This tour features Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Chagres National Park, Embera indigenous village, Boquette, Volcan Baru National Park's Quetzal Trail, Bocas Del Toro, Bastimentos National Park, and Panama Canal.
With a unique geographical position that supports more diversity of wildlife than any country in Central America, Panama is one of the best ecotourism destinations in the Americas and the world. This tour focuses on the ecology and culture of the isthmus and each day is dedicated to exploring each a different realm of this tropical paradise.
There is no better way to learn about Panama than by visiting! Over nine fun-filled days we will tour the world-famous Panama Canal, travel to an Embera indigenous village, and explore among a variety of rainforest habitats, looking for wildlife including monkeys, colorful birds, and two species of sloth.
We will experience the best of Panama’s bio diversity by hiking in a cloud forest, taking a jungle boat canal tour, zip-lining in the canopy below Volcan Baru, snorkeling the azure blue waters of the Caribbean and visiting an incredible botanical garden. This adventure will introduce you to amazing wonders that are the Isthmus of Panama.
Day 1 Arrival to Panama
Upon arrival to Panama you will be met in the Tocumen International airport and escorted to your accommodations at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Nestled among the vast Soberania National Park Rainforest on the banks of the Chagres River and Panama Canal, is this stunningly beautiful luxury hotel and resort.
Day 2 Chagres River & the Embera Indigenous
This is a perfect opportunity to visit an indigenous village in the midst of a wonderful natural setting that supports the harmony of their lifestyle and traditions. Early in the morning guests are picked up at their hotel and transferred to Port 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, we board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) and travel up the Chagres River to the Embera indigenous village of Embera Drua or Tusipono. The boat journey takes us through the rainforest of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park, which is the largest of the National Parks protecting the Panama Canal Watershed.
At the Embera village we will be greeted with dancing and music. We will learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature. There will be handcrafts available for sale and we will have a chance to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Embera use to adorn their bodies. After a lunch of fish, plantain, and fresh fruit served in traditional style by the Embera, we visit the nearby waterfall where we can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Chagres River before heading back to Gamboa. B,L,D
Day 3 Wild Side of the Panama Canal & Flight to Chiriqui
Where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal we will board an expedition boat and depart on an adventure within Gatun Lake and the Panama Canal passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway, contrasting with the natural surroundings. Gatun Lake was formed to give way to the Panama Canal in 1914. With a surface of 423 square-kilometers, at the time of its creation it was the largest man-made lake in the world.
The flow of all the rivers within the Panama Canal Watershed is contained in Gatun Lake to provide water for the operation of the canal lock system. More than 52 million gallons of fresh water are used for every ship that transits through the Panama Canal from ocean to ocean. Our expedition boat allows shoreline access to the rainforest-covered islands (former hill tops) in Gatun Lake to search for white-faced capuchin, mantled howler monkey, central american spider monkey, and Geoffrey’s tamarin. We are likely to spot green iguana and three-toed sloth resting on tree branches, crocodile napping on beaches, osprey hunting for peacock bass, snail kite, and keel-billed toucan.
At lunchtime we’ll head to the Miraflores Visitor Center (MVC) where we will dine on a terrace overlooking the locks as the massive ships are tendered through. MVC is located on the east side of the Miraflores Locks allowing visitors to observe transiting vessels from a distance of only a few meters and learn firsthand about the various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its participation in the world markets, and the importance of its watershed.
In the late afternoon we’ll board a plane for the short flight to the Chiriqui highlands where we’ll embrace the mild climate of this beautiful mountainous region surrounded by cloud forest and coffee plantations. B,L,D
Day 4 Hiking the Losa Quetzales Trail
This morning we’ll depart early from Boquete to the trailhead of the Sendero de los Quetzales Located within the Volcan Baru National Park. By beginning the hike from Cerro Punta we’ll walk the six mile trail that slopes downhill finishing in Boquete. Along the way we’ll have the opportunity to appreciate our beautiful surroundings, look for the resplendent quetzal, and enjoy a picnic lunch under the canopy of this tropical cloud forest. The afternoon will be free to explore the town of Boquete with its shops, cafes, and art galleries. B,L,D
Day 5 Boquete Tree Trek & Silico Ngobe Cocoa Farm & Bocas del Toro
This morning we’ll take the skies using the same technology that botanists and naturalists utilize to observe and study the behaviors of wildlife in their natural habitat. Gliding through the treetops of century-old forests, this vantage allows one to view the natural landscape with its pristine rivers and waterfalls from a different perspective as we move through the canopy bordering La Amistad National Park and Volcan Baru.
