Panama Nature and Culture Trip

Day 1Arrival in  Panama - Upon arrival in Panama City, we will be met at the airport by our guide Panama Pete and taken to our hotel in Panama City (30 min). After you check in, Panama Pete will take you to a local spot for a quick bite. (no meals included)

Day 2Panama City and Canal tour – Panama Pete will pick you up from the hotel at 8:00 AM so be sure to eat breakfast early in the hotel! This historical tour will begin at Cinta Costera, walking and helping the planet collecting garbage and then walking to the “Casco Antiguo” (Old Quarters), built in 1673 after “Old Panama” was sacked and burnt. The predominant architectural style of the “Casco Antiguo” is French and Spanish colonial styles. This part of town is the home of the famous Golden Altar, which survived Morgan’s plundering and destruction of “Old Panama”; the “Flat Arch,” which engineering structure was key for the United States’ decision to construct the Panama Canal; churches and a cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Grand National Theater, the Bóvedas (prison chambers), and the French Plaza with the written history of the Canal on it murals.  At the Independence Plaza, a most beautiful building houses the modern Museum of the Interoceanic Canal. Next we will continue to the Miraflores Locks.  Of the three sets of locks in the Canal, this is the closest to Panama City. You will observe the magnitude of this engineering marvel, which operates a century later using the same hydraulic system since its inception. There will be a short audiovisual presentation and other exhibits at the Visitor’s Center.  We will have dinner in the town with Panama Pete.  (B, L, D)

Day 3Rainforest Discovery Center – Another early breakfast in the hotel and then Panama Pete will pick you up at 8:00 am. You will drive about 45 minutes to the Rainforest Discovery Center.  If you are a birder and you haven’t been to Panama, you don’t know what you’re missing. Panama boasts 954 bird species, more than the US and Canada combined. Further making Panama a birders dream-come-true is the easy access to most of the bird-rich locations.  Soberania National Park on Pipeline Road – where 300 species were spotted in a single day by the Audubon Society – is considered one of the best birding spots in the world.

Located in the Panama Canal watershed, this former US military access road takes you into old growth secondary forest, ideal for the observation of flora and fauna from the Pacific and Caribbean slopes. During this birding adventure, you’ll have the opportunity to see many bird species and a diversity of plant and tree species. Howler Monkeys, Anteaters, and Agoutis also inhabit this area.  In the afternoon, you will visit Miraflores Locks and the former YMCA where you will find local handicrafts for sale. Dinner at one of Panama Pete’s favorite local restaurants! (B L D)

Day 4Rainforest & Old Panama tour - Today, you will be picked up by our Naturalist guide who will take us on a quick drive to the Metropolitan Park. It is the only tropical rain forest natural park inside a major urban center in Central America. The park is also part of the interoceanic biological corridor formed by several protected areas stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic. A good spot for bird watching, to see monkeys, raccoons, sloth, squirrels, tall trees, and plants. This park has numerous nature trails and is the site of extensive tropical rainforest research. Although close to the city, it is home to more than 250 species of birds and 40 species of mammals. The view from the top of Cerro Mono Titi is spectacular, offering a panoramic vista of the city, the port of Balboa, and neighboring Parque Nacional Camino de Cruces. The MNP offers trails for nature observation, environmental interpretation, a watchtower (where you can observe the Panama City and its surroundings), a bookstore and a store where crafts are sold. A stop during this historical sites tour will be the ruins of “Old Panama,” the first city on the Central American Isthmus founded by the Spanish and later plundered by the famous pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. Our guide will take us to dinner and then we’ll rest up for our big day with the local community tomorrow. (B, L, D)

Day 5Emberá Indians – Today, our adventure begins with an intrepid motorized dugout canoe ride up the Chagres River in the Chagres National Park, where we will visit the Indians of the community of Emberá Drua. This spectacular journey offers you an opportunity to see a developing community co-existing with-in the watershed of the Panama canal. Since 1984, these Emberá had to abandon agriculture due to park regulations and have turned to tourism as a form of communal income. These beautiful people are always happy to receive visitors and enjoy hearing our guide tell stories of the outside world.  During your visit, you are welcome to paint your body as the Emberá do, with a natural fruit dye called Jagua – great souvenir which last for about 10 to 14 days.  We will give back to the community by doing a service project with the native community depending on what they decide they need assistance with!  We will also have the opportunity to view handicrafts made right before your eyes. Many tourists find it difficult to leaving this tropical paradise without feeling that they’re in on a secret the rest of the traveling world has yet to discover.  Back to Panama City with dinner en route. (B, L, D)

Day 6Fort San Lorenzo & Gatun Locks – Today, our guide picks us up at 8:00am and we head toward the coast to the province of Colon.  As we go through the Soberania National Park, we will stop for a quick visit of the Cruces Trail, which was used by the Spaniards during the colonial times when transporting goods, such as gold and silver from Peru to Panama, more specifically – Portobelo.  You will visit of the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal before crossing over the canal on your way to the Castle of San Lorenzo.  This Colonial fortification, which protected the entrance to the Isthmus of Panama, is located strategically on the top ledge of the hills next to the mouth of Chagres River which empties into the Caribbean Sea.  Dinner in one of our guide’s favorite spots! (B, L, D)

Day 7El Valle de Anton – Pack your bags and be ready to go for an overnight in a volcanic crater!!! Located in the Province of Coclé, El Valle de Anton is one of the largest inhabited volcanic craters in the World.  We will arrive around 11am and either take a zipline canopy tour ($50 extra) or hike around the valley.  Afterwards, we will have lunch in town and in the afternoon explore either El Chorro Macho waterfalls, Botanical Garden, El Nispero, The Thermal pools, Petroglyphs: La Piedra Pintada, or Artisans & local Market. Dinner in town. (B, L, D)

Day 8 - El Valle/ Back to Panama City – After breakfast, you will participate in a local project and help to paint one of the local schools.  In the afternoon, we drive back to Panama City and we will stop by the Corona Beach (there is a beach entrance fee of $3/person). Tonight we gather for our farewell dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 9Departure day
Welcome home!!! (B)

 

Starting price
10 – 15 students + 1 chaperone: $ 1 550 / student
16 – 20 students + 1 chaperone: $ 1 490 / student
21 – 25 students + 1 chaperone: $ 1 390 / student
(Price depends on the time travelling e.g. Christmas and New Years period are peak season)

Price includes:
All the transfers mentioned in the program with van, boat or a local tuc tuc, accommodation in an economic hotel, all the meals as mentioned in the program (B, L, D), all the activities mentioned in the program with entrance fees, a Students Journey guide

Price does not include:
International flights, beverages and meals not specified, phone calls and personal expenses, travel insurance, all other services stated as optional or not explicitly stated as included.


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