Panama | A Taste of Panama: Canal, Rainforest, and Culture

Panama | A Taste of Panama: Canal, Rainforest, and Culture

About this trip

Journey to the “Crossroads of the World” for an informative look at Panama’s fascinating history, culture, and natural beauty. Explore both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country as you learn about the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal. Discover its past, present, and future during a partial transit. You’ll also go beyond the canal and delve deeper into the country’s cultural identity, spending time with an indigenous community and reflecting on the effects of Spanish colonization in the capital’s historical districts. Meanwhile, examine how Panama’s unique geography played a vital role in shaping the ecology of the Americas.

Highlights

  • Uncover Panama’s role as an international trade center and cultural melting pot in the historical district of Casco Viejo.
  • Make a partial canal transit, cruising under the Bridge of the Americas and Centenario Bridge and viewing the elaborate lock system in action.
  • Learn about the geological origins, natural history, and ecological effects of the Panamanian isthmus at the Frank Gehry-designed BioMuseo.
  • Kayak on Lake Gatún, a man-made lake 85 feet above sea level.
  • Meet members of the indigenous Emberá tribe and learn about their history, traditions, and culture.
  • Visit a sloth rescue center, meet animal ambassadors and learn about wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release during canal expansion.
11 Travelers

Land Cost

$2,795 - Dec 16, 2019 - Dec 15, 2021

$2,795 - Dec 16, 2021 - Dec 15, 2022
 

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

16 Travelers

Land Cost

$2,455 - Dec 16, 2019 - Dec 15, 2021

$2,455 - Dec 16, 2021 - Dec 15, 2022
 

Book 15 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

Panama City

Day 1

Upon arrival at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, meet your driver and transfer approximately 45 minutes to the hotel, which is situated along the Amador Causeway. Check-in begins at 3 pm. This is an international arrival day, with most flights arriving in the evening; therefore, no activities are planned today.

Overnight at Radisson Panama Canal

Panama City

Day 2

This morning meet for a welcome breakfast and orientation to the program and Panama City before heading out to explore the historical wonders of the city. The first stop is Panama Viejo. Founded in 1519, Panama Viejo (Old Panama) was the first Spanish city established on the Pacific coast of the Americas and was one of the most important trade routes in the history of the American continent. Together with the historical district of Panama, it forms a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Highlights include the Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Bishop House, Convent of the Nuns, and the Panama La Vieja Museum. Next, head to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center to view the locks at work and enjoy the museum's interactive displays. Have lunch while watching ships passing through the canal. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. Before heading out for dinner at a local restaurant on the causeway, listen to a lecture given by a local expert, "The Panama Canal: Past, Present, and Future."

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Radisson Panama Canal

Panama City

Day 3

Today after breakfast, continue exploring Panama with a visit to the historical district of Casco Viejo, or Casco Antiguo, built in 1671 after the destruction of Panama Viejo by the English privateer Henry Morgan. Casco Viejo's parks and narrow streets are lined with colorful buildings representative of Spanish, French, and early American architectural styles. This eclectic collection of architectural styles reflects the city's role as an international trade center and cultural melting pot long before the building of the canal. Explore the Metropolitan Cathedral, Municipal Palace, National Theater, French Embassy, and France Plaza. Have lunch at a local restaurant, then visit the Biomuseo, Panama City's Biodiversity Museum. The strikingly colorful building was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. It represents the saga of the Isthmus of Panama, a land that united two continents, changed the world's biodiversity, and connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Inside, eight permanent exhibits tell the story in graphic detail.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Radisson Panama Canal

Colón

Day 4

After an early breakfast, transfer to Flamenco Marina and board a boat to make a partial canal transit, beginning in the Pacific Ocean and heading north. One of the first observations you'll pass is the Bridge of the Americas. Part of the Pan-American Highway, the bridge is a 30,000 mile network of roads that stretches from Alaska to Argentina. It is also the bridge connecting the land that was divided during the construction of the Panama Canal. As the cruise continues, arrive at the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks. Miraflores are the tallest of the canal's locks system, a necessity due to the extreme tidal variation of the Pacific Ocean. During lunch, reach Pedro Miguel Locks where the boat is raised 30 feet. Continue cruising through Gatún Lake (85 ft. above sea level) before approaching the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal where the majestic Centenario Bridge comes into view. The journey culminates at the confluence of Gatún Lake and the Chagres River. The Chagres River is the main source of water used in the canal's operation. Continue to the town of Gamboa for disembarkation, then journey to Colón and have the remainder of the day at leisure.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Meliá Panama Canal

Colón

Day 5

After breakfast, take a field trip to Fort San Lorenzo, which was constructed in the 1500s during the reign of King Philip II of Spain. The San Lorenzo National Park contains not only Fort San Lorenzo but also Fort Sherman, erected in 1911. The park covers an area of approximately 24,000 acres on Panama's Atlantic coast, along the western banks of the Panama Canal. On the way back to the hotel, stop at The New Locks Visitor Center to view the new set of locks on the Caribbean side of the Canal. Gain insights into the updated lock design and the work that went into making the canal expansion a reality. After lunch at the hotel, venture on a kayaking expedition on Lake Gatún.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Meliá Panama Canal

Gamboa

Day 6

After breakfast, transfer toward Lake Alajuela, with discussions en route about indigenous cultures and their history in Panama. Upon arrival at the Chagres River, board dugout canoes for the journey through the dense jungle. Upriver, step out of the dugout canoes and experience a short hike (which could be a bit muddy) to a beautiful waterfall in the midst of the rainforest. Those who want to cool off can take a swim in the refreshing pool just beneath the waterfall. Continue to the village of the Emberá, one of seven indigenous tribes in Panama. The people of the Emberá community will provide a warm welcome and share about their life. The village chief will provide a brief explanation on the history of the tribe, its traditions, cultures, beliefs, and handicrafts. After a typical lunch of fish and plantains prepared by the Emberá women, experience a traditional dance and have the opportunity to shop for handicrafts. The sale of local products directly benefits the village and helps fund schooling for the children. There is also the opportunity to get "inked" with a temporary Emberá tattoo painting. Later this afternoon return by boat to the dock and transfer by bus to Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Settle in and have dinner at the hotel.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Gamboa

Day 7

After breakfast, visit Soberanía National Park. Created in 1980, it stands as one of Panama's natural jewels and is one of the country's most accessible tropical rainforests. Next, visit Summit Botanical Gardens, which hosts a research center for development of tropical biology and horticulture. The botanical garden showcases a representation of plant species from tropical and subtropical countries around the world and from the native species of Panama. Afterwards, return to the resort for lunch. This afternoon enjoy a presentation with the founder of the Pan American Conservation Association. Learn about wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, their work to transition injured animals back into the wild, animal relocation during canal expansion and meet their animal ambassadors. Have a farewell dinner at the hotel.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Depart

Day 8

This morning transfer to the international airport for the flight to the United States. Participants with later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check out at 12 pm. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own today.

Breakfast- included