Tuesday, January 26, 2016

FTV Panama Jungleland Eco Boat Tour

Daniel Haun, Regimental Commuter, Guest Blogger

The SGA (Student Government Association) set up a boat tour of the Panama Canal and the surrounding area for the cadets Saturday and Sunday. What we all thought was going to be a tour of the canal and the tropical forest adjacent to the canal turned out to be so much more. At 0900 we boarded a bus and were shuttled to a dock about 30 minutes away from where the T/S Kennedy was docked. Once we arrived at our tour pick-up point Panama’s wildlife was within feet of our group. A flock of pelican’s were sunning themselves on the dock and swimming in the water and seemed to be just as interested in us as we were in then. Photos were taken and then the boats arrived.

We boarded the Jungleland 1 & 2 and we were off to be immersed in Panama’s nature and scenery.  The tour stared with a quick overview of the construction project of the Panama Canal expansion project. Our tour guide explained how the different dredges and cranes worked to deepen the canal and remove the dirt from the side’s canal. We then preceded away from the main canal and off into the secluded back channels of Gatun Lake. The tour guide showed us the different vegetation, trees, and animals local to Panama. Not only were we able to see one monkey, were saw three different sets of monkeys and were able to feed two of them (monkey’s love bananas and peanuts).
Around 1100 we headed down a very small stream to a private floating lodge. We disembarked from out boats and were able to relax on the third story roof of the lodge which had hammocks, an artificial grass area to sunbath, and a great view of the forest. Jungleland prepared for us a typical
Panamanian meal which was delicious.

Floating Lodge

After lunch another surprise waited for us. Steve the tour guide came out with a 7 foot long boa constrictor. All of us were able to hold “Fluffy the snake” and take a picture with him. 

We then changed into our bathing suits and prepared for a kayak trip. We paddled even further into the jungle and took in all the amazing sights. Once we reached the shallow part of the stream we were in we beached our kayaks and started into the jungle on foot. Steve guided us to a very small waterfall (literally a trickle of water running down a large bolder) with a swimming hole at its base. He told us he was going to check the area to make sure there were no unexpected critters. He climbed to the top of the waterfall and told us to recite an old Panamanian chant and after
the third chant the trickle of what we thought was the waterfall increased exponentially to an amazing picture perfect waterfall.  Steve let us climb to the top of the waterfall and jump into the swimming area; what an amazing way to spend our afternoon. After everyone jumped off the waterfall (many times), were paddled back to the lodge and had a couple hours to relax and enjoy the views and peacefulness of the Panamanian jungle. We boarded our boats and head back to the docks.

It was an amazing day filled with laughter, awe, and memories to last a lifetime. We will always remember our experiences in the jungle and how truly amazing this part of the world is.

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