exploring Panama – one of our top countries to visit in 2019 – Lonely Planet's travel blog

exploring Panama – one of our top countries to visit in 2019 – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Sunset in the breathtaking El Valle ©Timothy Cohen

Lonely Planet Pathfinder, Timothy Cohen, is recently back from a whirlwind trip around Panama – one of our top countries to visit in 2019. From deserted beaches to bustling, urban hubs, here’s what he discovered…

Panama has always been a mystery to me. All I knew about the country was its world-famous canal. The closer I got to its border, the more fellow travellers I met who seemed dubious about my plan to explore the country for a whole month. It seemed that Panama is ‘travelled through’ rather than travelled itself. People do often transit there on their way to Colombia or Costa Rica, leaving behind them a country full of underrated gems. There are several ways to get into Panama from Colombia, but since entering by land is impossible due to the Darién Gap, I was left with three options – taking a flight, a five day boat trip from Cartagena, or a three day speedboat trip from Capurganá. I chose the latter – less popular and a little more adventurous…

The San Blas Archipelago

My boat trip took me through the archipelago of San Blas, inhabited by the Kuna people, an autonomous, indigenous group living on 49 of the 365 islands. I opted to use the services of a Kuna-based company, San Blas Frontera, to be sure that my money would end up staying within the community.

During the journey through the archipelago, we stopped off at a few islands. Some were inhabited, some had a small number of houses dotted around, and others were completely deserted. As well as meeting the Kuna communities, I was also lucky enough to enjoy the beautiful, sandy beach with not a care in the world (other than getting sunburn). A different sunny island for each day of the year – definitely something I could get used to!

Meeting the Kuna people

On the second day of the boat trip through San Blas, we dropped anchor on the island of Naranjo Chico. This small piece of land is home to a Kuna village and a handful of ‘cabañas’, in which my new travel companions and I spent the night. In Naranjo Chico, I met Johnny, a young Kuna local living on the island. He immediately befriended me, and was pretty intrigued by my camera!

Fun fact: until the late 1990s, the coconut was the principal currency in this region. Nowadays, although the Kuna people do still use the coconut as a currency, it has been overtaken by the US Dollar and the Balboa. Currently, one coconut is valued at only $0.40, but the Kuna people still find it amusing to say that, in this region at least, money really does grow on trees!

The Miami of Latin America

After three unforgettable days in San Blas, I set off to reach the mainland, and arguably the most cosmopolitan city in Central America. Panama City is the country’s capital, and a truly modern urban centre. Skyscrapers and huge malls are a common sight alongside the dazzling blue coastline. No wonder they call it the ‘Miami of Latin America’. Many worlds coexist here – west and east meet in a explosive cultural mix.

The business neighbourhood’s skyline, with its shimmering towers made of glass and steel, reflecting the azure of both the ocean and sky, could easily be mistaken for any north American megalopolis. As seen from the historical neighbourhood of Casco Viejo, with its crumbling convents, colonial architecture and cobble-stoned streets, the contrast with this skyline couldn’t be more pronounced.

Panama’s adventure town

In a country like Panama, which is synonymous with beaches, surfing and sun, the city of Boquete will delight the adventurers and lovers of balmy temperatures. Although it is only located 1200m above sea level, it lies at the foot of Baru, Panama’s tallest mountain standing at 3475m, which happens to also be an active stratovolcano. A popular hiking route finishes with watching the sunrise from the top. I had other plans however…

The surrounding area is teeming with trails and waterfalls hidden within the lush jungle, waiting to be explored. One of them, known as ‘The Lost Waterfalls’, is a three-hour journey through a cloud forest, leading to three beautiful waterfalls. During the dry season, the waterfalls surrounding Boquete are not as powerful as they are during the rainy season, but the weather is much nicer and the light is jaw-dropping!

The favourite

Bocas del Toro is one of Panama’s most popular destinations – easily accessible and teeming with things to do, the archipelago will keep you busy for days and days! Snorkelling, diving, partying, hiking, surfing, or just lazing around on a beach, you name it! Panama’s best parties can be found on the busy Isla Colon, while nature lovers may prefer to stay on Isla Bastimentos,where the eponymous national park can be found. I, of course, decided to stay on the latter.

