Begin your Panama travel taking a morning bus ride to the town of Gamboa where our vessel awaits to bring us on a partial transit of the Panama Canal. Our 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 we'll enter the Pedro Miguel Locks, taking us into the man-made Miraflores Lake. Next, we'll be lowered 18 meters in the Miraflores Locks as we make our entrance into the Pacific Ocean. Disembark at the Flamenco Marina where we'll meet our transfer to El Valle. This 2-hour drive follows the famous Pan American Highway. Sit back, relax, and takes 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 valleys 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 spring and waterfalls. Spend the night in a quiet bed and breakfast.
This morning you'll 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 we'll continue our Panama travels with a canopy adventure. At El Macho Falls we’ll securely strap into a harness, and through a series of cables and pulleys, we’ll observe the landscape from four different platforms on a canopy adventure. At 220 feet above the forest floor, we 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 will be picked up and transfer 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, 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, you'll exit the canoe and walk up a short hill where you'll be 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 the ecosystem remains well protected. You will 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 Panama City.