Roundtrip: "Highlights of Panama:
Really get to know Panama. Highlights such as the Panama canal, tropical rainforest, dreamlike beaches on Caribbean islands and the diversity of cultures and languages: Indians, Mestizos, Afro-caribbean and immigrants from all over the world who live together peacefully.
Apart from this Panama has to offer a fascinating history from the time of the discoveries and a treasure path from ocean to ocean. These are the experiences which are offered in this unique trip led by Christian Strassnig, Researcher and Explorer of the Camino Real.
Roundtrip: Highlights of Panama
Panama from the gold route of the conquistadores to a new, extended
Panama is so much more than just a canal oder the Panama Papers: We discover culture of the indians, the Camino Real, the gold route of Spanish conquistadores, rain forest in the lowland and mountains, and we relax on dreamlike Carribean beaches.
Course of the trip
Day: Bienvenidos in Panama!
Day: Sightseeing in Panama City and the Miraflores locks
Day: Boat tour at the Panama canal
Day: Trip to Camino Real
Day: Hiking at the Camino Real
Day: Visiting the Embera Indians
Day: The Carribean coast: Spanish fortress San Lorenzo and the Panama Canal
Day: Trip to the San Blas Islands
Day: San Blas Islands and the Guna Indians
Day: Rum and tobacco in the Chiriquí province
Day: Hiking the La Amistad national park, orchid farm
Day: Visiting a coffee plantation in Boquete
+ 14. Day: Nature and Relaxing in Bocas del Toro Day: Wildlife
15.Wildlife observation on the monkey island in lake Gatún and departure
Detailed program day by day
1. Day: Bienvenidos in Panama !
After arriving at the international airport in Panama City you will be greeted by your driver and brought to the hotel.
Accommodation in the Hotel Tryp Panama Centro (B).
2. Day: Sightseeing in Panama Viejo, Ancon Mountain and the Miraflores locks
In the morning we visit Casco Viejo which was the first European-founded city by the pacific and is located about 10km east from todays Panama City (UNESCO world heritage site). Nowadays several ruins as well as the well preserved church steeple give evidence of the once significance of the settlement. In 1671 the town was destroyed entirely during an attack by the English pirate Henry Morgan. After that the town was rebuild in another location for strategic reasons. Next you will be going to the fish market of Panama, after taking a walk through the covered market you can enjoy a meal made with fresh fish on the first floor (in case you are not such a seafood enthusiast we will find another great restaurant for you). After this you can take a hike on the Cerro Ancon mountain of Panama City. The mountain is covered in rainforest and offers wonderful panoramic views of the old town and the Panama Canal.
In the afternoon you will go to the Miraflores locks, The most well known locks of the Panama Canal. Here you will first visit the visitors center, where you can see a video presentation and the museum. Afterwards you can observe the passage of the huge ships through the tight locks from the viewing platform and then drive back to your hotel.
Accommodation in Hotel Tryp Panama Centro (B)
3. Day: Boatride at the Panama Canal
In the morning you will go to the harbor we you will board a ship from which you are able to experience the busy canal up close. The Panama Canal stretches over 80km from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast. You will pass underneath the „Puente de las Américas“ and shortly after reach the Miraflores locks. The following step at the pacific are the Pedro-Miguel locks which lift the boat to the level of lake Gatún. Next we are crossing the Gaillard cut, the tight passage of the canal which had to be cut out of the Cordilleras using explosives. After about 4 hours you will reach Gamboa where you get off the ship. You will be taken back to the starting point in Panama City by bus where you arrive at approximately 3pm (The trip through he canal may also be done in the opposite direction).
After this you will go to the old town which is a UNESO world heritage site marked by magnificent churches, calm squares and parks and charming colonial buildings from the 19th century which remind of the old town of Havanna. You can take a walking tour through the town. From the Plaza de Francia at the very end of the old town you can enjoy spectacular views of the modern banking and finance centre of Panama in one direction and the entry to the canal and Américas bridge in the other.
(The boat trip is only available on a few days per month which is why the schedule of the trip might have to be adapted to fit the dates of the boat.)
Accommodation in the hotel Tryp Panama Centro (B,L).
4. Day: A day with the Embera Indians
A day in the rainforest with the Embera is an extraordinary experience, one can enjoy the beautiful atmosphere on mornings and nights, bathe in the river and escape the hustle and bustle of modern city life. In the morning we are going to Chagres national park where the Embera Indians live, with a traditional log boat we go upwards on the river Chagres. In the rainforest you can go on a hike to the waterfalls of Quebrada Bonita. After that you will drive to the Indians village and get the chance to dive into the culture and life of the Embera and enjoy a traditional lunch. In the afternoon you can start another hike into the rainforest and get some interesting tips on survival in the jungle. Afterwards you can talk to the people in the village and watch them do their daily work such as carving the traditional log boats or just relax.
