EMBERA INDIAN VILLAGE
The day tour of the Chocoe-Embera Indian communities in Chagres National Park takes about 8 hours.
After breakfast, your private guide will meet you at the hotel at 8am to begin. This cultural and natural history adventure takes you to an indigenous community and begins with a ride in a "piragua" (a native boat) following the route commonly used by the Indians for their daily transport along the Chagres River. Then hike through the forest with a local indigenous guide, an expert who will explain the botanical aspects of the trail and the culture of this authentic village. The hike will take you to a waterfall, where you will be able to swim or relax or just enjoy the beautiful surroundings. In the community you will witness the artisan’s handmade
crafts and enjoy the knowledge of botanical plants. Their cultural dances and music will take you back centuries. If you would like you can also paint your body as they do with the fruit known as Jagua. We can also observe the grand variety of birds found in these areas, walk in the jungle, explore waterfalls and learn from a magical culture - all in just one day. (Please note there may be cultural nudity as sometimes the women go topless in addition to the men and children.)
The Chocoe Indigenous group is divided in two smaller groups: Chocoe-Wounaan and Chocoe-Embera. These two groups have exactly the same roots. They originally came from the ancient Great Colombia over 300 years ago, and settled down mainly in the Darien Jungle. Their behavior is the same: both have the ancestral use of the blowgun with poison darts for hunting purposes, men wear loincloth, their house system is based on (Tambos) elevated-bin houses with palm-leave roofs. They decorate their bodies using a mixture of ashes and plant pigments and they both are master wood carvers and basket weavers. The only difference between these groups is their language. Although, their communication system is very similar, they do not understand each other. One of the remarkable contrasts seen in the modern city of Panama is their coexistence with the Chocoe-Wounaan and Chocoe-Embera community in the watershed of the Panama Canal, still living like the way their ancestors did in the past, keeping their customs.
You may admire the famous Taguas and other crafts made by the Embera. The Embera are unique wood carvers and they specialize in the carving of precious Cocobolo tree wood. They are also fantastic basket weavers; sometimes they spend several days on just one piece. In short, their handcrafts are real art pieces and they are available for you to purchase. During your visit, the Embera will perform a welcome flute dance. After a typical lunch of fish, rice and plantains, you have time to rest, or if desired, you can swim and enjoy the cool waters of the river. Late afternoon return to the hotel around 4pm.
PARTIAL CANAL CRUISE
Enjoy a Partial Canal Transit from La Playita de Amador to Gamboa. This tour gives you the opportunity to transit two sets of Locks. The ship departs La Playita in Amador in Panama City and goes under the legendary Las Americas bridge and into the Miraflores Locks.The ship is raised up to 54 feet in a two step process. This feat is achieved by sending water from Pedro Miguel’s lake by gravity to fill the chambers where the ship is locked. Once the process is finished, you cruise into Pedro Miguel’s Lake to clear the second set of locks at Pedro Miguel and rise another 41 feet to the Gaillard cut, the most difficult portion in the quest to build the canal. This cut ends at the Gatun Lake, once the largest man made lake in the world. Disembarking at Gamboa you are then transferred by bus back to your hotel. The tour includes lunch on board.
GAMBOA GATUN LAKE BOAT CRUISE
Pick up at your Panama City hotel and drive to Gamboa where we will join our naturalist guide for this lake adventure of sights and sounds. First, we travel at high speed on small boats northbound (Atlantic) on the canal for 25 minutes past any big ships that transit the canal daily. Then, slowly, we motor along the forested banks of Gatun Lake (also a protected area) and look for wildlife such as Capuchin Monkeys, Three-Toed Sloths, Howler Monkeys, various kinds of Toucans and other types of birds. Afterward return to the hotel. (Total tour is about 5 hours.)
GAMBOA AERIAL TRAM
We pick you up from your Hotel in Panama City and drive for 45 minutes to Gamboa. The aerial tram ride traverses a mile long tract of Humid Forest that lies within the Gamboa resort boundaries. We observe the forest canopy in some areas and are likely to encounter birds and hear Howler monkeys. The tram ascends 280 feet over half a mile and ends atop a hill. From here we walk two minutes to the observation tower (which is optional). Then we proceed to the exhibits area. The snake exhibit gives the opportunity of seeing live snakes from a short distance behind the safety of our terrariums. The butterfly exhibit is also a nursery where an expert in butterflies explains the complete life cycle from egg, caterpillar to the final stage the butterfly. In the aquarium we have fresh water fish from the tropical areas of America, Africa and Asia. This colorful exhibit also host reptiles such as crocodiles, caimans and turtles. Finally we visit the model Indian village with an Emberá guide who explains some aspects of there culture including rituals, traditional medicine, utensils of everyday use and some of their cultivated foods. Includes transportation and admission fees. Meals are not included. Tour lasts about 6 hours.
