Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ivan's Bed and Breakfast

When I look at this pic, I appear a giant.
Today, I thought I'd share with you a great place to stay near Pipeline Road in the lovely town of Gamboa.  There's this guy.  His name is Ivan and he's one of THE best hosts we had on our trip to Panama.  We loved him so much that we had to change our itinerary to go back one last time before we returned to the United States.  Both he and his wife Gladys run a wonderful bed and breakfast in an old canal home.  The best part is that the whole family lives there so it feels like a home away from home.  Ivan is knowledgeable about birds and helped me identify a lot of my pics.  There is a lot to mention about his place and I consider it one of the hidden gems of Gamboa.  Most of you who read my blog are gardeners, birders, or nature enthusiasts, but some of you are also anonymous readers perhaps planning your vacation in Panama.  For my readers, you'll definitely love this place. For the anonymous reader, I wouldn't recommend this place for college kids who like to drink and party or for families with little kids.  This place is definitely for birders, nature lovers, and people looking to relax.  It draws a larger older crowd who are looking for some creature comforts away from home after their day's excursion into the rain forest.  If you have a family with older kids, this is a great place to explore together.   I loved it here and didn't want to leave.  It was like going back in time to the early 1900's.   
Breakfast, evening meals, and relaxation are found in this general area. 
Top ten reasons to stay at Ivan's Bed and Breakfast.

1.  Ivan.  He's a great guy.  Genuine, fun, and knowedgeable about birds and the Gamboa area.  He cares about his family, home, and guests.  Ivan's a great host who will make sure your stay is fun and memorable.  If you need recommendations for things to do, he's got them.
2.  Gladys.  For a little bit more money, you can add on the dinner option.  We were glad we did because Gladys makes a delicious meal. After a busy day, the last thing you want to think about is how you're going to fix up dinner.   Candlelight dinners are usually served at 7 PM. Many times we would chat with Ivan or guests about our day. 
3.  You are physically minutes away from the famous Pipeline Road and Soberania National Park.  Birders, this is an absolute must see!!  Ivan's is perfect for the bird enthusiast.  He knows his birds.  The place has books with information on birds.  And of course, it's near one of the world's premiere birding places.
4.  It's an old historical canal home with a lots of personality. It's quite large and spacious with 3 floors.
5.  If you arrange it ahead of time with Ivan, you can have transportation arranged to and from the airport. Make sure you talk about the price.  No need to get stuck in Panama City.
6.  Speaking of avoiding Panama City, you can grab a cheap bus from Gamboa and head over to the Miraflores locks on the Panama Canal.  You can catch the bus one block away from his house.
7. You can organize trips, like Monkey Island, with Ivan ahead of time. Or several blocks away, the expensive yet beautiful Gamboa resort offers kayaking or canopy tours.
8.  A/C and hot water!!  Panama's weather is oppressively hot and sticky.  Each of the rooms offers an a/c unit with fans.  While my body eventually adapted to the humidity, I found the a/c a great way to sleep and relax a bit from the onslaught of nasty temps.
9.  Breakfast and coffee included. Ivan is flexible and will organize a time with you the night before as to when you'd like to have breakfast.
10.  Wildlife is all around you.  Just steps away from the house, you'll see the real residents of Gamboa....the agouti.  You don't have to go far to see bats, birds, reptiles, insects, or mammals.  Without even stepping into the national park or Pipeline road, we saw a green iguana, a toucan, bats, agouti, fireflies, tanagers, parrokeets, tons of butterflies, turtles, frogs and capybara.....all within a several minute walk from Ivan's place.

Outside my bedroom window

We had a great stay at Ivan's Bed and Breakfast.  It was difficult to say good-bye.  One of the most enjoyable things that we did on our last day at Ivan's was absolutely nothing.  The town is virtually empty and oh so quiet.  We took a walk to the lighthouse and Los Lagartos along the bamboo forest next to the Chagres river for one last mojito.  Traveler tip.  Sometimes the best plans are not to have any at all.   Until tomorrow.....


  1. Too bad we are not heading to Panama... with such recommendations! It must have been a real treat.

  2. Hello,
    I am heading to Ivan's on Weds. March 25 for a few nights. I was considering renting a car to get there from Tocumen and drop off at Albrook Airport on March 28. How did you get to Ivan's? and how much did it cost? What would you recommend? Is there anything else you would recommend in the area? Thank you!

  3. Hi Ellen,

    I took a cab from the airport to Ivan's out of Panama City. It's a straight shot through town. You'll cross several bridges and enter some lovely rain forest. GPS your coordinates to Gamboa. His place is near the major hotel nearby. It's lovely. I don't remember what we paid exactly as it has been awhile. Bring snacks with you and there weren't many stores. Lots of great birding in that area and potential wildlife encounters. Check out the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline road. Lots of daytime trips you can coordinate through the major hotel if you'd like some guidance. Overall, we loved the entire experience. The Panama Canal tour and canal are VERY close. Fun stuff. Have fun! A great memory and please tell Ivan I said hello:)

  4. The drive to Gamboa was around 45 minutes.


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