Embark on this 7-day small ship Panama voyage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans via the Panama Canal. Board the 24-passenger ship, Discovery, for a unique and intimate cruise. Journey into the Darien Jungle to meet the Embera Indians who have maintained their unique and traditional culture. Enjoy a multitude of activities from swimming to snorkeling and kayaking. Naturalist guides share their wealth of knowledge of the region's plants and wildlife as you watch for animals in the jungles and tropical waters. Discover the history of the Panama Canal and the historic forts and colonial towns built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The crew of the Discovery invites you to indulge and relax as they lead you on an unforgettable journey!
Journey to the Darien Jungle and meet Embera Indians
Kayak along beautiful & unspoiled beaches
Experience the history & operation of the Panama Canal
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, kayak, paddle and swim in 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 are home to some pristine beaches and fertile fishing grounds.
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 will be raised 85 feet above sea level to Gatun Lake. You will 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.
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 Gatun Lake and kayak in Panama Canal waters. Your expedition leader 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. The American Crocodile, Geoffroy’s Tamarin Monkey, White-faced Capuchin Monkey, Limpkin, Ringed Kingfisher and Purple Gallinule 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.
Spend the night in Gatun Lake on Panama Canal waters.
Travel into Soberania national park on a gravel dirt road built by the US military during WWII to lay an oil Pipeline in this part of Panama to alleviate ship traffic jams thru the Canal due to the world conflict. This area was named Pipeline Road and is one of the best eco-trails in Panama. You will arrive to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, which is an ecotourism and environmental education center. Enjoy the view from its 100ft high observation tower while spotting Purple throated Fruit crow, Swainson Toucan, Scarlet-rumped Cacique among other birds. Then enjoy a walk through the trail around the forest.
Explore Fort San Lorenzo, which is located on a cliff at the mouth of the Chagres River on the Atlantic side, where your leader will offer details of the immense amount of history found on this area. This fort was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century to defend their well-known gold trail. Not only is it rich in history but also in wildlife. As you walk around, be on the lookout for howler monkeys, Northern Tamandua Anteater and Blue-crowned Motmot.
In the afternoon, walk through the Pavon trail until you arrive to the lookout tower. Our crew will meet you for a “Sunset Wine & Cheese” picnic located on a cliff overlooking the Chagres River and enjoying the music of nature.
Day 7: Chagres River | Panama Canal Railway | Disembark
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Experience the magnificent Chagres River, which was used by the conquistadors to move their gold across the Isthmus of Panama en-route from Peru 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 centerpiece of the colonial inter-oceanic route and is now the lifeline of the Panama Canal full of wildlife and tropical jungle.
Later in the afternoon, you will board the Panama Canal Railway train back to Panama City. 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.
It is recommended that travelers overnight in Panama City and schedule a departure flight the next day. Enjoy your final evening in Panama before heading homeward!
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.