Another week, another inspiring solo female travel story. For those who don’t know, Women Who Wander is a travel series I have on my blog where other bloggers can share their stories of Solo Female Travel. It’s something I personally have not done enough of but reading all these incredible stories inspires me to no end! This week, Javon shares her story of Glamping in the Panamanian Jungle, and her photo hunt for the elusive Iguana.

Meet Javon


Hi, I’m Javon. I’ve been traveling to Japan and a few other countries for over 15 years now. These experiences have given me confidence to share hard-fought resources that I’ve often learned the hard way. I love Japan and I love the Japanese people. So I want to use the fun experiences, fearful times, unnerving bits, zen moments, just all of it. I’ve been blogging and journeying since 2012 but have never found a more efficient, and fun method for sharing my experiences in Japan. I’ve written countless articles about Japan and what they can teach us about simple living. As a researcher, I truly love making travel and connections to Japan better for people. You can follow my travels on One Green Bicycle

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Glamping in the Panamanian Jungle

No matter where you have traveled, whether to the grocery store in the adjacent county or to the far flung reaches of the Italian alps, you understand trips rarely go as planned. As atypical lodging, Glamping has made scheduling all kinds of lodging a reality from huts to lighthouses. As a travel blogger, I love adventure and saw glamping racing up my bucket list.


I like to travel back to the places I have visited in the past. Unless it’s Italy; I never want to go back to Italy. Japan often calls my name as well as several European countries. But, with a desire to travel outside of my latitude rut (a 30 degree latitude albeit 12 countries), I found a friend and a glamping site in Bocas del Toro, Panama far outside of my latitude rut.

We boated up to an the most idyllic . A thatch roof hut built over a coral reef on a private island. Oh yeah, with a living octopus right below in the coral reef. Did I forget to say we saw manta rays and dolphins daily? And daily views while strolling were sloths, toucans, and a host of bioluminescent life like lizards and bacteria (meaning the water lights up at night as you swim).


Treated like royalty from our host, he made fresh fruit smoothies every morning while we snorkeled without a care. The compost toilet, lack of enough sunscreen, and Jurassic Park bugs added to the adventure.


But there was one elusive animal I had yet to meet, the supposedly dog-size iguanas. But I didn’t plan ahead. My host was busy so I decided to take his great directions and find my own way.

Setting off on an Adventure

OK, let’s do this. I’m off to see the lizards, the wonderful lizards of Bocas. Oops, I still have flip flops on. Better run back and change into boots. OK, back on the trail. Walking along finding swarms of bees and mangroves encroaching into my wettening trail. Good thing I switched to the boots. I side-stepped up into the side of the trail. Okay, I got to the large clearing with the largest tree on the island. Behind it is where I should take a right, and up a 90% degree slope. Hosting myself with trees, OK, all good.

Trudging up the trail, I grab trees for support. I hear something! But, with all the vegetation crunching under my feet I’m too loud. I wait behind a tree. I hear it again. OK, my iPhone camera is out and ready. Quickly, I see a glimpse of something and snap, take a picture. A waving tail is swiftly running up the tree. Looking at my picture it is fuzzy, but I got it! Success. I bet I can get a clearer shot if I can find another one, thought the naive traveler.


So I keep going, around a curve, over a broken fence, until the hill starts to level off and declining. This can’t be right. After 45 minutes I should’ve found something, I’ll turn around. Back to the broken fence, wait, where is it? I think it was through this grove of banana trees. No? Maybe the next grove. No. Let’s go back to where the hill was declining, nothing looks familiar. I couldn’t find that earlier spot but I can get to the other side of that fence right here, right? Climbing over precariously I made sure not to disrupt the thick brush where the strange bugs are hiding. Shoot, the brush is thorny and making my legs bleed. I bet i can just hop over and to, yes, the trail from earlier.

Feeling accomplished, I had a trail again but it starts to go in circles. It leads me into a thick bramble. Later I found out I had followed an iguana trail back to the iguana nest. I ran away, very quickly, and thankfully no iguanas followed. A nurse by day, I knew I was sweating quite profusely, and I would find my way back or die from dehydration. No pressure.


Lost in the Panamania Jungle

So I kept walking, sometimes crying. After another 2 hours I started yelling help. I never thought I would need to shout like that. No one heard me, other than the iguanas. Walking outside the brambles meant walking those 90° slopes up and down trying to get back the way I came.

