Panama Tours & Travel

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PANAMA HOLIDAY   

8 Day/7 Night Itinerary


This tour features 7 nights in one Panama City Hotel, Panama Vieja, Casco Antiguo, Panama Canal & Miraflores Visitor Center, partial Canal Transit, Lake Gatun, Portobello, Panama Canal Railroad, Chagres National Park, Embera Indian Village, and more!

One amazing quality that makes Panama so unique is that from one location in Panama City travelers can enjoy so much of this beautiful country and its culture and nature without having to change hotels. If you are the type of traveler that likes to check into to one hotel, unpack your bags, and venture out, then this is the tour for you. Staying in Panama City is also economical as there are no internal flights and there is so much to see within a short travel time. One even can drive from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean Coast in under 2 hours.

Day 1 Arrival to Panama

Upon arrival to Panama the group will be met in the Tocumen International airport by the Tour Leader and an 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. Overnight at the Country Inn Amador with a spectacular view of the entrance of to the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean. The hotel is located near the entrance of the Panama Canal, close to numerous business and leisure attractions including Frank Gerhys's Biodiversity Museum, the Smithsonian Tropical Research exhibition center, Albrook Shopping Mall, Metropolitan National Park and City of Knowledge. It is a short drive from Tocumen International Airport and only a few minutes from the Marcos A. Gelabert Domestic Airport, the Panama Canal Railway, Pier and Panama's national bus terminal. (Other hotel options are available.)


Day 2 Old & New Panama City

Now that you are acquainted with your travel mates, let’s get acquainted with Panama! We'll will explore the ruins of Panama Vieja founded in 1519 and the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific side of the Americas.  Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient city of Panama was the gateway for Peru’s gold and silver to travel across the isthmus on its way to Spain. Your guide will lead you on an exploration of what remains of the cities original convents and seminaries, which were looted and destroyed by Sir Henry Morgan in 1671. Our next stop will be the Seafood and Farmers market of Panama City. The waters off the coast of Panama on the Pacific side are rich in marine life. The fishermen come in daily and sell their catches to wholesaler buyers who then resell the fish to retailers. The stands in the seafood market are retailers who sell to the general public.  After viewing the local produce and seafood, we will head upstairs to the Restaurant de Mariscos for a lunch at one the best places to eat local cuisine with the locals.  After lunch we will head back to the hotel for a much deserved rest. In the afternoon we will visit Casco Antiguo, the historic center of Panama City. It 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 and Ferdinand de Lesseps who began the Panama Canal.  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, the Presidential Palace, and the beautiful Cathedral with its mother of pearl covered spires. Dinner will be provided at the hotel. (B, L, D)


Day 3Panama Canal Zone

This day will be dedicated to the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.  In the morning we will visit the former US Canal Zone, first exploring the area which housed the U.S. Army and Naval bases.  Our exploration of the Canal Zone will be accompanied by a former US military personnel who will fill us in on all the details of daily life within this territory.  Then we move on to the Panama Canal Administration Building to see the magnificent 360-degree murals depicting the monumental effort to build the canal. Before lunch we’ll make a stop at the former YMCA which now houses the local artisans market. The Mercado Artisania is a collection of wonderful little stalls and stores where it is possible to find under one roof all of the local arts and crafts of Panama’s indigenous people. 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 or vegetable ivory, originally used to make the first buttons for clothing, is a collectible item that is hand carved and painted to resemble the local wildlife. Beadwork and Embera baskets abound.  Lunch will be enjoyed at an ocean-side restaurant located on Flamenco Island and the Amador Causeway. 
After lunch we will return to the hotel for break before heading out to the Miraflores Visitor’s Center. The Miraflores Visitor Center (MVC) is an expression of the permanent commitment of the Panama Canal Authority to strengthen the public’s knowledge of the Canal. Located on the east side of the Miraflores Locks, the MVC allows the visitor to observe transiting vessels from a distance of only a few meters and learn firsthand about the various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its participation in the world markets, and the importance of its watershed.  From the observation platform, you’ll watch in awe as ocean-going ships are tendered through huge locks with only inches to spare. Dinner at the hotel. (B, L, D)


Day 4 The Panama Canal Transit

One cannot visit Panama without at least doing 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 journey as our boat is raised and lowered through two sets of locks, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel, and transits the infamous Gaillard Cut. Roughly five percent of the world’s commercial trade transits the Panama Canal.
  Lunch is served on board and the entire transit is narrated by a canal expert who explains the history, engineering, and execution of the canal.  In the early afternoon we disembark and return to our hotel for a free afternoon to spend at your leisure. This evening, we’ll return to Panama City for a wonderful dinner out on the town. (B, L, D)


Day 5  Panama Canal Nature

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.  After lunch we return to the hotel for a refreshing break to rest up for a late afternoon outing. After a nice break at the hotel, we will visit Mi Pueblito Interiorano, an exact replica of a small, Panamanian, interior town at the turn of the century.  This replica includes government offices, shops, a school and a tiny church surround a cobblestone plaza, complete with fountain. There is also a museum is devoted to the pollera, Panama's national dress. (B, L, D)


