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Desert Island Survival in Panama

 

Join us in March 2020 on a stunning, uninhabited tropical island for the adventure of a lifetime.

 
 
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In March, Bolt’s headed to Panama for a very different kind of adventure - Desert Island Survival, a ten day opportunity to disconnect, learn new survival skills, build close relationships, and test yourself in a challenging, controlled environment under the supervision of two expert wilderness and bushcraft guides.

We begin with a comfortable night in a boutique hotel, communal dinner and an expedition safety briefing. The next morning, we’re whisked away by speedboat to a verdant and wild island, formerly featured on Bear Grylls “The Island”. Covered in thick jungle, surrounded by white sand beach, and home to a wild diversity of flora and fauna - welcome to your home for the next eight days.

For the first five days, you and your fellow Bolt members will live “survival light”, developing a suite of knowledge that will soon prove invaluable. Days will be full of education and the core skills needed to survive on The Island. Nights are dedicated to delicious food, games around the campfire, a thimble or three of Caribbean rum, and full nights of sleep in comfortable, high-end Hennessy expedition hammocks.

After the training is complete, the crew is cast-away, marooned on the island for 72 hours to live out the adventure of a lifetime, applying newly learned skills, limited equipment, and the communal resilience of the group to build fire by friction, find food, create shelter, and survive!

At the end of the 72 hours, salvation arrives in the form of a speedboat, filled to the brim with cold drinks and fresh fruit, to whisk you back to the hotel. Marvel at linens and enjoy the best shower of your life before our experience concludes with a 3 course meal to celebrate our survival, attempting to put the last eight days into words.

 

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Survival Light - Life on the Island

 

A Day in the Life

This experience is designed to thread the needle between rigorous, challenging personal development and plenty of opportunities for relaxation and downtime. We call it survival light - a safe, controlled environment for you to thrive, with two expert instructors to guide you along the way.

Wake up in paradise to the sound of gently lapping waves before heading down to the beach for a sunrise warm water swim. Bring your Kindle (and an extra battery pack to charge it).

Days 1 - 5 are devoted to extensive survival training, with the last 72 hours designed to test the group’s newly acquired skills.

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Our Island Home

Off the Pacific Coast of Panama, The Island is a 30 minute speedboat ride from Isla Contadora, longtime holiday home for Panama’s rich and famous. 277 acres of lush green jungle and long stretches of sandy beach await, full of resources you’ll quickly discover are essential to your survival.

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What we’ll do (aka a rough itinerary) 

March 21st - March 31st, 2020

Price: $2600 per person, based on double occupancy

Experience Start: Panama City, arrive anytime before 7:30pm, Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Experience End: Panama City, depart anytime, Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

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Day One: Your Arrival in Panama

Land at the airport and make your way by taxi or bus to our expedition base, a hotel in the center of Panama City. Take some time to relax by the pool before we gather for a communal dinner at a local restaurant. Take this time to collect your thoughts, send that last email, and generally prepare yourself for time off the grid.

 

Day Two: Resort Island and Staging for the Adventure

Early in the morning, we’ll catch a boat for Isla Contadora, our final point of civilization before heading out into the wilderness. We’ll head straight to the Mar Y Oro Hotel, complete with private beach and bar serving cold cocktails. We’ll pick up golf carts to explore the island, taking in lunch on the beach, discovering abandoned structures along the coast, and making plenty of time for beach games, volleyball, and sundowners to catch last light. We finish the day with dinner, a safety briefing, and an early night.

Day Three: Shelter, Building Our Island Home

After a hearty breakfast, we set out by speedboat for our new island home. On approach to the island, reality sets in - this is home for the next eight days. We’ll explore along the long, wide beach before finding the palm trees that will serve as the supports for our hammocks. Shelter is essential, and will serve as our home away from home, where lifelong connections are created, fire is built, delicious food is cooked and hearts are opened to the gentle breeze. Take a quick sunset dip prior to dinner and then, belly filled, we’ll pass a bottle of rum before heading to our hammocks for a night of sleep amongst rustling palms and gentle waves.

