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Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama

Day 1
Arrival to Panama

Upon arrival to Panama the group will be met in the Tocumen International airport by your interpretive guide and escorted to your hotel.  This evening we will host a “Get Acquainted” event with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a tour briefing.

Day 2
The Panama Canal and Panama City

 One cannot visit Panama and at least do a partial transit of the canal. This morning we will board a ship designed exactly for visitors wanting to experience what every ship transiting the canal goes through.  It will be an unforgettable experience as our boat is raised and lowered through two sets of locks, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel, and transits the infamous Gaillard Cut. Roughly 5 percent of the world’s commercial trade transits the Panama Canal.  The entire transit is narrated by an expert explaining the history, engineering, and execution of the canal. 

In the early afternoon we disembark and set off to explore the city of Panama.  Casco Antiguo, the historic center of Panama City is a quiet, charming district of narrow streets overlooked by the flower bedecked balconies of two and three-story houses. At its tip lies French Park, a monument to the French builders who began the Panama Canal, and the lovely French Embassy. As we meander through the area we will see the remaining ruins of the convents and seminaries, the famous Flat Arch, which reportedly helped convince engineers that Panama was earth-quake-proof and the beautiful Cathedral with its mother of pearl covered spires. 

Afterwards we’ll make a stop at the former YMCA which now houses the local artisans market. The Artisan Market in Panama City is a warren of wonderful little stalls and stores where it is possible to find, under one roof, all of the local arts and crafts. The mola, made by the Kuna Indians, is an intricately stitched and overlaid piece of fabric that can be used for many purposes.  The tagua nut is a collectible item that is delicately carved and painted to resemble many of the local wildlife of Panama. Beadwork and Embera baskets abound.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Day 3
The Wild Side of the Panama Canal

This day combines the thrill of encountering wildlife in their natural habitats while passing in the shadows of the mammoth cargo ships transiting the Panama Canal.  Gatun Lake, with a surface area of 423 square-kilometers, was created in 1914 as the main waterway for the canal and contains many small islands (former hilltops) that provide protected natural habitats for many of the animals that live in the region. 

From the comfort of our expedition boat  which allows shoreline access to the rainforest covered islands we will search for white-faced capuchin, mantled howler monkey, central american spider monkey, and Geoffrey’s tamarin. We are likely to spot green iguana and three-toed sloth resting on tree branches, crocodile napping on beaches, osprey hunting for peacock bass, snail kite, and keel-billed toucan. At mid-day, we will enjoy a picnic lunch on a small island with extraordinary views of the Panama Canal and the natural surroundings.

This afternoon we’ll board a plane for the short flight to the Chiriqui highlands where we’ll embrace the mild climate of this beautiful mountainous region surrounded by cloud forest and coffee fincas. 

Meals Included: B, L, D

Day 4
Cerro Punta, Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA)
 and Finca Dracula

Often referred to as the “bread basket” of Panama, this fertile region flanking the steep hillsides of Volcan Baru produces much of the local produce consumed throughout the country. Today we’ll spend the morning walking the trails of the international park, PILA, that shares its over 400,000 hectares of land with Costa Rica, creating a unique biological corridor. 

After lunch we’ll visit a local farm to learn about the unique techniques utilized to farm this mountainous region and the efforts taken to promote organic farming practices. The rest of our afternoon will be spent visiting Finca Dracula Orchid Farm. Named after a rare genus of orchids, the Dracula, the collection here exceeds 2,200 different species.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Day 5
Finca Lerida Coffee Finca and Nature Reserve

This morning we will get up with the birds for a walk along the trails at Finca Lerida’s natural reserve with its variety of trees producing the aguacatillo fruit and year-round quetzales. Among the many other highland species of birds found here, this private nature reserve is a unique place to study and experience the cloud forest environment and to discover the flora and fauna hidden within.

After a lunch prepared with fresh, organic, local ingredients we’ll enjoy an in depth interactive coffee tour for those interested in learning more about coffee, which includes a tour of the coffee plants, the processing plant, the coffee cupping and coffee roasting facilities Considered the equivalent of Napa Valley for coffees, Boquete produces some of the best highland coffees of Panama.

This evening we have the opportunity to explore the town of Boquete with its shops, cafes, and art galleries. 

