Tips for your trip to Guna Yala / San Blas

By Juliette Darmon

Before going to San Blas some precautions have to be taken.

The different Caribbean islands and beaches are wonderful but you have to be ready for a rustic experience!

An organized tour with a company is almost compulsory and going with a guide is really recommended.

A guide will exactly know where to go and which island is to see for the kind of experience you are looking for.  As San Blas is a big archipelago of 365 islands, not all the islands are recommended to visit. Some islands are more used to host people than other ones.

To sleep three options are possible, according to your expectations:

  • Sailing the Archipelago: amazing experience on board, many stops to different islands, many activities like snorkeling, discovery of the Kuna/Guna communities, local lunch, authentic coco directly picked from coconut trees in front of your eyes, diner on boat and an excellent night! If you are looking for both comfort and adventure, then this is your option!

To take: enough cash (without counting the nights’ boat: $100 max each for two nights/ three days, better to take more than less just in case. Also useful for some Kuna/Guna handcrafted products to buy on the islands), a mosquito spray, toilet paper just in case, shower gel and shampoo, sun cream, towel and camera/ gopro of course!

  • Cabins or lodges on islands: More rustic than the boat, a cabin on these islands is most of the time built on wood or bamboos, and you should take a mosquito net with you to protect from mosquitos and insects of the island.

TIPS: you are on the spot and immersed in Kuna/Guna culture but be ready to live a rustic experience.   Do not be sensitive to smells.

Be sure in which island you will go before in order to be prepared for the experience you are going to live: Some are more touristic (like Perro Chico) than others which are deserts (like Chichime).

To take: enough cash ($100 max each for two nights/ three days, better to take more than less just in case. Also useful for some Kuna handcrafted products to buy on the island), a mosquito net, mosquito spray, toilet paper, shower gel and shampoo, sunglasses and high protection sun cream (the sun is really hard in the tropics), hat, towel, snacks and water, raincoat and camera/ gopro of course! Better to wear long clothes during the night.

  • Camping: Do not try if you are not experienced because you would not be ready for this kind of adventure.  Not recommended for solo travelers.

More than rustic, you will camp in the middle of the island, and be ready to live like indigenous in some islands.    Do not be sensitive to smells.

Be sure in which island you will go before in order to be prepared for the experience you are going to live. Some are more touristic (like Perro Chico) than others which are really deserts (like Chichime).

To take: enough cash ($150/ $180 max each for two nights/ three days, better to take more than less just in case. Also useful for some Kuna handcrafted products to buy on the islands), a mosquito net, mosquito spray, toilet paper, shower gel and shampoo, sunglasses and high protection sun cream (the sun is really hard in the tropics), hat, towel, snacks and water, raincoat, tends and special roof for rain, inflatable mattress, blanket, flashlight and camera/ gopro of course! Better to wear long clothes during the night.

Booking with a tour operator is also really advised concerning the prices. Kuna/Guna communities are not always reliable and trusted people, as they can tell you a price at the beginning and asking you the triple at the end.

That’s why we really recommend you to do not adventure yourself alone in San Blas, most of all if you are not experienced and prepared for this kind of experience because you could be not ready for it.

Book a tour with us and we will take care of you!  contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

 

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Kayaking Adventures in San Blas , Guna Yala

The Natural and Cultural Heritage of Kuna Yala

In close collaboration with Kuna authorities and under organized community managed sustainable tourism development frameworks, we’ll use our stable sea kayaks to explore the islands West of the traditional community of Digir. It was here where several important actions of the Kuna Revolution took place in 1925, resulting in law 16 of 1954 by the Republic of Panama that guarantees the Kuna their sovereignty and territorial boundaries.

A detailed study in 2003 by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Kuna NGO, PEMASKY; showed that Kuna Yala has the highest diversity of coral species as well as the best reef development in all of Panama. We will become intimately familiar with them as our Kuna guides paddle with us between several different small white sand islands, where the greatest snorkeling is right outside your tent. The cultural interaction on this journey is unprecedented. The itinerary will remain flexible, to take into account weather conditions, currents and tides, and we expect an occasional non-paddling day to provide ample opportunity for exploratory hikes – bring good walking shoes for pristine forest creek bed trekking!

What to Bring to this Kayaking adventure:

  • Binoculars
  • Camera with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra bulb & batteries
  • Hat, day pack
  • Dry sack
  • Water bottles
  • Lightwight/quick dry cotton clothes
  • Windbreaker, rain gear
  • Sandals, sneakers, hiking shoes
  • Money in small denominations
  • Toiletries & personal medications
  • Snorkeling equipment
  • Bathing suit
  • Insect repellent
  • sunscreen

San Blas Islands Experience in One day

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.“

This quote by Shakespeare simply describes how I feel about this place.

The San Blas Islands are located in the Caribbean at the east side of the Panama Canal and consists of 365 islands.

After a two hours and 30 minutes drive from Panama City to San Blas, through the Guna Yala Mountains, I arrived at a little port from which small boats depart to the outer Islands.

We floated for about 10 minutes through a small river, surrounded by beautiful and green secondary forest, when we entered the Caribbean. At that moment I was stunned. Hundreds of small islands facing towards me and as I came nearer Franklin Island I could not believe how blue and clean the water was. The coconut palms and the small huts added to the picture. Moreover the people of Guna Yala were most welcoming and friendly hosts.

San Blas is a perfect place to relax and pamper oneself. I snorkeled through shoals of fishes and searched for sea stars. I tanned myself in the sun and played basketball with the locals. The Guna Yalas provide breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The evening and night faded away with a bonfire and some rum. Under the clear starlit sky we counted the stars and listened to music. I felt like Robinson Crusoe stranded on an island. In the morning I was waken up by the locals calling for breakfast by blowing through a huge shell. The days felt so long but in the end it was just short trip to San Blas.

Sadly I had to leave San Blas after two days of relaxation and immersion into paradise to return to Panama City. I will never forget this amazing place and I can highly recommend visiting San Blas to escape a few days from reality.

Please do not hesitate to visit our website www.ecocircuitos.com to find out more information about San Blas or contact us directly at 1-800-830-7142. We are looking forward to organize a trip for you!

 

By Marc Vedder