Day 6 Coast to Coast, Portbello & Panama Canal Railroad

This morning we head out on the newly opened Isthmian highway for the town and forts of Portobelo.  Famous for its trade fairs during the 17th century, Portobelo is now 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 Portobelo 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 where we board the Panama Canal Railway for the one hour ride across the isthmus to Panama City. The train follows a similar route as the original built to transport 49ers coming from the east coast of the United States across the Isthmus on their journey to the California Gold Rush.  The train ride will take us along the banks of Gatun Lake to the west and is flanked by the rainforests of Soberania National Park to the east. (B, L, D)


Day 7 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. Tonight we bid farewell at local restaurant in Casco Antiguo. (B, L, D)


Day 8 Panama Departure

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





PANAMA ECOTOUR   

9 Day/8 Night Itinerary


This tour features Barro Colorado, Lake Gatun and Panama Canal, Boquette, Volcan Baru National Park's Quetzal Trail, Bocas Del Toro, and Bastimentos National Park.

With a unique geographical position that supports more diversity of wildlife than any country in Central America, Panama is one of the best ecotourism destinations in the Americas and the world.  This tour focuses on the ecology and culture of the isthmus and each day is dedicated to exploring each a different realm of this tropical paradise.


Day 1 Arrival to Panama

Upon arrival to Panama the group will be met in the Tocumen International airport by the Tour Leader and an 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. Overnight at the Country Inn Amador with a spectacular view of the entrance of to the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean. The hotel is located near the entrance of the Panama Canal, close to numerous business and leisure attractions including Frank Gerhys's Biodiversity Museum, the Smithsonian Tropical Research exhibition center, Albrook Shopping Mall, Metropolitan National Park and City of Knowledge. It is a short drive from Tocumen International Airport and only a few minutes from the Marcos A. Gelabert Domestic Airport, the Panama Canal Railway, Pier and Panama's national bus terminal. (There are many hotel options available.)


Day 2Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Barro Colorado Island

The Barro Colorado Nature Monument (BCNM) of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) represents a huge role in the conservation of forests and wildlife.  Among its endeavors BCNM has been protecting and investigating the ecology of over 13,800 acres of land, which includes Barro Colorado Island (BCI) and five nearby peninsulas, for more than eighty years.  This site has one of the longest histories of research in the New World tropics. Every year almost 300 scientists from around the world visit BCI.  In addition to the research conducted, this area provides refuge to nearly fifty percent of all the animal and bird species reported in Panama.  The species list of BCI includes up to 150 mammals and 1,200 species of plants.  Our day trip to this amazing island includes an exciting boat ride across Gatun Lake and the Panama Canal to the island, an interpretive walk among the trails led by an expert guide employed by STRI, and lunch at the facility. (B, L, D)


Day 3Panama Canal Wildlife - Boquette

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 David to experience the Chiriqui highlands where we’ll embrace the mild climate of this beautiful mountainous region surrounded by cloud forest and coffee fincas. (B, L, D)


Day 4 Hiking the Quetzales Trail

This morning we’ll depart early from Boquete to the trailhead of the Sendero de los Quetzales Located within the Volcan Baru National Park.  By beginning the hike from Cerro Punta we’ll walk the six mile trail that slopes downhill finishing in Boquete.  Along the way we’ll have the opportunity to appreciate our beautiful surroundings, look for the resplendent quetzal, and enjoy a picnic lunch under the canopy of this tropical cloud forest.  The afternoon will be free to explore the town of Boquete with its shops, cafes, and art galleries. (B, L, D)


Day 5Finca Lerida - Bocas Del Toro

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 ingredient 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. (B, L, D)


Day 6 Bocas Del Toro and Sea Star Beach

This morning, winds permitting, we visit the only known nesting site in the southwest Caribbean of the Red-billed Tropicbird, Swans Cay, otherwise known as Bird Island.  This island is also one of the only three Caribbean nesting sites for Brown Boobies.  We will spend our time here circumnavigating the island and its outcroppings observing the colonies of birds and learning about their natural history. After lunch we will stroll along the beach to beautiful Sea Star Bay where we 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. (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, Mangroves, and Solarte Gardens which are teaming with tropical fish and multiple varieties of coral and sponges. (B, L, D)


Day 8 Panama City

Upon our early morning return to Panama City we’ll first explore the ruins of Old Panama founded in 1519 and the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific side of the Americas.  This ancient city of Panama was the gateway for Peru’s gold and silver and the silks of the Orient. Our guide will lead us on an exploration of what remains of the cities original convents and seminaries, which were looted and destroyed by pirates in 1671. Our next stop will be Casco Antiguo (or Casco Viejo), the historic center of Panama City. It 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. After Lunch we’ll head to the Miraflores Visitor Center (MVC) an expression of the permanent commitment of the Panama Canal
Authority to strengthen the public’s knowledge of the Canal. Located on the east side of the Miraflores Locks, the MVC allows the visitor to observe transiting vessels from a distance of only a few meters and learn firsthand about the various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its participation in the world markets, and the importance of its watershed.  From the observation platform, you’ll watch in awe as ocean-going ships are tendered through huge locks with only inches to spare.

