Arrive at an Embera indigenous village where you will be greeted with lively music by the elder and children. Here you will learn about their customs and their intrinsic relationship with nature. The Embera have always lived in communion with nature and the surrounding environment attest to this remark. You will be invited to the main tambo (their communal house) to have lunch prepared with fresh fish, plantain and fruit. You will learn about the Embera customs, their social structure and will enjoy their traditional music and dance.
The Embera produce a variety of spectacular handicrafts. You will learn their secret on how they dye the vegetable fibers used for making baskets and about the hardwoods and nuts they use for carving animal figures representative of the wildlife they cohabit with in the surrounding rainforest.
Tonight dinner will be at a local restaurant. Overnight tonight at the Marriott-Panama Hotel. (B,L,D)
During World War II a pipeline was built along the Panama Canal to transport fuel from one ocean to the other in the event the waterway was attacked. Fortunately, it was never used. The now abandoned gravel road built to maintain the pipeline provides excellent walking access to Soberania's 55,000 acres of tropical rainforest. We will spend the better part of the morning birding and looking for wildlife in general along Pipeline Road. Soberania National Park boasts an impressive list of 525 species of birds including the Black Hawk-eagle, Black-cheeked woodpecker, Black-breasted Puffbird, Broad-billed Motmot, Blue Cotinga, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Masked Tytira, Violaceous Trogon, Fasciated Antshrike, Shining honeycreeper, and a great array of North American migrants. Soberania is also home to 105 species of mammals including large felines, Tamandua, Two and Three-toed Sloth, 4 species of monkeys, Agouti, some of which are listed under CITES (endangered species) and 59 endemic plant species in 4 life zones.
After a rainforest picnic lunch there will be more opportunities to further explore the healthy and productive habitats of the Panama Canal Watershed. Early in the afternoon you will drive to the nearby Panama Canal visitors’ center at Miraflores Locks for an introduction to the engineering, the history and the current expansion works taking place along the waterway.
Tonight dinner will be embellished by a live Panamanian folkloric presentation. (B,L,D)
After lunch, board the Discovery and sail the warm tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean towards Taboga Island where the vessel will stay overnight. Located just 12 nautical miles from Panama City, Taboga is a small beautiful island with a rich and colorful history. Also known as the Island of Flowers, it was first discovered by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the famous 16th century Spanish explorer and conquistador credited for leading an expedition through Panama in 1513 and becoming the first European to reach the Pacific Ocean. The small town church is said to be the second oldest church in the hemisphere and there is evidence suggesting that the first Catholic saint of the Americas, Rosa de Lima, may have been born in the island. French painter Paul Gauguin lived for some time on the island in 1887.
After arrival disembark using Discovery´s tenders and do a hiking tour through a trail that will take you to the highest point on the island called Cerro la Cruz. This hill is located at the south end of the island and there is a huge cross on top. From that point you will be able to appreciate beautiful views of the entire island, the Bay of Panama and the entrance to the Panama Canal. There will be time before dinner to do some kayaking around El Morro Island which is joined by a sand bar to Taboga at low tide. Enjoy cocktails with the sunset at one of Discovery´s open decks. (B,L,D)
Drop anchor at Gatun Lake which is a man-made lake built during the canal construction by damming the Chagres River to provide fresh water for its operations, and overnight inside 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. Your expedition leaders will take you on board small 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 will engulf you. Cameras are a must as this is considered the world’s premier location for viewing monkeys and other animals in the wild.
There will be time again to do some kayaking around the area before dinner or for delicious and relaxing cocktails with the sunset. (B,L,D)
Return to Discovery for lunch and to prepare to return to sea level as you continue your two and a half hour daylight transit through Gatun Locks on your way to the Caribbean.
Once you exit the canal you will sail to Shelter Bay Marina located at the Caribbean entrance to the canal. This small marina is surrounded by coastal rainforest and is the perfect place for a guided walk before sunset. Wild life abounds on this area including various species of monkeys, sloths, iguanas and a variety of birds. Be on the lookout for wildlife and interesting tropical flora along the way. (B,L,D)
This one hour railroad trip will allow 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. On arrival to Panama City you will be transferred to the hotel. Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight before your overnight at the Marriott Panama Hotel. (B,L,D)