Along the Panama Canal, there is one of the most remarkable natural reserves of Panama, the Soberania National Park. This protected area is part of the basin of Gatun Lake, whose water is used for the dairy transit of the ships through this Inter-oceanic way. Although the protection of these forests was born originally to the maintenance of the Canal function, it has brought protection to one of the richest ecosystems of the world. Soberania National Park offers you a chance to experience the Canopy Tower, which was used as a radar base for the American Air Force. It has been arranged in such a manner that gives nature lovers the opportunity to observe local and migratory bird species. On the top of Semaforo Hill, the tower permits the visitors watch the wildlife from a different view, nearer and over the canopy of the forest, exposing the fauna that regularly is difficult to see from the bottom of the forest for their behavior. From the tower, you can also see Gillard Cut, the stretch part of the Panama Canal, that actually is being widened. Enjoy breakfast while looking the magnificence of nature. If you take the afternoon version you may see predator birds at their peak and have lunch. You may also explore the natural trails around the area and see exhibits about the natural environments. A specialized nature guide will share information about the lush ecosystem.
PEACOCK BASS FISHING IN THE PANAMA CANAL
Peacock Bass were introduced into the expansive Gatun Lake in the 1960's. Today the population is abundant with catches of 50 plus fish a day not unheard and up to 5 to 8 lbs in size. Since 1958 the Cichla Pleiozona species of Peacock Bass have flourished to become the dominant angling game fish in Gatun Lake, part of the Panama Canal. The aggressive fish is an angler's dream come true. They hit topwater lures, subsurface lures imitating baitfish, and a variety of fly patterns.
When hooked, they perform admirably, generating a respectable fight on appropriate tackle. Oddly, they have a preference for feeding during daylight hours. Lake Gatun remains to this day, as it has been for more than 50 years, one of the best peacock bass angling lakes in the world. In addition to the famous Peacock Bass, locally called Sargento, you may also catch snook, small tarpon, carp, oscars and other and cichlids. You depart your Panama City Hotel around 6am for the drive to Gamboa. On the lake you fish coves where you will also be able to admire the rainforest and wildlife from the boat. Return around your hotel around 1pm. Includes ground transportation, stocked boat with fishing equipment and bait, lunch, snacks and soft drinks. Notify in advance to stock cooler with beer if desired.
CITY AND CANAL DAY TOUR
After being picked up at your hotel at around 9am, you ride through the sites of modern Panama City on your way to the Colonial City or "Casco Antiguo". Built in 1673, the Colonial City has Spanish architecture. Driving through the stretched streets, plazas and public parks that still conserve part of our history, you will experience the flavor of our heritage. See France Plaza, Las Bovedas, San Jose Church (with its wonderful gold altar), the Flat Arch, and Cathedral Church. You will also see where the French workers (lead by Ferdinand de Lesseps who initiated the project of the Panama Canal) had their homes some built in the French architectural style. The Panama Canal Inter-oceanic Museum is located here as well as the Palacio de las Garzas, the President of Panama´s official office. You will ride to the enchanted Balboa area (a residential area of the former Panama Canal Zone) now reverted to Panama. Admire the Panama Canal Administration Building on a hill and then head to Miraflores Locks where we will have the chance to see the vessels while transit the locks. Includes a visit to the new MirafloresVisitor´s Center to see canal related memorabilia and to watch a presentation that explains the operation of this important Inter-oceanic waterway. Finally we will take you to the Amador Causeway, a man made connection of three islands, where you will have a breathtaking view of the city. There will also be time to purchase items ranging from handicrafts to electronics in Duty Free stores. Includes transportation and admission fees. Meals are not included. Tour lasts about 7 hours.
PORTOBELLA HISTORY TOUR
Today you will have an appointment with history. When the Spanish colonies were at their prime and the conquest of the Inca Empire was accomplished, the Spaniards set their eyes in strategic sites of Panama to transfer their cargo from coast to coast. Portobelo was the end of the Royal Road (Camino Real), a path between the oceans that started in the Old Panama City. There, the Old Spanish galleons unloaded their treasures to be transferred across the Isthmus, loaded onto vessels waiting in Portobelo, and then transferred to the Old World. These activities attracted Pirates and Buccaneers, forcing the Spanish conquerors to build forts for protection and customs. Nevertheless, all this was strategically planned. Sir Francis Drake, a British Buccaneer, sacked and destroyed Portobelo, where he was later killed in a battle. His body remains in a lead coffin in the bottom of the ocean in Portobelo Bay. In the 20th century, Portobelo was known as the site of the procession of the Black Christ, held every October. This activity attracts thousands of pilgrims from Panama and other countries.