Tonight we bid farewell at local restaurant in Casco Antiguo. (B, L, D)


Day 9Panama Departure

Today we’ll say farewell to this enchanting country and return home, where you’ll be eager to share your incredible Panama, Panama Canal, and wildlife encounters. (B)



PANAMA BIRDING   

14 Day/13 Night Itinerary

This tour features excellent bird watching opportunities in Soberania National Park, San Lorenzo National Park, Metropolitan Park, Panama Vieja, Parque International La Amistad and Los Quetzales, the Darien, and the Panama Canal Zone.

With a unique geographical position that supports more diversity of wildlife than any country in Central America, Panama is one of the best ecotourism destinations in the Americas and the world.  This tour focuses on the ecology and culture of the isthmus and each day is dedicated to exploring each a different realm of this tropical paradise.


Day 1 Arrival to Panama

Upon arrival to Panama you will be met in the Tocumen International airport by a bilingual, interpretive, and birding expert and escorted to your accommodations.  From your lodging, guests can wander the tree-lined streets of this former Canal Zone neighborhood.  Frequent evening and morning visitors to this area include a variety of tanagers, toucans, thrushes, flycatchers, and more. This evening we will host a “Get Acquainted” event with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a tour briefing. Overnight at the Country Inn Amador with a spectacular view of the entrance of to the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean. The hotel is located near the entrance of the Panama Canal, close to numerous business and leisure attractions including Frank Gerhys's
Biodiversity Museum, the Smithsonian Tropical Research exhibition center, Albrook Shopping Mall, Metropolitan National Park and City of Knowledge. It is a short drive from Tocumen International Airport and only a few minutes from the Marcos A. Gelabert Domestic Airport, the Panama Canal Railway, Pier and Panama's national bus terminal. (There are many hotel options available.)


Day 2Pipeline Road & Summit Ponds

Pipeline Road and Summit Ponds located in and near Soberania National Park, with access to both forest and wetland birds, is considered by many to be two of the best birding locations in all of the tropics. In a single day it is possible to see up to 300 species. Due to the nature of the inhabitants of the forest it is not uncommon to encounter army ant swarms attended by antbirds.  Mixed flocks are frequent flyers. The many birds found within the park on Pipeline road include: trogons, wrens, puffbirds, hummingbirds, hermits, and motmots. Forest-falcons are commonly heard and sometimes seen. Exploring the nearby wetlands one can often find Rufescent Tiger-herons, White-throated Crakes, Wattled Jacanas, Purple Gallinules, and many other aquatic species. But birds are not the only animals one encounters when exploring this area of Panama. Many other abound, including the monkeys, sloths, iguanas, frogs, toads, and rodents such as the agouti, paca, and capybara.  (B, L, D)


Day 3Escobal, Achiote Road, & San Lorenzo National Park

Early this morning we will set out for the area of Escobal and Achiote Road, the site of Panama Audubon Society's world-famed Christmas Bird Count, which regularly reports over 340 species in a 24-hour period.  The road extends through open habitat and features a variety of Caribbean specialties not likely to be seen on the Pacific side of the Isthmus.  Here we will search for diurnal raptors and specialties such as Spot-crowned Barbet, Black Hawk-Eagle, Rufous-crested Coquette, Montezuma Oropendola, Brown-hooded Parrot, Black-bellied Wren, Pied Puffbird and rarities like Bare-crowned Antbird and White-headed Wren. San Lorenzo National Park is located on the cliffs at the mouth of the Chagres River where it finally meets the Caribbean ocean.  Fort San Lorenzo, well known for its historical significance, is also a great place to look for wildlife and birds.  (B, L, D)


Day 4Metropolitan Park & Panama Viejo

Metropolitan Nature Park, located only ten minutes from downtown Panama City is the only Tropical Forest Park within a capital city in all of Latin America. The area has remained largely undisturbed for the last 80 years and is a great place to experience dry, deciduous, lowland tropical forest. What makes Metro Park so unique is that it is adjacent to the Panama Canal watershed land that consists of of national parks and protected reserve land. Within the 265 hectares that make up Metro Park you can find up to 267 species of birds including national endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet, Blue-crowned Motmots, Rufous-and-White Wrens, Lance-tailed Manakins, Greenlets, Flycatchers, Honeycreepers, and Tanagers.  Among the many birds one also can find 3 species of monkeys, two and three-toed sloths, many reptiles, and much more.  They don’t know they’ve entered the city limits!
From the Mirador, the park’s highest point located at 150 meters above sea level, the view of the Bay of Panama and the islands of Perico, Naos, Flamenco, Taboguilla and Taboga and observing the Panama Canal entrance on the Pacific side, the Bridge of the Americas, and Ancon Hill is breath taking. After lunch we will visit the ancient city of Panama Viejo. Founded in 1519 by the conquistador Pedrarías Dávila, Panamá Viejo is the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was laid out on a rectilinear grid and marks the transference from Europe of the idea of a planned town.  In 1671 the city was sacked and burned by the Welsh privateer, Henry Morgan.  Today, the remaining ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site flanking the mud flats of the Bay of Panama, a key resting spot for millions of migratory sea birds.  Within the ruins we find Saffron Finches, Crested Caracaras, and Yellow-crowned Amazon.  Along the shores Black-necked Stilt, Southern Lapwing, and the Black Skimmers are often seen.  (B, L, D)


