Jungle Cruise to the Panama Canal

By Barbara Frank and Cheryl Pruss
Edited by Elyce Wair

In February 2010 Barbara Frank spent several weeks traveling and enjoyed the  adventure and sunsets of Costa Rica with hosts Joe & Cheryl Pruss. Cheryl, also an Intel retiree, owns a beautiful home in northern Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean.

Joe & Cheryl proved to be experts on where to go and things to do in Costa Rica and provided “five star” hospitality. The itinerary included a “must do” river adventure. Located outside the town of Filadelphia, Costa Rica, the Rio Tempisque is where you start the jungle river adventure. Unlike Disneyland the monkeys and crocodiles are real – and hungry.

Golf was also on the docket but in Costa Rica there is a twist. You get to see and hear Howler monkeys in the trees on the golf course. “Our favorite day was spent hanging out at Lola’s, watching the sunset on the beach made famous by the surf movie The Endless Summer. ”

From Costa Rica, Barb and Cheryl spent two days in Panama City, en route to Columbia, South America. In typical Intel “multi-tasking” fashion, Cheryl and Barb crammed five days adventure into three filled days.

Day one was spent exploring the Chagras River (which feeds the Panama Canal) and exploring the Embera Indians, their history, customs, & village. “We went on the recommendation of a cousin and it was a day well spent starting with a 1 hour canoe ride to a trail that took us on a modest hike to a waterfall & swimming hole. Then we took another canoe ride to their village for lunch and a presentation on their history and current lifestyle. The presentation and lunch were conducted in a large hut that was `8ft off the ground. Embera Indians sleep in these elevated huts as protection from harmful animals. We also purchased unique crafts made exclusively from palm trees. It was fun to relive the adventure on TV when we watched the Anthony Bourdain show after we returned.” For more information about this tribe you can Google “Embera Indians”.

Day two was spent on the Panama Canal tour. We chose the tour that takes you one way through four locks. In addition to the boat ride, the tour included the history of the Panama Canal as well as views of the new canal that they are building for the super sized cruise ships. For further details of both the north and southbound tours go to www.anconexpeditions.com

“Our trip to Columbia, South America went beyond our expectations; safety was never an issue in either city, and the contrasts were amazing. Cartagena is on the Carribean, and because of the tropical temperatures and inexpensive pricing, it is a favorite cruise ship destination. The city itself is walled in and was a Spanish fort at one time. It has beautiful architecture, fine restaurants, and shops.

Bogota, located in the heart of Columbia, is a city of 8 million and built in a valley that is at 9,000 feet elevation. Even though you are closer to the equator, temperatures were in the mid sixties and seventies. We recommend taking the funicular up to the top of Monserrate for spectacular views of the city and do not miss Bogota’s Gold Museum or a night of fun at Andres Carne de Res, the new one in Bogota. You definitely need reservations for Andres! ”

For any more tips on these 3 cities, email Barb at frankbarbara@sbcglobal.net and if you are traveling to Costa Rico and want some tips and tricks, email Cheryl at cherylpruss@gmail.com

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