Best of Panama Tour

  • Destination:
  • Duration: 11 days
  • Price: Customized Vacation Package: Call for Pricing

Explore the historic Panama Canal, dubbed the 8th wonder of the world, with a Partial Canal Transit. Travel to Boquete in the western highlands and get off the beaten path by experiencing an exciting wildlife expedition. Soar through the rainforest canopy on your own personal zipline or choose a more tranquil bird watching hike or coffee tour. Return to Panama City and discover historical Portobelo, the Gatun Locks, and a historic train passage along the Panama Canal. Complete your trip of a lifetime to Panama by embarking on a Chagres River adventure to visit the Embera indigenous culture and then spend your last day in paradise at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

Day 1

Arrive in Panama

Upon arrival at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, you will be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel.

Night at HOTEL LE MERIDIEN  – DELUXE ROOM

Day 2

Full Day Panama City Tour and Miraflores Locks

Panama La Vieja, or Old Panama City is situated just northeast of downtown Panama City. The city was founded by Pedrarias Davila in August of 1519, and is the oldest Spanish settlement in the Pacific. Once a thriving city, Panama La Vieja benefited from the Portobelo trade fairs and most notably from Spain’s great bullion lifeline (shipments were said to pass through Panama while en route from Peru’s silver mines to Europe). Quickly, the city became a major center for merchants and landowners, with a population that presumably reached 10,000 by the mid-17th century.

Old Panama City was burned to the ground in 1671 during Sir Henry Morgan’s invasion.  It was relocated approximately 8 km (4.8 miles) away to what is today known as “The Casco Viejo”. Declared a Historic Site in 1976, the ruins of Old Panama enjoy government protection, and have been administered by the foundation Patronato Panama La Vieja since 1995. A new Panama Viejo Museum, situated just east of the ruins, has recently been completed and is now open to the public.
We will have an opportunity to explore the ruins of Panama la Vieja ourselves and climb the Cathedral Tower for spectacular panoramic views of the city.

Casco Viejo: The oldest sector of modern Panama City was founded in 1673 and is called Casco Viejo, or Casco Antiguo by Panamanians. This quaint little area is lined with cobblestone streets and has numerous not-to-be-missed sites that we will visit on our walking tour of the area.

A monument to the French entrepreneurs who began the Panama Canal stands at the bayside end of the Casco Viejo. There is also an adjacent 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, the Presidential Palace and other numerous colonial churches and monuments.

Miraflores Locks/ Panama Canal: This classic experience brings you to the very best that Panama has to offer: The Panama Canal. Witness the magnificent Miraflores Locks, how they operate, and the “mules” that assist the ships from an observation deck high above the operations.  An expert canal guide will take us back in time to make us feel like we are a part of the Canal.  This tour will also include a visit to the Miraflores Locks Exhibits.

Amador Causeway: As part of this wonderful tour, we will visit the “Causeway”, a group of three islands linked to main land by the breakwaters of the Panama Canal. The US Army used this area for the defense of the Panama Canal, due to its strategic location along the Pacific entrance to the Canal.  Today the Causeway boasts numerous restaurants offering fine international cuisine, great bars and pulsating nightlife, shopping and the new Flamenco Cruise Terminal.

Artisan Shopping: Panama boasts 7 indigenous tribes and all of them produce  beautiful, handcrafted treasures.  Here you can shop for handmade baskets, wood carvings from the precious coco bolo wood, unique jewelry, treasured mola appliqué materials sewn by the Kuna Yala Indians of the San Blas islands, rainforest styled gifts and a plethora of Panama Canal memorabilia.

Night at HOTEL LE MERIDIEN – DELUXE ROOM (BL)

Day 3

Transfer to Boquete in Panama’s Western Highlands

Today you will be transferred by a private air-conditioned vehicle to Panama City’s domestic Albrook Airport for the short flight to David.  Once you land in David it is a nice one hour drive to Boquete.

You will have the rest of the day at leisure to discover the restaurants and shops of Boquete or simply relax at your boutique hotel.

Night at VALLE ESCONDIDO RESORT AND SPA – DELUXE ROOM  (B)

Day 4

Wildlife Expedition

Today we will get off the beaten path on a true Panama eco adventure with the Wildlife Expedition. You will experience an exclusive wildlife exploration to private remote estates and wildlife sanctuaries.  You will be picked up at your hotel by your guide in a 4 x 4 Land Cruiser and then you will visit out of the way places where few others have had the opportunity to explore.

All the explorations have been custom designed by Panamanian Guides. We have chosen the best locations to see the Resplendent Quetzal, Howler Monkeys, Agouti Paka, white Nosed Coati and Pygmy Squirrel. We never kow what we will see as the abundance of wildlife varies by season.

There will be some excellent opportunities to take photos throughout the entire adventure.  We will also embark on a moderate hike along a marked trail in the rainforest.  Along this trail, there may be white tailed deer, snakes, spiders, butterflies, frogs, caterpillars, armadillos, and beautiful birds, among other species of the rainforest.

Night at VALLE ESCONDIDO RESORT AND SPA – DELUXE ROOM (B)

Day 5

Boquete Canopy Adventure Zipline Tour

Today may very well be the highlight of your Panama trip as you soar high above the ground through the rainforest.  You will glide through the treetops of century-old forests, high above the pristine rivers and waterfalls that make up the incredible collection of natural landscapes bordering La Amistad National Park and the famous Baru Volcano.

Who would have thought that a technology utilized hundreds of years ago by our indigenous people and later perfected by botanists and naturalists to observe and study the behaviors of wild creatures in their natural habitat, would be transformed into one of the most revered extreme adventure sports?
A harness, an ultra-resistant steel cable and gravity are the only elements necessary to suspend and propel the “fearless rider” in this incredible “adrenaline rush”.

