Island Survival

8 entrepreneurs, one remote Pacific Island, survival training and a 72-hour castaway challenge


Ready for a real challenge?

  • Stay on an uninhabited island
  • Survival training by a professional
  • Learn to catch and prepare your own food
  • Learn how to build a shelter, create a fire and much more
  • Survival psychology training
  • Sleep in a hammock
  • 5-day training phase
  • 72-hours castaway experience
  • Wake up to the sounds of wave
  • Same Island as used on "The Island with Bear Grylls"
  • Celebration dinner
  • A damn big challenge
  • Trip description

    On this 10-day trip, we only have 8 spots for adventurous entrepreneurs. From meeting up in Panama City we will go to a beautiful Pacific island, that is completely uninhabited. For 5 days we will get lessons in how to catch our own food, how to build camp, make it in the jungle and survival psychology.

    After the 5-day training phase, it’s time for the 72-hour castaway. The group will be put alone on the beach and have to do everything themselves for 3 days. We will be spearfishing, building fires and sleeping in hammocks.

    On this trip we want to get your as far away from everyday busy entrepreneur-life as possible. Together with like-minded people you will be doing one heck of a challenge, but also waking up to the sound of waves, bond over the fire and watch whales from the totally remote island.

    The Island

    This pristine island is located 100 miles off the isthmus of Panama, in the Pacific ocean and forms part of the Pearl Island archipelago. A scattering of nearly 250 islands that are characterized by perfect white sand bays and beaches with coconut trees and dense jungle. The Island was used in the two first seasons of “The Island with Bear Grylls”.

    July is the middle of the Humpback whale mating season and they are found here in impressive numbers. There is an extremely high chance that you will see the whales. If you are lucky they will be breaching right off the beach as you eat your breakfast. There is also a good chance that you will see turtles nesting on the beach and you might even be fortunate enough to witness hatching.

    Year-round when snorkeling you can spot stingrays, reef sharks, eagle rays, and turtles. The night times are illuminated by phosphorescent plankton and fire fireflies. From sea eagles to hummingbirds, the bird life on the island is abundant.


    Day-to-day program

    4th of July

    The meetup location is the domestic airport of Panama City in the morning. After flying out to Contadora Island in the morning, we will get checked into our hotel. We will have some intro sessions to get to know each other. Later in the day, we will have a session with kit allocation and also some time to explore the island. Then at 6 pm we complete the safety briefing and enjoy a meal together and try to get an early night.


    5th of July

    This is our first training day. We will get up early and after our breakfast will go by speedboat, directly from the beach in front of the hotel, out to our uninhabited island, that will be our new home for the next 8 days.

    We will choose the location of where to set up base camp and have a lesson on machete use and maintenance. We will also be building a shelter, learn jungle routines, hygiene and how to set up and live in hammocks.

    6th of July

    We will focus on further construction techniques and build base camp table and benches. We will then have an introduction to fishing and fish preparation, followed by cooking techniques, how to open coconuts and finish off with a stroll down the beach to see if we can spot nesting or hatching turtles.

    7th of July

    Today’s focus is fire. You will learn how to make fire by friction and other methods using just what is washed up on the beach. We then work on fishing crafts (spears, hooks and fish traps), palm weaving, alternative food source, and beachcombing. For dinner, we will cook using an underground bake.

    8th of July

    Today’s focus is on water procurement techniques and disinfection. We will then go on a jungle trek before exploring bed building options followed by some evening fishing. Tonight’s supper we will use bamboo pot cooking techniques.

    9th of July

    Today we will look at rescue and survival psychology. In the afternoon we will spend some time beach combing and foraging in the jungle before spearfishing to catch supper. We will explore how to cook using a clay bake before the castaway phase briefing.


    10-12th of July

    This is the castaway phase of the trip. The group will be put alone on the beach and for the next 72-hours we have to do everything ourselves.

    13th of July

    We will be “rescued” by boat at 10 am and go back to the hotel on Contadora Island. It’s time for what will be the best shower in your life!

    The rest of the day is for relaxing, catching up with family back home, getting a massage and enjoying the beach.

    In the evening we will enjoy drinks while watching the sunset and then go for a celebration dinner!

    14th of July

    We fly back to Panama City and the trip ends.

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    The trip is from 4th of July to 14th of July (so 10 days). We will meet up on the 4th and fly together to the Island and we will arrive back in Panama city on the 14th, where you can continue your travels or fly home.

    You will have to fly to Panama City (Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen). From there you have to go to the domestic airport called Albrook, which is the meeting point on the morning of the 4th of July. We will make sure to book us all on the same flight. From the international airport to Albrook please allow 30-90 minutes depending on the time of the day.

