Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Panama All the Way!

A cultural dance in the Darien Gap (Photo Larry Pitts) 


My two week trip to Panama happened during the summer of 1998.  Without a doubt this was the most difficult summer of my life.  Lien and I were supposed to travel to Panama together on a "fam" trip sponsered by the Panamanian travel ministry, ANCON.  On May 6, 1998, Lien died suddenly and my life was completely flipped upside down.  Maintaining La Selva Expeditions, which was our joint project, was the last thing on my mind naturally.  But we had many groups already in the works with well over 200 clients booked and ready to travel on various trips.  We also had multiple "fam" trips arranged.  This summer we were to travel to Panama, Midway Island, the Russian Far East and to Viet Nam on top of managing several group departures!  With Lien's death, I could not tell up from down, yet I somehow managed to make sure all of our departures went according to plan.  With one glaring screw up (booking a group of 56 college students from Texas on the WRONG flight on the WRONG date...but I fixed it...), all of the trips finished well.  I have no idea how I did it.  I could barely stand to even look at the computer let alone follow through on what needed to be done for these folks to finish their trips.  I did cancel all of our fam trips with the exception of Panama.  I was in no mood to do anything, let alone complete a trip designed for Lien and me.  To be honest, I cannot recall what changed my mind, but I ended up traveling their with my brother, Larry and it ended up being a pretty good trip! Take a look at some of the images below to see what we experienced!


Click the links below to see more images from the Galapagos and South & Central America

Animals of South & Central America

Birds of South & Central America

South & Central American People & Places


Here are some images from the trip:



Panama's San Blas Islands, on the Carribean side of the isthmus, are spectacular tropical islands.  We feasted on locally caught fresh lobster here!





The Continental Divide forms the spine of Panama.  This area is still covered with great examples of primary and secondary forest.



More scenes of the dramatic rainforests that cover the Carribean coastline of eastern Panama.



Some native indigenous tribal children who find their homes in Panama's amazing Darien gap. (Photo Larry Pitts)



A typical home in the Darien tribal areas.



Larry kicking back in Panama!



Panama Vieja (Old Panama) was established in 1519 but is now in ruins.  These are some spectacular ruins located inside Ciudad de Panama.




The Panama Canal.



Trekking the Pipeline Road with some seriously militant birders.  Although I would never consider myself amoung the ranks of the militant birders, I LOVE hanging with them. You invariably see so many different species with so many knowledgeable and observant people!





"I think it was an Ant Shrike!  I could tell by the 13 milliseconds of sound and the fleeting blurr of brown coloration zipping by..."



Our amazing ANCON guide displaying one of the only amphibians we saw during the entire trip!  He was sad when he explained how rare these critters were becoming.