The farther up I went the thicker the vegetation was. But the farther down I went, the muddier it became and caged me in by the mangroves. Once, my feet were pulled under the mud and I sunk to my thighs before I grabbed onto a nearby tree for leverage. Pulling myself out I needed a major self motivation talk and water. At that point, I expected I wouldn’t make it out. I got out my phone and recorded a video about my life and my legacy. Sharing the purpose and goals I had and my love for Jesus making everything worth it. Afterwards, I decided to keep walking while I still had strength.

I kept walking, feeling the many episodes of salty tears dried to my cheeks. Then I recognized it, that one grove of banana trees! I ran up that slope and was overjoyed. I knew it was only a 30 minute walk now, I returned, muddy, sweaty, tired, and bleeding. Telling my friend everything, then I guzzled water and jumped into the clear water.


I still love adventure and glamping! Although I don’t think I’ll ever try to navigate a Panamanian jungle on my own ever again. But I will revisit the urban jungle of Tokyo, Japan for my next crazy adventure.

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Women Who Wander: Solo Female Travel. Javon shares her story of Glamping in the Panamanian Jungle, and her photo hunt for the elusive Iguana.

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24 thoughts on “Women Who Wander: Glamping in the Panamanian Jungle”

  1. I love how you’re showing us different perspectives on taking the travelling bug. There is something incredible to be able to share her experience and having the opportunity to be able to travel to the Panamian JUNGLE! What an experience! Adventure awaits! x

  2. Thank you for sharing posts from fellow solo travelers. What a great idea for expanding the reach of your blog & empowering women to pursue what they are passionate about. Solo travel can be so fulfilling and inspiring. Thank you!

  3. I love those travel series of woman who wander. Javon seems like a brave and independent woman! What an adventure in Panamanian jungle ! I would be so scared! I am excited to check out her blog about Japan as I am going there soon. I am just wonder now why she doesn’t wanna go back to Italy 🙂

    1. Oh Italy, and my untold stories. They will be coming to my blog but aren’t there yet. I’d love to connect about Japan and help out however I can. I have lots of resources already posted at for details about wifi in Japan, deciding about a JR Pass for your trip, and of course the oh so beloved packing checklist for Japan. Anyway, I’d love to hear what you hope to see and experience in Japan. Shoot me an email if you want to connect:

  4. Wow Javon, what an adventure! The Panamanian jungle has probably tested the most hardy of adventurers. Now what’s this about Italy? We need to talk.. #FarawayFiles

  5. Wow this sounds and looks like an amazing experience! Love those little huts and being able to just jump right into the water, but ok Jurassic sized bugs is a a huge turn off! haha #FarawayFiles

  6. What a story to tell! Anyway I’m left with one thought: why not go back to Italy? What happened there more terrifying than being lost in a jungle? 😀

  7. What an experience! Besides the whole getting lost and Jurassic Park bugs… sounds great! I’ve only been lost in the desert, thankfully I was prepared and the terrain was easy to see a good distance. I cant imagine being lost in a dense forest I be panicking!

  8. Panama is such a beautiful country. The water, the food, the people. Definitely a great country to visit. I haven’t been there yet, but I know others who have fallen in love with it. I don’t know about Glamping in the jungle though, I’m really not a fan of spiders and snakes.

  9. What an interesting and inspiring read. Women like her truly awake my wander lust every time I read about one. That’s one of the reasons I love article like these. I would love to try some of her adventures.

  10. I am a Tokyo Junkie myself. I love it and can’t get enough of it. What a post! Glad you made it out. It is the fear of never coming back that makes me always take someone with me. Forest, eaches, hikes, cities….I just can’t and I would rather not do it alone. Thank goodness for the guy I married to travel with me…lol

  11. Wow, that was all an adventure! I would’ve probably freaked out with those bugs haha I’ve heard great things about Bocas del Toro and based on your photography, it does look incredible!
    Also curious about what’s the story with Italy 🙂

  12. The scenery looks nice! Seeing dolphins daily is something I dreamed about. Wouldn’t appreciate getting lost in a jungle though, and strange bugs is just a huge no-no. Concrete jungle sounds way better lol.

  13. I would have run as fast as possible on finding out that I have actually followed iguana trail back to the iguana nest. Must have been a crazy scary experience. But Javon you have definitely piqued my interest in going for a glamping retreat in Panamanian Jungle.

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