Leaving from Panama early in the morning around 7am, we´ll head to the Atlantic coast following a portion of Camino Real. Once in Portobelo, the informative tour guide will take you to the Black Christ Church, the historic Customs House, and the forts of the area. Also enjoy a Caribbean style seafood lunch in a restaurant overlooking the Bay of Portobelo, and return to Panama City in the afternoon. Includes transportation and admission fees. Meals are not included. Tour lasts about 7 hours.
GATUN LAKE AND MONKEY ISLAND
Departing around 8:30am, you soon board a motorboat to explore the waterways of Panama, navigating through ancient routes that crossed the isthmus long before the creation of the lakes. Glide across lush forests to a scenic region of the lake and witness firsthand the splendor and excitement of the jungle on Monkey Island. The sights, sounds and scents that make up this tropical paradise are overwhelming. The second stop will be the old military facilities of the radio station that served as a communications center during the Second World War. After this, we’ll take our boat off the beaten path to “Sounds of Silence” Island where there’s plenty of room for you to relax and enjoy a picnic. Explore on your own while kayaking, swimming, and fishing. If you prefer, just relax on the island and sip a cool drink while taking in the beauty of the area. Includes transportation and admission fees. Meals are not included. Tour lasts about 4 hours.
PIPELINE ROAD IN SOBERANIA NATIONAL PARK
This day is for nature lovers, especially for those who enjoy birdwatching at its best. Pipeline road is within Soberania National Park and this lush park belongs to the Panama Canal Watershed. This protected forest shelters 385 bird species, which were counted in 24 hours, in the 1985 Christmas Bird Count organized by the Panama Audubon Society. This figure established a new Guinness record. Pipeline Road is also subject of different scientific research from several institutions, including studies of plants, insects, reptiles, mammals and much more. Departing around 9am, you naturalist tour guide will expose you the secrets of this tropical rainforest while you walk along Pipeline Road. On the way back, stop at Miraflores Locks to watch the Panama Canal video and see how big vessels transit the locks of the Canal. You will have free time to enjoy lunch, on your own, at the Visitors Center of the Canal with a spectacular view of the locks. The return to the hotel will be after lunch. Includes transportation and admission fees. Meals are not included. Tour lasts about 6 hours.
SOBERANIA NATIONAL PARK AND SUMMIT GADRENS
Along both banks of the Panama Canal there are two portions of important rainforest that supply all the water that helps the Inter-oceanic way function. Among them is Soberania National Park which is full of remarkable trails and interesting areas for scientific research. This lush park belongs to the Panama Canal Watershed. Summit's true grandeur becomes apparent when it is considered according to its flora.
There is no arboretum anywhere with a better selection of palm trees. Yes, Summit's standing in the world of botanical gardens would be enhanced by a greenhouse or two that would allow the cultivation and display of exotic species that can't grow outdoors here, but from the plant perspective this park is world class and has been since long before it came into the city's hands. Summit is one of the things Panama received as part of the old Canal Zone's reversion. Early in the history of that former strip of Americana, a bit of the Continental Divide was set aside for the purposes of recreation and botanical study, such that by World War II it had the world's leading palm tree collection. After the 1977 Carter-Torrijos Treaties, Summit became a city park and the forested area surrounding it became a national park. Our guided hike on the El Charco trail begins in the early morning hours around 7am, when wildlife activity is high. Enjoy observing a variety of plants an animals in their natural habitat. We will pass through the Summit Gardens and Zoo. Afterwards, we will return to the city for lunch and back to your hotel afterwards. Includes transportation, lunch and admission fees. Tour lasts about 6 hours.
This guide nature walk departs daily at 7am from your hotel. The Metropolitan Park is the closest natural reserve to Panama City, only 15 minutes away from the core of the commercial activity of Panama. It has 260 hectares of protected tropical rainforest, that has been subject for researchers from several prestigious institutions. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has assembled a crane in this park to study the biological activity that takes place in the canopy of the forest. This enables scientists to analyze the behavior and migration activity of plants and animals at different heights of the forest. This tour is excellent for those who have limited time, and still want a rich tropical forest experience. The naturalist tour guide will expose you to the best of the Neotropical Rainforest. The nature walk lasts about 2 hours.
DINNER AND FOLKLORIC SHOW
Panama has been a melting pot for several cultures. Originally, native indian groups created their acoustic instruments using parts of plants and shells of different animals, and later Spanish conquerors brought their influence from the Old World. The Afro-Caribbeans also contributed to it when they came for the Canal construction. These and other small groups gave birth to, what is today, one of the most attractive and folkloric heritages of Latin America. The show is fully allegoric with traditional acoustic music and musicians. Dancers (including women wearing the unique "Pollera") exhibit hand made cotton dresses complemented by precious body and head jewelry. Men´s typical attire is relatively simple. However, their hats are finely hand-made by excellent artisans that spend weeks creating only one piece. Their cotton shirts boast golden or pearl bottoms. You can enjoy the fabulous show while tasting excellent Panamanian cuisine. Tour lasts about 3 hours.
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