At the end of May 2012 we had a fantastic family kayaking day on Lake Gatun There were two couples with two children each and a dad (myself) and daughter. The ten of us were joined by backup support from Jungle Land Panama and Gatun Lodge who brought a motorised ‘panga’ launch as backup.
The day began with a drive to the shore of Lake Gatun somewhere near Arenosa, via El Rey in la Chorrera to stock up on soda, juice and snacks to keep us going. We arrived at the lakeside and donned our wet gear and lifejackets, unloaded the kayaks from the roofrack and went to meet the panga driver at the wooden jetty. We had some young children with us who were experiencing kayaks and paddling for the first time and, of course, Hennie and Ursula’s two children were the seasoned veterans. We had two Perception Tribe 13.5 ‘s which have seating for two people and a child seat between the two. The child seat can be used by an adult wanting to paddle it alone. The other two kayaks were Stealth models with more streamlined profiles, lighter weight and with rudder steering.
The children wore themselves out after some great paddling efforts and took to the motor launch. Where they chatted happily for the rest of the journey to our lunch destination. We adults took turns in kayaks and swapped from Perception Tribe Tandems to the two Stealth Kayaks. After having enjoyed some paddling time with my daughter and her tandem partners I used the Stealth Evolution 430 fishing kayak. It’s the shortest of the Stealth ‘Evo’s but I still enjoyed the ease of paddling after the ultra stable tandem. We passed a couple of motor boats that were slowly cruising the remote parts of this huge complex of flooded valleys, and that’s all that we saw of other people. There were numerous turns to the left or right and numerous forks on the way to Captain Carl’s ‘Gatun Lodge‘. I could imagine getting lost in this labyrinth of jungle lined waterways and not being discovered for days. Until your really sure of your way around it I would emphatically recommend a guide or at the very least a GPS and large scale map. Getting lost there could be fatal.
Captain Carl’s lunch at his floating hotel was, as ever, a superb feast. With our energy restored we had an absolute blast there with the kids swinging about in the ‘hammock lounge’ and enjoying the river as you can see in the video. My daughter really wants to return there, and me too, as soon as possible !! We had arrived for lunch way after the schedule and so we returned back to base with motor power towing the kayaks behind us. The two tandems have stayed at the lodge to join the fleet there.
Sports participation has been a problem for me in Panama because of the temperature and humidity, and I know most people my age are also coming up with 101 excuses for why they don’t take regular exercise. I love to surf but there are not waves all of the time. I’m very glad to have rediscovered kayaking, which I used to do in the English rivers a long time ago, because now when there are no waves locally and I can’t justify a weekend away from my young family to find the bigger waves at Santa Catalina, I can get a good workout surrounded by vibrant nature on the cool of the water that I love. I can also now enjoy all of this with my small child, I’m so happy about it !! My wife couldn’t make the trip as she was studying for a professional exam, but next time this time it’ll be the whole family kayaking. I hope you’ll be coming along too, just contact the Paddle Panama