PANAMA DISCOVERY

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8 days / 7 nights

TOUR DESCRIPTION A country so small yet filled with exuberant rainforests, wildlife and a rich cultural heritage. Discovering Panama includes (1) meeting indigenous cultures on Gatun River and admiring the Panama Canal Expansion before returning back to Panama City on the famous Panama Railway, (2) exploring the Panama Canal waters and observing wildlife and afterwards enjoy the Miraflores Locks from the top, (3+4) flying through the highlands on a zipline and enjoy an interactive coffee experience,  hiking in cloud forests of the Chiriqui highlands searching for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, (5) exploring  more over- and underwater world of the Caribbean Sea in Bocas del Toro.

PRICE US$2,650 per person + 7% tax (double occupancy) – minimum of 4 passengers - Additional price for single occupancy: US$470 + 7% tax

INCLUDED Lodging, meals as specified in the itinerary (B - breakfast, L - lunch, D - dinner), all land, air and water transportation within Panama, all airport/hotel transfers on scheduled arrival and departure dates, private group guides' services and expenses, snorkeling equipment, services of an in-bound land operator for airline re-confirmations and tour operations, park, museum and related entrance fees.

NOT INCLUDED International airfare, gratuities and extras in hotels (telephone calls, laundry, room service), meals not specified in the itinerary, alcoholic beverages and personal equipment.

ITINERARY


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.

Night at the TRYP PANAMA CENTRO HOTEL - EL CANGREJO

Day 2 Embera Indigenous People & Panama Canal Expansion & Panama Railway

Depart your hotel for a 1.5 hour drive across the Isthmus towards Colon for a cultural 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 a traditional lunch prepared by the indigenous women which usually consists of fried fish and plantains, accompanied by fresh fruits and snacks.

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 2016 will give the waterway the needed competitive advantage to operate successfully for at least another century. The Panama Canal celebrated 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 early evening.

Night at the TRYP PANAMA CENTRO HOTEL - EL CANGREJO (BLD)

Day 3 Panama Canal Jungle Boat Adventure - Miraflores Locks - Chiriqui

Early in the morning you will be picked up by your Naturalist Guide and transferred to the town of Gamboa, at the Panama Canal, where you will board a specially equipped expedition boat. The voyage takes you across Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway and 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 species. The expedition boat will allow for close approximations to rainforest covered islands in Gatun Lake to search for White-faced Capuchin, Howler Monkey, Spider Monkey and the endemic Red-naped Tamarin. Enjoy the extraordinary views of the Panama Canal and the natural surroundings with a light picnic lunch on the boat. From here you head to the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center, where you will visit multiple exhibits of the canal and have the opportunity to view the operations of the Panama Canal.

In the afternoon you catch a flight from Albrook domestic airport to David, the capital of the Chiriqui province. Chiriqui is known as “Panama’s breadbasket” and contains some of the most breathtaking highland scenery in Central America. Transfer by van to the eastern side of the dormant Baru Volcano to the quaint town of Boquete with its countryside dotted with flower, fruit and vegetable farms, coffee plantations and extraordinary cloud forest environments.

Night at LA CASA DE LA ABUELA (BLD) 

Day 4 Cloud Forest Canopy Ziplining - Coffee Tour

This morning you will do a cloud forest canopy tree trek on a zipline 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. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon you have an interactive experience in the highlands of Boquete. Sr. Tito´s Finca La Milagrosa in the Jaramillo region is one of the most respected and 100% organic coffee producers in the country. This small farm is not meant for large productions, and Mr. Tito's specialty coffee is only destined for exportation to Europe and the United States. When Mr. Tito took over this farm from his father 30 years ago, he started without any machines or even coffee plants, and produced his first roasting machines with used pieces of his old Mitsubishi car, and even some computer pieces! Drop back to your hotel mid-late afternoon.

Night at LA CASA DE LA ABUELA (BLD) 

Day 5 Waterfall Nature Walk - Continental Divide - Bocas del Toro

La Amistad is a bi-national park that stretches from Costa Rica into Panama, a small portion of which extends into the Chiriqui province encompassing mostly cloud forests. Here, the land rises in excess of 1,500m and warm air ascends the mountains where it meets with cooler air and condenses into a persistent cloud cover. Cloud forests exhibit a unique ecosystem with an astonishing diversity of flora and fauna. Towering trees reach towards the sun to form a canopy that creates a cool, shadowed, misty underworld on the forest floor.  It is noisy with the sounds of numerous insects, birds, and frogs but it is difficult to see them because of the ferns, tree ferns and epiphytes that crowd the lower and middle strata of the forest. During the 4-5 kilometer nature walk you will reach up to 1,700m (approx. 200m elevation gain) where you can take a refreshing swim in the waterfall.  Water drips from spongy mosses that cover tree trunks, from bromeliads that attach themselves to every cranny on the trees, and from flower petals perched high in the canopy of the forest.