Day 5Chiriqui Highlands: Volcan and Cerro Punta

This morning we take the early morning flight to David and the Chiriqui Highlands located in western Panama.  Upon arrival, we’ll set out for Laguna de Volcan where we’ll be looking for the Red-rumped Woodpecker, Chiriqui Yellowthroat, and and Pale-breasted Spinetail. Next, we’ll move to Finca Hartman.  The owners of this old farm, concerned about disappearing habitat, are allowing the majority of the land to revert back to forest.  The area still used for farming is dedicated to shade-grown coffee under towering remnant rainforest trees, with some land still covered by highland cloud forest. Access roads ranging in elevation from 400-6000 ft provide a good altitudinal gradient for birding. Christmas bird counts on the finca yield nearly 200 species and over 280 species have been recorded in total, including Turquoise Cotinga, and Elegant Euphonia.  (B, L, D)


Day 6Parque International La Amistad and Los Quetzales

Parque International La Amistad (PILA) lies along the Talamanca mountain range was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 due to the great importance it has for the preservation of biodiversity in Panama and the American continent.  The park’s plant and animal life is some of the most diverse in Panama.  Among the nearly 600 types of birds identified in the area are such spectacular species as the Resplendent Quetzal, the Three-wattled Bellbird, and the rarely seen Bare-necked Umbrella Bird. Exploring the area around Los Quetzales Inn, where we will be staying, is perhaps the best place to find Resplendent Quetzal. Many other highland specialties can also be found, including Black Guan, Prong-billed and Red-headed Barbets, Buffy Tuftedcheek, White-fronted Tyrannulet, Tufted Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Black-faced Solitaire, Flame-throated Warbler, Collared Redstart, Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Yellow-thighed Finch, and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch.  (B, L, D)


Day 7Panama City and Preparation for Darien

Today we head back to Panama City but not before stopping at Macho de Monte to look for the River-side Wren.  This afternoon we’ll rest-up and repack for our expedition to Eastern Panama and the Darien.  (B, L, D)


Days 8, 9, 10Reserva Privada Cerro Chucanti

This morning we head out by road along the PanAmerican Highway to the amazing cloud forest of Reserva Privada Cerro Chucanti.  Along the way we’ll be on the look-out for Bat Falcon, American Kestrel White, Roadside, and Savannah Hawks.  This day will be an exciting and challenging adventure for all with a four hour horseback ride up the mountain to the biological field station where we will be staying. Nestled into the hillside at the base of Cerro Chucanti is the biological field station of Guido Berguido.  Recognized as one of the most accomplished birders and naturalist guides in Panama, Guido is a pioneer of eco-tourism and conservation in this amazing country.  Due to the nature of the land, an isthmus connecting Central and South America, Panama is a universally unique location with regard to biology, geology, and ecology.  Its quantity of different species of flora and fauna are astounding, and those that are endemic to this region even more impressive.  Its registered bird count is nearing 1000. Until recently, (2004) endemic species of birds such as the Beautiful Treerunner and the Strip-cheeked Woodpecker, and rare specialties including the Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Varied Solitaire, and Violet-throated Toucanet could only be found in the very remote regions of Darien National Park.  Among these endemic species we’ll also be searching for Violet Capped Hummingbird, Crested Guans, Yellow eared Toucanet, and various raptors species including the Barred Hawk and Black and White Hawk Eagle.  (B, L, D)


Days 11, 12Burbayar Lodge

After “roughing it" in the cloud forest (the only way to experience this amazing area) we’ll take the horses back down the mountain (this time only a 2 hour ride)and make our way to Burbayar.  This beautiful lodge is located on the summit of the San Blas range, between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in a zone between lowland and piedmont regions, with birds from both regions in the area.  From the terraces you can sight several hummingbird species such as the Little Hermit, Garden Emerald, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Black Throated Mango; parrots including the Mealy Amazon, Brown-hooded Parrot and Blue-headed Parrot; toucans such as the Keel-billed Toucan and the Collared Aracari; and tanagers like the Golden-hooded Tanager, Sulphur-rumped Tanager, Summer Tanager and Rufous-winged Tanager, just to mention a few. Home to hundreds of bird and many mammal species, one can explore caves and rivers and walk along trails through a marvelous forest and part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. (B, L, D)


