Day 1: Arrive in Panama
On arrival at Tocumen International Airport you will be met by a representative and transferred to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, your lodge for the next 3 nights, located along the shores of the Panama Canal.
Night at GAMBOA RAINFOREST RESORT
Day 2: Panama Jungle Boat Adventure
Early in the morning you are picked up by your Naturalist Guide and transferred to the marina, where you board a specially equipped expedition boat. The voyage takes you across Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway, contrasting sharply with the natural surroundings. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to spot the Green Iguana and the Three-toed Sloth resting on tree branches; Crocodiles; Osprey on the hunt for Peacock Bass; the Snail Kite and Keel-billed Toucan; as well as other exotic avian species.
The expedition boat will be able to get close to the tropical rainforest covered islands in Gatun Lake to search for the White-faced Capuchin, the Howler Monkey, the Spider Monkey and the endemic Red-napped Tamarin. You will have a picnic lunch on an island with extraordinary views of the Panama Canal and the natural surroundings. Return to Gamboa Early afternoon return to Gamboa. This afternoon is to enjoy at the Gamboa Rainforest on your own.
Night at GAMBOA RAINFOREST RESORT (BLD)
Day 3: The Chagres River & Embera People
Early in the morning you drive to 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, you board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) and travel up the Chagres River to the Embera indigenous village of Embera Drua. The journey by boat along the Chagres takes you through the tropical rainforest of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park, which is the largest of the National Parks protecting the Panama Canal Watershed. Along the Chagres River, you may be able to spot the Little Blue and Green Heron; the Great Egret; Anhingas; the Neotropical Cormorant; the Amazon, Ringed, and Green Kingfishers; as well as the Keel-billed Toucans and Ospreys flying above.
At the Embera Drua village you will be greeted with traditional dancing and music. You will learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature. There will be handcrafts available for sale and you will have a chance to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Embera use to adorn their bodies. After a picnic lunch you visit the nearby waterfall where you can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Chagres River before heading back to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
Night at GAMBOA RAINFOREST RESORT VILLAS (BL)
Day 4: Gamboa - Miraflores Locks - Chiriquí Highlands
This morning you will start off with an adventurous kayaking excursion on the Chagres River at the edge of the Panama Canal where you might be able to spot some large cargo ships passing by. Afterwards, enjoy a relaxing and quiet rainforest nature walk on La Chunga Trail that leads you to the beautiful shore of the Chagres River.
Ready to continue your journey after your rainforest stay at Gamboa, you will have lunch at a local restaurant and then continue to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. Here you will learn about the fascinating history of the Panama Canal and marvel at this incredible engineering feat. The canal still operates pretty much as it did when it was inaugurated in 1914 as the SS Ancon steamer ship was the first ship to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal.
Late in the afternoon catch a flight from Albrook domestic airport to David, the capital of the Chiriquí province. Chiriquí 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. There you will marvel at the picturesque countryside dotted with flowers, fruit and vegetable farms, coffee plantations and the extraordinary cloud forests.
Night at FINCA LERIDA LODGE (BLD)
Day 5: Cloud Forest Canopy Tree Trek or River Floating Tour
This morning you will do a canopy tree trek on an exciting Zip line that that allows you to experience the rainforest from fourteen different canopy platforms that enable you to soar smoothly and safely through the cloud forest from one treetop to another. As you glide through the trees you will encounter wildlife from a totally different perspective thus gaining a real appreciation for the area. Native species of flora and fauna can be observed as you marvel at the sight of a great variety of orchids, trees and wildflowers that are found throughout the area.
For those who don’t go on the Zip line tour, there will be an option to take a river tubing tour floating down the Chiriquí River. This optional tour has an additional cost and must be arranged in advance.
Night at FINCA LERIDA LODGE (BLD)
Day 6: Chiriquí Highlands - Bocas del Toro
After a good night’s rest you pack your belongings and get ready for the 4 hour drive to the pristine archipelago of Bocas del Toro. You will be literally traveling from the cloud forests to the coral reefs of the Caribbean. There will be an opportunity to stop along the way to stretch your legs and take in the natural scenery.
Upon arrival at Almirante on the Caribbean coast, a boat will be waiting for the transfer to Isla Colon where you will spend the next two nights. This afternoon, weather permitting, you visit Swan's Cay which is a rock protruding from the depths of the Caribbean Sea and serves as a rookery for Red-billed tropic birds (the only place to be found in Panama) and Brown Boobies. You will enjoy beach time at Boca del Drago and search for colorful starfish. Along the coastline, you make stops at coral reefs and mangrove isles for snorkeling.
Night at BOCAS INN (BLD)
Day 7: Salt Creek Village - Bastimentos Marine National Park
Depart by boat from the Bocas Inn traversing the expanse of Bastimentos National Park, Panama’s first marine national park. You reach Salt Creek by navigating through clusters of Red Mangroves, which provide sea creatures with a protective area during their reproductive and development stages. Upon arrival you first enjoy a walk along the Cayman Trail. This trail goes through several stages of lowland forest. Here, search for birds such as the Red-throated Ant Tanager and the Golden-collared Manakin (Cerritus sub sp.).
Mammals such as Night Monkeys, White-faced Capuchins and Three-toed Sloths also live here. An older tract of rainforest has tall trees that provide life to birds such as the Three-wattled Bellbird and the Green-breasted Mango. A nearby lagoon is home to Spectacled Cayman and the Slider Turtle. On the ground you will look for the tiny endemic poison dart frog Oophaga pumilio. After the hike, enjoy a visit to the indigenous community and have a chance to purchase handicrafts such as painted woodcarvings and Ngobe handbags.
After lunch in the afternoon, snorkel among mangroves and coral reefs, searching for numerous species of tropical fish, as well as dynamic and brightly colored sea fans, sponges and brittle starfish.
Night at BOCAS INN (BLD)
Day 8: Panama City
A morning flight takes you back to Panama City where the activities today include a visit the ruins of Old Panama and the Old Quarter of Casco Antiguo. 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 available. Tonight you enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel.
Night at HOTEL EL PANAMA (BLD)
Day 9: Depart Panama
Today you are picked up at the lobby of the hotel 2.5 hours prior to your scheduled departure flight and transferred to Tocumen International Airport.
Pre or post trip extensions to San Blas Island are available.