Below is an example of a typical 10 day expedition in Panama. However trust us when we say that we have left a lot out, we don't want to ruin all of the surprises. We follow a similar itinerary for both Tonga and French Polynesia.
Day 1: Hotel Base. Early this morning you will fly or catch the ferry to Isla Contadora, a small and beautiful tropical island with little more than a scattering of luxurious mansions. it turns out the rich and famous of Panama holiday here. 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 2: Arrive and build Shelter
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 make it about 2 pages into your kindle before drifting off to the sound of rustling palms and lapping waves.
Day 3: 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 4: 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 hibiscus cordage. This traditional cooking technique allows us to cook them directly on the fire embers and stay nice and moist. 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 5: Island life and Water. 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 6: 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, 8 and 9: 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 10: Rescue and celebration. 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.
Day 11: Fly home - Sporting a fine suntan and a tremendous sense of achievement, you will depart home with enough tales to woo at any dinner party.