Day 1: Panama City. On arrival to Tocumen International Airport you will be met by our local representatives and transferred to your accommodations along the shores of the Panama Canal. Welcome briefing with your naturalist guide. Overnight at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort Villas.
Day 2: Panama Canal Jungle Boat Adventure. Early in the morning you are picked up at the lobby of your hotel by your naturalist guide for a 45 minute drive to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal. Here you will board the jungle boat to begin an adventure which will include a voyage across Panama Canal’s Gatun Lake passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway, making contrast with the natural surroundings.
Along the way, you will have the opportunity to spot Green iguana and Three-toed sloth resting on tree branches, Crocodile basking in the sun, Osprey in the hunt for Peacock bass, Snail kite and Keel-billed toucan among other wildlife. Gatun Lake was created to give way to the Panama of 423 square-kilometers, at the time of its creation made lake in the world. The flow of all the rivers within the Panama Canal Watershed is contained in Gatun Lake to provide water for the operation of the lock system. More than 52 million gallons of fresh water are used for every ship that transits through the Panama Canal from one ocean to another.
The jungle boat will approach rainforest-covered islands to search for White-faced capuchin, Mantled howler monkey, Black-handed spider monkey, and Geoffrey’s tamarin. You will enjoy a picnic lunch on a small island with extraordinary views of the Panama Canal and the natural surroundings. After a picnic lunch you will return to your villa. This afternoon you will have time to relax on your own and enjoy the swimming pool, kayaking or fishing. Overnight at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort Villas. Includes: (B, L).
Day 3: Chagres River and the Embera People. Early in the morning you are picked up at the lobby of your hotel by your naturalist guide for a one hour drive to El Corotu on the shores of Madden Lake. The main reservoir of drinking water for the cities of Panama and Colon, Madden also supplies 40% of the water required for the operation of the Panama Canal. Here you will board a motorized piragua to travel up the Chagres River.
The dugout canoe journey will take you through the rainforests of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park, the largest of the national parks protecting the Panama Canal Watershed. Along the Chagres River, you may be able to spot Little Blue and Green heron, Great egret, Anhinga, Neo-tropical cormorant, Amazon, Ringed, and Green kingfisher, along with Red-lored Amazon parrot and Keel-billed toucan flying above.
Time and conditions allowing you will visit a waterfall where you can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters to cool down. You will reach the Embera village where you will be greeted with dancing, music and a sumptuous lunch made up of fresh fish, plantains and tropical fruits prepared by your hosts. Learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature while visiting the village.
The Embera are famous for their basketry and wood carving skills. There will be handcrafts available for sale and you will have a chance to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye used by the Embera to adorn their bodies. Early in the afternoon you will return to El Corotu for the drive back to Panama City. Overnight at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort Villas. Includes: (B, L).
Day 4: Summit Botanical Gardens – Miraflores Lockes – Chiriqui Highlands. After a leisurely morning you will visit the Harpy Eagle Exhibit at the Summit Botanical Gardens where you will be able to see up close this magnificent species which is endangered, being studied and under a captive reproduction program. You will continue to the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal to learn about its history and marvel at this engineering accomplishment.
The canal still operates pretty much as it did when it was inaugurated in 1914 and the SS Ancon Steamer was the first ship to transit the Panama Canal. In the afternoon you will catch a flight from Albrook domestic airport to David, the capital of the Chiriqui province. Chiriqui is known as “Panama’s breadbasket” and contains some of the most breathtaking highland scenery in central America. Transfer by van to the eastern side of the dormant Baru Volcano to the quaint town of Boquete with its countryside dotted with flower, fruit and vegetable farms, coffee plantations and extraordinary cloud forest environment. Overnight at the Hotel Panamonte. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 5: Whitewater rafting or Los Quetzales Trail. This morning you will depart early for your approximate 2-hour drive to the river put-in. your white water river rafting experience will likely include class III or IV sections of the Rio Chiriqui. Drive time to and from the river as well as the length and difficulty of the rafting will depend upon which section of the Rio Chiriqui is being run. A picnic lunch will be served on the riverbank. If you choose not to go rafting you will hike Los Quetzales Trail from Cerro Punta to Boquete through the cloud forest of Baru Volcano National Park. The Baru Volcano is the highest peak of the country at 11,400 feet (3,475 m) above sea level. You will make several stops along the way to enjoy the views and to look for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal. Picnic lunch will be served in route to Boquete. Overnight at the Hotel Panamonte. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 6: Fortuna Dam – Continental Divide – Colon Island, Bocas del Torro. After a good night’s rest you will pack your belongings and get ready for the three hours and a half drive across the Continental Divide. In route you will stop to view the impressive Fortuna Dam and spectacular waterfalls along the Continental Divide. You will be crossing the Palo Seco Protected Area that serves as buffer zone to La Amistad International Park. The transition from the cloud forests to the coral reefs of Bocas del Toro will be impressive. In Almirante you will be met by your boat and transferred to Colon Island. After check-in you will receive a briefing on the activities that will take place during your trip. Afterwards you will have ample time to enjoy the hammocks on the upstairs deck of the Bocas Inn or mingle with the locals in the small friendly town. Overnight at the Bocas Inn. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 7: Bastimentos Marine National Park. This morning you will board your boat and travel to Bastimentos Marine National Park where you will be able to snorkel along coral reefs and see stunning queen angels, blackbar soldierfish, blue tang and Pederson cleaner shrimp, and four-eyed butterfly fishes. You will also snorkel along the archipelago of tiny clear-water mangrove island where the marine inhabitants are protected during their infant stages. You will return to the lodge for a delicious lunch. Afterwards continue your adventure to Red Frog Trail in search of the tiny strawberry frog (or red frog, the dendrobates sp.) and Hospital Point for more snorkeling. In the late afternoon return to the inn. Overnight at the Bocas Inn. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 8: Panama City. After your morning flight to Panama City your activities today include a visit to the ruins of Old Panama, the Casco Antiguo, and the Panama Canal Museum. After lunch at a local restaurant you will visit the Smithsonian Marine Exhibition at Culebra Point at the entrance to the pacific side of the Panama Canal and the international Handcraft Market where crafts from Panama and other Latin American countries are sold. You will be taken to your hotel where after check-in you can enjoy the pool and other facilities in the afternoon. Tonight you will have a farewell dinner at a typical Panamanian restaurant. Overnight at the Caesar Park Hotel. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 9: Panama City. Departure. Transfer to the Tocumen International Airport. Pay Panama’s departure tax and check in to depart. (B)
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