 

Day Four: Fire, The Most Essential of Wilderness Skills

Humans first made fire 400,000 year ago. It is the quintessential survival tool, providing warmth, security from predators, light in the darkness, and the means to cook food. Over time and in civilization, we’ve lost this skill. It’s time to re-learn it, starting with fire by flint, before moving on to the more sophisticated method of bow and drill. Your expert instructor will teach you to whittle your own set, before finally graduating to a hand drill and the bamboo fire saw. In survival situations, the more options, the better. We’ll take the rest of the afternoon fishing for our supper off the coast before gathering around the hot fire to feast on Thai fish curry, prepared in a bamboo cooking pot with fresh coconut milk.

 

Day Five: Finding Sustenance on the Island

Today is about food. We’ll explore various techniques for discovering food on a desert; including a detailed survey of the fruits and plants that are safe to eat, methods for opening coconuts, and primary spots to hunt for shellfish. The ocean is our cupboard and primary source of nutrition. You’ll work together to make a primitive hand-line, catch, prepare and cook fish. Unique to the first five days of learning, try your hand at spearfishing, using the gun to hunt down dinner for the team. Learn how to duck dive, how to hold your breath for longer, and how to fish underwater.

This evening, we’ll roll all of that delicious fish in spices, wrapping the protein in leaves tied off with palm. With this traditional technique, we can cook directly on the embers of the fire. Alongside Asian rice and roasted veggies, you’ll start to deeply appreciate the combination of flavors. Finish the day with green coconuts, harvested from palms on the island, and fresh pine-coladas, preparing you nicely for an evening of tribal-fancy-dress and beach games.

 

Day Six: Water, Water Everywhere

In a true survival situation, water must be your greatest priority. Thorough explanation will cover techniques for turning salt water into fresh water, finding water from plants, cracking the humble coconut, and discovering where ground water might lie. You’ll slowly come to realize you’ve disconnected, contemplating the outside world less and less. Don’t worry about not getting space for yourself. Every afternoon we take two hours from the day for your personal time; take a siesta in your hammock, read a book or throw a frisbee. Tonight we prep, cook, and eat as a tribe. A bottle of rum and some roasted marshmallows see us off to bed.

 

Day Seven: Wild Beaches and Deep Jungle

Welcome to the final day of training. In the morning, we’ll embark on an expedition across the island, hiking through jungle, around rocky headlands, and over mangrove swamps. Our goal? A thorough catalogue of the resources that will prove crucial during the final three days of isolation. Mangoes, coconuts and shell fish are all welcome finds. You will surprise yourself with the confidence you’ve built over the course of five days, leading up to 72 hours of communal struggles and successes. In the evening, we’ll discuss the psychology of survival, mentally preparing ourselves for the real test to begin.

 

Days Eight, Nine, and Ten: Isolation

This is it. The fire has been extinguished, the guides have departed; it’s just you and your fellow Castaways, alone in this lush, beautiful, tropical wilderness. With limited equipment, you must come together as a team to implement your new found skills and survive. What comes first? Do you start by building your shelter, or instead use the techniques you’ve learned to start a fire? During the first day, the reality comes into focus as you encounter new highs and lows. Hunger, thirst, and discomfort are offset by the euphoria of success, as you get the fire going, or find a new source of food. Will you survive, or will you thrive?

 

Day Eleven: Rescue and celebrate

You’ll feel a mix of emotions leaving the island after eight days of self-discovery. At 9am sharp, filled to the brim with ice cold drinks and delicious fruit, salvation arrives in the form of a speedboat to whisk you back to Isla Contadora. Civilization awaits and the boat banks right onto the beach, just outside the Hotel. Enjoy one of the most lovely showers of your life, before a massive champagne breakfast.

At 3:30pm, we’ll take the ferry back to Panama City, where you can spend the afternoon reconnecting with loved ones, delayed checking email just a bit longer, and enjoy another shower at the included accommodation. That night we head out for a survival celebration, where you’ll devour your weight in pizza over cold beers. You made it!

Fly out of Panama City Airport any time on the next day (Tuesday, March 31st).