Meals Included: B, L, D

Day 6
Ngobe Indigenous, Bocas Del Toro, and Sea Star Beach

After breakfast we'll make the scenic drive over the Talamanca mountain range from Chiriqui to the province of Bocas Del Toro where along the way we’ll visit the Ngobe indigenous village of Silico Creek.  Here we’ll see how the organic cocoa is grown and processed into chocolate.  Once we reach the town of Almirante on the shores of the Caribbean we’ll take a boat ride from mainland Panama to the archipelago of Bocas Del Toro.  After checking into our hotel and a lunch of local cuisine we head to the opposite side of Isla Colon to explore Sea Star Beach, bask in the tropical sun on a white sand beach, and swim in the warm turquoise waters.  At Sea Star Beach one can get up close and personal with the beautiful pin cushion sea star. 

Meals Included: B, L, D

Day 7
Bastimentos National Park

This day is spent exploring both the terrestrial and under water wonders of Bastimentos National Park.  First we visit Salt Creek, another Ngobe village, where we’ll be greeted by our local guide Salino, who will lead us through his nature trail where we have the opportunity to see sloths, monkeys, including the western night monkey, birds, Caymans, and the famous red strawberry frog, a poison dart frog that lives on the island.  Lunch will be enjoyed at a restaurant by the sea, built on stilts out over the water.  With a full stomach we’ll head for a short on respite on Red Frog Beach where one can lie in sun or take a swim in the Caribbean.  The afternoon will be spent snorkeling Tino’s reef and sponge garden and Solarte Gardens which are teaming with tropical fish and multiple varieties of coral and sponges. This afternoon, after freshening up at the hotel, we'll take a short flight back to Panama City.

Meals Included: B, L, D.

Day 8
Chagres River and Emberá Indians

This is a perfect opportunity to visit an indigenous village in the midst of a wonderful natural setting that supports the harmony of their lifestyle and traditions. Early in the morning guests are picked up at their hotel and transferred to Port El Corotu on the shores of Madden Lake, the main reservoir of drinking water for the cities of Panama and Colon. Madden Lake also supplies 40% of the water required for the operation of the Panama Canal. Here, we board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) and travel up the Chagres River to the Embera indigenous village of Embera Drua or Tusipono.  The boat journey takes us through the rainforest of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park, which is the largest of the National Parks protecting the Panama Canal Watershed.

At the Embera village we will be greeted with dancing and music. We will learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature. There will be handcrafts available for sale and we will have a chance to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Embera use to adorn their bodies. After a lunch of fish, plantain, and fresh fruit served in traditional style by the Embera, we visit the nearby waterfall where we can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Chagres River before heading back to Panama City.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Day 9
Coast to Coast
The Ruins of Portobelo, the Black Christ, & the Panama Canal Railroad

This morning we head out on the newly opened Isthmian highway for the town and forts of Portobello.  Famous for its trade fairs during the 17th century, Portobelo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During colonial times it was one of the most important strongholds of the Spanish Main in the Americas. We will visit Forts San Geronimo and Santiago de la Gloria as well as the Church of San Felipe famous for its black Christ.  After strolling through the ruins of Portobello we will board a small boat that will take us to a hidden Caribbean beach where we can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy a picnic lunch.  Mid afternoon we’ll begin to make our way to the city of Colon to where we board the train for the one hour ride across the isthmus to Panama City. The train follows a similar route as the original train built to transport 49ers coming from the east coast of the United States across the Isthmus to continue their journey by boat to California.

The route was diverted when Gatun Lake was formed to give way to the Panama Canal. The train ride will take us along the magnificent waterway to the west and flanked by the exuberant rainforests of Soberania National Park to the east.

Meals Included: B, L, D.

Day 10
Panama Departure

Today we’ll say “hasta luego” to this enchanting country and return home, where you’ll be eager to share your incredible Panama and the Panama Canal experiences.

Meals Included: B

Each departure itinerary may vary slightly. Although the day in which a stop is listed may differ, you will enjoy the same experiences listed here.

Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Highlights of Panama
Explore the best of Panama’s wildlife, history, and culture as you travel throughout the country with our local naturalists and interpretive guides.
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Highlights of Panama

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