Tour Operator: Ancon Expeditions
Price: US$2,195 per person plus 7% tax
Duration: 8 days / 7 nights
Phone Number: (507) 269-9415
A country so small yet filled with exuberant rainforests, wildlife and a rich cultural heritage. Discovering Panama includes traversing on Panama Canal waters looking for Red-napped tamarins, riding on historic trains, hiking in cloud forests searching for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal and exploring the underwater world of the Caribbean Sea.
Day 1: Welcome To Panama
Arrival at Panama International Airport, where you will be met by a representative from Margo Tours and transferred to your hotel in Panama City. Overnight at Hotel Continental at Panamas financial district.
Day 2: Panama Canal Jungle Boat Adventure, Miraflores Locks
Early in the morning we are picked up by our Naturalist Guide and transferred to the town of Gamboa, at the Panama Canal, where we board a specially equipped expedition boat. The voyage takes us across Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway and making contrast with the natural surroundings.
Along the way, we will have the opportunity to spot Green iguana and Three-toed sloth resting on tree branches, crocodile, Osprey in the hunt for Peacock bass, Snail kite and Keel-billed toucan among other species.
The expedition boat will allow for close approximations to rainforest covered islands in Gatun Lake to search for White-faced capuchin, Howler monkey, Spider monkey and the endemic Red-napped tamarin.
We will have a picnic lunch on an island with extraordinary views of the Panama Canal and the natural surroundings. Early afternoon return to Gamboa and drive to the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center, where we'll visit multiple exhibits of the canal and have the opportunity to view the operations of the Panama Canal. This evening, we enjoy a welcome dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Bay of Panama. Night at the Country Inn, Panama Canal (B,L,D).
Day 3: The Trans, Isthmian Route
Pick up and transfer to the Corozal train station, where we board the famous Panama Canal Railway train for a 1 hour ride across the isthmus to the Caribbean port city of Colon.
From there we continue to the historic town of Portobelo famous for its trade fairs during the 17 th century and visit the old Customs building and the Spanish fortifications. Afterwards we travel west and cross the Panama Canal over the Gatun Locks and proceed to Fort San Lorenzo.
Built at the mouth of the Chagres River to fortify and protect the river entrance to Las Cruces Trail, it was also used as the port of entry for the gold diggers on their way to California in the 1880s during the Gold Rush.
We will be traveling along lush rainforest where we might have the opportunity to see more Monkeys, Sloths, Toucans and other wildlife. On the way back to Panama City, we visit the remnants of Las Cruces Trail, a 400 year old colonial trail used by the Spaniards to transport gold across the isthmus. Night at the Country Inn, Panama Canal (B,L,D).
Day 4: Chiriqui, Los Quetzales Trail or White Water Rafting
Early this morning we are transferred to Albrook domestic airport to board the 1-hour scheduled flight to David, capital of Chiriqui province. Chiriqui is known as â€œPanama's breadbasketâ€ and boasts some of the most breathtaking highland scenery in Central America. From the airport in David we will travel by van 2 hours to Cerro Punta from where we will start our 4-hour hike along Los Quetzales Trail, around the foothills of Baru Volcano, the highest peak of the country at 3,475 meters above sea level.
We will be hiking in the cloud forests of Baru Volcano National Park making several stops along the way to enjoy the views and to look for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal. Picnic lunch will be on the trail. We end near the town of Boquete where we are picked up and taken to our hotel in town.
For those who chose the white water rafting expedition, the outfitter's guide will pick us up from the airport in David for our approximate 1.5-hour drive to the river put-in. Our river experience will likely include Class III or IV sections of the Chiriqui River.
Drive time to and from the river as well as the length and difficulty of the rafting will depend upon which section of the Rio Chiriqui is being run. A picnic lunch will be served on the riverbank. At the end of the day travel to Boquete to meet the rest of the group. Night at Hotel Panamamonte (B,L,D).
Day 5: Finca Lerida, Continental Divide, Bocas del Toro
This morning we explore Finca Lerida, a privately owned preserve in Boquete, in the buffer zone of Baru Volcano National Park. At an elevation of 2,286 meters we have an opportunity to look for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, Three-wattled Bellbird, Black-faced Solitaire, Volcano Hummingbird, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher and Prong-billed Barbet in their cool habitat of orchids, bromeliads and wild avocados.
