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Monkey Lodge Panama
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Reviewed 16 April 2012

The location is quite near Panama City, about 20 minutes drive. It is in a peaceful green setting, in the jungle, and very comfortable. The bungalow we stayed in was very clean and from the window with could see the monkeys playing in their spacious free area. The pool is refreshing and the French home made meals are very good. The owners are truly great people and they made us feel like family. They love the monkeys they rescue and they take care of them with genuine care. We were allowed to comb a small monkey who loves to be combed and that was a memorable experience. The owner also organizes tours for his guests and with him we saw a lot in one day: Gatun Lake, the canal, monkey island feeding bananas to the monkeys spontaneously coming by the boat, kayaking along the river, a swim at the base of a remote waterfall, a visit to the Embera Indians. His organization and his care are top quality. We would like to go there again.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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1  Thank laurapoint
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 March 2012

We stayed here for 3 nights. Arrival from the ferry - were met, as planned by Max, the son of the owners who drove us (for a price) to the Lodge.

The little cabins are lovely...nicer than we expected. We had hot water in shower, comfortable bed and fridge/safe. The grounds are really nice...clean pool with nice lounge chairs. There is also a covered area with hammocks and chairs as well.

Breakfasts were delicious and more than ample.

We had two dinners at the lodge. Both were delicious and about the same price as dinner/drinks in Panama City at a nice restaurant.
The only problem was Dinner #2 was served really late...we were told 7:30 but we did not eat until after 8:30 and only after we asked when dinner might be coming.

Some previous reviews indicated that guests feel like they are visiting someone's home. I can see how this might be true. When we were there, a group of 4 from France were certainly made to feel that way but the other guests, including us, felt like outsiders.

We went on two of the expensive tours that overall, we would not recommend.
After the first one, we should have cancelled Day 2 and just hung out at the lodge.

1. The first one was pretty good...although more than we usually pay ($110.00 each) for day trips and we have travelled pretty extensively. We were driven to the boat launch, taken on a boat trip, saw and fed monkeys (which we have mixed feelings about - fun & good pictures, but not recommended by eco-tourists or Lonely Planet - we wish we had not done so after reading more about it afterward). We went to a little hut in the lake, lounged, had a delicious lunch, some people swam and we then went on a kayak trip for a few hours - ending at a little waterfall where you can swim if you are brave. We then went to visit an Embera Village where there were some handicrafts for sale.

The problem with the tour is that there was really not much information provided, about the canal, the flora/fauna and especially about the village (ok, nothing there). We had really hoped to learn more about all of these areas and were disappointed.
We were also not told to bring money for the handicrafts. And, we gave candy to the children which is also not recommended...I don't think they see a dentist much.
The pace was also really, really slow. A lot of just hanging out which we can do for free on our own time. The other annoying thing was that Fabrice and the French family really kept playing slapstick humour and as a result, there was a lot of noise all the time, which prevented us from seeing many birds or wildlife.

2. Second tour was even more expensive $150.00 each.

First, we had to ask all the questions about what time, what to bring etc...because the hosts seemed too busy entertaining the other guests to remember to inform us of anything.
We had to wait for breakfast in the morning, after getting up early and it was not as ample as on previous days.
We were driven to the train which was a nice journey (but you can do independently).
Picked up in Colon and driven around a bit...but hardly any information provided.
Driven to Portobella which is really interesting and some information given but we had to read a lot more later to really understand the history. Definietly see the video IF Fabrice offers - it is helpful.
Then, we went for lunch in another village. We arrived at 11:45 but did not eat until after 1pm. We round out later that the kitchen was not ready that day because of construction but instead of doing an alternate activity or eating elsewhere...we just hung around and hung around...on a beach littered with garbage (at least if it was nice, we could have walked and swam).

After lunch, we went on a boat. First, we went to the mangroves, where we learned we were swimming (no information...we called it the mystery tour).
The water was nice and clear.
Then, back in the boat to another dock. We think we are getting out but what for? My partner asks does she need shoes or her shorts? Fabrice says maybe...depends on her feet. Turns out we are going to a little bar? Why?
No information.

