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Si! PANAMA

Highlighting
Panama City and Casco Viejo
Partial Panama Canal Transit
Portobelo & El Otro Lado Private Retreat
Chiriqui Province & Finca Lerida
Boca Brava Island & Cala Luna Boutique Hotel
15 Days


Locally Hosted Independent Tour

Suggested Departure Day:
Friday

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ITINERARY (Subject to change without notice):

Day 01 - USA – Panama City: Upon arrival Panama City, you will be met and transferred to your hotel, the American Trade Hotel,  located in the UNESCO Heritage site and historic district of Casco Viejo, a charming area of narrow streets with flower-bedecked balconies, where buildings are not more than two or three stories and all must reflect the colonial era. The area today also boasts many of the city’s finest restaurants.

Day 02 - Panama City:
Since at least colonial times, Panama has been looked upon as one of the world's foremost "Crossroads." Highlights of today’s tour will take you into both the Old and Modern sections of this bustling city, including the famed Ruins of Old Panama, the first European settlement on the Pacific, founded in 1521 but sacked by Henry Morgan. Visit the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center and learn all about the famed Panama Canal – the history, the construction and the operation. You’ll have lunch while enjoying views of the Canal operation.

Also visit The Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge of Life, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, his first design in Latin America. Located at the end of the Amador Causeway facing the Pacific Ocean at the entrance to the Canal, providing panoramic vistas of the ocean and ships entering-exiting the Canal.The Museum contains 8 exhibitions that revolve around the idea of Panama’s biodiversity and led by Smithsonian Institute and University of Panama.  The museum has Gehry’s usual silhouette but uniquely each panel is painted a different bright color said to express its tropical location.

You’ll also visit Casco Viejo in the old section of the city dating back to the 1600's, where you find the Presidential Palace and National Cathedral. Walk the cobblestone streets and explore its handicraft market. This walled city in the Old Quarter consists of 16th and 17th Century Spanish Colonial architecture, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, and jump-started an urban re-vitalization program with a strict standard of historical authenticity. Enjoy lunch en route today(B/L)

Day 03 - Panama City - Portobelo: 
Transfer to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal. Here you will board the jungle boat, a voyage across Panama Canal's Gatun Lake passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway, 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 basking in the sun, Osprey in the hunt for Peacock bass, Snail kite and Keel-billed toucan among other wildlife.

Gatun Lake was formed to give way to the Panama Canal in 1914. With a surface of 423 square-kilometers, at the time of its creation was the largest man-made lake in the world. The flow of all rivers within the Panama Canal Watershed is contained in Gatun Lake to provide water for the operation of the lock system. More than 52 million gallons of water are used for every ship that transits through the canal from one ocean to another.

Your expedition boat will allow for close approximations to rainforest covered islands (former hill tops) in Gatun Lake to search for White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey, and Geoffrey’s Tamarin.

Enjoy lunch at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort overlooking the Chagres River. Transfer across the Isthmus of Panama, about 1 1/2 hours, to the Caribbean province of Colon and the historic town of Portobelo for a historical walking tour and visit to the Spanish forts. At the end of your excursion, say goodbye to your guide and cross the bay by boat, a short 5-10 minute ride, to the private retreat El Otro Lado for a four night stay. (B/L)

Day 04, Day 05 and Day 06: Portobelo & El Otro Lado: 
El Otro Lado is a private retreat situated in an exceptional enclave of Portobelo Bay, mixing design, culture, nature and luxury in a unique manner in order to offer its guests an authentic and exclusive experience. Surrounded by the National Park of Portobelo, El Otro Lado is the perfect place to relax and disconnect while contemplating the exuberant vegetation. With views of the sea, its four exclusive houses of eclectic tropical design integrate simple details with traditional handicraft of the Atlantic Coast. El Otro Lado will take you to a harmonious and dreamlike place which is equipped with all the comforts of modern life.
Activities included during your stay at El Otro Lado are a beach excursion to Puerto Frances, a 45-minute nature hike, free use of kayaks, stand-up paddle and paddle boats. (B)

Day 07 - El Otro Lado - Panama City:
Morning pick-up at the boat dock of El Otro Lado by your local guide for the 45-60 minute transfer to the Gatun River where you will board a motorized dug-out canoe for a cultural tour to the Embera indigenous people. You’ll learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature, their traditions, history, music, arts and crafts, clothing and the medicinal trail. Enjoy a traditional lunch at an indigenous village.  

Then on to the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center where you will have the opportunity to view the massive Panama Canal expansion project. You will also have beautiful views of Gatun Lake and the ships anchored awaiting their opportunity to pass through the lake on the way to the Pacific side of Panama.  

The return to Panama City will be aboard the Panama Railroad from Colon. The railway follows a similar route as the original train built to transport gold prospectors, the 49ers, in the mid to late 1800s coming from the east coast of the United States across the Isthmus of Panama to continue their journey by steamboat to California. The route was diverted when Gatun Lake was formed to give way to the Panama Canal. The train will take you along the magnificent waterway, flanked by the exuberant rainforests of Soberania National Park. After a one hour train ride you will arrive at Corozal Station in Panama City and be transferred to your hotel in the modern district of city, the Bristol Panama for a two night stay. (B/L)

Day 08 - Panama City: Morning pick up at your hotel for the transfer to Muelle de Dragados in Gamboa to check-in at the 250-passenger ferry. The journey begins where the Chagres River flows into Gatun Lake, 26 meters above sea level.  Cruising southbound, the first highlight of the day will be crossing Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. The 13.7-kilometer long portion of the waterway was carved through rock and shale between 1904 and 1914 and it is flanked by the backbones of the Continental Divide. The original width of Gaillard Cut was 92 meters. In order to accommodate the demands of today's transit needs, the Panama Canal Authority recently completed the monumental task of widening the Cut to 192 meters in straight sections and up to 222 meters in curves. This allows for unrestricted two-way traffic of Panamax vessels, the largest ships that can currently fit in the Panama Canal locks.  The majestic Centenario Bridge soars over Gaillard Cut.