Around midday enjoy a lunch at a local restaurant in Boquete before you continue on a approx. 3.5 hour drive to Almirante, Bocas del Toro. Enroute across the Continental Divide, you stop at Fortuna Dam. You will be crossing the Palo Seco protected area that serves as buffer zone to La Amistad International Park. The transition from the cloud forests to the coral reefs of Bocas del Toro in the Caribbean Sea will be impressive. In Almirante you are met by your boat and transferred to Isla Colon. You have ample time to enjoy the hammocks on the upstairs deck or mingle with the locals in the small friendly town.

Night at the BOCAS INN (BLD)

Day 6 Salt Creek Village - Bastimentos Marine National Park

You depart by boat from the Bocas Inn traversing the expanse of Bastimentos National Park, Panama’s first marine national park. You reach Salt Creek by navigating through clusters of Red Mangroves, which provide sea creatures with a protective area during their reproductive and development stages. Upon arrival you first enjoy a walk along Cayman Trail. This trail takes you through several stages of lowland forest dynamics. Here, you will look for birds such as Red-throated Ant Tanager and Golden-collared Manakin (Cerritus sub sp.). Mammals such as Night Monkeys, White-faced Capuchins and Three-toed Sloths also live here. An older tract of rainforest has tall trees that provide life to birds such as the Three-wattled Bellbird and Green-breasted Mango. A nearby lagoon is home to Spectacled Cayman and Slider Turtle. On the ground you will look for the tiny endemic poison dart frog Oophaga pumilio. After the hike, you enjoy a visit to the indigenous community and a chance to purchase handicrafts such as painted woodcarvings and Ngobe handbags, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, you will snorkel among mangroves and coral reefs, searching for numerous fish species, as well as dynamic and brightly colored sea fans, sponges and brittle starfish.

Night at BOCAS INN (BLD)

Day 7 Boca del Drago - Panama City

Early in the morning you take a boat ride to Boca del Drago around Isla Colon. Weather permitting, you visit Swan's Cay, a rock protruding from the depths of the Caribbean Sea, which serves as rookery for Red-billed tropic birds (the only place to be found in Panama) and Brown boobies. Along the coastline, returning to the lodge, you make stops at coral reefs and mangrove isles for snorkeling. Back at the lodge you have lunch and get ready for your return flight to Panama City. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Tonight you enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Night at the TRYP PANAMA CENTRO HOTEL - EL CANGREJO (BLD)

Day 8 Depart Panama

Today you are 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)

Optional pre-tour to the San Blas Islands and post-tour Panama Canal transit available.

DETAILS


TRIP CLASSIFICATION

  • Easy/moderate hiking 2-4 hours per day with rolling, slippery hills and optional activities such as snorkeling, rafting and extended hikes.
  • Hotel or lodge accommodation comfortable


DEPARTURE DATES 2017

  • February 12-19, 2017
  • April 16-23, 2017
  • June 18-25, 2017
  • August 13-20, 2017
  • October 22-29, 2017
  • November 26 - December 3, 2017
  • December 17-24, 2017


DISCLAIMER & NOTE

  • Prices and itineraries are correct at the time of printing, however they are subject to change due to tidal/weather or local conditions, availabilities or factors beyond our control.
  • This program includes a private Ancon Expeditions´Naturalist guide accompanying the group throughout the entire itinerary. Some tours are on shared basis. We accept a maximum of 12 persons on the program.
  • Weight restrictions apply to luggage in commercial and chartered flights within Panama. A maximum of 30.8 lbs. (14 kg) of checked luggage and 8.8 lbs. (4 kg) of carry-on per person is allowed.
  • Passengers are responsible for excess baggage fees and are subject to US$1.00 per extra pound and only allowed depending on flight occupancy.
  • Name or date changes on flight tickets are subject to a penalty of US$25 plus 7% tax (per change, per route)
  • Ticket cancellations with more than 30 days before your trip are subject to a service fee of US$25 per ticket (taxes included). Within 30 days from your arrival our regular cancellation policies apply.
  • Penalty for no show is 100% of all applicable fares, taxes and surcharges.
  • Surcharge for transportation of a pet or a surf board is US$30 per item per route.
  • The Canopy Zipline Tour in Boquete has the following maximum weight restrictions: 175 lbs (80 kg) for women and 250 lbs (113 kg) for men.

