Authentic Panama Itinerary

  • Destination:
  • Duration: 14 days
  • Price: Customized Vacation Package: Call for Pricing

This Exclusive Tour Is Offered from April 6th to April 19th 2015

The Canal is synonymous with Panama but most people are not aware of Panama’s amazing tropical beauty, the fun-loving nature of its people, its deep traditions emanating from its long history and 7 different indigenous tribes, and the rich culture of the land whose indigenous name means “abundance of fish” or “abundance of butterflies”.

Though this exclusive tour commences with a welcome dinner at the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center and culminates with a partial transit through the Panama Canal, the true highlights may come from our intimate journey into the heart of authentic Panama.  We will go well beyond the locks and off the beaten trail by: discovering areas of Panama City unknown to other “tourists”; learning first-hand about the challenges of preserving the fragile rainforest while experiencing it; venturing deep into traditional Azuero Peninsula to learn about Carnaval and how the exquisite Polleras are made; and traveling to the western highlands of Chiriqui province to visit a working coffee farm that produces some of the world’s best brew.

And we’ll even take time to relax on the pristine beaches of Iguana Island and snorkel the postcard-perfect azure blue waters of the Pacific Ocean!

Day 1

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Upon your arrival in Panama you will be met at Tocumen International Airport by our friends and partners at Gamboa Tours who will provide VIP treatment as they whisk you straight to your hotel in Casco Antiguo, the colonial area of Panama City.  Enjoy a refreshing welcome drink made of a local tropical concoction as we get you checked in.

During early evening there will be an informal reception in the bar area of the American Trade Hotel so you can meet and greet your new travel companions for the next two weeks.

Night at the American Trade Hotel – Junior Suite (No Meals Included)

 

Day 2

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Panama City Tour: From a Locals’ Perspective

Today’s Full Day Guided Panama City Tour is like no other that “tourists” will experience when visiting Panama.  We start the adventure by visiting the ruins of the original Panama City that was torched by the Pirate Henry Morgan in 1671.  Climb the Cathedral Tower for a panoramic view of the surrounding ruins, Panama Bay, and the giant skyscrapers of modern Panama City.

Then with our friends at Gamboa Tours leading the way, we will venture deep into the alleyways of “real” Panama City to discover how humble Panamanians go about their daily lives with visits to the pedestrian only thoroughfare of Avenida Central; a stroll by the simple local stalls of Sal si Puedes (Get Out if You Can); and we’ll get an inside look at the unique low income neighborhood of El Chorillo. Lunch will be at Diablicos in Casco Antiguo and will consist of traditional Panamanian food accompanied by a traditional religious dance depicting the battle between “dirty devils” and angels over the soul of a single mortal human being.

After lunch we will wander the colonial cobblestone streets of Casco Antiguo which was founded in 1673 and is the oldest area of Panama City.  We’ll see the monument to the French entrepreneurs who began the Panama Canal; or the art museum in the converted strong house, known as Las Bovedas, that was once used for storing gold. Other points of interest are the famed flat arch or Santo Domingo Church, the beautiful gold- plated altar of the San Jose Church, the Panama Canal Museum, the National Theater, the National Cathedral, and the Presidential Palace. 

Welcome Dinner at Miraflores Locks Visitors Center

There is no better way to be officially welcomed to Panama than having dinner with one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the world – huge mega tankers squeezing their way through the outdates locks of the Panama Canal at the pacific entrance of Miraflores.  Listen to a representative from the Panama Canal Commission discuss the challenges and future of the incredible Panama Canal Expansion Project over a refreshing tropical fruit cocktail.  Dinner is buffet style but you will likely be more focuses on what is happening in the locks than on the food sitting on your plate!

Night at the American Trade Hotel – Junior Suite (B,L,D)

Day 3

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Chagres River Adventure and Visit to Embera Indigenous Community

The enchanting journey takes us deep into the dense jungles of Chagres where the Emberá Indians have lived for centuries. Our adventure begins with a one-hour ride up the river in motorized dugout canoes, the Emberá traditional, hand carved boats.

Upon arrival to the village you will be taken back in time as you are immersed in the ancient Embera cultural dances and music that have not changed much since Columbus arrived in the 1500´s. The Indians will invite visitors to explore the area’s abundant variety of birds and wildlife during a trek that takes you through the untouched jungle and past sparkling waterfalls.

