If you are anything like me then you have a love for primates. You marvel at their intelligence and ability to use opposable thumbs and problem solve. There aren’t any places in the states where you can actually enter the natural habitat of wild monkeys and interact with them. The Capuchin monkeys are extremely social creatures. This is the species that was used in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean for that reason, and the monkey that you will interact with most if you decide on this experience.
You have two options in getting to Monkey Island. One is to go the traditional route, which is with Monkey Island Tours, it will run you 110 dollars but it is the easiest and most straight forward way. Click the link and set up a tour! I cringe at most things that seem too organized and touristy -Not that there is anything wrong with that-. So naturally we went another route. We were told by a co-worker at our english teaching job in Panama, that there lived a very mysterious and astute military man named Nelson. Nelson is a Black Panamanian, a Vietnam vet that has returned to his homeland to live out the rest of his days. He has amassed a fleet of fishing boats and rents out some of them. His operation is based on the Gatun Lake, and to get there is a bit tricky. You have to Go to the Albrook Mall Terminal. From there take a bus to Gamboa, once you get one stop from Gamboa-BEFORE THE BRIDGE! get off of the bus. (This is the way directions are given in Panama lol). Also, on the bus ride you will see the Summit Zoo, which has a collection of jungle animals rescued within Panama and a botanical garden- also a very fun day trip. Once you get to the Dock you will most likely not find the illusive one they call Nelson, but a couple fishermen and his small motorized boats. They will probably be missing teeth (the fishermen that is) and will be obliged to take you to the island for about twenty five dollars per person. Now…. you will be on a boat with a complete stranger for a few hours in a place where if you disappeared no one would find you. Nonetheless you will have a great time and kick it with fun monkeys. Isn’t that nice?