We arrived to the rain forest on the corner where Gatún Lake meets the Chagres River mid-morning. Immediately we were met with scurrying wild life (we’ll come back to that), a variety of lush green foliage, and peaceful views of the water. If this had been the end of our day, it would have been worth the hour drive. But it was just the beginning!
Reserving a Spot
Our youngest, Rhys (Spanish name: Luis), had one request when we moved to Panama and that was to zip line. I have done a lot of adventurous things in my life, but never zip lining. I quickly said yes and then rethought my impulsive answer. I never thought, in a million years, that Cole would want to go and thought he would be my “out”. However, he shocked me with a YOLO response and so the plan was set that we would all go. I received an email about four weeks ago from Ofterta Simple (like Groupon in the States) with a deal for 55% off the Gamboa Tree Trek! Done. Once purchased, I contacted Tree Trek via WhatsApp and later, via email. I communicated in English, so that was helpful. At the writing of this post, they run tours Friday – Sunday at three different times each day. We chose one of the days and times, received confirmation, and waited, somewhat impatiently.
What should have been easy turned into a small nightmare for us! We live in Costa Del Este (just to the east of Panama City). It should have taken us 55 minutes on a Saturday morning. I decided to leave myself an hour and 45 minutes to get there. Honestly, you just never know with Panama traffic, plus I didn’t know where I was going. Well, it took us the full time! We got detoured off the highway and ended up driving in a gigantic circle around an indigenous area and landfill. Not going to lie – I might have panicked just a bit!
Driving into the park was bumpy and there was a lot of construction, but definitely not horrible. I did see a snake slither across the highway as we were driving. Those of you who know me, know that I do NOT DO SNAKES! Yes, I know I was about to trek through a rainforest, but I prefer to think they are not there while I am there. So this visible reminder was not reassuring. Luckily I did not see anymore, so I fully believe that snake was the only one there, and he clearly had left.
There was plenty of parking and plenty of other activities in the area. We headed over to the Tree Trek check-in (very well marked) and signed in. We had to sign a paper, we got a free locker for our items, and they suited us up.
Seriously – this experience completely exceeded expectations. Truthfully I was a little scared I wouldn’t be able to follow through and I didn’t want to miss out on the family experience, but the guides were so calming. There also might have been a five-year-old there who didn’t seem to worry one bit, so I couldn’t back out then. (Side note: the five-year-old and I are now best friends…I’m forever the teacher. I started talking to him and the next thing you know I am invited to his birthday party, a sleepover, and I know a plan he has to trick his mom!)
We were shown the basics of how to zip line before we left. It was visual and explained in both Spanish and English. We were then taken to an open bus and driven up the mountain. We saw a sloth, which made me happy.
Once at the top, we climbed the first platform and were told this was an “easy” one. They strap you up, make a joke, and send you to the next platform. Let me say – not scary at all – it was so fun and the view was spectacular.
We built up to three of the ten lines that were super long and and jetted you down like the bullet on Mario Kart. I know the boys wish there were more of the fast ones, but there was just enough for me. It was thrill for me when those lines crept in.
Throughout the course, the guides were taking pictures of us, so in the end we all got to view the pictures they took. I bought them for $15. It was so worth it. I love having the pictures of the trip. I also tipped the guides since they were fabulous. I was the only one in our group to tip 😔.
We will be back!!!