As a highlight during our visit, the Chief of the Embera Drua Tribe will address the group about their intersection of the modern world with their ancient beliefs and customs as he will describe how they actually use tourism to preserve their ancient culture. 

The Emberas will also provide a glimpse into their mystical rituals and amazing knowledge of medicinal plants and other natural remedies. The Embera women are known as one of the world’s finest basket makers, and you will be able to watch them create these beautiful objects made out of palm leaves and dyed with natural dyes. Before returning back to civilization, the Indians will offer us a traditional meal of fresh fish and plantains and you will have an opportunity to purchase some of their beautiful handicrafts.

Dinner will be at the Casa Blanca (White House) in Casco Antiguo followed by Salsa Dancing and Lessons.

Night at the American Trade Hotel – Junior Suite (B,L,D)

Day 4

Friday, 10 April 2015

Gatun Jungle Expedition and Aerial Tram Tour

Experience the verdant rainforest of Gamboa from within, ascending some 280 feet from the shadowy forest floor, through the dense undergrowth and up to the sun drenched canopy with its thousand shades of green that are only interrupted by the vibrant colors of flowering trees. Once at the top, you will have the opportunity to climb our observation tower (also accessible for wheelchairs) from where you will have uninterrupted views of the vast rainforest of Soberania National Park while at the same time watch the giant cargo ships maneuver through the Galliard Cut (the narrowest part of the Panama Canal).

Once we finish our visit to the Aerial Tram and Natural Exhibits, we will experience an exhilarating 20-minute ride at high speed right through the heart of the Panama Canal. The boat will slow down and enter the labyrinth of jungle-covered islands of Gatun Lake. In this protected area the wildlife is plentiful, and you are likely to encounter capuchin monkeys, 3-toed sloth, howler monkeys, various kinds of toucans and other bird life as well as caimans, crocodiles, turtles and a wealth of butterflies.

Group Dinner and Night at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Deluxe River View Room with Balcony and Hammock (B,L,D)

Day 5

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Pipeline Road Nature Hike and Bird Watching Tour

Today we will have the added benefit of being accompanied by a Soberania National Park Ranger along with our Guide from Gamboa Tours who will provide us with an overview of the challenges to protecting the tropical rainforest with its abundant flora and fauna from us humans.

As you hike through Soberania National Park you can observe a variety of exotic tropical birds while enjoying the surrounding trees and plants of this area. Pipeline Road is a dirt road that goes through the heart of this national park and affords us views of some of the diverse bird life that abounds in the area. Pipeline road has for several years in a row; set world record bird counts in a 24-hour period – up to 367 different species of birds.

Some of the more common sights are the Slaty-tailed Trogon, Keel-billed Toucan, Thick-billed Mot-Mot, and several species of ant birds, wrens, tanagers and flycatchers. Of course, just because this tour focuses on observing the bird life, it does not mean that you might not hear or even see Howler monkeys or other mammal life like sloth, anteaters and agoutis.

Group Dinner and Night at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Deluxe River View Room with Balcony and Hammock (B,L,D)

Day 6

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Welcome to Azuero Peninsula and the Cultural Heart of Panama!

Today we will flee the city as we head across the Bridge of Americas spanning the mouth of the pacific entrance to the Panama Canal as we trade the noise and madness of the big city for the tranquility of the Panamanian countryside.  We will journey through the Azuero Peninsula, home to the cultural heart of Panama where, time stands still and things don’t seem to have changed much for the last few hundred years.

At our first stop in the quaint little town of la Pintada affords the opportunity to meet the local hat makers and learn about their famous trade of hand stitching a variety of the Panama hat called the sombrero pintada (painted hat).

The next stop is at Natá de los Caballeros where we’ll marvel at the classic 500 year-old church, one of the oldest in all of the Americas. 

Lunch will be one of the highlights of the day as we stop at a traditional fonda for some of the tastiest and most authentic Panamanian cuisine to be found in all of Panama!

Night in Pedasi at Pedasito Boutique Hotel or Casa de Campo Boutique Hotel – Standard King Room (BL)

Day 7

Monday, 13 April 2015

Snorkeling and Wildlife Tour to Isla Iguana

Isla Iguana (Iguana Island) is a wildlife refuge located approximately 5 miles from the mainland of Pedasi.  It features beautiful white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, fantastic coral reefs known to be some of the best preserved in the area, home of multiple species of birds, and the largest nesting grounds for frigates. It also harbors a wide variety of other animals and marine wildlife. 

