General FAQ's - Cacique Cruiser

YOUR BOOKING

HOW CAN I MAKE A RESERVATION?

You can easily make a reservation on our website, just go to OUR TIRPS section and choose the package you like, click BOOK NOW and follow the instructions. To secure your reservation only a deposit payment between $10 and $50 depending on the trip is needed.

WHEN SHOULD I MAKE A RESERVATION?

Given the limited number of rooms, we invite you to do your booking as soon as possible to get the best option. We can take reservations up to 3 months ahead of your trip. 

CAN I ADD MY PICK UP ADDRESS LATER?

Yes, you can. As soon as you know where you are staying please let us know. Latest the day before your trip by 5pm.

WHY SHOULD I BOOK WITH CACIQUE CRUISER?

We have a sincere commitment to sustainable tourism. This includes but goes far beyond protecting the environment in which we operate. Forming relationships with locals and working with them to ensure tourism is carried out in a responsible and respectful manner.

OUR MISSION IS TO PROVIDE EXCELLENT EXPERIENCES TO VISITORS OF GUNA YALA AND PANAMA AND USE TOURISM AS A VEHICLE TO PRESERVE THE CULTURE, PROMOTE EDUCATION, AND CLEAN UP THE ENVIRONMENT. 

If you are interested in knowing more about us click here.

 

TRIP PREPARATION

WEATHER 

  • In San Blas there is SEASONAL WEATHER
  • DECEMBER through APRIL are the months of the windy season. The ocean can be rough, boat rides can be wet, sometimes very wet. Please make sure to protect all your items. We recommend you purchase plastic bags for your luggage and zip-lock bags for your valuables (available in the supermarket in the morning of your departure). Bring a wind / rain jacket for the boat rides if you have one.
  • MAY through NOVEMBER are the months of the rainy season. Boat rides can be wet, sometimes very wet. Cabanas are made out of natural materials and may leak at times. Please make sure to protect all your items. We recommend you purchase plastic bags for your luggage and zip-lock bags for your valuables (available in the supermarket in the morning of your departure). Bring a rain jacket for the boat rides if you have one and a sweater for the evenings.
  • Safety always comes first and it’s possible we may delay or cancel a trip, before or during the trip (as well for the sailboats). We will always keep you up to date and informed on sea conditions and possibility of delays or cancelation. 

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

Packing List

  • YOU MUST BRING YOUR ORIGINAL PASSPORT (a copy is not accepted). Technically, you will be leaving the country as Guna Yala is an independent region from Panama.

  • CASH - bring only small bills. $50, $100 bills and credit cards will not be accepted. 

  • 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. 

  • SNACKS

  • 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 and so do we. 

WHAT KIND OF LUGGAGE IS RECOMMENDED?

We recommend to take only the most important things to the island, in a small backpack / daypack / small bag. In the Jeep there is only a little capacity for the luggage, all that does not fit goes up on the roof of the Jeep. The boats are very small and the rides are mostly very bumpy so everything can get (really) wet (including yourself).

So if you have big luggage (backpack, suitcase etc.) we can only recommend you to leave it at your hostel you stay the night before/after.

CAN I BRING MY PET?

No. We know you might love to make this trip with your furry (feathered) friend, but Guna Yala is a difficult region for the transportation of your pet, adn pets are strictly prohibited to enter Guna Yala (law made by the indigegnous government Congreso General of Guna Yala). So please, don't do it.

CAN I BRING DRUGS?

NO DRUGS! All drugs, also marihuana are strictly ilegal in the San Blas islands.

At some point the authorities may check all your luggage (usually on the return trip leaving the islands and coming back to Panama City, because it is a popular drug smuggling route from Colombia to Panama). If they will find whatever you have you will usually go to jail for a very long time. Alcohol however is completely legal so enjoy! 

HOW MUCH EXTRA MONEY SHOULD I BRING? 

