Colon, Portobelo and San Blas Islands

Panama

Colon is a city that lies at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal and is an important centre for trade and commerce in Latin America. For train lovers, it’s worth travelling here via the Panama Canal Railway, passing by the Panama Canal, Chagres River and spectacularly lush mountain ranges. Portobelo (meaning ‘beautiful port’) is a pretty port town a short distance from a number of great diving spots and full of lagoons, coral reefs, mangroves and unspoilt beaches and is an excellent spot for snorkelling, kayaking or just relaxing on the beach. It has a strong African art and cultural scene and while it is now a tranquil town, it used to be the most important trading hub in the Americas, particularly for gold and silver.San Blas is an archipelago of circa 380 islands (some home to just a few palm trees!) where the Kuna Yala indigenous community have made their home and produce their beautiful brightly coloured hand-stitched textiles called ‘Molas’. The accommodation is very basic and locally run, but the islands are beautiful with palm-dotted beaches and are far from the tourist hustle and bustle.

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