Day 1: Gamboa, Panama - Tour Begins
Experience a land of contrasts. Remote rainforests, rich history, diverse wildlife and spectacular coastlines abound in Panama. Your tour opens at the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve where you’ll enjoy your private balcony and hammock overlooking the beautiful surroundings. During your leisure time, feel free to use the complimentary bikes or kayaks to explore.
Day 2: Gamboa - Emberá Village – Gamboa
Meet your fellow travelers during a welcome breakfast. Then board dugout canoes and set off on an excursion up the Chagres River to an Emberá indigenous village. As the “Keepers of the Rainforest,” the Emberá strive to preserve their heritage and take pride in sharing their traditional techniques of home building and handicrafts – such as basket weaving and tagua nut carving. Join in their dances and partake in a traditional lunch. The remainder of your day is free to enjoy your resort. This evening, you may choose to join your guide on a nature walk through the resort’s jungle forest and gardens for a chance to spot unique birds and other wildlife.
Day 3: Gamboa - Panama Canal Cruise – Gamboa
Today we explore the canal! Board the Pacific Queen for a partial transit cruise through the Panama Canal.* Enjoy lunch onboard and pass through two locks as you revel in a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see this incredible engineering feat firsthand. Learn all about its construction and operation from your onboard guides. Disembark at Flamenco Marina in Panama City.
Day 4: Gamboa - Panama City - Anton Valley
Arrive at Miraflores Locks Visitor Center to view the Panama Canal and learn about its past, present and future as you watch ships traverse the lock system. Continue to Casco Viejo, the Old Quarter (UNESCO). Then, it’s your choice! Follow your guide for a short walking tour showcasing the Plaza de la Independencia and the National Theater. Or, for a more immersive experience, journey through this same neighborhood with a local resident…hear the story of Casco Viejo’s comeback from a member of the community who will take you through the place he calls home, highlighting the incredible revitalization of this historic area and its people. Visit the Mercado de Mariscos, a seafood market, and try fresh Panamanian ceviche. Drive a short distance on the famed Pan-American Highway before heading to Anton Valley, a community nestled inside the world’s second largest volcanic crater. Afterwards, check in to your hotel at the base of the mountains that make up the crater.
Day 5: Anton Valley
Delve into history and biodiversity. This morning, visit a frog conservation center that protects critically endangered species, including the emblematic Panamanian Golden Frog, said to bring good luck to anyone who sees it. Then we explore a nonprofit orchid nursery which dedicates itself to conserving regional orchids. We follow that with a visit to the Butterfly Haven exhibit; stroll through the screened tropical displays that are home to over 250 live butterflies. Meet the locals at the handicraft market. Try your hand at negotiations (a local pastime) as you peruse items made by indigenous peoples, including the “mola” embroidery of the Kuna Yala. This afternoon, visit El Chorro Macho waterfall. Embark on a moderate hike along the rainforest trails, crossing several bridges before arriving at the impressive waterfall. You may even take a swim in the natural pool. The evening is yours to continue exploring this charming mountain community.
Day 6: Anton Valley – Chitré
Step into the heartland of Panama as you visit a village of artists. Interact with makers of the famous Panama hat and see firsthand how these wearable works of art come to life. Next, meet the legendary cigar rollers of Panama. Head north to Chitré. Established in 1558, it is one of the first Spanish settlements in Panama. Tonight, immerse yourself in the local culture during dinner. Learn about the various Panamanian drums and how they are incorporated into song and dance during a folkloric dance performance.
Day 7: Chitré
Spend the day meeting the people of Chitré, the “folklore capital” of Panama. Talk to a famous local artist whose whimsical masks are used in traditional Panamanian parades. Next, pause to experience the region’s pre-Columbian and colonial times at the local museum. Then it’s off to spend time with Panamanian women who have dedicated their lives to making the handwoven pollera dress. Your day continues with a visit to one of Panama’s famous rum producers. Explore the historic hacienda to discover the life of the founder, a Spanish immigrant who brought jobs and prestige to the region with the development of the distillery. Learn the art of making rum, as well as the local drink seco, also distilled from sugarcane. If you like, you may take an oxcart ride through the sugarcane fields. Enjoy an authentic lunch and finally sample the product for yourself during a tasting session. The rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy at your hotel. Tonight you have the option of experiencing an authentic home-hosted meal in a local family’s home; take this opportunity to learn about their lives, culture and food.
Day 8: Chitré - Playa Bon
Before departing Chitré, get to know a traditional way of cooking at a clay oven bakery and sample artisanal bread and sweets along with some sugarcane juice known as guarapa. Your journey continues to Playa Bonita, just outside of Panama City. Arrive midday to soak up the sun and ocean views from your beachfront property. After enjoying some fun and relaxation at your resort, bid farewell to Panama at a special dinner.
Day 9: Playa Bonita - Tour Ends
Your journey comes to a close today.