  • Make sure you get enough cash in Panama city before the trip. The remaining balance must be paid in cash (USD) to the driver in the morning of your trip.
  • Transport, taxes, food, trips, accommodation are covered.
  • We suggest to bring approx. $20 per day of your stay for water, drinks, beers, souvenirs such as Guna art, etc.
  • You are responsible to purchase your own drinks including water during your trip.

CAN I PAY THE REMAINING BALANCE BY CREDIT CARD IN THE MORNING? 

  • No, you can only pay cash to the driver in the morning.  This is because the islands only take cash.
  • In an emergency case where you need to pay the reminder by credit card please contact us at least 24h before your trip and we will try to arrange an alternative method of payment for you.  too.

 

 

GETTING THERE AND BACK

TRANSPORT TO THE ISLANDS - HOW DO I GET TO SAN BLAS?

  • There is no public transport avavilable to San Blas. Our 4x4 Jeep transport service (which is included in the price) will pick you up between 5 am and 6 am wherever you are staying within Panama City. LEAVE US YOUR WHATSAP NUMBER WHEN MAKING A RESERVATION AND WE WILL SEND YOU A NOTIFICATION THE NIGHT PRIOR TO YOUR TRIP WITH A MORE ACCURATE PICK UP TIME BETWEEN 5 AND 6 AM. That way you are also connected to your dirver and the rest of the group traveling to San Blas with you. 
  • 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.  

TRANSPORT TO THE ISLANDS - THE RIDE

  • 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.  

 

WHAT TIME DOES THE TRIP START?

  • You will get picked up between 5am and 6am. The evening before your trip starts you will get invited into a Whatsapp group chat with our team and all the drivers. Here we will send the exact pick up times. This makes it easier to communicate in case there are any delays or you have any problems. Feel free to write into this group chat!

WHAT TIME DO WE COME BACK FROM THE ISLAND?

  • With all Cacique Cruiser packages such as EL ORIGINAL & COCONUT EXPRESS you will leave the island at approx. 3:30 pm on your last day. That way you get to enjoy all the morning and a part of the afternoon on the island. How cool is that? Return to the city is at approx. 7pm. The driver takes you to the place where you are going to stay.

  • With transport only to 1 island you will leave the island right after breakfast at approx. 8 am and return to the city by appox. noon. The driver takes you to the place where you are going to stay.

     

 

IN THE ISLANDS

IS IT SAN BLAS OR GUNA YALA?

The name San Blas was given to the islands by it first hispanic visitors, and carried on as the official name for the province (now a semi autonomus province of Panama) to the outside world until 1998 when it was changed to Kuna Yala, a name given to the area by it's indigenous residents. Kuna meaning "people" and Yala meaning "land," put together it simply means Kuna land .In 2010 a change was made to the spelling and Kuna was changed to Guna. Guna National Congress decided to remove the letters P, T and K from their alphabet, the latter being replaced by the letter G.

WHAT AM I GOING TO FIND THERE?

  • Guna Yala is simple and away from civilization, therefore no running water, no internet and only limited electricity. Most accommodations are built on sand, the quality of the matrassess is mediocre. The food is very basic, the portions usually small. We have not much influence on the quality of both. No foreigner are allowed to own any assets or work in the islands and all agencies operating there are subject to the Guna governments rules. So please DO NOT EXPECT ANY LUXURY OR GREAT SERVICE.
  • You have the chance to buy drinks on most of the islands (water, beer, soda etc.) and the Guna’s are also selling little homemade souvenirs like bracelets for example. Prepare and bring small bills (US Dollars are accepted). 
  • You will have the pleasure of being away from everything, experience a unique culture and just relax and enjoy the moment. 

ARE THERE MANY MOSQUITOS?

The vast majority of the islands are almost free of mosquitoes, however repellent is recommended for your convenience. There might be a few mosquitos and there will be sandflies, especially in rainy season.

IS IT TRUE THAT GUESTS SHOULD NOT TAKE COCONUTS?

