Norva Bounds(Custom Spirit of Panama, Jan 2012)
Overall, we loved our adventures in Panama, esp. the Canal transit which, though hot and crowed, was highly informative--guide spoke good English and Spanish and had a great sense of humor. Having read David McCulloch's Path Between the Seas really helped prepare us to appreciate all that we were witnessing as we made the transit. The canoe trip the the Ember Drua community was fascinating and the Chagres River, gorgeous. Trip to Barro Colorado of less interest: being the dry season, we did not see very many animals on our almost 3-hour hot hike. A long, long day for what it was. Our guide was so cute, funny but professional and reliable. We had a ball with him!
Country Inn and Suites (Amador Causeway) is a really nice facility, though one is forced to eat a lot of meals at its only restaurant, TGI Friday's. That said, the menu is extensive and good there. Taxis to town (to dine elsewhere) ran $12-$15 each way from there. While the show at Tinajas restaurant was very good, the food and service was not. Very touristy and probably the worst food this "foodie and cook" has ever eaten anywhere.
We would definitely return--in the 12 days we were there we feel we got a good "overview. The fact that I am fluent in Spanish opened a lot of doors, of course. We are still impressed with your group after 2 trips and have given your name to both friends and family. We like that you concentrate your expertise in one area (Latin America) and that you strive to utilize local guides and locally-owned hotels. Also that you respect the ecology of a given country and urge your clients to be good stewards of the environment and respectful visitors to the countries in which they are traveling. Kudos to you, ALJ! You are doing a great job! We will definitely book our next trip to Latin America through you:)
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