This post is also available in: Spanish
By Marijulia Pujol Lloyd
Carnival is a period of party and fun in Panama, but for many residents, foreign and local, it heralds a time of noisy fireworks, and loud music. During the four days of Carnival many people escape to more tranquil pastures, far from the madding crowd. However, think hard about where to go, because beaches and rivers will be overcrowded. The answer is simple, go to those areas that do not celebrate the God Momo´s festivities.
This can be a difficult feat, as Panamanians love Carnival and it is celebrated all over the country. However, if you research carefully, there are places where this festivity is very low key or not celebrated at all, places such as El Valle, Boquete and Cerro Azul. These three places have hotels and amenities to make your stay more pleasant.
If you prefer something closer to the Capital City, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort is a great place to enjoy peace and quiet, surrounded by beautiful tropical rainforest and spectacular views of the Panama Canal and the Gamboa lake. You can do as little or as much as you like, from tours and fishing trips on the lake, to lounging by the swimming pool.
Beaches can get pretty busy, but if you head for the islands, and Panama has plenty, you can have your own private sanctuary. Las Perlas and the San Blas archipelagos are Carnival free and there you will find the tranquility you are looking for. Reserve accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment.
Another option is to stay at home during the four days and watch the proceedings on television. Telemetro and TVN transmit the celebrations from Panama City, Las Tablas and Chitre. You will avoid driving and at the same time see how everybody is being pushed around while you are sitting comfortably with a drink in your hand.
But for those of you who still enjoy a bit of a rave-up, join them. Carnival can be fun and it is the ideal time to speak to complete strangers who will party with you until the wee hours of the morning.