Panama Discovery - Highlands to the Sea

Panama Canal watershed, Chiriqui highlands, and Bocas del Toro
Overview

overview

This trip is a great introduction to the country's natural environments, including the Panama Canal watershed, the country's tallest mountains in the Chiriqui highlands, and the alluring Caribbean Sea archipelago of Bocas del Toro.  Marvel at one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of all time while scanning for wildlife along the shoreline; enjoy the pleasant upcountry climate while exploring the lovely mountain towns of the country's highest province; and relax on beautiful, forested jungle islands while seeking out the flora, fauna, and indigenous people unique to this spectacular, isolated region.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Panama City

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

    Lodging
    Holiday Inn Panama Canal (or similar)
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  • Day 2: Chagres River/Embera Indians
    Learn about the Embera Indians

    Early in the morning, you are picked up at the hotel lobby by a naturalist guide for a one-hour drive 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. Board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) and travel up the Chagres River to the Embera indigenous village of Embera Drua. The boat journey goes through the rainforest of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park, the largest of the national parks protecting the Panama Canal watershed. Along the Chagres River, search for little blue and green herons, great egrets, anhingas, neotropical cormorants, Amazon, ringed, and green kingfishers, along with keel-billed toucans and ospreys. On arrival in the Embera village, enjoy dancing and music, and learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature. There will be handicrafts available for sale as well as an opportunity to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Embera use to adorn their bodies. After a picnic lunch, visit the nearby waterfall and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Chagres River before heading back to Panama City.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Holiday Inn Panama Canal (or similar)
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  • Day 3: Jungle Boat Adventure/Miraflores Locks
    Watch the canal in operation

    Early in the morning, you will be picked up at the hotel by a naturalist guide and transferred to the town of Gamboa in the Panama Canal and board a specially-equipped expedition boat. Enjoy the voyage across the Panama Canal, passing by gigantic cargo ships that contrast with the natural surroundings. Along the way, search for sloths and green iguanas resting on tree branches, ospreys, snail kites, toucans, and other bird species. Our comfortable expedition boat travels close enough to Gatun Lake's rainforest-covered islands to afford sightings of white-faced capuchins, howler monkeys, spider monkesy, and the endemic red-napped tamarin. After a picnic lunch, return to Gamboa and drive to the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center to visit multiple exhibits about the canal and to see it in operation. Transfer to the domestic airport of Albrook for the scheduled flight to David, capital of the Chiriqui province. Chiriqui is known as “Panama’s breadbasket” and contains some of the most breathtaking highland scenery in Central America. Travel along the eastern side of the dormant Baru Volcano to the quaint town of Boquete, nestled in a craggy mountain valley with a countryside dotted with flower, fruit, and vegetable farms, coffee plantations, and extraordinary cloud forest environments.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Ladera (or similar)
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  • Day 4: Cloud Forest Ziplining/Coffee Tour

    This morning, take a cloud forest canopy tree trek on a zipline that that affords views of the rainforest from 14 different canopy platforms while smoothly soaring in the heights of the cloud forest from one treetop to another. Glide through the trees and encounter a world of unknowns.  Discover a fascinating new perspective on wildlife and observe native species of flora and fauna.  Marvel at the sight of a great variety of orchids, trees, and wildflowers found throughout the area. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

    This afternoon, have an interactive experience with coffee at Cafe Ruiz. The experts will explain all of the steps of the coffee bean process from picking to brewing. This is no ordinary coffee as Casa Ruiz is the leading quality coffee company in Boquete. Enjoy a freshly-brewed cup of coffee while watching the spectacular sunset over the Baru Volcano, the highest peak of the country at 11,400 feet above sea level.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Ladera (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Continental Divide/Bocas del Toro

    Explore the cloud forest of the Baru Volcano National Parl on a morning nature walk. At an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level, look for the elusive resplendent Quetzal, the three-wattled bellbird, the black-faced solitaire, the volcano hummingbird, the long-tailed silky-flycatcher, and the prong-billed barbet in their cool habitat of orchids, bromeliads, and wild avocados. Hike through lush vegetation and enjoy lunch before you return to your hotel and prepare for the drive to Almirante, Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side. En route, stop to view the impressive Fortuna Dam and spectacular waterfalls along the Continental Divide. You will be crossing the Palo Seco Protected Area that serves as buffer zone to La Amistad International Park. The transition from the cloud forests to the coral reefs of Bocas del Toro is dramatic. In Almirante, you are met by boat and transferred to Colon Island. There will be ample time this afternoon to enjoy the hammocks on the upstairs deck of the hotel or mingle with the locals in this small friendly town.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Bocas Inn (or similar)
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  • Day 6: Bastimentos Marine Park & Village Visit
    Look closely for the monkeys

    Depart by boat from the Bocas Inn, traversing the expanse of Bastimentos National Park, Panama’s first marine national park. Reach Salt Creek by navigating through clusters of red mangroves which provide sea creatures with a protective area during their reproductive and development stages. Upon arrival, enjoy a walk along Caiman trail, which meanders through several stages of lowland forest. Look for birds such as the red-throated ant tanager and the golden-collared manakin and mammals such as night monkeys, white-faced capuchins, and three-toed sloths. An older tract of rainforest has tall trees that provide life to birds such as the three-wattled bellbird and the green-breasted mango. A nearby lagoon is home to spectacled caimans and slider turtles. On the ground, look for the tiny endemic poison dart frog, Dendrobates Pumilio. After the hike, enjoy a visit to the indigenous community and a chance to purchase handicrafts such as painted woodcarvings and Ngobe handbags. After this, enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, snorkel among mangroves and coral reefs, searching for numerous fish species, brightly colored sea fans, sponges, and brittle starfish.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Bocas Inn (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Boca Del Drago/Panama City
    Look for these beautiful birds

    Early in the morning, take a boat ride to Boca del Drago around Colon Island. Weather permitting, visit Swan's Cay, a rock protruding from the depths of the Caribbean Sea, which serves as rookery for red-billed tropic birds (the only place they are found in Panama) and brown boobies. Along the coastline on the return to the lodge, stop for snorkeling at coral reefs and mangrove isles. Back at the lodge, have lunch and prepare for the return flight to Panama City. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel with a stop on the way at the Balboa handicraft market for some last-minute shopping. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Holiday Inn Panama Canal (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Onward

    Transfer to Tocumen International Airport for departure flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Dec 22-29, 2014
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$2,725
Holiday surcharges apply
Single Supplement:
$600
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

*RAFTING EXCURSION: Minimum age restrictions will apply and depend upon the River Class and Section being run. Participants are expected to listen and follow instructions given both before and during the river outing. Some river sections are tougher than others and require an honest assessment of participants’ physical fitness level and capabilities. Participants must alert Journeys as to any physical conditions that may impede performance on the river in advance. Persons suspected of being under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any other mind-altering substance will not be allowed to participate on the river trip. No refunds will be issued in this event.

Duration:
8 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
2
comfortable & delightful hotels
Group Size:
4-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
comfortable & delightful hotels

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

San Blas

Duration: 3 days

Add the San Blas Islands for 2 nights!  Located along the northeastern coast of Panama, in the Caribbean Sea, the San Blas are home to the Guna Indians who have been granted regional autonomy. Learn about Guna traditions, relax on the beach, snorkel... read more

Panama Canal Transit

Duration: 1 days

Passengers aboard a ship crossing the Panama Canal will have the opportunity to see one of the modern wonders of the world in operation.

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