Day 13Panama City

Since one cannot visit Panama without seeing the city, our last day of this itinerary will be spent seeing the sights of ancient and modern Panama.  Our morning will be spent at the Miraflores Vistors Center (MVC), an expression of the permanent commitment of the Panama Canal Authority to strengthen the public’s knowledge of the Canal. Located on the east side of the Miraflores Locks, the CVM allows the visitor to observe transiting vessels from a distance of only a few meters and learn firsthand about the various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its participation in the world markets, and the importance of its watershed. Our next stop will be the Seafood and Farmers market of Panama City. The waters off the coast of Panama on the Pacific side are rich in seafood. The fishermen come in daily and sell their catches to wholesalers who buy the entire load. The wholesalers then turn around and resell the fish to retailers who sell it to the general public.
The stands in the seafood market are retailers who sell to the general public.  After viewing the local produce and seafood, we will head upstairs to the Restaurant de Mariscos for a lunch at one the best places to eat local cuisine with the locals. In the afternoon we will visit Casco Antiguo, The historic center of Panama City. It 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. Time permitting we’ll visit 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. (B, L, D)


Day 14 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 birding experiences and your newly expanded life list! (B)




DISCOVER PANAMA

Featuring Panama Canal, Portobelo with Train and San Blas Archipelago.

Day 1 Welcome To Panama

Arrival at Panama International Airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Panama City. Overnight at the Country Inn Amador with a spectacular view of the entrance of to the Panama Canal

and the Pacific Ocean. (There are many hotel options.)

Day 2 Full Day City and Canal Tour

After breakfast our expert Guide will meet you for a City Tour. We will head toward Panama Viejo the first and one of the most important cities on the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1519 it was destroyed in 1671 by Pirate Henry Morgan. We will then visit the modern Panama with its financial district, which is considered one of Latin America’s most modern cities. Our next stop will be Casco Antiguo or Colonial Panama The architecture of this area is exquisite including French, Italian and Spanish styles. Lunch at the exclusive Manolo Caracol- if you like seafood there is no better place. The last stop will be at the Miraflores Locks to witness the workings of the Panama Canal and visit the Administration Building and the old Canal Zone. Return to Hotel Country Inn (or other) in the afternoon.

Day 3 Portobelo with Train

Early pick up at your Hotel and transfer to the Train Station. You will board the transcontinental train in Balboa on the Pacific Ocean trough the route of the Canal until we reach Gatun in the Atlantic Ocean. Our driver and guide will wait for us there to take us to Portobelo. During the 17th and 19thcenturies, the Port of Portobelo served as a Spanish Fortress and Caribbean terminal. Products such as species, gold and silver coming from Peru and other Spanish Colonies passed through to the pacific side to await ships to transport them to Spain. Portobelo was the victim of various pirate attacks, the best known being the attack by Henry Morgan. The small island of Drake, where his remains are located, is another attraction. We will visit all the ruins of the colonial port, the customhouse where the treasures and gold were stored and the Portobelo church, where the famous Black Christ statue rests. Return to the Panama by bus to your hotel.

Day 4 San Blas

Early morning departure for a 20-minute flight to El Porvenir airstrip on Panama's Atlantic Coast. Transfer by motorised dugout canoe to the Kuna Lodge on the Island. The lodge is in the core of the Kuna community. The Lodge has outside fresh water showers and toilets. Visit the surrounding islands and home to the Kuna Indian whose culture, traditions and beautiful beaches remain virtually untouched. Tour Grass Island and relax at one of the numerous beautiful beaches. Lunch and dinner of delicious San Blas seafood. (BLD)

Day 5 San Blas

Rent (or bring your own) snorkelling gear and explore the beautiful reefs. You can also tour a neighbouring island and swim in the crystal clear waters. Relax in the white sandy beaches or in a hammock while enjoying the San Blas Islands. (BLD)

Day 6 Panama City

Early morning returns to San Blas for flight back to Panama City. Free afternoon for relaxing and shopping. Show and folkloric dinner at Tinajas Restaurant. Overnight Hotel in the city. (BD)

Day 7 Depart Panama

Transfer to the International Airport approximately two hours before your flight's scheduled departure time (No meals.)




NATURE AND BEACH

Day 1 Friday

Arrive in Panama. Meet and greet and transfer to Hotel Riande Continental in Panama City for the overnight. (There are many hotel options.)

Day 2 Saturday

Breakfast at the Hotel. At 09:00 A.M our driver will transfer you to the pier where you will take your

boat for a Canal Transit. The transit starts at Gamboa in the Gatun lake our ship will go through the famous Gaillard cut , the Pedro Miguel locks and Miraflores locks where you will witness the workings of the Panama Canal. Our transit will end at the causeway in the Pacific side. Transfer back to your hotel in the afternoon.

Day 3 Sunday

Breakfast at the Hotel. This adventure takes us to the indigenous community in the National Park Chagres. We will get to know the culture of the Emberá Indians and witness their artisans and enjoy the knowledge of botanical plants. Their cultural dances and music will take you back

centuries. If you would like you can also paint your body as they do with the fruit known as Jagua. We can also observe the grand variety of birds found in these areas. Walk in the jungle, explore waterfalls, and learn from a magical culture, all this in one day. Includes: ground and river transportation, snacks and soft drinks, lunch, and specialized guide. Transfer back to your hotel in the afternoon.

