When we were first exploring Panama as a potential living situation, we saw that there is a Monkey Island where the monkeys will come right up to you. That’s all we needed – Cole and I were in!
Once we arrived, I began searching for the right tour. I will be honest, I’m not sure there is an answer to this as there are SO MANY tours out there. However, I really like the range and website of Viator, so I went with them. They have many tours to choose from, and we will do another later, but this time we chose Monkey Island Tour from Panama City. Once I decided to do it, it was super easy to purchase from the website and I have not been hit with spam.
After the purchase, about a day later, I had an email from the tour guide with more specific information. I communicated back and forth with him in English.
Since the company caters to tourists you can choose to be picked up from a ton of hotels in the city. We chose one and took an Uber over. The van arrived exactly on time – 6:40am!! We chose to go early because we were told the monkeys hide between 9:00am and 3:00pm. Since we wanted to ensure seeing the monkeys, we went super early. At 5 am as we were getting ready to go, we did begin to regret this choice a little bit (ok, a lot), but after the tour, though, we were super happy with the decision.
The driver and the “monkey whisperer” drove us to Gamboa Park where we would meet the boat. We were the only insane people who chose this time, so we ended up with a private tour!
On the drive, we were informed about the three types of monkeys we would see, what to do, and what not to do. He told us that the boat is too loud to share the information at that time. Plus, it made the car travel go by quicker.
The boat we boarded had an awning, which\ was nice when the sun came up. Although I am always cold, I was freezing early in the morning with the speed of the boat! It was a good thing Cody had his Alpaca Sweater rolled up in his backpack. Always the boy scout! At our first stop, the “monkey whisperer” made all the monkey sounds. Truth – I have no idea if they were good or not, but she got the monkeys out. Monkeys came to the boat in search of food during the first stop. Feeding them is harmful to their environment, so we were advised not to actually feed them. Instead, we held out our hands to trick them. It was adorable to watch them approach us and gently open our hands. After they realized they had been duped, they left us alone. They searched all hands and hung from the awning.
We saw monkeys at the other stops from afar, they did not come on the boat, but our guides were able to call them out so we could see them. There were a lot of other tours, but none had a “monkey whisperer”, so I think we chose the right company!
Final thoughts: we’ll go back when Jack visits!