Day 1 Arrive to Panama

On arrival to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, you will be met by an Ancon Expeditions of Panama representative and transferred to your hotel in Panama City.

Day 2 Panama Canal Rainforest Boat Adventure - Miraflores Locks - Casco Viejo

Early in the morning you will be picked up at the lobby of the hotel by your Naturalist Guide for a 30 minute drive to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal. Here you will board an expedition boat and depart on an adventure that will include a voyage across Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway, making contrast with the natural surroundings. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to spot Green Iguana and Three-toed Sloth resting on tree branches, Crocodile, Osprey in the hunt for Peacock Bass, Snail Kite and Keel-billed Toucan among other wildlife. Gatun Lake was formed to give way to the Panama Canal in 1914. With a surface of 262 Km2 (164 Mi2), at the time of its creation was the largest man-made lake in the world. The flow of all the rivers within the Panama Canal Watershed is contained in Gatun Lake to provide water for the operation of the locks system. Nearly 200 million Liters (52 million gallons) of fresh water are used for every ship that transits through the Panama Canal from one ocean to another. Your expedition boat will allow for close approximations to rainforest-covered islands (former hill tops) in Gatun Lake to search for White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey, and Geoffrey’s Tamarin. Enjoy a midday picnic lunch on a small island with extraordinary views of the canal and its natural surroundings. You will return to Gamboa in the early afternoon and head for the Panama Canal visitors ‘center at Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal where you will learn about the canal’s history, operation and expansion work currently underway. You will also enjoy a close-up view of the locks and ships in motion.

Return to your hotel to freshen up and relax before your guide takes you on a late afternoon walking tour through Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage site with its colonial landmarks and charming cobblestone streets. Here you enjoy your welcome dinner with your guide at a local restaurant.


Day 3 Panama City - Chiriqui - Jansons Coffee Estate & Volcan Lagoons

Today, check out from your hotel and ride with your guide to Albrook domestic airport in order to catch a midmorning flight to David, capital of the Chiriqui province, in western Panama. Chiriqui is the country´s “breadbasket” contains some of the most breathtaking highland scenery in Central America. After arrival to David Airport, you will be transferred to the Western side of the Volcano, where you will spend your day on the Janson´s estate. The farm owners invite you for lunch including a freshly brewed cup of Janson coffee overlooking the beautiful mountain range of Baru Volcano and surrounding valley. In the afternoon you will learn about planting, harvesting, processing, roasting and packaging of the world class coffee Del Fino and Geisha, grown on the Janson´s coffee farm. This coffee is grown at the perfect altitude in rich volcanic soil and processed by utilizing the best that tradition and technology have to offer. Janson Coffee has a unique aroma and brilliant flavors and has won many prizes.

In the afternoon choose your recreation between options such as exploring the estate via 4x4, hike to incredible vistas, kayak on the Lake and/or take a motorized lake float. The volcano lakes are the highest natural lakes and wetlands in Panama and the fifth highest aquatic ecosystem in Central America. Enjoy breathtaking views, the beautiful surrounding tropical forest, world-class birding, and amazing wildlife. Then, settle at your charming mountain resort and enjoy the indoor swimming pool and social area before a hearty dinner at the hotel´s restaurant with your guide.

Day 4 La Amistad International Park & Sugar Cane Farm

Shared with neighboring Costa Rica and recognized in 1982 by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site, La Amistad International Park is located at a point on the Central American natural land bridge where flora and fauna from North and South America reach their maximum species mix. With great ranges in altitude, precipitation, soil and temperature, biodiversity here is at its best. After checking out from your hotel, you will spend the morning hiking and exploring La Amistad International Park in search of the Resplendent Quetzal, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Andean Pygmy-Owl, Barred Becard, Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher among many other western highland birds and spectacular flora. After early lunch you will descend on a scenic road through some rice, corn and sugar cane fields.

En-route you will have a unique opportunity to experience a century-old tradition at a local Trapiche, a formerly horse-powered sugar mill, where the delicious raspadura blocks are made. The farmers also produce cheese and traditional sweets that are available for purchase. Mid afternoon you proceed to the quaint town of Boquete on the Eastern side of Baru volcano where you will stay at a small charming mountain for the next nights. The rest of the afternoon is open to relax, explore a nature trail at the Baru Volcano National Park just outside your mountain home on your own or with your guide, or to simply enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee at the resort´s comfortable fire place.

Dinner tonight will be with your guide at the mountain resort.

Day 5 Canopy Zipline Tour & Hot Springs Caldera

Start the day with a canopy tree trek on a zip line that that allows you to contemplate the rainforest from fourteen different canopy platforms while smoothly soaring in the heights of the cloud forest from one treetop to another. You will glide through the trees and encounter a world unknown. You will discover a fascinating perspective of wildlife that you had never appreciated. Native species of flora and fauna can be observed. You will marvel at the sight of a great variety of orchids, trees and wildflowers that are found throughout the area. Your lunch will be served at the mountain tree trek restaurant with amazing views over the valley and the surrounding cloud forest.