The languorous Caribbean vibe emanating from the small town of Old Bank on Bastimentos’ shore is tangible. There are no roads, just a wide, concrete footpath lined on both sides with colourful wooden houses and plants. This particular footpath will lead you to the highest hill on the island, where the 360-degree view of the surrounding islands is outstanding. The icing on the cake is undoubtedly the organic cocoa farm nearby, perfect for taking a break while enjoying the natural surrounds.

Chasing sunlight

El Valle de Anton, more commonly known as ‘El Valle’, is a mountain town nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano. During my time here, I was truly chasing sunlight, sunsets in particular! On my first day, I decided to climb the mountain ‘Cara Iguana’ two hours before dusk, even though the peak was lost in the clouds. I’ve learned many times that weather changes extremely fast in the mountains, so I gave it a shot. Just as I was reaching the peak, it started to rain, and I couldn’t see anything at all, but then the wind slowed and suddenly the landscape appeared before my eyes, a big ray of sunlight breaking through the dark clouds and illuminating the hillside. I was in awe.

Even after so many years travelling, I am still constantly amazed by the world surrounding us. Gustave Flaubert once said that ‘travel makes one modest – you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world’, and I can’t help but think how right he was!

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what-is-femdom

What is Femdom?

We are looking at one more BDSM sex term and clearing up some false impressions and also bringing to light fascinating details … Femdom.. This term just implies Female or Womanly Domination/Dominatrix Athens call girl.

WHAT DOES FEMDOM CONSIST OF?

Dominance (whether male or female) is an EXTREMELY broad suggestion. Asking somebody what kind of domination they such as is the same as asking what somebody’s favourite food is. The solution can be anything, and as long as it follows the SSC policies, there is no right or incorrect.

Here lays one trouble …

Individual A might intend to dominate a person (allow’s claim with discomfort as well as embarrassment), however Individual B intends to be controlled, however not through harsh or degrading techniques. Finding the “ideal fit” between a Dom/sub or Top/bottom is a similar journey as common dating– it requires time, taking a look around, and also great deals of interaction (as well as experiencing a line of possible matches up until you get the ideal one).

So, Person B wishes to be dominated, but they desire it with gentle/kind means

This is where gentle Femdom comes in.

WHAT IS MILD FEMDOM?

It may sound like a contradiction, yet it’s not. It’s extremely feasible to dominate through non-harsh approaches. Think of a mom– they lead their children with love as well as generosity however additionally with a “firm” hand. Benefits are generous as well as punishments are often soft improvement (if penalties are even part of play, which, if the submissive doesn’t desire, you can leave out).

” No, sweetie, you can’t do that. It’s bad for you.”

” Give that back now, young man.”

CONFLICTS IN THE COMMUNITY

You’ll locate individuals, in any type of BDSM technique, you hold so true to their very own means, that they leave no room for various other ways by other individuals– even if those means have no bearing on other people. Significance, I have literally satisfied individuals who’ve claimed, “Gentle? Well, you’re not truly a Dom after that.” Or “That’s not truly BDSM.”

You find these people almost everywhere, also in non-BDSM things. “Oh, you consume red wine (of this brand) from 2014? Well, you know nothing concerning red wine after that.”

However guess what?

It does not frigging issue.

People are enabled to like their own food, very own brand name of a glass of wine, and own design of twist. If you are interested in mild dominance, do not let anyone inform you it’s “wrong”. I’m additionally mosting likely to most likely set off some readers as well as flat out claim that those kind of people are either snobs or uneducated regarding the twist world. Similar to they deserve to play how they want, you can play just how YOU as well as your companion want. Duration.

METHODS TO DOM CAREFULLY

Okay, since I’m done my tirade, allow’s check out a few straightforward suggestions you can attempt if you wish to enter gentle Femdom (bearing in mind that the Fem is for the female being the dominator– although you can completely have the same approach with a guy remaining in control).

