Bocas del Toro

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
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Trip End May 02, 2010


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Flag of Panama  , Bocas del Toro,
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What a pain in the butt to get to - I left Chitre at 7 in a taxi to bus station, bus to Santiago, bus to David and another bus to Altamirante from where you now have to take the water taxi to the islands.

Most of the travel on the Intramerican on a/c buses but the last 4.5 hour stretch over the hills to the port was a killer. Took all day, not arriving in Bocas Town on Colon Island until gone 5pm, to find no rooms available anywhere in town in my price range. A nice lady called Aura let me stay in the family house for half the price as all her rooms were full and was able the next morning to get a decent reasonably priced room. Beautiful day wasted hanging around town moving, shopping, etc.

Next day early rain quickly cleared so headed off to Bustimento Island to do the walk to Red Frog beach. Was still exploring the town when rain stopped play and headed back to Bocas. Still, met some Germans who'd done the walk & so had it sussed for the next day.

Cleared up post lunch so took the bus across the island to Drago beach & walked along the coast a little to the much prettier Starfish bay - there is wierd prickly sand or creatures living in it there which pricked the arches of my feet - for several days when I put weight on it hurt but there was no evidence of damage. A couple of hours there was plenty given the sandfly action too - ended up sitting on the pier to escape them.

Saturday was Martyrs Day, which Panama has decided to celebrate by not selling alcohol the whole day - many like me bought the day before or went to the several places flouting the law. Martyrdom is not for me!

The law was being reinforced regarding the water taxis with spot checks on licences and life jackets – there had been an accident in the last few days when a water taxi ploughed into another at great speed one night and killed 4 people. I've noticed before in many places that nobody uses lights at night so I always avoid using them after dark.

Next day was cloudy but was hopeful of burn off so set off again for the walk to Red Frog via Wizard Beach. The path is notoriously muddy, so with recent rains, I decided to wear water sandals. The 20 min walk to the unspoilt surf beach was very muddy & took effort to dodge the worst bits. Wandered along to the other end of the beach to find the "path" to the next beach – OK in places but with quite high water no way of dodging the worst bits by walking on the beach.

Finally, no choice but to cross a wide deep muddy spot(bog!) – not obvious from the surface how deep it was – the ruts only about 5 inches deep but the fact was that was the height it settles back to after you’ve (hopefully) managed to extract your leg from the knee down. It was so gloopy & the suction so strong this was only possible by easing it out slowly using leverage from nearby trees. Unfortunately there was only a few saplings, all of a spine-trunked tree with stinging leaves.

I was very happy to escape and still with my sandals (that mud surely still holds a few), though I was stung, scratched, bitten, muddied and NOT HAPPY!! Can’t believe those German guys didn’t think to mention the bog. The pisser was that while I was extracting myself from the bog I heard a boat arriving on the beach – very rare as major surf & remote so I missed the chance of a ride off. After washing all the mud off had to return the way I came and grab a water taxi from town to the Red Frog Marina.

Red Frog was another lovely remote beach, just 15 mins walk from the marina in the mangroves on the south of the island. Didn’t even have to hunt for the frogs -  a helpful granfather/grandson team had done the hard work & rounded up a couple they allowed people to photograph for a small fee. They told me there are lots in the nearby jungle but after a little wander I failed to see any – being bright red you’d think they’d be easy to see but at only about an inch long, they can hide pretty well anywhere!! 
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