YOUR ORIGINAL PASSPORT (a copy is not accepted). Technically, you will be leaving the country as Guna Yala is an independent region from Panama.
A SMALL BAG with clothing, swimming suit, towel, raincoat and of course sunscreen. Most Hostels and Hotels have a storage room to secure your large bag while you are away. Small waterproof bags are inexpensive and are very useful as are flashlights or headlamps.
WATER & BEVERAGES: Water (at least 2 liters/day), soda, beer, wine are available for purchase on most tourist islands.
A lock for your bag and protection for your electronic equipment. We cannot be responsible for lost or stolen items.
We stop at a market on the way out of the city so you can purchase anything not available in the islands that you may need. The Guna government encourages guests to buy drinks and other local products in the islands to support the autonomous Guna economy.
After booking you should receive a confirmation email. It is very important that you read this email and the attachments to ensure a smooth trip.
We only accept credit cards for down payments, the balance must be paid in cash to the driver the morning of pickup. Also, all purchases in the islands must be made in cash. So please be get cash no later than the night before and keep in mind your daily limits when planning to have enough cash.
Pick up for standard transport is between 5-6 am daily. If you provided a WHATSAPP number with your booking you will recieve a message the night before with a 20 minute pick up window.. If you are not at the scheduled pickup location ontime our driver will do their best to locate you by phone or in your hostel or hotel. If they are unable to locate you they will have to move on out of respect for the other guests. If this happens we do not refund deposit payment.
We do not offer refunds or discount for rain or bad weather unless a trip is cancelled by us for safety reason. May through October are months where it can rain very often, and November through April can have high winds that make the seas rough. The weather changes often in the islands, our experienced guides and hosts do their best to keep guests dry, but the islands are a very rustic area and guests must be prepared accordingly for changing weather conditions.
The vehicles that provide service to the Guna territory are heavily regulated. There is a very limited number of approved vehicles, each of which carries a maximum of 6 passengers. So unless your group is exactly 6 guests or you booked private transport the vehicle that picks you up will likely make other stops to pick up more guests.
The drive from Panama City to the port is approximately 3 hours. This does not include: picking up other guests, the stop at the market, waiting times at a variable amount of police checkpoints, queue time at the entrance of the Guna territory, traffic, or weather delays.
The 4x4 transport vehicles will stop at a market on the way out of Panama City.
Once the jeeps turn off the main highway there will be about one total hour of driving through dramatic hills and turns. This total stretch is about 42 kilometers and there are markers on the side on the road with the kms if you would like to keep track.
AT TIMES THE BOAT RIDES WILL BE WET AND BUMPY, sometimes very wet (this is part of the adventure). Make sure to protect all your valuable items such as phone, camera etc. There is not always a dock to help guests in and out of the boat. Guests must be in good enough physical condition to board the boats from the beach.
MOST ACCOMMODATIONS AND RESTROOM FACILITIES IN GUNA YALA ARE BASIC AND SOME ARE EVEN RUSTIC. Please be sure you are well informed about the facilities of the island you have chosen to ensure your expectations are met. If an island does not directly offer private bathrooms then it generally means they are shared. No islands offered here have air conditioning, some offer solar or generator power in the rooms and fans, others do not. The quality of mattresses and pillows at most islands is mediocre.
TOURISM IS RELATIVELY NEW IN THE ISLANDS AND LUXURY CANNOT BE EXPECTED. Most accommodations are rustic, meals are basic and timing often not exact.
Guests are responsible for providing their own beverages including water.
All meals are included (starting with lunch on the first day), and with some packages a snack is included as well, but it never hurts to have some things of your own. Some beverages and snacks are available for purchase in the islands but selection is limited and dependent where you are so it is best to bring some with you. If you have certain dietary restrictions (eg. vegetarian, gluten free) we highly recommend to bring snacks as the main meal options are very limited. We encourage to purchase what is available in the islands such as water, beers & soda to support the locals.
Guna Yala is a semi-autonomous indigenous Comarca (territory). The comarca, it's residents and approved agencies such as ourselves are under the authority of the Guna Congreso (government) when operating within the territory. As guides and an agency for Guna Yala law requires us to work within a network of approved Guna contractors for island accommodation and staff and within a similar network for approved regulated transportation services. Non Guna staff members are prohibited in the islands, as are non Guna owned assets being used for commercial purposes. We are required to prepay our contract partners for accommodations and transportation. As such, In the event of a service error we cannot guarantee refunds will be given. Despite regulating the options for contractors the Guna government does not provide support on any level for us to be able to enforce standards or reap compensation from contracts that do not provide the agreed upon service.