We will hike through lush vegetation and arrive at the Collin's shade-grown coffee farm where lunch will be served. We return to the hotel and prepare for our drive to Almirante, Bocas del Toro. In route across the Continental Divide, we stop at Fortuna Dam and spectacular waterfalls. We 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 in the Caribbean Sea will be impressive. In Almirante we are met by our boat and transferred to Colon Island.
After check-in we will enjoy a tropical cocktail offered by the lodge's manager. Afterwards we have ample time to enjoy the hammocks on the upstairs deck or mingle with the locals in the small friendly town. Night at the BOCAS INN (B,L,D)
Day 6: Salt Creek Village, Bastimentos Marine National Park
We depart by boat from the Bocas Inn traversing the expanse of Bastimentos National Park, Panama's first marine national park. We 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 we first enjoy a walk along Caiman trail. This trail takes us through several stages of lowland forest dynamics. Here, we will look for birds such as Red-throated Ant Tanager and Golden-collared Manakin (Cerritus sub sp.). Mammals such as:
- Night Monkeys
- White-faced Capuchins
- Three-toed Sloths
An older tract of rainforest has tall trees that provide life to birds such as the Three-wattled Bellbird and Green-breasted Mango. A nearby lagoon is home to Spectacled Cayman and Slider Turtle. On the ground we will look for the tiny endemic poison dart frog Dendrobates Pumilio.
After the hike, we enjoy a visit to the indigenous community and a chance to purchase handicrafts such as painted woodcarvings and Ngobe handbags, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, we will snorkel among mangroves and coral reefs, searching for numerous fish species, as well as dynamic and brightly colored sea fans, sponges and brittle starfish. Night at Bocas Inn (B,L,D).
Day 7: Boca del Drago, Panama City
Early in the morning we take a boat ride to Boca del Drago around Colon Island. Weather permitting, we 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 to be found in Panama) and Brown boobies. Along the coastline, returning to the lodge, we make stops at coral reefs and mangrove isles for snorkeling. Back at the lodge we have lunch and get ready for our return flight to Panama City. Upon arrival we will be transferred to our hotel with a stop on the way at the Balboa handicraft market for some last minute shopping. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Night at the Hotel Executive (B,L,D).
Day 8: Depart Panama
Today we are picked up at the lobby of the hotel 2.5 hours prior to our scheduled departure flight and transferred to Tocumen International Airport. Fly home (B)
Easy/moderate hiking 2-4 hours per day with rolling, slippery hills and optional activities such as snorkeling, rafting, extended hikes. Hotel or lodge accommodations are comfortable.
Lodging, all land, air and water transportation within Panama. All airport/hotel transfers on scheduled arrival and departure dates, meals as specified in the itinerary (B - breakfast, L - lunch, D - dinner), park, museum and related entrance fees, guides' services and expenses and the services of an in-bound land operator for airline re-confirmations and tour operations.
International airfare, meals not specified in the itinerary, alcoholic beverages, personal equipment, extras in hotels (laundry, telephone calls, room service, etc.) or gratuities.
Weight restrictions apply to luggage in commercial and chartered flights within Panama. A maximum of 25 lbs. of checked luggage and 10 lbs. of carry-on per person is allowed.
Arrangements can be made with Ancon Expeditions to store luggage that will not be needed while away from the city. Excess baggage charges assessed by commercial carriers are the responsibility of the passenger.
Rafting Excursion, Day 4
Minimum age restrictions will apply and will depend on 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 Ancon Expeditions of Panama 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. This tour must be reserved in advance to the arrival to Panama.
Binoculars (preferably 7x35 or larger), camera with extra batteries; film, flashlight with extra bulb & batteries, bathing suit, insect repellant, sunscreen, hat, day pack, water bottle, lightweight/quick dry cotton clothes, windbreaker, sandals, sneakers/hiking boots, rain gear, money in small denominations, toiletries & personal medications.
Rafting participants should bring rubber-soled shoes with good grip (diving booties not recommended), sunscreen, shorts, T-shirt, baseball cap, croakies or similar elastic band for glasses, dry bag, complete change of clothes and a towel.