To get there, an open fiberglass boat known as a “panga” will take us from Playa El Arenal to the island. Once there, water lovers can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving and enjoy seeing a fantastic variety of marine life. Hiking trails also dot the island, and you will be able to see iguanas running all over while you learn more about the island at the Visitors Center and snack on the season’s freshest fruits. 

Night in Pedasi at Pedasito Boutique Hotel or Casa de Campo Boutique Hotel – Standard King Room (BL)

Day 8

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Azuero Cultural and Folkloric Show

Today after breakfast your bilingual guide will pick you up for a full day tour to discover the local area, with its rich cultural heritage and deep rooted folkloric traditions.  You will witness how the stunningly beautiful and exquisite “Pollera” is designed and how local handcrafts such as colorful ceramics based on pre-Columbian designs are produced.
After a traditional lunch at a local Fonda you will visit Las Tablas and Guarare, considered by many to be the “Cultural Heart of Panama”.  There you will learn about Panama’s proud Carnaval traditions in Las Tablas where Panama holds its most famous Carnaval celebrations. 

Night in Pedasi at Pedasito Boutique Hotel or Casa de Campo Boutique Hotel – Standard King Room (BL)

Day 9

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Azuero Rum Tour and Transfer to Panama’s Western Highlands

Today you will visit Pese in the heart of Herrera Province and home of Hacienda San Isidro, where the famous Ron Abuelo and Seco Herrera are produced.  On traditional oxcarts you will continue to the distillery at Hacienda San Isidro.  At the distillery you will learn about the different steps necessary to produce Rum and Seco from Sugarcane – grinding, fermenting, and distilling.  You will then continue to the bodega where the Rum is being aged in barrels in two different processes.

A traditional Panamanian lunch, Rum tasting of the Ron Abuelos aged 5, 7, 12, and 30 years (Ron Abuelo Centuria) along with an open bar featuring Rum and Seco based cocktails will round off this Authentic Panamanian Rum Tour.

Following lunch you can rest and relax in the comfort of your private vehicle as you are transferred to the western highlands town of Boquete. 

Group Dinner and Night at Lerida Coffee Farm (Finca Lerida) – Junior Suite (BL)

Day 10

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Nature and Wild Life Expedition and Swim in a Hidden Waterfall

Embark on an exclusive wildlife exploration to private remote estates and wildlife sanctuaries.  A 4 x 4 Land Cruiser will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to locations, off the beaten path, where few others, have dared to explore.  Bring your swimming suits because this amazing trail will pass by 3 breathtaking waterfalls, with swimming holes and a small cave behind one of the beautiful cascades.  Parts of this trail are a level 3 while the trail leading to the last waterfall is close to a level 5 hike.  The first two waterfalls can be reached without going above a Level 3 making this one a beautiful trail for nearly everyone to enjoy.  After our swim we will enjoy a nice picnic lunch in this amazingly picturesque location.

Coffee Tour at Finca Lerida

This interesting coffee tour begins in the fields of Boquete where we can get a glimpse of the three vital factors that influence the quality of the coffee: the soil, the micro climate, and the particular genetics of the variety.  Next we learn about the history, origin, qualities and secrets of coffee handling.  In the second phase of the tour, we will learn about coffee production all the way from the ripe coffee cherry to the roasted bean.  This incredible experience will culminate with a delicious cup of coffee, which will never taste the same after a tour like this!

Group Dinner and Night at Lerida Coffee Farm (Finca Lerida) – Junior Suite (B,L,D)

Day 11

Friday, 17 April 2015

Visit to Finca Dracula Orchid Nursery 

Keeping an orchid alive can be a challenge when the plant is removed from its natural habitat. The wrong variation in sun, humidity, water, or temperature could reward you with a leafless brown stick poking up from a pot of substrate. Windowsills have often become graveyards for many orchids, despite feverish fawning by their careful fans. It’s easy, therefore, to appreciate the success of Guadalupe’s Finca Dracula, a multi-hectare orchid farm in the forest on the side of Volcan Baru. The greenhouse complex houses 2,200 species, including a new hybrid species named after ex-president Mireya Moscoso. That’s the one that has shiny, expensive jewelry hanging off of it.

