a couple of cops there to keep an eye on the tourists. Overall, the safety and security aspects were excellent.

Where Is Playa La Angosta? Playa La Angosta is located in the province of Colon, on the road to Portobelo. If you're a techno geek, you can just click on this link to download a Google Earth Placemark file to your computer. If you have Google Earth loaded on your computer and properly configured, it should open and "fly you" right to Playa La Angosta when you click on the file you downloaded. For those who are more technologically challenged - but if you can still drive a GPS - Playa La Angosta is located at 9°28'11.83"N 79°43'28.17"W. And I'll still give you "normal" directions for those who are living in the stone age. Leaving from Panama City, take the new highway from the Northern Corridor towards Colon. When the highway peters out you get dumped onto the old road, keep going straight towards Colon. Just past the McDonald's on your left, about one block down turn right in Sabanitas at the intersection with the El Rey supermarket. Follow that road and signs toward Portobelo. You will encounter a police checkpoint in the town of Maria Chiquita. The entrance to the Playa La Angosta is 2.9 miles on your left after the checkpoint in Maria Chiquita. You have to slow down and keep a sharp lookout because the turn into the beach is back and to your left, so if you're not careful you can blow right past it. And if you still can't find it, ask any local along that road because they all know exactly where it is.

$3.00 Buck Per Car Load: They charge a $3.00 per car entry fee just to park on their land to get access to the beach. They have little "bohios" - really just small grass roofs large enough to cover a picnic table - that you can rent for $5.00 for the whole day. We got one of these but really didn't use it all that much, we spent all of our time on the sand and in the water. There are no really big waves on this beach because the mouth of the bay is wrapped around and it's protected, and there's also an off shore reef, so it's a great beach for little kids - they don't get hammered into the sand by occasional rogue waves. There's also a restaurant there on the beach that has good seafood, fried fish, shrimp, prawns, drinks, etc. at reasonable prices. Yesterday they were slow and swamped by the large numbers of people, but we ate eventually and it was good food (get whatever it garlic sauce with the coconut rice, worth the trip all by itself.) Once you're done for the day, they have showers with fresh water for 50 cents a pop - just be sure to bring shower shoes.

Playa Langosta in Panama: If you do a Google search for "Playa Langosta" in Panama you'll get dozens of hits, find photos, youtube videos, and all kinds of reference materials. I think this is hilarious because as I mentioned before the real name of the beach is "Playa La Angosta" in Panama - you can also find some information about this site with a Google search of the right name. When you're pulling in to the place and paying your $3.00 dollar parking fee - check out the signs which clearly identify the location with the proper name.

Other References And Related Articles: This article entitled "Playa La Anosta - A Delightful Caribbean Beach" appeared in The Visitor in April 2009.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Scuba Diving Opportunities in Panama

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Today someone asked about scuba diving opportunities in Panama on the Americans in Panama Yahoo Email group, and this was Richard's excellent response - the best two minute summary I've seen in a long time, that just about wraps it up: "There is diving around Boca Chica, Isla Coiba, the Pearl Islands out from Panama City (most people just call PC Panama), Portobello, Nombre de Dios and Bocas at least. Unfortunately the Kuna only allow snorkeling in the Kuna Yala, but that's definitely the healthiest reef and clearest water I've seen in my limited time in Panama.

The mud diving right in Portobello kinda sucks due to the vis, but I've heard that boat trips to Drake Island have been enjoyed by friends. There used to be 2-3 dive shops there. In Nombre de Dios, there's only one resort (Jimmy's Caribbean Dive Resort) but I believe they allow a la carte diving. There a little shore dive right in front with lots of swim-throughs, but the best diving is miles away, by boat. We dived there 2-3 times a day for a week, and 60% of the dives were very good. We dived the Pirate's Junkyard one afternoon and found lots of old bottles. Lots of fun raking through the muck in 15' of water and coming up with bags of loot. And Jimmy, a rocker from the deep south, is always entertaining.

I've dived several times in Bocas, but the sites we dived had very limited vis or not much to see or both. The best dive was between Bocastown and Isla Caranera, right in the middle of the channel. There was quite a bit of nice coral there. The dives in Bocas were cheaper than elsewhere and there are at least a couple of dive shops near the water taxi pier.

Friends have dived with Carlos in Boca Chica (just ask anyone in town for directions to his dock and boat storage), and went just around the corner of Isla Boca Brava where they encountered large schools of fish.

I don't know anyone that's dived the Pearl Islands (Isla Contadora) but know people spearfish there. I've heard it mentioned a lot so might be worth checking out.

Isla Coiba has the best diving I've done in Panama. The closest dive shop and boat ride is in Santa Catalina, a town that gives many the creeps. There was one dive shop there a couple of years ago that Herbie Sunk owned that's open all year long. There were another 2 or 3 that only opened in the dry season. That IS dated information. It's about 1.5 hours out to Coiba and surrounds, and a rough 1.5 hours back usually, in an open panga. When we were there, the vis ranged from 15-25', dark at 60' with a stiff thermocline as well so we stayed above 60'. Saw lots of whitetip reef sharks, turtles, mobula rays, tons of reef fish, some coral and sponges, crown of thorns starfish, etc. I could spend days diving that area and not get bored. For the surface interval they'll take you to Isla Coiba to register at the ranger station, pay a fee, and hang out for lunch. There are barebones accommodations there if you want to make a multi-day trip out of it. There were 1 or 2 liveaboards that offered multi-day trips out there, well worth it if still available.

There is also diving off of Pedasi on a couple of islands just offshore. I've heard good things about that, and plan to check it out in June. I remember at least one dive shop there but that was 4 years ago. There may be more by now.