    We will make sure to book us all on the same flight. From the international airport to Albrook please allow 30-90 minutes depending on the time of the day. The flight from Albrook to the Island normally departs at 8.30 am, so we suggest you arrive the day before (3rd of July). If that is not possible a later departure to the Island is possible.

    When you sign up for the trip, we will help you with the bookings and any questions you might have.

    We meet at the domestic airport in Panama City called Albrook for the domestic flight to the island in the morning of the 4th of July. Detailed information will be sent out to the participants.

    There will be a maximum of 8 participants, one trip leader from Refuga and one guide for the trip. We want to keep the group small, both because of safety, but also to create the best possible group dynamics.

    We will supply you with all the gear you need. You only need your clothes and some other small things, like a water bottle and headlamp. We will send you a detailed packing list upon sign up.

    Everyone will get a hammock, hand knife, machete, hygiene kit, bowl and spork as their main gear on the island.

    As a minimum, you should be up to date on all vaccinations required for normal life in the developed world. Hepatitis A and Tetanus are usually advised. Sometimes advised are typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis, rabies and hepatitis B. Please check with your own doctor to make sure you have what is needed.


    A normal travel insurance should cover this experience. We recommend that you call your insurance company and tell them about the trip, so you make sure that you’re covered.

    Of course, over 90% of our participants do. Our finest job is to facilitate you meeting new people!

    Most nationalities do not need a visa to visit Panama. Please check here.

    It’s important that your passport is valid for at least 6-months after your departure date.

    You pay directly here on the website with credit card. The deposit is $500 (USD) and the remaining will be withdrawn 3 months prior to the trip start date.

    If you want to pay another way, please contact us at

    If you need to cancel up to 2 weeks prior to the trip, then the full amount you have paid will be possible to use on another trip.

    If you cancel with less than two weeks until the trip, we will try to get your spot covered by another participant, but if it’s not possible we reserve the right to cover our expenses.

    If you find that the experience is not for you and you want to leave before, you can of course leave. If it’s not a medical situation, transport costs will apply.

    Safety is the number one priority. We will have an extremely experienced guide throughout the whole experience, who will be very close while on the 3-day castaway experience.

    We will have satellite phones that can be used in an emergency situation.

    This trip is not just sunbathing and sipping coconuts. You should expect some long days of activity in a demanding environment. Sometimes you will be bothered by insects, by heat and by hunger. You can expect a few bites and blisters, but we are pretty confident you will finish the experience with a huge smile and a great sense of achievement. 


    The whole trip will be in English.

    The island’s we operate on are 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. 


    After the training phase, it’s time for the 72-hour castaway challenge. You will be put on a beach with the rest of the group, so you will not be alone. But the beach is 1200 meters long, so there is plenty of opportunities to be more isolated if you wish.

    Meals in the training phase will be light, but sufficient. We will bring food to the island for the training phase and we will get breakfast and snacks. For dinner, we will catch plenty of fish by rod and speargun and supplement it with rice, pasta, potatoes etc. Each night we will prepare the food in different ways.


    You should not need any extra money unless you plan on buying souvenirs and additional celebratory drinks. There is no cash point on our first island, so please insure you bring cash with you from the mainland. Just for emergencies we recommend you bring around $200 USD. There is an ATM at Albrook Airport.


    The trip will take place at the beginning of the wet season, so there can daily rain, but normally just for an hour or so. This is a great time to cool a bit off and wash the salt off. There is predominantly blue skies, but we might get to see a beautiful electric storm.

    No problem at all. Just email us at and we will get back to you as soon as possible (normally within a day).


    All our prices are in USD

    1 person
    2 persons (per person)
    Refuga Alumni

    Dates & Availability

    • Jul 4 - 14, 2018 (1 spot left)

    What’s included

    • All food whilst on the training phase will be covered. Meals are basic and light, but sufficient
    • All accommodation including your 4* hotel before and after the expedition
    • Returning to civilization party, a three-course meal and a few bottles of wine/beer
    • All transportation to and from the desert island as well as internal taxis on Contadora to and from the airport and restaurant
    • All park entry and island usage
    • All communications, medical and safety kit required
    • Professional teacher

    What’s not included

    • International and domestic flight tickets
    • Country exit taxes: Almost always built into the cost of your flight ticket
    • Travel Insurance
    • Visas, if required
    • Alcoholic beverages.

    Practical Info

    • The deposit is always $500 and it secures your spot on the trip
    • The rest of the amount will be withdrawn 3 months prior to the trip
    • If you have to cancel you will get credits to another trip (up until 2 weeks prior to the trip)

    I’m not sure yet

    • If you think this is something for you, but you’re not sure yet, let us know. We are happy to clarify any concerns, so you’re 100% sure before you book.
    • The fastest way to get in touch with us is by email. Write us at and we will get back to you soon.

    Let us keep you
    updated on the trip

    We will let you know when spots are running out and tell you about confirmed participants.