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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
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Reviewed 10 February 2009

Barb and I, Dennis Loyer, stayed for one week at the Gamboa Rainforest resort starting Feb 2. Our stay was exceptionally good but there are a few things to share:
- this is the rainforest and it is going to rain occassionally. The rain lasts only for a few minutes and then it clears up.
-the resort is starting to show some age in the main section and in the villas. I suggest you spend a bit more money and arrange to stay in the newer sections (the older rooms of the main building can have a musty , mildewey smell that was over powering. We walked into our assigned room and immediately returned to the counter and asked for a different room. Luckily they had one available in the newer area . And the villas looked terrible from the outside).
-the resort is real quiet. This is a big plus for us but may be a big negative for some people. Always room at the pool and restaurant.
-the exotic bird varities in this resort are better than anything we have seen before in Costa Rica or Mexico. Toucans, mot-mots, trogans, aracaris, honey creepers, parrots....the list is endless. Also monkeys and crocodiles in the area.
-the restaurant food (buffet) was good but a bit repeatative. Always a chicken, beef and fish main dish with a nice salad and good desserts. Breakfast was particularly good. Make sure you pay for "all inclusive" as there are no nearby restaurants and the prices for the food are very high.
-"all inclusive" at Gamboa Rainforest resort doesn't cover the mini bar or al le cart from the menu or food/snacks at the pool bar.
-be sure to spend time at the marina ( a walk away from the main building. You can sit and have lunch or drinks and watch the boats pass by in the Panama canal. You can also feed bread to the river turtles and crocs (12 foot crocs). I am not sure I would recommend kyaking in this river (it is free) as we saw crocs every day.
-the hotel peopel were always very friendly and happy to help.
-local tours were a bit over priced but monkey island and the tram were worth the price.
-the landscaping of the resort was beautiful.

I seemed to have made a list that might suggest we didn't like the resort. This is not correct, the whole trip was excellent and I would return here on another vacation.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Dennis L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 February 2009

I know there are bugs in Panama - I stayed elsewhere on this trip before getting to the Gamboa rainforest resort - but the degree to which the bugs were IN the room was amazing. We stayed in the villas - portrayed as classy, refurbished apartments. In reality they were old, run down, termite infested apartments that had been recently painted and stuffed with new furniture.

When we first entered, the floor felt like someone had spilled sand - really, we were walking on insect droppings. The towel bar fell off when I put a towel on it and the guest shower kit had clearly been used by the previous guest. Glasses were still soapy and had to be washed before use. And the bugs in the room were amazing - a cloud of them around each light in the bedroom. It was not a comfortable night. We've tried to contact the management since staying there to complain about the bug problem and suggest that they at least sweep the floor before someone checks in - but we have had no response.

The rainforest was great! Everyone going to Panama City should visit Gamboa. But don't be swayed by the glitz and glamor that the resort pretends to represent. It's pretty on the outside, but when you look beyond the fresh paint you see the insect poop all over the floor.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Laaunani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 February 2009

Having been there now, I now understand the mixed reviews found here on TripAdvisor. Planning to go birding and prepared for a self-managed and somewhat rustic experience, I was unprepared and astounded to find this beautiful facility quite literally in a rainforest jungle. Yet, if I was coming for a resort experience akin to other resorts in, say, Cancun or Puerte Vallarta, I can understand where the disappointment might lie. So clearly it is about expectations.

We stayed here because lodging options in Gamboa, about 45 minutes outside of Panama City, are limited. Gamboa itself is merely an outpost, so if you need any provisions of any sort get them before you arrive. The resort offers hotel style rooms as well as 4 unit apartment-style buildings arrayed around the facility like a suburban street. Our second story apartment had 2 rooms with shared bathroom access, a large livingroom/diningroom area and a small kitchen with fridge. While far more than we needed, after coming back from being drenched in a birding expedition it was good to have space to layout stuff to dry and then be able to walk out our door and bird some more right on the property.