Day 4 Monday

Early Breakfast at Hotel. Pipeline Road is considered one of the best birding spots in the world. More than 500 species were spotted here in a single day during the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Located in the central area of the Panama Canal watershed, this 17 – kilometer road provides access to old growth secondary forest which is ideal for the observation of flora and

fauna from the Pacific and Caribbean slopes. This tour begins early from your hotel with a drive to Soberania National Park in the town of Gamboa. Accompanied by a naturalist guide, you will walk along a birdwatching trail while a vehicle proceeds at some distance behind. Depending on the road conditions, the drive will continue to the Agua Salud River, where you can walk to a waterfall

and enjoy a swim. After lunch at Gamboa , return to your hotel. Suggested wear: short pants, sneakers, and a hat. Day 5 Tuesday

Breakfast at the Hotel. After breakfast check out and transfer to Hotel Royal Decameron Golf and Casino check in at the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at the beach.

Day 6 and 7 Wednesday and Thursday

Free time to enjoy facilities and inclusive activities at this beautiful all inclusive beach resort.

Day 8 Friday

Breakfast at the Hotel. Transfer to International Airport.




ENJOY PANAMA

Day 1 Welcome To Panama

Arrival at Panama International Airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Panama City. Overnight at the Country Inn Amador with a spectacular view of the entrance of to the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean.

Day 2 City and Canal Tour

After breakfast our expert Guide will meet you for a City Tour. We will head toward Panama Viejo the first and one of the most important cities on the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1519 it was destroyed in 1671 by Pirate Henry Morgan. We will then visit the modern Panama with its financial district, which is considered one of Latin America’s most modern cities. Our next stop will be Miraflores Locks where you will admired the workings of the Panama Canal. After the Canal lunch at La Rioja seafood Spanish Restaurant. Return to your hotel in the afternoon.

Day 3 El Valle- Mountain Town

This excursion begins early with a two and a half-hour drive along the Pan-American Highway to the beautiful mountain town of El Valle de Anton in the province of Cocle. According to geologists, El Valle is the crater of a dormant volcano, probably the largest in Central America. With a cool and pleasant climate, this picturesque valley rises 600 meters above sea level. This small town has a great variety of attractions such as a mountain called the "India Dormida" ( the Sleeping Indian). Upon arrival, visit the picturesque Sunday Indian market where large selections of native handicrafts are on sale. The tour continues with a visit to the ancient petroglyphs of the El Chorro Macho Waterfall and a trip to the Nispero Garden and Zoo take a look at Panama's famous the golden frogs and tropical animals. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Return to Panama City in the afternoon. (B, L)

Day 4 Panama

Breakfast at the Hotel. Transfer to Playa Blanca Resort on the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the day at this all-inclusive resort at the beach. (B, L, D)

Day 5 Hotel Playa Blanca

Free time to enjoy facilities and inclusive activities at this beautiful all inclusive beach resort. (B, L, D)

Day 6 Panama City

Morning return to Panama City to board our Plane to Boquete. Arrive at David Airport and transfer to Valle Escondido in the Highlands of Panama, overviewing the Baru Volcano. Overnight at Valle Escondido. (B)

Day 7 David – Boquete / Volcan

Breakfast at the Hotel enjoy the day at this magnificent project. You will have the opportunity to play golf at its new course or get to know the town of Boquete or Volcan. (B)

Day 8 David – Bocas

Breakfast at the Hotel at the appropriate time transfer to David. Arrive at the airport for your 40 minutes flight to Bocas del Toro at the Caribbean Ocean. Arrive at Bocas and transfer to Hotel Tropical Suites. Enjoy the rest of the Day at this Caribbean archipelago of more than 20 Islands. (B) (Flight only on weekdays)

Day 9 Bocas Del Toro

Breakfast at the Hotel. Free Day you can go snorkeling, diving, fishing or take one of the many tours available on the Island (B)

Day 10 Bocas – Panama

Breakfast at the Hotel. At the appropriate time transfer to the Airport for your flight back to Panama City. Arrive at Albrook local airport and transfer to the Hotel Four Points Sheraton or similar.

Day 11 Panama

Breakfast at the Hotel. Free day to enjoy Panama City. (Custom day tours can be pre-arranged.)

Day 12 Adios Panama

Breakfast at the Hotel at the appropriate time transfer to Tocumen International Airport for your flight back home.




Sample Embera Indian day tour

The day tour of the Chocoe-Embera Indian communities in Chagres National Park takes about 8 hours.

After breakfast, your private guide will  meet you at the hotel at 8am to begin. This cultural and natural history adventure takes you to an indigenous community and begins with a ride in a "piragua" (a native boat) following the route commonly used by the Indians for their daily transport along the Chagres River. Then hike through the forest with a local indigenous guide, an expert who will explain the botanical aspects of the trail and the culture of this authentic village. The hike will take you to a waterfall, where you will be able to swim or relax or just enjoy the beautiful surroundings. In the community you will witness the artisan’s handmade crafts and enjoy the knowledge of botanical plants. Their cultural dances and music will take you back centuries. If you would like you can also paint your body as they do with the fruit known as Jagua. We can also observe the grand variety of birds found in these areas, walk in the jungle, explore waterfalls and learn from a magical culture - all in just one day. (Please note there may be cultural nudity as sometimes the women go topless in addition to the men and children.)

