How to Navigate Your Adventure in Panama: A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring Gamboa, Monkey Island, and the Summit Rainforest Resort

Embarking on a trip to Panama, especially to the enchanting areas of Gamboa and Monkey Island, promises an adventure filled with natural wonders and unique experiences. This comprehensive guide aims to offer detailed insights and practical advice to ensure a seamless and memorable journey.

Where to Begin: Directions from PTY Airport to Summit Rainforest Resort

Arriving at PTY airport marks the start of your journey. A sense of direction is crucial to reach the Summit Rainforest Resort due to the discrepancies in Google Maps. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you don’t lose your way:

  1. Upon leaving the airport: Engage Waze for the most accurate directions. It’s advisable to acquire a SIM card at the airport for uninterrupted connectivity.
  2. Heading to the resort: You’ll encounter two options – the Corredor Norte (a toll road) and Domingo Diáz/Tumba Muerto (a non-toll alternative). Opt for the electronic PanaPass for a smoother ride via Corredor Norte.
  3. Navigating rush hour: Arriving around 3.30 pm, expect some traffic. Fortunately, your route is counterflow to the rush, easing your journey.
  4. Toll roads en route: The Autopista toward Colón is cash-only, while Corredor Norte requires a PanaPass. Rental cars usually come equipped with it, and “Pay as you go” is a sensible choice.
  5. Final stretch: The resort is conveniently located off Avenida Omar Torrijos Herrera, just before the intersection to Gamboa.

The detailed directions provided ensure a hassle-free drive to your destination, marking the start of your Panamanian escapade.

What is the Best Way to Book Tours in Gamboa and Surrounding Attractions?

Booking tours in Gamboa, especially for the Aerial Tram, Lake Gatún, and Monkey Island, can be a challenge due to the lack of direct booking options on resort websites. Here’s how to tackle this:

  1. Contacting resorts: While reaching out to Gamboa Rainforest Resort might be difficult, consider using Whatsapp (+507-6676-5611) for better chances of a response. Remember, language barriers exist; a Spanish message might be more effective.
  2. Utilizing hotel concierge services: Once in Panama, your hotel concierge can be invaluable in making tour reservations. This is especially helpful if language is a barrier.
  3. Exploring alternative tours: While some tours, like the Aerial Tram, are exclusive to certain resorts, Lake Gatún and Monkey Island have multiple tour operators. Websites like Viator, although pricey, offer alternatives. Airbnb Experiences also provide unique and often more affordable options.
  4. Considering nearby attractions: The Summit Rainforest Resort itself might offer similar experiences. Additionally, the Plantation Road trail, a short distance from the resort, offers a rich jungle experience and potentially more wildlife sightings than the Aerial Tram.
  5. Backup plans: Always have a Plan B. If Gamboa Resort remains unresponsive, consider visiting other attractions like Fort San Lorenzo or the Sloth Sanctuary at the Summit Resort.

By exploring these options, you can tailor your adventure to your preferences and budget, ensuring an enriching experience in Panama’s natural beauty.

When to Plan Your Visits and How to Manage Transportation in Panama

Timing and transportation are key to enjoying Panama’s attractions to the fullest. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Managing rush hour: Arriving at PTY around 3.30 pm means you’ll be driving against peak traffic, easing your journey to the Summit Resort.
  2. Scheduling visits: Plan your trips to Portobelo and rainforest/lake tours around your arrival and departure schedule. With careful planning, you can fit in visits to both the rainforest and historical sites.
  3. Car rentals and tolls: Renting a car gives you flexibility. Be informed about the toll roads like Corredor Norte and Autopista toward Colón. Choose a rental with a PanaPass for convenience.
  4. Local SIM cards: Acquiring a local SIM card for navigation and communication is advisable. This will be especially useful for real-time directions and any last-minute changes.
  5. Returning the rental car: Plan your route to return the car to Albrook airport and then transition to local transport, like Uber, for city travels.

By managing your transportation effectively and timing your visits appropriately, you can experience the best of Panama without the stress of navigating unfamiliar terrain.

In summary, your trip to Panama, filled with the wonders of Gamboa, Monkey Island, and the Summit Rainforest Resort, can be an unforgettable experience with proper planning and a sense of adventure. For more detailed itineraries and travel advice, visit, your go-to source for expert travel guidance. Whether navigating the lush trails of Gamboa or exploring the historical richness of Portobelo, Panama awaits you with open arms and endless possibilities.


How Can I Ensure a Smooth Drive from PTY Airport to Summit Rainforest Resort?

To ensure a smooth drive, use Waze for real-time navigation. After arriving at PTY airport and acquiring a SIM card, select the route via Corredor Norte for a quicker journey using the PanaPass toll system. The resort is located off Avenida Omar Torrijos Herrera, near the intersection of Gamboa. Plan your departure to avoid rush hour, as traffic tends to be heavy around 3.30 pm.

Where Can I Find Alternative Tours to Gamboa Rainforest Resort’s Offerings?

For alternatives to Gamboa Rainforest Resort tours, explore options on websites like Viator and Airbnb Experiences. These platforms offer a range of tours for Lake Gatún and Monkey Island. Additionally, check with the Summit Rainforest Resort for any similar tour offerings they might have. Keep in mind, the unique Aerial Tram tour is exclusive to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

What is the Best Strategy for Booking Tours if Gamboa Resort is Unresponsive?

If the Gamboa Resort remains unresponsive, consider these strategies:

  1. Use the hotel concierge service upon arrival in Panama to assist with bookings.
  2. Try contacting the resort via WhatsApp in Spanish.
  3. Explore alternative tours through other providers or websites.
  4. Plan a visit to nearby attractions like the Plantation Road trail or the Sloth Sanctuary at Summit Resort.

When is the Best Time to Plan Day Trips from Summit Resort to Nearby Attractions?

The best time to plan day trips from the Summit Resort is around your arrival and departure schedules. Consider visiting Portobelo a day after your arrival and scheduling the rainforest or lake tours for the following day. Be mindful of your check-out time and the need to return the rental car, ensuring you allocate enough time for each activity without rushing.

How to Manage Toll Payments When Driving in Panama?

To manage toll payments efficiently, opt for a rental car equipped with PanaPass, particularly for the Corredor Norte. This electronic toll system allows for easy passage through toll gates. Keep some change handy for cash-only toll roads like the Autopista toward Colón. Rental companies typically offer options for toll payment, so choose the one that best suits your travel plans.

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