Meet up with Como Friends in Panama City, then grab a hammock on your private balcony of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, your home for three nights. Expert naturalists and expedition leaders will accompany your tour, which includes in-country transfers and meals.
Here, you can hop a boat to the world-famous Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s station located in the heart of Lake Gatún and the Panama Canal, see some of the more than 500 bird species found in Soberanía National Park, and discover the compelling pre-Columbian cultural heritage of Panama as we venture on the upper Chagres River. From there, we’ll move to the Chiriquí Highlands and charming Finca Lérida Lodge, where you’ll encounter the diverse orchids of the Finca Dracula, and the bromeliads of Baru National Park. The UNESCO world heritage sites of the Castle San Lorenzo and other destinations around the Panama Canal are the focus of the final days of our tour, driving the isthmus, and following the gold-digging route of the 49ers on the Panama Canal Railroad train.
DAY 1 – SATURDAY – March 14
U.S. / Panama City / Gamboa
Fly independently to Panama City and proceed to Gamboa Rainforest Resort, our home for the next three nights. Relax in the hammock on your private balcony as you enjoy views of the Chagres River and rainforest.
DAY 2 – SUNDAY – March 15
Panama Canal Partial Transit / Biomuseum / Casco Viejo
This morning you will board a ferry on Gatun Lake, 26 meters above sea level, for transit on the Panama Canal. The southbound canal transit will traverse Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. This afternoon you will visit the Frank O. Gehry Biomuseum and Casco Viejo, Panama City’s colonial section.
DAY 3 – MONDAY – March 16
The Path Between the Seas
Start your day with a drive across the Isthmus of Panama to the Caribbean province of Colon. In one hour you will have crossed the continent, from ocean to ocean. After a drive over the Panama Canal at Gatun Locks you reach the Castle of San Lorenzo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will enjoy lunch at the Shelter Bay Marina before continuing to the current Panama Canal Expansion project that will increase the waterway’s capacity to move cargo by 50% within the next 15 years. The return to Panama City will be by train aboard the Panama Canal Railway.
DAY 4 – TUESDAY – March 17
Smithsonian’s Barro Colorado Island
After breakfast take a boat to Barro Colorado Island, the world-famous Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s station. Explore the rainforest and keep a lookout for three-toed sloths, black-handed spider and howler monkeys, brilliantly colored morpho butterflies, and a host of tropical birds.
DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY – March 18
Soberanía National Park / Rainforest Discovery Center / Smithsonian’s Amphibian Conservation Center /
Miraflores Locks / Dinner at Locks
Of special note for birding enthusiasts, over 500 species of birds have been observed in Soberanía in a single day, including 13 species of hummingbirds and the rare harpy eagle. Walking these jungle-lined paths, your sharp-eyed naturalists will help you look for brilliantly colored poison arrow frogs, glass-winged and morpho butterflies, and both two-toed and three-toed sloths. After an early picnic lunch.
DAY 6 – THURSDAY – March 19
Upper Chagres River / Emberá Village / Chiriquí Highlands
From El Corotu on the shores of Madden Lake you will travel up the Chagres River aboard a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) to the indigenous village of Embará Drua, where you will be greeted with dancing and music and enjoy a traditional lunch of fish and plantains wrapped in banana leaf. After a short flight to the town of David, you will travel on to the Chiriquí highlands and Finca Lérida Lodge, situated on a working coffee farm 5,500 feet above sea level.
DAY 7 – FRIDAY – March 20
Chiriquí Highlands / La Amistad Park & Finca Dracula
In the morning you will drive around Baru Volcano to visit La Amistad International Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Amistad 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. You will spend the morning hiking and exploring La Amistad in the area of El Retoño in search of the Resplendent Quetzal and Andean Pygmy-Owl, among others. After lunch you will visit Finca Dracula, home to over 1,500 orchid species (one of the most diverse collections in the world).
DAY 8 – SATURDAY – March 21
Chiriquí Highlands / Panama City
This morning you will explore highland forest trails in a private preserve contiguous to Baru National Park. The lush montane cloud forests are rich in bromeliads, ferns and orchids and you have a good chance to see one of the most beautiful birds in the world, the resplendent quetzal. Walk along the forested trails that surround Finca Lérida Lodge and wind through the coffee plantation. Search for colorful tanagers, emerald toucanets and three-wattled bellbirds. “Non-hikers” can join one of the lodge’s talented resident guides for a shorter walk. Head into the charming town of Boquete for lunch.
DAY 9 – SUNDAY – March 22
Panama City / U.S.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to the United States.
The itinerary is accurate at the time of publishing. Changes may occur to schedule and lodging prior to departure that will not affect the overall content of the trip.