Panama’s Natural Treasures
Panama might just be paradise on Earth. The laid back coastal capital blends history into a cosmopolitan hub. This vibrant city of glittering skyscrapers is the gateway to tropical escapes and fantasy white sand beaches where deep aquamarine waters lazily lap at the shore. Read more
Arrive in Panama City, the bustling capital reminiscent of Miami but with added Latin charm. Home to the Panama Canal, explore this area and see boats sailing along iconic feat of engineering. Casco Viejo is the city’s old quarter which, thanks to its eclectic fusion of colonial, neoclassic and French architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander the cobblestones between crumbling ruins and boutique bars. Uncover its dark side with a tour led by former gangsters, under the tag line ‘we used to rob tourists before, now we offer them tours’. Previously members of Ciudad del Dios, these men share anecdotes and offer a unique glimpse into Panama City’s criminal past.
Sail along the Gatún River, away from the cosmopolitan cocktail of the city. During your voyage, spectacular jungle will surround you. Listen for the cry of howler monkeys and watch out for turtles swimming alongside your pirogue. Upon arrival in the community of Emberá Quera, the tribe’s chief will welcome you. Encounter a way of life far removed from your own and enjoy a performance of traditional music and dance. Venture further into the heart of Panama and its stunning rainforest. A veritable wonderland, thousands of different greens surround you, interrupted only by the vibrant colours of flowering trees. This area is rich in wildlife; you may encounter sloths and monkeys, alligators and turtles. Bright birds and beautiful butterflies will flit and flutter past.
In Boquete, learn about coffee farming and enjoy its bitter sweet aroma at a tasting. Then explore the area’s beauty on a hike through this rainforest. Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful quetzal bird. Sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec people, royalty and priests often wore this bird’s vibrant feathers for important rituals and ceremonies.
Beach & Islands
In addition to flora and fauna abundant rainforests, Panama possesses diverse marine life. The Gulf of Chiriquí is simply bewitching. The national park encompasses dozens of desert islands and over 90 miles of barrier reefs and marine ecosystems. Why not snorkel in the clear waters and swim alongside the vibrant tropical fish? Relax on the beaches: dreamy stretches of unspoiled nature fringed with palm trees. On the island province of Bocas del Toro, relax to the fullest. Bright colourful wooden houses perch over the water in the town, adding to the Caribbean vibes.
Dates on request
Suggested Itinerary by Air
Welcome to Panama
Land in Panama City. Your guide will meet you in the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the city. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, relaxing and getting to know the local area.
Exploring Panama City
The exploration begins after breakfast. Your tour starts at the Panama Canal, a magnificent work of engineering. when you reach the Visitor Centre of Miraflores Locks, you will be able to the way the locks operate and the ships moving along the canal.
Then visit the Amador Causeway which offers one of the city’s most spectacular panoramic views. Make a brief visit at the city’s largest fruit and vegetable market, Mercado de Abasto, before lunch at a typical seafood restaurant. The tour continues in the Old Quarter of Panama City, where reformed gangsters from the gang known as Ciudad de Dios (City of God) tell tourists their story during a walk around the historic centre. They will share anecdotes from those violent years while describing important buildings and leading you over forgotten footpaths.
Meet the Locals
This morning, following breakfast, a transfer will take you to the Gatún River. Board a motor canoe called a pirogue and travel to the community of Emberá Quera, located at the river’s mouth. During this forty minute journey, you will be able to see the splendid jungle in detail. You might see monkeys, butterflies, herons and turtles. Upon your arrival, you will be received by the Chief of the community who will tell you the history of the tribe and its cultural wealth. The tribe lives at the edge of the river in little communities of thatch-roofed palafittes named tambos. After this visit, you will go to a little island inhabited by monkeys. Enjoy a folkloric show with traditional music and dances over a typical local lunch.
In the afternoon, transfer to the railroad station and take the ancient train to Panama City. Panama’s railroad was built during the time of The California Gold Rush to shorten the route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The railroad borders the canal and passes along the historic Culebra Cut and the magnificent Gatún Lake. Transfer to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
Following breakfast, transfer to Gamboa. Experience the magic of the virgin rainforest of Gamboa. Ascend from the shadowy forest floor, through the dense undergrowth and up to the sun-drenched canopy. Butterflies flit between flowers and birds chirp a bright soundtrack to your adventure. A toucan may fly overhead or an alligator may cruise past. This area is a paradise for native flora and fauna, so keep an eye out as you never know if a sloth or a Capuchin monkey is in the branches nearby. After the tour, visit the butterfly house, fresh water aquarium and snake house.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport of Albrook and fly to David, where the guide will pick you up and help you with the transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, visit Lerida Farm to discover its history and its coffee. In 1911, Sir Toleff Mönniche, one of the Norwegian Engineers who worked in the construction and design of the Panama Canal, built his first coffee farm. In 1929, he began to export Panamanian coffee to Germany. Walk by the coffee plantations and visit the areas where the pulp is removed from coffee cherries. Finish with a coffee tasting: aroma tickles your nose as you sip a perfect balance of sweet and bitter.
On the Quetzal Trail
After breakfast, discover the famous Quetzal trail. This adventure starts with a transfer to Cerro Punta. Walk along the trails of the rainforest. As the home to 250 bird species, including peculiar species such as the resplendent quetzal, this area is perfect for bird watching. The quetzal was venerated by the Mayans and Aztecs as it represented the god of the heaven.
During the hike, observe lush flora, interlaced trees, prehistoric bromeliads and stunning orchids. Find a viewpoint from which to contemplate beautiful views of the mountain range and, on particularly clear days, the Caribbean Sea. The tour continues following the Caldera River which you will cross to reach the forest ranger base of Alto Chiquero.
Gulf of Chiriquí National Marine Park
Discover the enchanted Gulf of Chiriquí. Transfer from Boquete to Boca del Mar, a small town of fishermen located at the edge of the magnificent Gulf of Chiriquí National Marine Park. Set sail from the port on a journey to discover deserted islands and islets, dream beaches, unspoiled nature and amazing fauna. The park was founded in 1994 in order to protect 148km of barrier reefs and marine ecosystems. It is also famous for its beaches of white sand surrounded by crystalline water. Relax on the beach, or swim or snorkel among tropical fish.
Bocas del Toro
Leave the hotel early in the morning, transfer to Almirante, Bocas del Toro. Then take a boat to Colon Island, after which you will transfer to your beach resort.
Bocas del Toro
Depart from the Bocas town pier for an excursion to the Oreba farm, which is famous for its cocoa production. This tour will take you through the process of organic cocoa production. A native Ngäbe guide will explain all the steps including cultivation, harvesting, fermentation, drying, roasting and making chocolate. The tour also includes an adventure hike through the dense forest to the cocoa farm – en route you may encounter a variety of wildlife including frogs, sloths and birds. In the traditional ranch with a palm-frond roof, local women will teach you how to make chocolate the way they have been doing it for centuries. This tour is rounded off with a typical Ngäbe meal made from fresh local ingredients such as vegetables, roots, rice and chicken.
Panama City and Departure
After breakfast at the hotel, commence your homeward journey from Bocas del Toro domestic airport. Transfer to Tocumen International Airport for your return flight.
The best time to visit is in the dry season from mid December to mid April. Whilst Panama has a tropical climate and high temperatures throughout the year, the wet season between May and November is characterised by sudden frequent downpours.