WHAT TO BRING

  • Binoculars (preferably 7x35 or bigger, also available for rent at Ancon Expeditions of Panama)
  • Camera with extra batteries & film
  • Flashlight with extra bulb & batteries
  • Insect repellant, Sunscreen, bathing suit
  • Hat, Day pack / dry sack
  • Water bottle
  • Lightweight/quick dry cotton clothes
  • Sandals, sneakers / hiking boots
  • Rain gear, Windbreaker
  • Money in small denominations
  • Toiletries & personal medications

TIPPING

Ancon Expeditions is Panama’s top eco-tourism operator. Our Natural & Cultural History Guides are the country's finest. Due to frequently asked questions from our clients about suggested guide & staff gratuities, we would like to provide you with the following universal tipping guidelines:

  • Naturalist guide/Tour leader:  US$10.00-US$20.00 per person/day
  • Day tour guide:  US$10.00 per person/day
  • Transfer driver:  US$2.00 per person
  • Tour driver:  US$5.00 per person/day
  • Tour boat driver:  US$5.00 per person/day
  • Hotel bellman: US$1.00 per person per suitcase
  • International airport bellmen (red caps): US$1.00 per piece of suitcase

REVIEWS


"Dear Marco: I just wanted to tell you how much we all enjoyed our Ancon Expeditions tour of Panama with Rick Morales.  We are still talking about what an amazing experience it was: the beauty of Panama, the daily adventure and the professionalism of Mr. Morales. 

Mr. Morales was a virtual wealth of information (we later learned

that he is called "the Library" -- with good reason! ).  He sought out and found numerous wildlife sightings (including the resplendent elusive Quetzal - a male, a female and a juvenile!) for us.  He answered all of our inquiries thoroughly and if he didn't have a bit of information, he said he would find out and did, each and every time.  He made great suggestions for the free time we had.  And finally, he accomplished all of this with unfailing optimism and good humor.

And finally, thank you for all of your prompt responses to our inquiries prior to departure.

Thanks to Ancon Expeditions for a most memorable travel experience!"

Sandra and Edward Smith

LODGING


TRYP PANAMA CENTRO - EL CANGREJO

This centrally located hotel in the heart of Panama City offers a convenient location within walking distance to restaurants, cafés, shops and pharmacies. With its 92 guest rooms, social area including a small outside pool and barbecue area as well as its in-house restaurant and business center with free Wifi access throughout the entire hotel offers guests a simple but comfortable stay in Panama City.

Address: Via Veneto, Panama City
Website: http://www.tryphotels.com/es/hotel-tryp-panama-centro.html
Phone: +(507) 265-0505
Check in: 3:00 p.m.
Check out: 12:00 p.m.

LA CASA DE LA ABUELA

La Casa de la Abuela is a small charming hotel about 10-15 minutes walking from Boquete center along the hillside road and nestled in a nice green garden at over 1,500 feet above sea-level. Through the hotel windows you can admire splendid views of the hills and the mountains of Boquete, spot a rainbow (or two!), the Caldera river and its multiple streams are  the most famous attractions, a romantic stream of crystal and pristine fresh water that runs along the valley. The hotel can accommodate a maximum of 40 guests at a time.

Address: Via Boquete, El Huacal Boquete, Chiriquí, Panama
Website: http://www.lacasadeabuela.com/
Phone: +(507) 730-9484
Check in: 3:00 p.m.
Check out: 12:00 p.m.


BOCAS INN

The Bocas Inn is listed among the top 20 destinations in Mexico and Central America by Outside Magazine's Travelers edition.

This charming family lodge located on the water's edge of Colon Island, in the town of Bocas del Toro. Seven comfortable air-conditioned bedrooms with private bathrooms, free Wifi Internet, an open air dinning hall, a sun deck, a hammock balcony and spectacular local food specialties make the Bocas Inn a favorite among visitors to this Caribbean destination. Cold beers and tropical drinks are always present at the Akee Bar. The lodge is located only 5 minutes from the Bocas airport and in walking distance to local restaurants, souvenir shops, bars and parks.

Address: Isla Colon, Province of Bocas del Toro, Panama
Website: www.anconexpeditions.com
Phone/Fax: +(507) 269-9415
Check in: 3:00 p.m.
Check out: 1:00 p.m.

CONTACT