The Chocoe Indigenous group is divided in two smaller groups: Chocoe-Wounaan and Chocoe-Embera. These two groups have exactly the same roots.
They originally came from the ancient Great Colombia over 300 years ago, and settled down mainly in the Darien Jungle. Their behavior is the same: both have the ancestral use of the blowgun with poison darts for hunting purposes, men wear loincloth, their house system is based on (Tambos) elevated-bin houses with palm-leave roofs. They decorate their bodies using a mixture of ashes and plant pigments and they both are master wood carvers and basket weavers. The only difference between these groups is their language. Although, their communication system is very similar, they do not understand each other. One of the remarkable contrasts seen in the modern city of Panama is their coexistence with the Chocoe-Wounaan and Chocoe-Embera community in the watershed of the Panama Canal, still living like the way their ancestors did in the past, keeping their customs.

You may admire the famous Taguas and other crafts made by the Embera. The Embera are unique wood carvers and they specialize in the carving of precious Cocobolo tree wood. They are also fantastic basket weavers; sometimes they spend several days on just one piece. In short, their handcrafts are real art pieces and they are available for you to purchase. During your visit, the Embera will perform a welcome flute dance. After a typical lunch of fish, rice and plantains, you have time to rest, or if desired,
you can swim and enjoy the cool waters of the river. Late afternoon return to the hotel around 4pm.




Sample partial Canal Cruise

Enjoy a Partial Canal Transit from La Playita de Amador to Gamboa. This tour gives you the opportunity to transit two sets of Locks.
The ship departs La Playita in Amador in Panama City and goes under the legendary Las Americas bridge and into the Miraflores Locks.
The ship is raised up to 54 feet in a two step process. This feat is achieved by sending water from Pedro Miguel’s lake by gravity to fill the chambers where the
ship is locked. Once the process is finished, you cruise into Pedro Miguel’s Lake to clear the second set of locks at Pedro Miguel and rise another 41 feet to the Gaillard cut, the most difficult portion in the quest to build the canal. This cut ends at the Gatun Lake, once the largest man made lake in the world. Disembarking at Gamboa you are then transferred by bus back to your hotel. The tour includes lunch on board.


 

Call or email for custom itineraries ranging from luxury hotels to camping. Travel to Panama and see for yourself - why so many “retire” to Panama.

Panama has become the new preferred destination for people seeking to enjoy life at its purest with a modern and vibrant city combined with culture, beaches, indian tribes, rainforest, adventure and more... Panama is definitely much more than a Canal.

See below for sample Panama tour itineraries. Research locations for field-schools also available.

For more Panama tour itineraries and options, please see our website of:

AdventuresOfDiscovery.com

Panama tours and custom travel programs for  couples, families, groups, AND INSTITUTIONS

PANAMA TRAVEL


Panama is the perfect place for ecotourism and ethnotourism.


Panama has some of the world's most beautiful and biodiverse rainforests. As one indicator of biodiversity, Panama has more bird species than the US and Canada combined: 934. Furthermore, some of the best forests are located only 30 minutes from Panama City. Panama has not one, but 5 colorful indigenous tribes right out of the pages of National Geographic. Each of them has preserved its own fascinating lifestyle. Many live in accessible locations and are happy to share their life and culture with visitors.


Panama is the ideal destination for specialized activities such as birdwatching, fishing, snorkeling, sailing and diving.


One place in Panama, Bahia Pina, holds 170 world fishing records. There are five world-class diving and snorkeling areas- Bocas del Toro, Coiba Island, the Pearl Islands, Isla Grande and for historical diving, the Panama Canal itself. Pipeline Road, the scene of a world record (350 bird species counted in one day) is scarcely a half an hour from Panama City. In Panama, you can get very close to the best of tropical nature without traveling long distances, giving up your creature comforts or putting yourself in any kind of danger.


Panama is safe.


In fact, Panama is one of the safest tourist destinations anywhere. Panama was rated by the prestigious Pinkerton Intelligence Agency in the highest category for tourist safety. The crime rate is very low. Unlike other places in Latin American, most taxi drivers are honest and crimes that plague foreigners in other countries like purse-snatching and pick pocketing are rare.


Panama is tourist friendly with a first world infrastructure.


Panama has a sophisticated service-based economy, tap water you can drink, high quality services, excellent roads and highways. There is a long tradition of service to foreigners as an international crossroads city and the educated populace speaks English as a second language. Calculating the value of the local currency versus the American dollar? No problem! The currency of Panama IS the American dollar! Serious political difficulties are a thing of the past and Panama now has one of Latin America's most exemplary democracies. USA and Canadian citizens only need a passport and a free tourist card for entry.


Panama has a wide selection of beaches, island venues and activities.


With two coasts (Pacific and Caribbean), countless islands and Caribbean style beaches, there is much to choose from for beach vacations: full service resorts, exotic off-the-beaten-track getaways (Bocas del Toro), Indigenous reservation islands (San Blas) and Coiba Island a paradise for divers!