  • Giving hugs, kisses, and also snuggles as rewards
  • Gently giving instructions as your partner satisfaction you
  • Giving your companion enjoyment, however you are in control of the rate and also result
  • Giving them a cute pet name
  • Allow them to be open as well as prone without humiliation
  • Be the one to hold them during the evening
  • Great deals of appreciation for good habits
  • Offering basic directions (exactly how to take off their garments and so on).
  • Making use of a vibrator on the surface for pleasure (rather than securing).
  • If he wants rectal sex, do it carefully and gradually.

Overall, this kind of supremacy is great for novices who intend to attempt to take control (or be controlled) yet aren’t certain regarding what style they want or like. From these simple actions, you can boost, even reduce, or alter the play to fit your and also your companion’s flavour.

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wandering the waterfalls of Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Lonely Planet's travel blog

wandering the waterfalls of Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


The Great Smoky Mountains NP is a wonderful showcase of nature’s power © Nick Alvarez

Lonely Planet Pathfinder, Nick Alvarez of Be Real Travel, recently returned from a trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park – one of our best value destinations for 2019. Armed with his camera and tripod, he embarked on a journey to capture the park’s numerous waterfalls in full flow.

As the most-visited national park in the USA, Great Smoky Mountains is packed with magnificent sights including majestic mountains, captivating wildlife, and historic buildings. However, for this particular trip, I had one focus – waterfalls. Thanks to high elevations and abundant rainfall, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a waterfall chaser’s dream. Near the end of winter, despite temperatures often being below freezing, I set out to visit six of the park’s waterfalls, and to illustrate what makes each of them unique.

Up-close-and-personal

On our first day in the park, my wife and I hiked to Laurel Falls, one of the its most popular attractions. Upon reaching the waterfall, I immediately understood why it is so popular – water streams down multiple levels of rock to incredible effect. The cherry on top of the cake however, is a walkway located just a few feet from the base of the waterfall, which allowed us to appreciate the grandeur of the streams up close. Though much of the hike to this waterfall is uphill, it isn’t too difficult – if my pregnant wife can do it, so can you!

Fast and furious

As the park is home to over a thousand black bears, I carried an air horn with me on all hikes, ready to defend myself in case of an encounter. Though I didn’t end up bumping into a bear, I did confront another beast: Abrams Falls. I was awestruck by the speed at which such a large volume of water raged down the waterfall. As I gazed at its raw power, I pondered, ‘would an air horn actually scare a bear off?’ I’m glad that I didn’t have to find out!

Small, but perfectly formed

In addition to epic Instagram opportunities, there is another benefit to visiting a waterfall – it’s very therapeutic. Lynn Camp Prong Cascades is a great example of this, as the waterfall is set within a beautifully tranquil scene along a river. What this waterfall lacks in size, it makes up for in serenity. It was the perfect place to de-stress and relax, aided by the soothing sounds of trickling water.

What a tease

Meigs Falls taunted me from behind the moat-like Little River, which we weren’t able to cross due to heavy rain. Forced to admire the waterfall from afar, I revelled in the lush scenery that surrounded it that much more. Visible from the road, this waterfall is ideal for those that are unable to (or prefer not to) hike. I’m all for the sense of fulfillment that comes with completing a challenging hike, but if a waterfall requires minimal work for me to visit and enjoy, you won’t hear me complaining!

Immersed in the action

While Mouse Creek Falls is an entrancing, multi-leveled waterfall, what makes it truly magical is the way in which it can be experienced. This waterfall exhibits two uncommon characteristics: first, unlike many waterfalls that flow along a river, this waterfall flows down into the side of a river. Second, rocks jut out from the riverbank opposite the waterfall, which allows you to step out into the middle of the action. With the river rushing on both sides of me and the waterfall crashing down in front of me, I wasn’t merely an onlooker, I was a part of the scene.

A song of ice and snow

Hiking in below freezing temperatures can be a harsh endeavor, but through it all, I was inspired by the possibility of seeing a partially-frozen waterfall. My resilience was rewarded by Ramsey Cascades, a towering behemoth lined with ice and snow. I marveled at humongous chunks of ice breaking off and crumbling down the waterfall. If there’s one thing that Great Smoky Mountains National Park taught me, it’s this: a waterfall isn’t just a sight, it’s an experience.

Do you love to write about your travels? Or perhaps Instagram is your thing? Find out more about our Pathfinders programme and how you can contribute to Lonely Planet here.





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