Begin your Panama travel taking a morning bus ride to the town of Gamboa where your vessel awaits to bring you on a partial transit of the Panama Canal. Your exploration of this engineering wonder begins at the north end of the Gaillard Cut; builders faced unprecedented challenges as they carved their way through the continental divide's solid rock for nearly 9 miles. At the southern end of the Cut enter the Pedro Miguel Locks, taking you into the man-made Miraflores Lake. Next, you are lowered 18 meters in the Miraflores Locks as you make your entrance into the Pacific Ocean. Disembark at the Flamenco Marina where you meet your transfer to El Valle. This 2-hour drive follows the famous Pan American Highway. Sit back, relax, and take in the celebrated views of Panama.
The beautiful mountain town of El Valle is located in the crater of an ancient volcano that erupted with such ferocity it blew off its top. It left a 3-mile-wide scar on the landscape – this crater is the largest in the Americas. The valley forests are alive with 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. Spend the night in a quiet bed and breakfast.
This morning you have some free time to take the optional visit to El Valle's Handicraft Market. Local farmers, as well as Ngobe Bugle, Wounaan and some Embera Indians come to the market to sell fruits, vegetables, plants, and handicrafts. After this leisurely morning continue your Panama travels with a canopy adventure. 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. Tonight, spend some time enjoying the charm of El Valle.
After a leisurely morning, you are picked up and transferred to Gamboa Rainforest Resort. The rest of the day is free for you to arrange activities through the resort. You can visit any of the local exhibits, including the frog and reptile exhibit or the butterfly enclosure, or arrange to go on a rainforest aerial tram tour, or go kayaking or boating out on Gatun Lake. Please note: if you think you will want to arrange an excursion for this afternoon at Gamboa, please notify us in advance to ensure you will be able to join.
Board a motorized canoe to take you deep into the Chagres rainforest to an Embera Drua community. The park’s protected waters supply nearly 80% of Panama City’s drinking water. Upon arrival, exit the canoe and walk up a short hill where you are welcomed into the 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 lunch with the Embera community. Spend the rest of the afternoon with a guided tour of the tropical park.
This morning continue your Panama travels to Barro Colorado Island. After a short ride to the town of Gamboa, board a boat to cross the massive Lake Gatun. Born out of the Panama Canal, Gatun’s creation displaced over 50,000 people and submerged acres of forest – it also formed Isla Barro Colorado. It is heavy with wildlife including howler monkeys, keel-billed toucans, tapirs, sloths, anteaters, tiger herons, crocodiles, and the stunning Morpho butterfly. Administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1946, this area is considered the best-protected and most-studied tropical rainforest in the world. Travelers are limited to a single trail that loops the island, to ensure that the ecosystem remains well-protected. You also have the opportunity to explore the bays and forest-covered channels. From the boat, keep an eye out for Panama's thriving wildlife. Overnight in Panama City.