Not all of their orchids bloom at same time, but with over 2,000 species — both native and non-native — you’ll still find plenty of orchid blossoms bursting all over the color wheel no matter when you go.

Finca Dracula has one of the largest and most complete collections of Dracula’s in the world, among other spectacular species!!

Group Dinner and Night at Lerida Coffee Farm (Finca Lerida) – Junior Suite (B,L,D)

Day 12

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Finca Lerida Nature Hike and Bird Watching Tour

The trails of Finca Lerida are ecological paths that lead you through the coffee plantation and tropical forest of Boquete. This is the most accessible region of Chiriquí’s High Lands where the beautiful Quetzal bird can be seen thanks to the conservation of the forest and the “Aguacatillo” tree that provides the Quetzal with its favorite fruit.

Most of these trails go deep inside La Amistad International Park where more than 500 species of American Tropical birds can be found. 

Night at Country Inn Amador – Standard Canal View Room (B)

Day 13

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Panama Canal Southbound Partial Transit Tour

Our tour starts at the Flamenco Resort and Marina. Passengers board motor coaches for a 45 minute ride to the town of Gamboa where the Panama Canal Dredging Division is located. Once in Gamboa, passengers board the Pacific Queen to start the water portion of the tour. We enter the canal at the north end of the Gailard cut, where the Chagres River flows into the canal. The Gaillard Cut (also known as Culebra Cut because its curves resemble a snake) is one of the main points of interest for visitors because it was carved through the Continental Divide and this section of the Canal is full of history and geological value. The Pacific Queen will travel the Cut’s 13.7 kilometers on the way to Pedro Miguel Locks. As you transit the Cut you will be able to appreciate the continuous maintenance that this area requires, because it is very susceptible to landslides. In this area you will also be able to observe the work in process for the Panama Canal expansion project.

Before reaching the Pedro Miguel Locks at the southern end of the Cut, you will be able to view the new Centennial Bridge which crosses over the Canal. Next, the Pacific Queen will enter Pedro Miguel Locks, which is one of the two sets of locks on the Pacific side, and here the vessel is lowered 9 meters in one step. You will then enter Miraflores Lake, which is a small artificial body of fresh water that separates Pedro Miguel from Miraflores Locks, the latter being the final set of locks before reaching the Pacific Ocean. At Miraflores Locks the vessel is lowered 18 meters in two distinct steps.

Once in the Pacific Ocean the vessel will sail to the beautiful Flamenco Marina where passengers disembark. On the way to Flamenco, you will pass under the Bridge of the Americas, and later, you will be able to admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City’s splendorous skyline.

Farewell Dinner and Folkloric Show at Las Tinajas Restaurant

Panama has been a melting pot of several cultures for quite a long time now. Originally, the native Indian groups created acoustic instruments using parts of plants and shells of different animals. Before then the Spanish conquerors brought their influences from the Old World. The Afro-Caribbean’s also contributed to the Panamanian culture when they came for the Canal construction. Also other small groups contributed to what is today, one the most attractive and folkloric heritages of Latin America.   

At Las Tinajas you will enjoy an authentic delicious Panamanian dinner as you dance in your chair to the rhythms of the Panamanian “repicadores, pujadores & guiro” (Panamanian folkloric instruments).  You will be mesmerized by the display of beautiful and elegant “Polleras”, Panama’s national dress and one of the most spectacular folkloric dresses in the world. 

The next day you will leave Panama for your return home but Panama may never leave you! 

Night at Country Inn Amador – Standard Canal View Room (B,L,D)

Day 14

Monday, 20 April 2015

Today you will be picked up from the hotel lobby approximately 3 hours prior to your scheduled departure flight.

 

Vacation Package Includes:

  • 11 Nights Deluxe Accommodations as indicated in itinerary
  • Private Land Transfers as indicated in itinerary
  • Internal Flights within Panama as indicated in Itinerary
  • Tours as indicated in itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in itinerary: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
  • Entrance Fees to Gatun Locks Visitors Center and Panama Canal Expansion Project Visitors Center
  • All government fees and taxes

 

Vacation Package Does not Include:

  • International Airfare
  • Tours not specified in itinerary
  • Meals not specified in itinerary
  • Trip Insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Gratuities for Drivers, Guides, and Service Personnel in hotels and restaurants

 

This amazing 14 Day Authentic Panama Vacation Package Price Starts at $2,379.00 per Person. (Based on Small Group Size of 20 People)

 

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