This Panama Desert Island Survival trip will be an experience unlike any other you have encountered before! Surrounded by nothing but nature and your fellow camp mates, you can’t get any more off the beaten track than this. In this ultimate adventure will find yourself cast away on a tropical desert island off the coasts of Panama for 8 whole days. For the first 5 days you will be learning the main survival skills you will need, provided meals and sleeping in hammocks on the beach, waking up to a breathtaking view every morning. After that the real test begins as you will be in isolation phase for 72 hours, having a unique adventure of a life time living with the bare minimum of equipment.
Local guides will be with you and teaching you throughout the trip, they know the island and how to survive on it better than anyone else, so you can assure that you are in good hands! They will teach you everything you need to know including building shelter, making fires, catching fish and finding the food you need. Considering the nature of the trip, travelers must be in good physical and mental condition, as it can be extremely challenging at times. When you finish this adventure, you would be ready to concur life on a desert island alone, and that’s not something many people can say!
Panama Desert Island Survival Itinerary
Day 1: Meet the group
Before you go out to the islands, stay at the chic Riande Granada hotel and sliding into their lush bar-side pool after a long flight. Most the group normally arrives the night before, so we get together that evening for sundowners and a meal in Casa Viejo, Panama City’s picturesque old town.
Day 2: Tropical Island Taster
Early this morning we fly to Isla Contadora, a small and beautiful tropical island where the rich and famous of Panama choose to holiday. In this brief 20 minute flight you get a chance to spot humpback whales and guess which island might be your new home come tomorrow.
Upon touch down we head direct the Mar Y Oro hotel with its private beach and cocktail bar. After a quick freshen up we pick up some golf buggies to head off and explore the island. Be haunted by the abandoned hotel, where you can see wild deer, wandering through the rooms slowly being subsumed by the jungle. We will take in lunch and a swim on a palm lined beach, before landing back at the hotel to relax with beach games, volleyball and sunset cocktails. That evening castaways will be allocated their kit for the island adventure and pay close attention to the expedition safety briefing before dinner and an early night. Tomorrow is a big day.
Day 3: Travel to the Island
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we jump on our speedboats direct from Mar Y Oro’s beach and take the 30 minute ride to your new island home. As you approach this untouched wilderness and pull up on the shore the reality of your adventure begins to set in. Upon arrival we take a stroll along the expansive beach to explore our new home and choose the location for our camp.
After selecting a couple of palm trees, between which to string your expedition hammocks, we get to work on building our shelter. This will be our home, where bonds are forged, fire is made, food is cooked and hearts are opened. There’ll be just enough time for a sunset swim, before we eat. Belly filled, we’ll be passing around a bottle of rum before heading to your hammock where you’ll drift off to the sound of rustling palms and gentle waves.
Day 4: Making Fire
Typically, everyone on the island quickly reconnects with their circadian rhythm and rises a little after sunrise. After a relaxed breakfast we spend the morning learning the most quintessential primitive skill, how to make fire by friction. After the easiest method of fire by flint, you will graduate to whittling your own bow drill set before we teach you hand drill and the bamboo fire saw. We will spend the afternoon catching our supper off the beach. Then we gather around the fire to feast on Thai fish curry made in a bamboo cooking pot with fresh coconut milk.
Day 5: Finding Food
Today is all about how you are going to eat. We will look at all the different techniques one can use to find food on a desert island; including what fruits and plants are safe to eat, how to get into a coconut and where to find shellfish.The ocean is our Larder and primary source of nutrition. You’ll work together to make a primitive hand-line, catch, prepare and cook fish. Although you won’t be blessed with a speargun during isolation, you can also try your hand at spearing dinner for the team. Learn how to duck dive, how to hold your breath for longer, and how to hunt underwater.
After food training, we will hopefully have plenty of delicious fish. This evening, we will roll them in spices and wrap them in leaves tied off with palm. This traditional cooking technique allows us to cook them directly on the fire embers. Served with a side of Asian rice and roasted vegetables, you’ll begin to have a deeper appreciation of food and flavour. To finish the day we will open some green coconuts, harvested from palms on the island, and have fresh pina-coladas. Preparing you nicely for an evening of tribal-fancy-dress and beach games.
Day 6: Island Life
Life on the island slows down. Disconnecting from wifi and phone, you will find yourself thinking about the outside world less and less. Don’t worry about not getting space for yourself. Everyday from 12- 2pm is your time; for a siesta in your hammock, reading a book or throwing a frisbee. Tonight we prepare, cook and eat as a tribe. A bottle of rum and some roasted marshmallows see us off to bed.
Day 7: Deep jungle and wild beaches
On the final day of training, we undertake an expedition across the island, trekking through jungle, around rocky headlands and through mangrove swamps in search of resources that might help you during your final 3 days of isolation. Mango’s, coconuts and shell fish are all welcome finds. With each day and each new skill you will grow in confidence for surviving your 3 day isolation. That evening we’ll talk about the psychology of survival and you’ll get yourself mentally prepared for the real test to begin.
Day 7 classes will cover how to:
- Turn salt water into fresh water
- Find water from various plants
- Get into the humble coconut
- Identify where ground water might lie and dig for it
Day 8, 9 & 10: Island survival
This is it, the fire is out, the instructors are gone; it’s just you and your fellow Castaways, alone in this picturesque tropical wilderness. You are left with limited equipment and have to work together. Now is time to put into practice your new found skills and apply your ingenuity to survive. What is your greatest priority? Do you build your shelter first, or start a fire? During the first day the reality of survival sinks in, new highs and lows are encountered. During these days; hunger, thirst, and discomfort are offset by the euphoria of success starting a fire or finding food. Will you survive, or thrive?
Day 11: Rescue and celebrate
Nothing will ever look quite so good as our rescue boats arriving at 9am, laden with ice cold drinks and fruit. We’ll bank onto the beach right outside the Mar y Oro Hotel. You and your fellow castaways will enjoy one of the best showers of your life, before enjoying a huge champagne breakfast. Castaways spend the afternoon reconnecting with loved ones, putting off looking at their emails, just a little longer and probably more showers. That night we head out for a survival party where you’ll eat your weight in pizza at the excellent Casa Tortuga restaurant.