You will be sleeping in traditional houses of the Embera where we will erect additional tents against mosquitos and insects. You will be surprised at how well you can sleep in a village in the rainforest.
[1.2km, 100m elevation ↑, 100m elevation ↓, walking ca. 2h]
Accommodation in a tent in the Embera village. (For travelers who wish to stay at in a hotel a ride to a hotel for the night can be arranged) B/L/D
5. Day: Trip to the Camino Real
Today and tomorrow you will be discovering the Camino Real, predecessor to the Panama Canal an gold route of the Spanish conquistadores between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. First, you will have a boat trip to the Alajuela lake, during which you can discover remains of the Camino Real on the shore. You will reach the village Quebrada Ancha, where you can refuel with a delicious lunch and get to know the way of life as well as culture and folklore dances of the Panamanian Campesinos. With your visit you are supporting the development of sustainable tourism in the village. In the afternoon you will be hiking along the Camino Real for about two hours. We are passing through a hilly landscape and during the hike you can find out more about the history of the path, of Spanish Conquistadores, the mule caravans, Francis Drake and other pirates and are able to see the well preserved cobblestones of the original Camino Real in several places.
[3km, 80m elevation ↑, 80m elevation ↓, walking ca. 2h.]
Accommodation in tents in the village Quebrada Ancha.
(For travelers who wish to stay at in a hotel a ride to a hotel for the night can be arranged) B/L/D
6. Day: Hiking on the Camino Real
Today you continue to follow the original path of the legendary Camino Real which was discovered by Austrian Christian Strassnig through several years of research
At first its uphill for about an hour until you reach the crest of a mountain ridge, from here we follow the route of the Camino Real. On the ridge you can enjoy wonderful panoramic views of the Chagres national park. Shortly after you will come across a very well preserved section of the Camino Real. You can take a break at the small hut of some Campesinos. You follow the ridge a while longer, then you go downhill along the river Mauro until you reach the village Santa Librada, which contributed to the reopening of the path as well. You can have lunch in Santa Librada before driving to Portobelo or the hotel Melia Panama Canal.
[↑ 250m elevation, ↓ 150m elevation, 11km, walking 5-6h.]
In case you don’t enjoy hiking this day can also be arranged to your liking, either as an additional day in San Blas, a canopy adventure close to Colón or an additional day in Panama City. Inform us about your preferences and we can make a suitable suggestion!
Accommodation in Portobelo or hotel Melia Panama Canal (B/L)
7. Day: Carribean Coast: Spanish fortress San Lorenzo and the Panama Canal
In the morning you will pass the new extended locks of the canal. Afterwards we continue to the fortress of San Lorenzo from Spanish colonial times which is located at the estuary of the Chagres river into the Caribbean Sea. We visit the visitors center of the new expanded locks at the Atlantic Ocean. From here we will be driving to the city of Colón where you ride back to Panama City in the viewing car of the Panama Canal Railroad train. The tracks of the first transcontinental railroad go along the Panama Canal, through tropical rainforest and lake Gatún.
Accommodation in the hotel Tryp Panama Centro (F)
8. Day: San Blas and the Guna Indians
Today you will have to get out of bed quite early, around 6am you will go to the San Blas islands: 365 unique coral islands, located in the untouched Caribbean coast. You will be driving over the mountains to the pier of the Guna Yala gulf, from which a fisher boat will take you to one of the breathtaking islands. Here you have some time to relax or take a trip to another island. The „Piscina Natural“, a shallow area of turquoise water or the „Isla Perro“ are popular places to see.
The San Blas Islands are a part of the „Comarca“ Guna Yala, an autonomous area of the Guna Indians. Here you can relax on dreamlike white beaches with turquoise water, discover the incredibly diverse under-water world while snorkeling or get to know the culture and daily life of the Guna Indians. The Guna live on only a few Islands of the archipelago where bamboo huts stand closely side by side. When visiting a Guna village you dive deep into another world far away from the hectic of modern life.
Stay overnight in one of the Guna Indians simple lodges, lunch and dinner included. (B/L/D)
9. Day: San Blas islands and the Guna Indians
On this day you can explore the beach of your island or take another trip. Lunch is included on this day as well. Around 3pm it’s time to say goodbye to this dream island.
With your stay in San Blas you are supporting the indigenous population who own and run the accommodations and restaurants on the islands. In the afternoon you will go back to the pier by boat and from there its about a 2.5 hour long drive back to Panama City where you will again stay at our city hotel.
Accommodation Hotel Trip Panama Centro (B).
