Gorgeous rainforest, thriving urban centers, and a historic canal.
February 5–12, 2018
Whether you want beautiful beaches (bordering two different oceans!), a contemporary city scene, a dive into native cultures, an adventure in the rainforest, or a boat trip down the historic Panama Canal, this country has it all.
We’ll fly into Panama City, Panama, and stay for two nights in ocean-view rooms at the Hilton Panama, where you are welcome to visit the state-of-the-art casino or rooftop pool. The next morning, we’ll head out on the town and tour Panama City, the capital of the country. This multicultural city of 1.3 million might remind you of Miami, with its palm trees and gleaming skyscrapers!
Our tour will include a stop at the Miraflores Visitor Center for an introduction to the history and engineering of the Panama Canal, what the American Society of Civil Engineers calls one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Then, we’ll head to Casco Viejo, a seventeenth-century Spanish colonial town that features elegantly restored historical buildings and immaculate gardens. Later in the day, we’ll meander around the Amador Causeway to browse the unique shops there and partake of a delicious lunch, all against the dazzling backdrop of the Panama Canal.
The next day, we’ll discover more of the natural beauty of Panama with a visit to the Summit Botanical Garden and Zoo, home to about 300 animals, including the national bird of Panama, the harpy eagle. From there, we’ll ride an open-air tramway 280 feet up to the sun-drenched canopy of the Gamboa Rainforest, where we can climb out onto an observation deck for views of the vast Soberania National Park.
After checking in at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, we’ll head out for a boat tour of the small waterways around the Panama Canal to spot capuchin and howler monkeys leaping in the trees. Back at the resort, we’ll settle into our rooms and then watch a presentation on sloths! Enjoy a delicious dinner with the hotel’s all-inclusive package.
Have you ever paddled up a river in a dugout canoe? Here’s your chance! We’ll travel by coach to the Chagres River, where we’ll embark on a short ride in the traditional hand-carved boats of the Embera Indians. In the Embera village, we’ll meet the families who live there and engage in a question-and-answer period with the chief of the village. Meanwhile, a traditional meal of fresh fish and plantains will be prepared over an open fire. The Embera women are known as some of the world’s finest basket makers, and you’ll get a chance to learn firsthand how these useful works of art are made out of palm trees and dyed with natural materials.
On to the Panama Canal! The next day, we’ll embark on a Panama Canal partial transit, where you’ll have your choice of a seat on the open-air top deck or in the air-conditioned cabin with large windows for stunning views. We’ll enter the canal at the Culebra, where the Chagres River flows into the canal, and sail 8½ miles to the Pedro Miguel lock to see the Centennial Bridge, the start of the Pan-American Highway. Truly a breathtaking experience! Later in the afternoon, we’ll check in to the Weston Playa Bonita for a couple of days of fun and pampering.
On the day before we leave, we’ll explore the Crafts Market for some local souvenir shopping, followed by the Bio-Museo, a natural history museum with exhibits on the origin of the Panamanian isthmus and its crucial role in the planet’s biodiversity. After spending the afternoon and evening relaxing as you wish, we’ll set off for the Panama City airport, waving goodbye to the amazing sites that we’ll forever remember.
Fee (per person): $3,398 double • $3,982 single
Includes: round-trip local airport transfers, round-trip airfare from Boston, all transportation in Panama, 7 nights hotel accommodations, 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort and the Westin Playa, baggage handling of one large suitcase per person, all activities and admissions as listed in the itinerary, all tour-related taxes and gratuities for drivers and local guides, comprehensive travel insurance