A walkable loop around the resort facility offers some fun amenities you can read about elsewhere with a truck shuttle looping around during the day. I won’t deny that it was nice to go back to the room in the evening to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner on the outdoor veranda with great views of the Chagres River and surrounding countryside. In fact, for birders it would be a mistake to not bring binoculars and scope to the meals! Martini’s, mot mots and manakins. My kind of bird watching. Wireless internet access is available, though I felt that $15 for 24 hours was unnecessarily steep. In my worldview, the internet access should be free and the cable TV should be $15 for 24 hours.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Flatlanders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2009

I love the Gamboa Resort and I am planning to return for a third trip in 2009. I think many of the negative reviews are from people who were expecting something different. I would not recommend the Gamboa if you don't like nature and are not interested in hiking , birding, kayaking or relaxing in a beautiful jungle setting. If you want nightly entertainment, lively dance bars and five-star cuisine then this is not the place for you. For nature lovers this place is great.
My husband and I first stayed at Gamboa in 2006 and enjoyed it so much that we returned with 11 family members in Feb. 2009. Our group ranged in age from five years to seventy-four years old and there was lots for all of us to enjoy. My family and I are all nature lovers so greatly enjoyed walking around the hotel on the many trails, both day and night, to see all the exotic animals, birds, insects and plants. The three children were thrilled to play by the pool or search the grounds looking for lizards, leaf cutter ants and other interesting critters. We saw tamanduas, agoutis, coatis, monkeys, crocodiles, and capybaras all near the hotel. The birding is fabulous. Without leaving the resort you can see hundreds of different species of birds. A short distance away from Gamboa are other trails that are world renowned for birding, such as Pipeline Road.
The food is plentiful, tasty and the buffet is perfect for children since they could chose what they wanted. We could serve ourselves at a relaxed pace or quickly if we were in a rush.
The service on both my trips has been great. The staff is friendly and willing to help. We try to speak Spanish, not very well, but they appreciate the effort.
The only negative I would have of the hotel is the villas . We stayed in one in 2006 and it was quite run-down. In 2008 we all stayed in the hotel rooms and they were very nice, large , clean, facing the river, with a hammock on the balcony.
We rented a car , which I would recommend,and drove around to the various hiking trails near the resort , the canal, to Panama City , to San Lorenzo on the Caribbean Coast and to El Valle, where we did the zip line through the jungle.
In summary :
Do not stay here if you don't like nature. This is a great spot for hikers, birders,and people interested in tropical flora and fauna.
Do not stay here if you want night life. It is a quiet hotel where people go to bed early.
Do not stay here if you want fantastic cuisine. The food is good but not fancy.
Do not stay here if you expect North American 5-star luxury. In Panama the standards are different.
Do not expect everyone to speak English. Learning to speak a few words in Spanish goes a long way.
Do stay here if you love nature and want to spend time in a peaceful and beautiful setting surrounded by exotic flora and fauna.

  • Stayed: February 2008, travelled with family
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4  Thank motmot2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 January 2009

We got a great deal on Travelocity.com and the room rates were well worth it. This is definitely a resort where you can spend a week here. Lots to see and do. The tour guides are very helpful and love their jobs. The monkey island was definitely our fave. We took advantage of the free tours: jungle walk (do the morning slot), kayak and night tour. Bring binoculars. In case you forgot bug spray, the front desk has some. Try to stay on the 3rd floor and above. At dusk, the birds come out and perch on the trees outside your balcony. The hammock is very relaxing and a plus. Bathroom is huge. Beds are not too comfortable.

The spa and fitness center needs to be updated. Okay, but not the best. Food at the lounge is not good... except for the pizza. Very good for that price. Pool food is also pretty bad. Eat at the restaurants. If you have a rental car, drive to the market, Rey, and get drinks and groceries.

Overall, the property is pretty amazing and has a lot to offer. Definitely a place to visit at least once in a lifetime.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with family
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4  Thank Islanddiva7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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