10. Day: Rum and tobacco in the Chiriquí province
In the morning you will fly to David located in western Panama. The Chiriquí province is home to highlands of the same name, including Volcán Barú (3,475m) which is Panamas tallest mountain. The highlands volcanic rock grounds are very fertile so coffee, oranges, sugar cane and tobacco grow magnificently. First, you will visit the „Carta Vieja“ Rum factory and then the tobacco factory in which the „Pride of Panama“ cigarettes are rolled by hand. Then we continue to the hotel „Dos Rios“ in Volcán (1,400m) where you have a stunning view of Volcán Barú.
Accommodation in the hotel Dos Rios in Volcán (B).
11. Day: Hiking in La Amistad national park - Orchid farm
Today you will visit the impressive cloud forests of the biosphere reservation „La Amistad“ (friendship in Spanish), a cross-border 400,000 hectare conservation area in Panama and Costa Rica. Your visit will take you through the atmospheric mountainous cloud forests of the park. You will hike along and idyllic mountain river. If you’re lucky you may get to see a quetzal, the legendary goddess bird of the Aztecs and Maya. In the afternoon you can visit the Finca Dracula, and orchid farm which has over 1500 different kinds of orchids. Afterwards you will drive to Boquete.
[350m ↑, 700m ↓, 12km, walking ca. 5-6h ]
Accommodation in Boquete Tree Trek Lodge (B)
12. Day: Visiting coffee plantations in Boquete
After breakfast you will visit a coffee plantation. During a guided tour you can find out many interesting facts about coffee and its cultivation and production. Due to the usually perfect climate in this area their coffee is ranked among the best in the world. After the tour you can see for yourself in a coffee tasting. After this you can visit the town of Boquete. In the afternoon you will continue to the Caribbean island paradise of Bocas del Toro. The rest of the day is at your disposal, you can relax on the beach or pass the time swimming in the turquoise sea.
Accommodation in the hotel Playa Tortuga (B)
13. Day: Boattrip to the islands of Bocas del Toro
For the next two days you have the time to really relax in the perfect place: Bocas del Toro offers you dreamlike carribean islands with lots of natural treasures which are protected by the Bastimentos national park. Within this park one of the few remaining breeding areas of sea turtles is located.
Today, a boat trip to the islands of Bocas del Toro in Bastimentos national park is planned. First, you will go to Dolphin Bay where you can observe Dolphins if you’re lucky, then to Cayo Coral, a coral reef where you can do some snorkeling or visit the restaurant by the reef if you’d rather try a delicious Piña Colada. In the afternoon we will go to red frog beach to enjoy the Caribbean waves on a beach straight from paradise. Later, you will be brought back to your hotel. The inhabitants of the archipelago are of Afro-Caribbean descent and the strengthen the Caribbean feel of the place. There are also people of Indian descent which altogether form a rainbow of cultures in the community. You can simply relax, enjoy the sun, beaches and sea and dive into the pulsating feeling of the Caribbean. For the more adventurous a number of excursions to the surrounding islands are offered. The islands are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, diving and much more. The main attractions of this place are the magnificent coral reefs. Just with some goggles and a snorkel you can explore the impressive underwater world. For those interested it is possible to organize a diving trip (please include this in your booking)
Accommodation in Hotel Playa Tortuga (B)
14. Day: Recreation in Bocas del Toro
This day is free for you to decide whether you want to for example discover the island by bike, visit Bluff Beach close to you, go on another boat trip or just relax by the pool in your hotel. In the late afternoon of day 14 you will have to leave the beautiful island and fly back to Panama City. You will be picked up at the national airport and brought to your hotel.
Accommodation in hotel Tryp Panama Centro (B).
15. Day: Wildlife observation at the monkey island lake Gatún
In the morning you will go to Gamboa, a small town by lake Gatún which is part of the Panama Canal. You will take a boat to go on the lake, passing the huge ships on the canal. Tropical rainforest covers the entire area where you stop by a few small islands which are the natural habitat of Capuchin monkeys, Howler monkeys, and Geoffroys spider monkeys. You can see the animals up close and make unforgettable memories. The afternoon today is at your disposal, you have the time to stroll through the old town or buy some souvenirs.
At 4pm you will be collected by a bus which takes you to the international airport where you have to say goodbye to your tour guide.
INCLUDED IN THE PRICE
Accommodation in comfortable hotels, lodges or resorts with 3 or 4 stars
All entrance fees listed in the program
Local travel guide
Meals listed in the program
Private English speaking tour guide on day 2,4,5,6,7,10,11,15
English speaking tours on day 3,12,13
NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE
International flight to Panama
Meals not listed in the program
Other personal spending
All prices given in USD: $2275,- per person in a double room, single room supplement: $675,- with 8 participants ( As a private trip: $2080,- with 4 participants and $2600,- with 2 participants).
Prices last updated : 31.10.2016