San Blas Archipelago is the scene for extreme island hopping. Water wonders include humpback whales, manta rays, sea turtles and dolphins. Hopping inland, we find scarlet macaws, toucans, sloths and squirrel monkeys. There’s the incredible engineering feat of the Panama Canal and the quaintness of Panama City’s old quarter, which doesn’t bother with addresses. Fortunately, The Road Less Traveled knows the way around.
Many of Panama’s 200+ islands are uninhabited and the mainland outside Panama City is densely forested, making this Central American destination an exceptional opportunity to see life as it has been lived for centuries. The island Kuna people and mainland Embera people hold onto their heritage and share their stories with us.
Panama is a naturalists’ haven with more than 300 mammal and 900 bird species, too. Yet heavy deforestation has reduced natural forests by 50% since the 1940s. Appreciating both the grandeur and fragility of our world is on the itinerary for this and every trip with The Road Less Traveled.
your world awaits
learn more about The road less traveled teen community service and spanish exposure trip panama & the san blas islands: Los caycos
13 years! We have a long history traveling in Panama and have been running our Pachamama program since 2004. Over the past 13 years, we've evolved and perfected the program to include the ideal balance of San Blas Island time and opportunities to explore the rich culture in Panama City's old quarter.
Venturing into the heart of the Panamanian jungle by canoe, we are welcomed into the Embera community for a four-night stay. Immersed in a world of colorful textiles, unique jagua body paintings, and stunning biodiversity, we learn about the pre-Columbus Panamanian culture, play games with Embera families, weave baskets, share stories, dance, and forge global connections.
Home to turquoise waters, white sand beaches, waving palm trees, and some of the kindest people you'll ever meet, the San Blas Islands comprise an archipelago of 378 mostly uninhabited islands off of Panama's North East coast. Journeying to the islands by boat, we spend time with the Kuna, the island's indigenous community, share stories, exchange cultures, and join forces with local children to dance and indulge our creative side with local artwork. After spending our days relishing the warm sun, we cool off with some snorkeling in the crystal-blue water and glide past ochre starfish, octopus, parrotfish, and rays.
The Pearl Islands are a group of over 200 islets located about 30 miles off the Pacific Coast of Panama. During our time on the enchanting Saboga Island, we explore the unspoiled white-sand beaches and pristine blue waters via sea kayak, canoe, and sailboat. Playing until the sun goes down, we make the most of our time on this pirate-perfect island destination.
My trip to Panama with The Road Less Traveled was by far the best experience I have ever had in my life. I really grew as a person both mentally and physically. I enjoyed every moment I was there especially when we were with the kids and people in our work island in Wichiltuala. The RLT experience has made me gain independence, knowing that my parents were not there to help me out. I learned to appreciate the things I have back home and not take anything for granted. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I wouldn’t think twice of it," Daniel M., Los Cayucos Alum
My experience on The Road Less Traveled has been amazing. This trip really helped me to exceed my horizon beyond myself and what revolves around me. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone, and it helped me see a different way of life and overall broaden my perspective on everything. This trip made me a more positive person who appreciates life, relationships, and different cultures. I would like to visit different places of the world to open my eyes to more different lifestyles. I’ve also grown in compassion; I want to create awareness for global issues and empower youth to really act upon it," Bo D., Los Cayucos Alum
This trip was amazing! It basically made my life. I absolutely fell in love with everyone on this trip and I had the coolest leaders ever! This trip impacted my life so much. It made me realize how seemingly different people are on the outside but how alike we all are on the inside. I got a chance to explore different world cultures, which is a passion of mine. Building the house wasn’t even half of it. The relationships I created with the Kunas as well as the other students on this trip had a huge impact on me. I felt like I belonged to the Kunas, and I know I won’t be satisfied unless I go back and visit one day. I also feel like if I bonded with people who are that different from me, I can bond with anyone in this world. And being able to speak Spanish with the Panamanians made me realize how much I love the language and it makes me want to go visit more Spanish-speaking countries. I might even end up living in a Spanish-speaking country sometime in the future," Tezin P., Los Cayucos Alum
Interested in hearing more? We have hundreds of alumni families who can tell you more about their RLT experience. Please contact our office at 773-342-5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
The Road Less Traveled is committed to providing exceptional travel experiences for young adults. In 2016, the American Camp Association recognized The Road Less Traveled as the winner of the 2016 Gordie Kaplan Program Excellence award. This ACA award honors outstanding student travel programs and recognizes organizations that develop positive and creative responses to the needs of people and ecosystems across the globe.
Our work with children is serious business. Our commitment to safety is unrivaled and we always place quality before quantity. This conviction has empowered and inspired us to provide only the best in training, emergency preparedness, and staffing over the years. To learn more about our ACA accreditation, our exceptional safety record, our Markel's Safety 1st Recognition, B-Corp Certification, and extensive leader training please visit this page.
To explore the San Blas Archipelago and Saboga Island
To get some local flair to take back home – traditional handmade arm and leg beadings
To see the magnificence of the Panama Canal and the Chagres River that floats the boats
To anticipate the humpback whale migration in July
To be welcomed by the Embera community of hunter-gatherers and fishermen for an evening of music, dance and scared ceremony
To visit and play alongside the Kuna island people who proudly maintain their national independence
Zip-line through Gamboa National Rainforest
Paddle sea kayaks throughout the San Blas Archipelago
Snorkel with schools of colorful fish along long white sand beaches
Swim among bioluminescent phytoplankton under the moonlight
We invite you to start your journey to Panama today.