Nitrox and deep diving are pretty much unknowns here for the most part. I think one shop in Panama offers technical training, but since you're probably not diving below 60' anyway it's a moot point.

The water is temperate on both sides, so a 3 mil wetsuit would probably be plenty, with a hood for extra warmth.

I haven't been snorkeling much but I hear it's fantastic in some places in the Kuna Yala. We dived off of one of the Kuna islands, and the shallow coral was pristine, with excellent vis. You can get package deals with hotel/lodging, food and maybe some boat trips to the Kuna Yala. I've never made the trip but it's on my bucket list and I've heard great things about stays there if you're easily entertained and enjoy simple food.

If you google SCUBA and each of those destinations, you might find some info online. Otherwise, look in your Panama guidebooks for contact info and general info. A guidebook might help you determine your itinerary as well, as there's lots of local information and you can zoom in by area.

Happy hunting!"

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Latest Link Swapper - Jungle Land Panama

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Welcome aboard to our most recent link swapper - Jungle Land Panama. From their web page: "The Isthmus of Panama was formed just over 3 million years ago. This land bridge has allowed animals and plants of two continents to mix and mingle. This is why Panama is so rich in flora and fauna. Lake Gatun was coonstructed between the years 1906-1914. The lake is part of an aquatic bridge that links the caribbean sea to the pacific ocean. When you consider the nature, history, and the Panama Canal, Lake Gatun is one of the most interesting places found on this planet. Our excursions showcase all that is the best of this special region of the world."

Become A Link Swapper: If you have a website of any kind with English language content that has something to do with the Republic of Panama then you might want to consider participating in our long standing link exchange program. All you have to do is put a link on your website somewhere back to www.panama-guide.com, and then I will link back to you and feature your website or business in an article just like this one. Exchanging valid links with other websites with valid content is a valuable SEO tool and a strategy which helps to establish your website as the leader in your category. At this point if you're not swapping links with Panama Guide - well then you're just missing out. Anyway, go take a tour with Jungle Land Panama and send me a photo of you swapping spit with a crocodile or something and I'll make you famous. For all the wrong reasons, but who cares, right? If you're a hot chick, a string bikini would be a plus (grin). You can be #1 on Google for anyone who searches for "hot chick in a bikini kissing a crocodile in Panama." I tried to find something sexy on their website, and this was the best I could come up with...

Group Sex In The Jungle in Panama - Go ahead, do a Google search and see what you get - it's all good.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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US Recession Causes Dip in Tourism to Bocas del Toro

Travel & TourismBocas del Toro has seen a decrease in investment, as well as in the numbers of arrivals of foreign tourists, due to the economic recession in the United States. Jose Anderson, the Mayor of the District of Bocas del Toro, whose region bases its economy on tourism, said the economic problems in the United States are affecting investment and visitors to the province. Construction realized mostly by Americans have suffered a serious decline, which in turn has caused an important decrease on the coffers of the municipality, while the lack of visitors create a direct detriment on the inhabitants in the region, who work as passenger boat drivers, water taxis, tour guides, etc.

The area which includes more than 50 islands, primarily Isla Colon, Bastimentos, Carenero, and Bocatorito, has seen investments in structures of more than $25 million dollars in recent years. Places were just ten years ago went unnoticed both at home and abroad are now tourist resorts worth millions of dollars.

ACTIVITY: IMPROVEMENTS - The province of Bocas del Toro has become a leading tourist destination for both Panamanians and foreigners, and the authorities, in this case Mayor Anderson, are confident the situation will improve in the coming months. (La Critica)

Editor's Comment: Yup. Obviously if you've lost your job and your house, you probably don't have the money to blow on a vacation to Bocas del Toro or anywhere else for that matter. Many people in Bocas are looking towards the upcoming dry season with high hopes of a turn-around.

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New Ice Skating Rink To Open At The Punta Pacifica Mall

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Our own Manny Landron played an important role in bringing the new Ice Skating Rink to the Multi Plaza mall for the holiday season. It's now installed and almost ready to go. They've got about 180 pairs of rental skates for the little (and big) kids to use. The cost will be $5 for 30 minutes, and they are still working out the details on things like shows with professional skaters, group classes, and stuff like that. This has been put together by Magic Dreams, the company that brings all kinds of events and shows to Panama. Jenny Hall, who was a professional ice skater several years ago, was the first person on the ice. While she was doing scratch spins and toe loops, I strapped on a pair of ill fitting rental skates and tried to take a few laps. It's funny how my brain still thought it was the winter of 1979 - 1980, when I spent many hours every day playing hockey on the frozen lake in Fancher Davidge Park with my buds, taking on Mitch and his crew from Scotchtown. Back then I played defense, and could skate backwards better than I could walk. However that was more than 30 years ago, and I proved that by being the first person to fall flat on my ass on the ice - lucky for me there was nothing hurt but my pride, and the Panamanians got a kick out of seeing the old, fat gringo do a butt-plant on the ice. I managed to get back up and take a few laps around the ice before making my way back to the bench and the safety of my Reebok sneakers. Anyway, the new ice rink will be open for business on Thursday, 18 November 2010, and will remain open until 10 January 2011. The hours will mirror those of the mall, so if the mall is open the ice is open. This will be a nice addition for the holiday season. Have a great time.

Jenny Hall, about to land a toe-loop.

The ice rink is located in the Multi Plaza mall, right in front of the Sanborns store. It measures 40 feet wide by 60 feet long.

Jenny Hall (no relation to JRH) makes it look easy. She drew a several rounds of applause from the curious onlookers.

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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