Back in the boat. Now we go to the Isla Grande...for what...another bar (we had thought we might be exploring it or swimming or learning the history???). Good grief. I ask how long we are going to be here so we can at least walk and see the island. Fabrice tells us 30 - 35 minutes and we arrive back exactly at this time, after walking the little strip which was a bit interesting (lots of work to do on this island...lots of garbage and junky houses).
When we arrive back, Fabrice informs us he is going with the French family to look at a house for sale. What??? It is already past the time we are supposed to be back at the lodge. We are not invited. 40 minutes pass before they return. We could not even walk anywhere else because we had NO idea when they might return. We were really, really annoyed by this point. What a waste of money.

We take the boat back to the van where it still takes ages to get going anywhere.
It is a long ride back to the lodge - we even have to stop to go to the bathroom again because we are now traveling in traffic time.

By the time we get back, we were hoping dinner was ready (it was after 7:30) so we could eat and then crash in the cabin. Nope...dinner was not even started...we were told 9PM and then 8:30 when we looked peeved. We declined and had some snacks in our room.

We had also asked Fabrice to stop at an ATM as they only take cash...but he did not so we had to take a taxi there the next day.

We think the Fabrice rests on his supposed charm more than actual knowledge.
We would not recommend the tours.

Enough venting...my recommendation would be to either stay here for a relaxing time only at the lodge OR pay more to stay at Gamboa Resort which includes tours.

Room Tip: Pick a cabin for sure. They are nice. However, the air conditioner was REALLY loud so bring ear plugs.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank TLAOrangeville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 March 2012

My partner and I stayed 4 nights at Monkey Lodge in FEbruary, 2012. It was a tranquil and relaxing place, with entertainment furnished by the 3 personality plus monkeys. Sabrina's cooking was delicious simple French food, and she was always gracious about our requests. Fabrice is a rascal who, very agreeably, takes tourists on fabulous tours of the canal, its lakes and islands. If you like tranquility, animals (also several sweet dogs), simple delicious food, and choices of planned tours with a rascal for a guide, stay at Monkey Lodge and be delighted.

Room Tip: There are 3 cottages, very similar in size and all located on the premises with the main house.
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Bridgetsweeney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2012

My wife, myself and another couple stayed here for three nights. First of all, Fabrice has a great sense of humor. He is the perfect host. His wife Sabrina is an excellant cook. We all enjoyed her dinners. The grounds are well maintained. The bungalows are somewhat basic but they are adequate. And then there are the monkeys....
We took one of Fabrice's tours to Monkey Island, the canal, kayaking, and the Embera Indians. This outing was one of the highlights of our trip to Panama.

Room Tip: The two bungalows with air conditioning were slightly larger than the other one
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank lref1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 March 2012

My husband and I stayed 4 nights at the Monkey Lodge in February and loved every minute of it. We have travelled throughout central america and this was one of our favourite spots! We origninally only booked 2 nights and decided to stay 4 instead. This Lodge is a secluded oasis, a perfect place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy each others company. There is a nice clean pool, the grounds are beautiful, the monkeys are adorable, the cabins have air-conditioning that works well, and the meals cooked by Sabrina were delicious. We did the Panama canal boating/ kayaking/ village tour which was a great way to see the canal and the beautiful landscape surrounding it. We had planned going into the city via taxi and then seeing the city on our own, but decided to go with Max on the city tour so that we could cover more gound, and it was well worth it. We do not speak french or spanish, and we did not have a problem communicating with the hosts. Sabrina, Fabrice, and Max treated us like old friends and we felt incredibly welcome our entire stay. Some have complained that there is no wifi in the rooms, but if we were in our rooms we were not using the computer! And we never had any problems accessing it by the pool or on the terrace. Because the lodge is secluded it is easiest to eat at the lodge. We had dinner there each night, and each night it was something different and very delicious! Overall our experience was very unique and memorable, and we highly reccomend staying at Moneky Lodge!

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Vancouver34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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