13 April 2008 | Gamboa
Nobu and Nirai from Wakamizu joined us for a trip to Gamboa today.
It is a fairly long cab ride from Shelter Bay to Gamboa so we had to leave at 7AM. It turned out to be not early enough. We were booked to ride the aerial tram through the rain forest but didn't make it in time. Instead we enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet at the resort and then visited some exhibits that the resort runs including a mock Embera Indian village, a reptile house, and a butterfly farm.
The Kuna Indians get all of the fame in Panama due to their lovely and popular San Blas islands. The Embera are a similar but different group living in the more central area of Panama. The Embera usually go topless but when visiting the developed towns they cover up so as not to shock the gringos. There were two Embera women at the village selling incredibly intricate woven bowls and masks. Seeing the $100 price on one might surprise you until you realize that they only charge $1 per day that they work on the piece.
After a break at the Monkey Bar we piled on a jungle boat to explore the Chagres river and some of the islands in Gatun lake. It was a nice two hour trip with lots of wildlife. We spotted various kinds of monkeys, including the elusive howlers. We also ran across a couple of sloths moving in slow motion up in their trees and a few crocodiles and some turtles swimming or sunning on the banks.
When you travel through all of this wonderful territory while transiting the canal there's no dilly dallying. It was nice to have an afternoon to explore the area a little. Like all resorts, Gamboa is more expensive than it would be to pursue similar activities on your own but you get to do a lot in one day.