After lunch we'll make the scenic drive over the Talamanca mountain range from Chiriqui to the province of Bocas Del Toro where along the way we’ll visit the Ngobe indigenous village of Silico Creek. Here we’ll see how the organic cocoa is grown and processed into chocolate. Once we reach the town of Almirante on the shores of the Caribbean we’ll take a boat ride from mainland Panama to the archipelago of Bocas Del Toro. B,L,D
Day 6 Bocas Del Toro - Bastimentos Marine National Park
This day is spent exploring both the terrestrial and under water wonders of Bastimentos National Park. First we visit Salt Creek, another Ngobe village, where we’ll be greeted by our local guide Salino, who will lead us through his nature trail where we have the opportunity to see sloths, monkeys, including the western night monkey, birds, Caymans, and the famous red strawberry frog, a poison dart frog that lives on the island. Lunch will be enjoyed at a restaurant by the sea, built on stilts out over the water. With a full stomach we’ll head for a short on respite on Red Frog Beach where one can lie in sun or take a swim in the Caribbean. The afternoon will be spent snorkeling Tino’s reef and sponge garden and Solarte Gardens which are teaming with tropical fish and multiple varieties of coral and sponges. B,L,D )
Day 7 Finca Monos Botanical Garden & Return to Panama
Over the past 2 decades, the owners of this finca have turned their 20 acres of forest into a botanical garden that not only maintains the beauty of the natural forest but also incorporates many ornamental, fruiting and flowering plant species that attract and incredible abundance of wild life, particularly monkeys (hence the name Monkey Farm).
From the visitor’s center, the meandering pathway begins in the palm garden where stately Traveler’s trees stand tall alongside palms originating from all around the world. A flower-covered pergola forms a whimsical tunnel onto a hillside covered with bright red & pink gingers and colorful hibiscus that flower all year round. Humming birds and butterflies are constantly drawn to the nectar of these exquisite tropical flowers.
After our visit to the finca we will have some time to explore around Bocas Town for some last minute shopping before our evening flight back to Panama. B,L,D
Day 8 Panama City Tour
Today we will explore the ruins of Old Panama founded in 1519 and the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific side of the Americas. Our guide will lead us on an exploration of what remains of the cities original convents and seminaries, which were looted and destroyed by pirates in 1671. Our next stop will be Casco Antiguo, the historic center of Panama City. It is a quiet, charming district of narrow streets overlooked by the flower bedecked balconies of two and three-story houses. If open, we will visit the famous Frank Gehry Bio Museo, dedicated to the raising of the Isthmus and the Great Biotic Interchange.
The Tonight we bid farewell at local restaurant in Casco Antiguo. B,L,D
Day 9 Panama Departure
Today we’ll say “hasta luego” to this enchanting country and return home, where you’ll be eager to share your incredible Panama experiences. B
Included in Package:
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
- All land and water transportation within Panama
- All airport/hotel transfers on scheduled arrivals and departures
- Certified Interpretive Naturalist Guides’ services and expenses
- Park, museum, and tour related entrance fees
- Services of an in-bound land operator for transportation re-confirmations and tour
Not Included in Package:
- International airfare
- Gratuities and extras in hotels (telephone calls, laundry, room service)
- Meals not specified in the itinerary or package
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal equipment
Gamboa Rainforest Resort (Nights 1 & 2)
Riverside Inn or Panamonte Inn and Spa (Nights 3 & 4)
Playa Tortuga (Nights 6 & 7)
Country Inn Amador at the Panama Canal (Nights 8 & 9)
This program can be operated year-round with a minimum of 2 persons. Call or email for more details and pricing during your travel dates.
Click below for other tour options in Panama:
8 Day/7 Night Itinerary
14 Day/13 Night Itinerary
7 Day/6 Night Itinerary
PANAMA NATURE & BEACH
8 Day/7 Night Itinerary
12 Day/11 Night Itinerary
7 Day/6 Night Itinerary
PANAMA CITY DAY TOURS
Sample of day tours available from Panama City