Culture in Panama


Panama owns a cultural multiplicity that makes it unique in the region, one of the biggest contributors to this cultural richness is the constant presence of visitors from all parts of the world. The origin of this singular cultural mix is without a doubt the crossroads characteristic of the country. In addition, the intense connection of Panama with the sea makes it very similar to an island of the Caribbean.

 

Being a point of contact and a crossing site, this small strip of land is considered a true crucible of races. With almost 3 and a half million inhabitants, its population is compounded 67% of mestizos (amerindian with targets) and mulatos (white with black), 14% blacks, 10% whites, amerindian 6% (indigenous) and a 3% of people are from varied ethnic origins. This mixture is particularly rich, because although it comes from cultural origins and very diverse traditions, the mixture has been stimulated by the atmosphere of tolerance and harmony that always has reigned in the territory.

 

Although the free religious creed is respected, the population of the country mainly professes catholicism, this religion is deeply bound to the traditions and cultural expressions. In the interior of the country, for example, the greatest celebrations are related to diverse saints. These saints are even denominated as the owners of different towns. One of the greatest celebrations relating to cultural and catholic beliefs is the Carnival of Panama. The Carnival is a massive celebration of four days that precedes to the Cuaresma.

 

Also an important part of the cultural wealth of the country are the traditions of the seven indigenous groups of Panama. These groups are based in semi-independent territories, in these territories they maintain the cheers and celebrations of their ancestral customs. These groups of indigenous origins cultivate music and dance traditions which date back many years, but their most appreciated cultural contribution are their abilities as masterful craftsmen. The artful pieces produced by some of these groups are true jewels, works of a great beauty produced by an art that has its roots in the pre-Columbian times. The Molas of the Kuna, chaquiras and chácaras of the Ngäbe, the miniatures of ivory palm and the baskets of the Emberá are of an unusual beauty.

 

Other many ethnic groups, of more recent arrival, complete the cultural enigma of Panama. Making it a warm and friendly place. The country has always been propulsive to the mixture of towns and cultures, which are then amalgamated here in a harmonic and dynamic way.






History of Panama


The geologic history of Panama is relatively recent. Approximately three million years ago, one narrow earth strip emerged from the sea as a result of tectonic movements and volcanic activity. This new isthmus separated waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, united the continental masses of North America and the South, created the Caribbean Sea and the current of the Gulf, transformed the world-wide climate before warming up the previously frozen coasts of Europe and gave rise to the African savannah. It also gave beginning to a massive interchange of the flora and fauna between north and the south, acting like life bridge that included the passage of the humans who populated all the continent.

 

Since then, the geographic position of Panama has played a predominantly strategic roll, in all senses. The slim silhouette of the country measures only 80 kilometers in its narrower waist, which allowed the construction of the Panama Canal, at the beginning of the twentieth century.

 

Even earlier, in the XVI century, Spain had turned Panama into a route of crossing between the seas and into an important commercial center within its empire. Spain transported its wealth by means of boats to the port of Portobelo in the province of Colón. From there, mules and cayucos loaded the merchandise through the isthmus all the way to the City of Panama to distribute to their colonies in the Pacific Coast of America. That concentration of wealth attracted pirates and privateers like the famous pirate Francis Drake, who attacked Portobelo in 1596 and Henry Morgan who attacked Panamá´s first City and set it afire in 1671.

 

Motivated by airs of freedom of the neighboring countries, Panama became independent from Spain in the month of November of 1821, to be united to the countries of the Great Colombia, conformed by Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Nevertheless, Panamanian desire to become a free republic managed to come through and Panama was separated from Colombia in the third day of November in 1903.

 

In 1904 began the construction of the Panama Canal, considered the eighth wonder of the world. This work defined the vocation of the territory as a crossing site and interchange. Today, Panama is one of the most developed countries in Central America, and with greatest economic and tourist development in all of America.

 

With a healthy and effective democratic system, it is considered a very safe and prosperous country. Its service based economy, mainly in the tourism industry, the Panama Canal and the International Banking Center make it a highly successful country. It offers first world facilities like International Call Centers, modern shopping Malls and excellent professionals and technicians.


Panama is a rich country of great ethnic variety, a land of a singular combination of people and cultures, including seven courageous ethnical groups which survived the Conquest. In terms of difference of language, the ethnic group include the Bri-Bri, Teribes or Nazos, Ngabes, Bugles-Bolotas, Juna, Embera and Wounaan. The majorit of these Indian Panamanian people inhabit reserved territories, located throughout the country, wherein they exercise their ancient types of government and keep their traditions alive. Their natural, varied and attractive habitats, are realms where mother nature reigns.




Panama’s Nature


Small tropical country in size but huge in biodiversity, Panama offers the visitor an incredible and exuberant natural variety. An abundant vegetation and colorful variety of animals, gives you the opportunity to experience countryside vitality and the abundant Panamanian tropic.  The ecologic richness is inherent of what lives in this biological bridge of numerous species which move between North and South America, since three million years ago. The contact with nature in this tropical paradise is a gratifying experience to whoever visits this country, which has destined more than 30% of the national territory to natural reserves.