Our Location 

The bottom of North America: Panama. This experience begins and ends in Panama City. The bulk of our time will be spent approximately 30 miles off the coast in Las Islas de Perlas (the Pearl Islands), a tropical paradise of roughly 200 distinct islands.

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Desert Island Survival in Panama

March 21st - March 31st, 2020

Price: $2600 per person, based on double occupancy

Experience Start: Panama City, arrive anytime before 7:30pm, Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Experience End: Panama City, depart anytime after 2pm, Monday, March 31st, 2020

 

What’s Included:

  • your spot on The Island, including instruction from a world class wilderness bushcraft guide, all equipment, provisions, and a satellite phone (to be used in case of emergency only).

  • accommodation (based on double occupancy) the first night in Panama City, and two nights on Isla Contadora

  • a welcome dinner in Panama City

  • transportation to and from Isla Contadora and the Island

  • endless games of Spikeball© and Cards Against Humanity©

Not included:

  • flights to/from Panama

  • alcohol and soft drinks in Panama City

  • Accommodation after the experience ends

More details:

This 10 day Experience is designed to deliver a safe, fulfilling, challenging wilderness experience. We’ll travel to Panama at the optimal time - dry season, and with almost no mosquitoes. That said, expect to be uncomfortable at times, with the chance of encountering weather, bugs, and unexpected obstacles.

Direct flights to Panama are available from select major US and European cities.

Round Trip flights from <$550 roundtrip: NYC, SF, LA, DEN.

Activity Level:

Note the pace of this trip will be mixed. Much time will be dedicated to active skills learning, with ample opportunities for relaxation, especially before and after. You’ll return home with a full set of new tools and an increased understanding and appreciation for thriving in the wilderness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have prior survival experience?

This trip is designed for beginners, who have never done anything like this before. More experienced wilderness travelers will also learn new techniques.

How many people will be on the Island?

Expect 8 - 12 fellow community members, alongside 2 certified wilderness instructors.

How isolated is the island?

The island is uninhabited. With the possible exception of a local fisherman and the very occasional sailboat heading past, we will be undisturbed for the duration of our trip. 

How tough will this be?

This experience is not just sunbathing and sipping coconuts. If you are after for the kind of holiday lying by the pool cocktail in hand, then this is not for you. Expect some long days of activity in a demanding environment. Sometimes you will be bothered by insects, by heat, and by hunger. This is survival - expect a few bites and blisters. That said, the experience is designed to start easy and finish hard, and despite some of the challenge and adversity we are confident you will finish the 8 days on the island with a huge smile and an immense sense of achievement. 

I thought this was meant to be survival why do people have fishing rods ands spearguns in your pictures?

Throughout the first 5 days of training, we want to ensure you eat well. Therefore, we have rods and spearguns to make sure we catch plenty of fish. After that - they’re gone.

Surviving on desert islands - is it safe?

For most people, ‘deserted island’ is synonymous with snakes and sharks. The truth is that the uninhabited islands are pretty safe places, sharks are not a genuine threat, and snakes avoid humans. You will receive a full safety briefing on how to stay safe while on the island. Our clients’ safety is of upmost importance and we always have a boat on standby to provide evacuation to the nearest medical clinic, a 40 minute journey away.

What kit do you provide and what should i bring?

We’ll provide the expensive and hard to carry items, like hammocks and machetes. You’ll need standard active clothing; we’ll send a detailed packing list before the adventure.

What is there is a medical emergency?

All of our instructors are certified wilderness medical first responders and refresh their skills every 2 years. For any severe medical emergency we have a set strategy in place to evacuate a castaway back to the local medical clinic within an hour (depending on weather conditions). From here should the injury be critical, helicopter evacuation would be required to the main land. All castaways should ensure that their medical insurance can cover such evacuation. 

Can I leave the island at any time?

If you find that this is not for you then of course you are free to leave the island, however unless it is a medical emergency, transportation charges will apply and you will be responsible for organising your own accommodation when you return.

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is designed to be challenging, but that doesn’t mean you must have a very high level of physical fitness. If you are not normally very active, we recommend you undertake some moderate training for before attending. Walk or swim to improve your stamina. This will not only help you with days when you are wielding machetes and hauling wood, but also acclimatise to the environment quicker.