After breakfast start your Panama travels with a two-hour drive along the Pan-American Highway into beautiful El Valle. This mountain town is located in the crater of an ancient volcano that erupted with such ferocity that it left a 3-mile-wide scar on the landscape. This crater is the largest in the Americas. Hike the valley’s trails admiring its hummingbirds and other tropical wildlife including a golden frog unique to the area. El Valle’s spring-like climate is perfect for exploring the vast variety of trails that run past Indian petroglyphs, hot springs, and waterfalls. At El Macho Falls securely strap into a harness, and through a series of cables and pulleys, observe the landscape from four different platforms on a canopy adventure. At 220 feet above the forest floor, share this rare and remarkable view with the animals sheltered within the canopy. Enjoy a traditional Panamanian lunch, and with time, explore the city’s markets where locals sell colorful handmade baskets, clay figures, vegetables, and flowers. Overnight in Panama City.
Today visit Chagres National Park and the indigenous Embera Drua community. Board a motorized canoe to take youdeep into Chagres rainforest. The park’s protected waters supply nearly 80% of Panama City’s drinking water. The canoe takes you to an Embera settlement. Let these intriguing and inviting people introduce you to their culture as they share their knowledge of botany, craftsmanship, and traditional music and dance. Try Embera’s traditional body painting that colors the skin with the purplish juice from a jagua fruit. Enjoy a traditional lunch with the community and then spend the rest of the afternoon with a guided tour of the tropical park.
Take an early flight from Panama City to the Achutupu Airstrip. Meet your local guide, and travel by boat across the calm lagoon waters to the Dolphin Lodge. Spend some time unwinding with a stroll through the private island, or relax in your cabin until breakfast is served. Bread, jam, eggs, sausage, coffee and juice - it is simple and satisfying. The fine white beaches are perfect for sunbathing and a good book, but be sure to take advantage of the water with some snorkeling and swimming. Enjoy a light lunch back at the lodge, then visit the neighboring secluded beaches for some additional relaxation. For the adventurous, Dolphin Lodge also offers artisan fishing and canoeing opportunities. At night, dine under the stars on baby lobster and other scrumptious local dishes. As you turn in, let the warm Caribbean breeze and the quiet lapping waves put your senses at peace.
After a light breakfast, spend the afternoon getting to know the native communities and the Kuna people. Explore the local crafts and politics, and have the opportunity to meet a local chief. Further your experience of the unique and affectionate Kuna people with a tour to Achutupo, a Kuna burial ground. Feel free to photograph as much of the engaging landscape as you wish, but be respectful to the people. Permission is needed if you would like to take their picture. Also, it is customary for the Kuna people to charge you a dollar for their photo. Return to the lodge for lunch, and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying a return trip to the sandy beaches and crystal waters of the private islands, or hike around neighboring islands for fantastic bird-watching. Parakeets, parrots, and hummingbirds are just some of the hundreds of species that migrate to the San Blas islands. After dinner, enjoy a final look at the starry night before turning into bed.
Rise early for breakfast, and then take a boat back to Achutupu where you catch your return flight to Panama City. Tonight it’s off to Las Tinajas Restaurant for a dinner and folklore show. The "pollera", the national costume worn by the women dancers, is considered one of the most beautiful national costumes in the world. Enjoy an oasis of flavor characteristic of the countryside and taste delicious Panamanian-style dishes in the comfortable and elegant surroundings of this traditional restaurant.
$465 single supplement