This afternoon you will have the opportunity to enjoy natural hot springs that are known for their healing properties. The hot springs are located within a private farm about 60 minutes driving from Boquete outside a small town of Caldera, which means boiling pot. The nearby Caldera River itself serves as a refreshing cool off after bathing in the hot springs. Some of the thermal pools are surrounded by man placed stones which give them a touch of intimacy and privacy. The temperatures in these natural pools range from 38ºC - 46ºC.
Dinner tonight will be at an exquisite restaurant in town, together with your guide.

Day 6 Boquete Sightseeing - Flight to Panama City - Transfer to Colon

This morning you will explore Boquete and its major interest points. Its countryside is dotted with flower, fruit and produce farms, coffee plantations and also lush tropical cloud forests. From different hill tops and look out points you will have extraordinary views of the town set in the mountain valley at 1,060 meters above sea level. Drive-by the local houses and farming areas, walk through the historic town center and learn about important facts on the founding of Boquete and its historical buildlings, beautiful blooming flower gardens and a scenic drive by local coffee farms, waterfalls and the cloud forest of the Volcan Baru National Park to admire its abundant flora and fauna.

After lunch in town, you return to David domestic airport for a mid afternoon flight back to Panama City. From here your transfer takes about 90 minutes to the Melía Panama Canal hotel in Colon, where the US armed forces School of the Americas was located. Dinner with your guide at hotel included tonight.
Night at MELIÁ PANAMA CANAL (Standard Deluxe room)

Day 7 The Spanish Main in Portobelo and Caribbean Waters

On July 10, 1668, the legendary privateer captain Henry Morgan and a small army of corsairs and buccaneers attacked, overwhelmed and captured the city of Portobelo. Follow the steps of this historical town, which was famous for its trade fairs during the 17th century. During colonial times it was one of the most important strongholds of the Spanish Main in the Americas. You visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and colonial fortifications Forts San Geronimo and Santiago de la Gloria.

After lunch in town, you head out by boat in the afternoon to one of the beautiful white-sand tropical beaches that are found nearby. You will have the opportunity to snorkel in the Caribbean waters surrounded by beautiful tropical fish and a lot of marine wildlife around the coral reefs. Return back to your hotel in Colon and enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Day 8 Embera Indigenous People - Panama Canal Expansion - Panama Railway

This morning you will visit an Embera indigenous village on the shores of the Gatun River. You will board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) and travel up through lush forest to the community. Along the river you may be able to spot Little Blue and Green Heron, Great Egret, Anhingas, Neotropical Cormorant, Amazon, Ringed, and Green Kingfishers, along with Keel-billed Toucans and Ospreys flying above. At the Embera village you will be greeted with dancing and music. You will learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature. There will be handcrafts available for sale and you will have a chance to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Embera use to adorn their bodies. Enjoy lunch with the Embera!

This afternoon you will experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience history in the making by observing close-up the Panama Canal Expansion works on the new Gatun Locks. Panama embarked on a major project to expand the Panama Canal a decade ago. The US$6.25 billion project, due to be completed in early 2015 will give the waterway the needed competitive advantage to operate successfully for at least another century. The Panama Canal will celebrate its 100th anniversary on August 15, 2014. The return to Panama City will be on the Trans-Isthmian train. The railway follows a similar route as the original train built to transport 49ers coming from the East coast of the United States across the Isthmus to continue their journey by boat to California during the Gold Rush. The route was diverted when Gatun Lake was formed to give way to the Panama Canal. After a 1-hour train ride you will be transferred to your city hotel.
Dinner together with your guide at the hotel´s restaurant.

Day 9 Partial Panama Canal Transit & Folkloric Dinner Show

Today you will transit through the Panama Canal. Drive to Gamboa where you will begin the journey heading south on Gatun Lake. At this point the ship will be sailing at 26m (85 feet) above sea level. Shortly after departure, the ship will enter Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. The 13.7Km (8.5 Miles) long portion of the Continental Divide was carved through rock and shale at beginning of last century when the canal began operating (1914).

Panama is currently undertaking the monumental task of expanding the Panama Canal. The US$5.25 billion grand-scale project contemplates building of even larger locks and deepening the channel to accommodate post-Panamax ships, the largest of all cargo ships that now have to bypass this waterway. The project is estimated to be completed by 2015. You will have the opportunity to look at the work’s progress on this extraordinary engineering venture.

The ship will reach Pedro Miguel locks, where the vessel will be lowered 9.4 meters into Miraflores Lake. After traveling nearly 2 kilometers you arrive to Miraflores locks, where the transition from fresh water to salt water takes place in the locks chambers. Due to the Pacific Ocean’s extreme tidal variations, Miraflores locks miter gates are the tallest of the locks system. In two steps, the vessel will be lowered 16.6 meters onto the Pacific Ocean. You will then sail under the bridge of the Americas, which reunites the land divided by the Panama Canal as part of the Pan-American Highway. After disembarking at Flamenco Island, enjoy a brief sightseeing tour on the Amador Causeway. Your farewell dinner will be at a local restaurant where you experience a traditional folkloric presentation with polleras and musicians with your guide.


Day 10 Depart Panama

Today you will be picked up at the lobby of the hotel 2.5 hours prior to your scheduled departure flight and transferred to Tocumen International Airport. Fly home (B)

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