Night at VALLE ESCONDIDO RESORT AND SPA – DELUXE ROOM (B)

Day 6

Transfer to Panama City

You will have a morning transfer from Boquete to David for the short flight back to Panama City.  The private, air conditioned transfer will drop you off at the Hotel Panama or stop for some shopping at your leisure.  Afternoon at leisure.

Night at COUNTRY INN AND SUITES AMADOR – CANAL VIEW ROOM (B)

Day 7

Historical Portobelo, Gatun Locks, and Panama Railway along the Panama Canal

Train Passage along the Panama Canal

You will be picked up at your hotel for the private transfer to Corozal station where you will board the comfortable train for a historical ride alongside the Panama Canal. This railroad, constructed with immense drama, snakes its way past protected rainforests, the river feeding the Canal and the once largest man-made lake in the world, the Gatun Lake. You will have unsurpassed views of the 8th wonder of the world and the giant ships transferring between two seas as well as of the spectacular nature of the isthmus where native Indians still live in the jungles and a vast array of birds and wildlife can be encountered.
Originally completed in 1855, The Panama Railroad became the first transcontinental railroad. The French Panama Canal Company purchased the railroad in 1880 to assist in their attempt to build the Panama Canal. In 1904, the United States purchased the New Panama Canal Company’s assets from the French, including the railroad. The United States rebuilt and operated the railroad until 1979, when it was transferred to Panama under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. In 1998, Panama privatized the railroad and awarded a 50-year concession to the Panama Canal Company, a joint venture of Kansas City Southern and Mi-Jack Products, to rebuild and operate the line. The new “reborn” railroad began operations in 2000. The visual charms of this train ride will make this an unforgettable trip.

Historic Portobelo

Portobelo is a sleepy bayside town full of colonial history where you will feel transported back in time. Here, you will encounter no less than 5 colonial fortifications where the canons are still pointing their mouths towards the bay they once protected. Portobelo is also home to the statue of the Black Christ, which according to the legend possesses divine powers, that has several times prevented the statue from being removed from here. Other monuments of interest are: The Custom House (counting house) built in 1640 and the Hospital Chapel built in the year 1597.

Gatun Locks

Off all three sets of Locks those at Gatun might be the most impressive and worthwhile visiting. Due to the fact that all three chambers are connected, you’ll have the opportunity to see the entire process completed in one set of locks. On the Pacific side the process is split into two distinct sets of Locks. It takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hours for a vessel to complete the transit at Gatun Locks, regardless of whether it’s heading northbound or southbound.
While there is a rather large roof that overhangs the front portion, nice pictures can be taken from here. As in Miraflores, there are bilingual guides providing narration as the ships slide through the Locks. Public bathrooms and bottles of water are available. There is a small gift shop at the entrance, to the left side, where they sell souvenirs.

Night at COUNTRY INN AND SUITES AMADOR – CANAL VIEW ROOM (BL)

Day 8

Chagres River & the Embera Indigenous People

Early morning you will meet your Naturalist Guide who will take you 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 will board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) and travel up the Chagres River. The journey will take you through the rainforest of the 129,500 hectares (320,000 acres) 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 Keel-billed Toucans and Ospreys flying above.

Upon arrival at the Embera village, you will be greeted with 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 will head back to Panama City.

Night at HOTEL EL PANAMA (BL)

Day 9

Partial Panama Canal Transit

Today you will experience a partial transit of the Panama Canal. Drive to Gamboa where you will begin the journey heading south on Gatun Lake. At this point the ship will be sailing at 26m (85 feet) above sea level. Shortly after departure, the ship will enter Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. The 13.7Km (8.5 Miles) long portion of the Continental Divide was carved through rock and shale at the beginning of the last century when the canal began operating (1914).

Panama is currently undertaking the monumental task of expanding the Panama Canal. The US$5.25 billion grand-scale project is constructing larger locks and deepening the channel to accommodate post-Panamax ships, the largest of all cargo ships that now have to bypass this waterway. The project is estimated to be completed by 2015. You will have the opportunity to look at the work in progress on this extraordinary engineering venture.

The ship will reach Pedro Miguel locks, where the vessel will be lowered 9.4 meters into Miraflores Lake. After traveling nearly 2 kilometers you arrive at Miraflores locks, where the transition from fresh water to salt water takes place in the chambers of the locks. Due to the Pacific Ocean’s extreme tidal variations, the miter gates of the Miraflores Locks are the tallest of the locks system. In two steps, the vessel will be lowered 16.6 meters onto the Pacific Ocean. You will then sail under the bridge of the Americas, which reunites the land divided by the Panama Canal as part of the Pan-American Highway. The Amador Marina will be your final destination, where you will disembark and return to your hotel.

Night at GAMBOA RAINFOREST RESORT – DELUXE RIVER VIEW ROOM WITH BALCONY & HAMMOCK (BL)

Day 10

Gamboa Rainforest Resort Monkey Island, Aerial Tram and Ecological Exhibitions

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.

This is an exceptional place to experience the sights and sounds of the jungle up close. Our trained naturalist guides will ensure that you have an outstanding nature experience by tracing the wildlife as well as educating you about it and its habitat throughout this exceptional jungle and canal adventure.

Night at GAMBOA RAINFOREST RESORT – DELUXE RIVER VIEW ROOM WITH BALCONY & HAMMOCK (BL)

Day 11

Depart Panama

Today you will be picked up in the lobby of the hotel about 2.5 hours prior to your scheduled departure flight to be transferred to Tocumen International Airport.

(B)

 

This is a private tour so it can be customized to be longer with add-ons to San Blas, Bocas del Toro, or the Pacific Beaches!

Contact Us for More Information! 

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