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Panama

An 8 and a half hour drive towards the east coast of Sri Lanka, from the commercial capital of Colombo, may lead you to one of the more remote villages in the coastal belts of the country. Coincidentally sharing the same name as the Central American nation, Panama, the coastal village in Sri Lanka is a quiet little piece of the world where only around 5,000 inhabitants dwell in the area, taking care of the verdant green paddy fields that span across the village. Coupled with a unique religious belief that goes back to an ancient era, the little village boasts of historical significance in the Paradise Island’s culture.

Top Reason to Visit

Boasting of an ancient religious tradition that has gone unchanged for hundreds of years, along with a friendly and accommodating society that dwells in serene vistas of verdant paddy fields, what more could you ask for? It does not end there though, as the peaceful village comes with a beach that is perfect for surfing, coupled with the Panama Lake teeming with exquisite flora and fauna, there are a myriad of reasons to visit the remote village in the east coast of Sri Lanka.

While You’re There

Hidden gems:

Many who venture out to the remote village are often overwhelmed by the luscious paddy fields that drape the landscape of the village, making it an enthralling site for many a nature lover. A few minutes stroll to the outskirts of the village, however, is what makes Panama village the unique village it is now. Boasting of the Panama Wewa (Lake), also known as ‘Crocodile point’, teems with an array of flora and fauna, especially crocodiles and birds, thus making it ideal for birdwatchers too. Panama Beach too is a pristine beach in the east coast that is one of the lesser crowded beaches, when compared to its Arugam Bay counterpart. The beach, boasting of serene vistas of the Indian Ocean, along with ideal waves to partake in some exhilarating surfing, the entire village and all its surroundings prove to be the east coast’s hidden gem that not many travellers know about.

Culture untarnished:

Another highlight that makes the village all the more unique, is the ancient religious belief that still prevails in the day to day lives of the village folk. The Angpiti Devale signifies the village’s untarnished religious traditions, as most villagers, who are followers of the Pattini cult, pay obeisance to the Pattini deity (the goddess of chastity, rain and fertilization), in order to protect and gain a bountiful harvest. Festivals during the months of May and June often make the quiet village spring up in vibrancy, as the villagers, along with the Angpiti Devale prep for colourful displays of devotion.

Nature at its finest:

Although the little village of Panama is a gateway to all things nature, it is just one out of a myriad of gateways in the country. The Kumana National Park, just a few kilometres south of the remote village is a haven for the wildlife enthusiast, especially for the birder looking to capture the many endemic species that dwell in the dense jungles of the country. A safari here would certainly enthral many a traveller.

Water sports galore:

Located just a few kilometres up north of the village is the tourist haven of Arugam Bay, widely considered to be the best surfing spot in the whole country. Coupled with a myriad of other water sports on offer, such as snorkeling and diving, the village of Panama also proves to be an idyllic base camp for the adrenaline junkie to cool off or set off from.

Insider Advice

Travel: Getting about Panama may be quite a challenge to many a traveller due to its remoteness, however, since the coastal village in Sri Lanka is a small one, most places can be visited on foot due to the close proximity to one another. There are bus services and tuk-tuks for hire, however, it is very unreliable due to the low frequency of travel around the village.

Weather: Panama experiences typical tropical climate, however, the months from November to April have known to be the time in which the remote village experiences a relatively stable climate, where temperatures would average around 28°C with a relatively stable humidity level.

Money: It is important that you carry cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, 50s and 100s, so as to make those small transactions all the more easier. Credit and debit cards are quite worthless, as the only establishments that accept such forms of payments are supermarkets and your accommodation provider.

Clothing: Light, comfortable clothing is highly suggested so as to beat the heat of the village. Do note that modest attire should be followed when visiting places of worship.

Safety: Panama is a very safe neighbourhood and possesses an accommodating society, however, one can never be too careful about their personal belongings.

Meals and refreshments: There are simple shops in Panama for drinks and snacks, otherwise consider bringing a picnic from Arugam Bay. You could also opt for your accommodation provider to cover your meals and refreshments.

The remote village of Panama is a haven for the nature lover and the history buff, complete with natural vistas and an ancient religious tradition; hallmarks of off-the-beaten journeying around the Paradise Island of Sri Lanka.

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