Yes, thats true. Coconuts used to be the primary currency and are still used for trading within the islands. The Guna people trade them for food and other things, so don't take them from the palm trees  and also dont take the ones you find on the ground. You can nicely ask them and they will sell it to you and enjoy a coconut in paradise for usually $2 - $3. You are basically on their family owned island and taking a Coconut would be like taken an apple from your garden.

WILL I BE ABLE TO CHARGE MY PHONE OR CAMERA?

Most cabins you sleep in dont have electricity. There is only a limited possiblity at night time when the island runs the generator to charge electronic items in the restaurant area. There is a limited amount of plugs and the family living there also has to charge their phones. You might be charges $1 to use their electricity. 

WHICH MEALS ARE INCLUDED?

  • El Original: 3 meals per day starting with lunch on day1 and ending with lunch on your last day plus 1 snack on your daytrips. 
  • Coconut Express: local lunch and a snack. We recommend to bring some cash for breakfast and or snacks for in between, it will be a long day! BREAKFST IS NOT INCLUDED. 
  • Transport only to 1 island: 3 meals per day starting with lunch on day1 and ending with breakfast on your last day. .
  • FOR ALL TRIPS we can recommend to take some more snack in case you have special diatry restrictions or you do not like a meal.
  • BREAKFST IS NEVER INCLUDED ON YOUR FIRST DAY. YOU CAN BUY A SNACK OR SANDWICH IN THE MARKET.

 

THE GUNA PEOPLE

WHO ARE THE GUNAS?

The Gunas are an indigenous tribe whom have their origin near Cartagena, Colombia. The Guna migrated into the Darien jungle and the islands they now occupy starting in the late 1400's. The Guna are now a semi-autonomous indigenous nation but their people are also citizens of Panama.The semi-autonomous status allows the Guna to have their own government, which has full authority to make policy decisions and laws within the territory. When entering the Guna Yala Comarca you are subject to the Guna law.

CAN I TAKE PICTURES OF THE GUNAS?

  • As a visitor you are welcome to go around beach or village islands and to talk with and meet the locals and take pictures of the island. If you would like to take pictures of the Guna people PLEASE FOLLOW THE RULE AND ASK THEM BEFORE YOU JUST TAKE A PICTURE. 
  • Most Gunas will charge you $1 per photo, some might completely refuse because they dont want their picture online or who knows where. So please respect this. 
  • The Guna kids love to be in pictures but please also ask them first too. If their parents are around ask them for permission.

ALTHOUGH YOU MIGHT SEE A LOT OF GUNAS DRINKING PLEASE DONT OFFER ANY ALCOHOL TO THEM. ALCOHOLISM IS A GROWING PROBLEM IN GUNA YALA AND FOR MANY GUNAS IT SEEMS HARD TO KNOW THEIR LIMITS.

 

OTHERS

DO YOU OFFER DISCOUNTS?

Yes we do offer discounts for the following cases:

A group of at least 8 people
Children under the age of 12 years
Panamanien Citizens
Members of airlines such as: KLM, Lufthansa, AirPanama, Copa

DO I NEED A TRAVEL & HEALTH INSURANCE? 

It is not mandatory but we strongly recommend all travelers to have their own Travel & health Insurance.
Remember that you will be traveling in remote islands. We recommend travel-insurance policy that covers loss/damage/theft of personal belongings and medical insurance that covers travel and water sports.  We cannot be responsible for such incidents on the trip.
Note : By booking you accept our terms and conditions and liability release

WHAT ABOUT CANCELLATIONS?

Deposit payments are non-refundable. If a cancellation is more than 72 hours before the scheduled pickup time and payment has been made in full we will refund the payment minus the deposit amount and processing fees. Exceptions to this policy can only be approved by Cacique Cruiser management. If you feel you have circumstances that warrant special consideration please write to mytrip@caciquecruiser.com

YOU CAN FIND OUR FULL REFUND POLICY HERE

WHAT ARE YOUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS?

Please find our terms and conditions here.