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Down a river of gold: rafting the Mamoní!
The Chiriquí province is the destination that first comes to mind regarding river rafting in Panama. fewer people know that it is possible to partake in white-water rafting an hour and twenty minutes to the east of Panama City. The Mamoní River is a great river for beginners, mostly Class 1-II with some rapids that swell to Class III-IV depending on rainfall. During the dry summer months, from February through April, the water level may drop so much that tours cannot go out. Presently, from September through November, is when the water is high, increasing the level of adrenaline for those along for the ride.
Pick up for this tour is at 7.00 a.m. in Panama City. For the drive to Chepo, it is important to bring identification since there may be a check point. A 10-15 minute class will teach rafters the correct commands to follow the guide’s lead along the way down the river. The strong should sit up front. Those lacking nerves of steel can still enjoy river rafting but it is best for them to sit in the back.
The first part of the Mamoní River is very mild, even fit for tubing. Along the way there are spots perfect to disembark and enjoy bathing in the cool waters. The lush green scenery reaches down to the rivers edge and extends up into the rolling hills of an ever-changing horizon, dotted with rock formations
Tributaries join the river and it picks up the pace as wild life begin to appear, like the beautiful blue morpho butterflies, lizards, sloths and many types of birds common to the area.
One of the most interesting things to see along the way is how people pan for gold in the river. Armed with buckets and standing along the banks of the river, they collect sand and then sift it to separate the flecks of gold which they later sell for $50 per gram. The shimmer of gold can be noticed in the sand below.
A sand bar becomes a picnic spot around lunch time to enjoy sandwiches, cookies, and fruit that are included in the tour menu. The stop allows some time to rest and recuperate energy to gear up for the most exciting leg of the tour. The lower part of this course along the river has the rapids, including one cascade so tall that a walk along the rocks is necessary to circumvent the drop that is too high for navigation.
The rapids all have their own names like “mushroom” or “romp.” Guides provide instructions on how to paddle through each one.
Contact: Adventures Panama
The tour is carried out by a pioneer outfit established in 1998, Aventures Panama. Tours have fixed dates or need a minimum of four people to go out. Participants should be over eighteen, be in good health and take clothing that is suitable to get wet.
For more information on river rafting in Panama contact