Embark on your exciting Panama canal cruise and sail the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean towards Contadora, where the Discovery stays the first night before navigating to the Darien Jungle. Take this opportunity to meet your expedition leaders, the crew, and your fellow travelers while you savor tempting native cuisine.
Step aboard a time machine and travel back more than 600 years to a place that not many have had the privilege of experiencing. More than an excursion, this is a journey into the lives of the Embera Indians, a proud people who have been able to maintain their traditions and lifestyle as they were before the Spaniards colonized the region. These natives are also master crafters of cocobolo wood carvings and basketry. After motoring up the river see the village emerging from the jungle, as if by magic. Keep your eyes open along the way as the region offers abundant wildlife that is particularly active along the river's edge.
Snorkel and swim on the waters of the Pearl Islands. The archipelago owes its name to the abundance of Pearl Oysters which supported a substantial fishery in the early 1900's. On the outer portion of the archipelago, the islands of San Telmo and Mogo Mogo are home to some pristine beaches and fertile fishing grounds. Kayak along beautiful and unspoiled beaches and view the remains of the submarine Explorer built in 1865 during the Civil War and which sunk off the coast of San Telmo during the oyster fishery of the late 1800's.
Wake up at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal and join the morning's ship convoy for our northbound canal passage traversing Miraflores Locks and Pedro Miguel Locks. The Discovery is raised 85 feet above sea level to Gatun Lake. Have a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience up close the history and operation of this engineering marvel. Navigate the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, bisecting the Continental Divide. This section of the canal is full of history and geological value and you can appreciate the continuous maintenance that this area requires, because it is very susceptible to landslides. Spend the night in Gatun Lake on Panama Canal waters.
Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the vast jungle area that is now the Gatun Lake was teeming with an overwhelming abundance of wildlife. As the region was flooded to create the lake, animals took refuge in the mountain peaks, which are now the many islands that dot the renowned lake. Explore Barro Colorado Island where the Smithsonian's Tropical Research Center is located. Your expedition leader takes you on board smaller crafts past lush rainforests to secluded areas of the lake to witness first hand the splendor and excitement of the jungle. Exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that you could see in their native surroundings. The sights, sounds, and scents that make up this beautiful, tropical jungle engulf you. Cameras are a must as this is considered the world's premier location for viewing monkeys and other animals in the wild. The Discovery exits the Panama Canal in the afternoon on its way to the mouth of the Chagres River.
Experience the magnificent Chagres River which was used by the conquistadors to move their gold across the Isthmus of Panama en-route to Spain and by the gold prospectors who attempted a "short cut" from the US east coast to the gold fields of California. The river was the center piece of the colonial inter-oceanic route and is now the lifeline of the Panama Canal full of wildlife and tropical jungle. Explore Fort San Lorenzo which is located on a cliff at the mouth of the Chagres on the Atlantic side where your leader offers details of the immense amount of history found on this area. The fort was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century to defend their well known gold trail. Later that evening, the Discovery will reposition to Colon, where it spends the night before disembarking the next day.
Wake up to a farewell breakfast before you disembark the Discovery. Travel by motorcoach to Portobelo and enjoy the town located on the Caribbean waters which was founded by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to the new continent in 1597. This quaint town is rich in history as it was the site of many sea and land battles between the Spanish colonials and the pirates and corsairs raiding the Spanish Main. Explore the fortifications built by the Spaniards to protect their treasures and visit the Church of San Felipe, the sanctuary of the Black Christ. Later in the afternoon, board the Panama Canal Railway train back to Panama City. This one hour railroad trip allows you to traverse the picturesque trans-isthmian route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforests, cruising alongside the Canal's locks through the historic Gaillard Cut, and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake.
|Category 1||Category 2|
|* Itinerary operates in reverse.|