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A jungle river in the rainforest

Encounter Panama

Example 7 Day Tour
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Over 29% of Panama's landscape includes 15 national parks, forest reserves, and 10 wildlife sanctuaries - this itinerary is designed to visit some of the country's most celebrated. Begin your Panama travel journey with a cruise of the "8th wonder of the world", the Panama Canal, working your way through its complicated and impressive locks. Visit the charming mountain town of El Valle, and explore the surroundings on a canopy adventure. Visit with the indigenous community, Embera, in Chagres National Park, and finish your Panama travels exploring the ecology of Barro Colorado Island. Let us introduce you to this beautiful country!

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in Panama City
Day 2 : Panama Canal and El Valle
Day 3 : El Valle
Day 4 : Transfer to Gamboa
Day 5 : Embera Drua Community
Day 6 : Barro Colorado Island
Day 7 : Return Home


  • Explore trails that pass Indian petroglyphs, hotsprings, and waterfalls
  • Hop aboard a boat and make the iconic journey through the Panama Canal
  • Enjoy a free day at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort
  • Spend a day at the Embera community and learn about their culture

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

A jungle river in the rainforest Tight Squeeze Cultural and wildlife encounters in Panama Hiking in Panama Historic architecture in Panama City Marissa at Miraflores locks Plaza de la Catedral in Casca Viejo Church in Old Panama...I am in the window at the top

Day 1 Arrive in Panama City

Arrive Panama City. Overnight.

Day 2 Panama Canal and El Valle

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.

Day 3 El Valle

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.

Day 4 Transfer to Gamboa

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.

Day 5 Embera Drua Community

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.

Day 6 Barro Colorado Island

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.

Day 7 Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Make your way to the airport for your international flight home.

El Valle de Anton - Hotels

Gamboa Rainforest - Hotels

Panama City - Hotels

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  • 1 Snacks
  • 6 Nights Accommodations
  • 1 Day Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Professional, bilingual guide service as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Chagres National Park Entrance Fee
  • Barro Colorado Island Entrance Fee


  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
Lisa Bridge

When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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