As the cruise continues you will reach the first set of locks that you will cross today.  At Pedro Miguel locks the ship will be lowered 9 meters into Miraflores Lake. While you enjoy lunch on board, you will reach Miraflores Locks, which are the tallest in the canal's locks system due to the extreme tidal variation of the Pacific Ocean. In two steps, the ship will be lowered from 17 meters above sea level to sea level.  The transition from fresh water from the lake and lock chambers to salt water in the Pacific Ocean takes place here.

Before leaving the Panama Canal and entering the Pacific Ocean you will sail under the bridge of the Americas, which raises over 100 meters above sea level reuniting the land divided during the construction of the canal and forming a link on the Pan-American Highway. You will disembark at the Flamenco Marina where you will be met and transferred back to your hotel.
(B/L)

Day 09 - Panama City-David-Boquete:
Early morning transfer from your hotel to the domestic airport in Panama City for your short flight to the town of David. Meeting on arrival by your local guide and immediate departure for the 90 minute transfer to Cerro Punta where you will start your day hike, Los Quetzales (hiking time 5-6 hours), connecting Cerro Punta to Boquete. By any measure, Sendero Los Quetzales, is regarded by many as the best hike in Panama and a botanical paradise for hikers. The rainforest here is thick, lush and dazzling with its colorful array of birds, panoramic lookout points and crystalline streams rushing across velvety moss-covered rocks. The changing elevation corresponds to different life zones and landscapes and although you’re likely to see birds and other small critters along the way, but despite the trail’s name you’ll need to be very lucky to see a quetzal. Cerro Punta’s altitude is at 6,500 feet, while Boquete’s is at 3,200 feet so the hike is mostly downhill from Cerro Punta.

At the end of your hike, you will be transferred to your hotel, Finca Lerida, just outside of Boquete on a private coffee estate for a two night stay. (B/L)

Day 10 - Boquete: 
Begin today with a visit to a cloud forest, La Amistad, 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.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then transfer to Sr. Tito´s Finca La Milagrosa in the Jaramillo region, 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!

His rather small 5 hectare coffee farm La Milagrosa (which means the miracle, in English), situated at 1500 meters above sea level, has been given its name because many people in this region did not believe that Sr. Tito could transform this land into a lucrative coffee plantation, and today he produces one of the best coffees of Panama and has won many prizes. The world famous Geisha coffee is one of the eight different types of coffee that Tito produces, which is one of the most expensive delicacy coffees in the world (sold for over $100 per pound in Japan for example).

You will get to roast some beans on your own, and will taste a few cups of excellent coffee during your visit! Moreover, Sr Tito is a great economic help to the indigenous community, as he employs 22 Ngöbe Buglé Indians on his farm to help him collect and process the coffee beans. As you may know, the Ngobe Buglé Indians are responsible for handpicking the coffee grown in the coffee farms of Chiriqui. If you visit Boquete between December and April you will be able to see them in their colorful dresses harvesting coffee in Ruiz's plantations and if you visit Boquete between October and March you will be able to see the coffee being processed. (B/L)

Day 11 - Boquete - Boca Chica - Boca Brava Island: Morning visit to Boquete, a small, quaint town on the Caldera River, in the green mountain highlands of Panama, in western-most Chiriquí Province, near the border with Costa Rica. Its countryside is dotted with flower, fruit and produce farms, coffee plantations and also lush tropical cloud forests. You will stop atop a bluff where we will have an extraordinary view of the town set in the mountain valley at 1,060 meters above sea level. Continue with your guide to see the main highlights of the town including the best look out points, drive-by the local houses and farming areas, the historic town center and learn about important facts on the founding of Boquete and its historical buildlings and beautiful blooming flower gardens. 

Enjoy lunch at one of the typical restaurants of the town and then a 90 minute overland transfer to Boca Chica where you will meet up with your motorlaunch for a fifteen minute ride, provided by Cala Mia staff, to Boca Brava Island and the Cala Mia Resort for a three night stay.

Cala Mia is a private retreat located on the top of the pristine Boca Brava Island, within the National Marina Park of the Chiriqui Gulf. Cala Mia’s 11 bungalows are perched on the tip of a rocky promontory on the island's east coast. Set in landscaped gardens filled with towering palms and tangles of tropical blooms they overlook two idyllic bays flanked by mangroves and dense forest. A permanent natural soundtrack of crashing waves, crickets, geckos and howler monkeys quickly set in. Other local critters and sea life include iguanas, ocelots, raccoons, jaguars, coyotes, ant eaters, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and numerous tropical fish. (B)

Day 12 and Day 13 - Boca Brava Island:  During your stay at this secluded Panamanian hideaway you will have free use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment and there is also a wide selection of optional activities that can be arranged direct with the resort, such as sailing & sunset cruises, visiting a local indigenous village, going horseback riding, scuba diving, whale watching, hiking or fishing. Or you can spend your time lounging by the infinity pool or being as active as you desire. (B)

Day14 - Boca Brava Island-Boca Chica-David-Panama City: Today Cala Mia will transfer you by boat back to Boca Chica and on to the David airport, a drive of about one hour. Afternoon flight back to the domestic airport at Albrook, where you will be met and transferred to the American Trade Hotel in the historic Casco Viejo district of Panama City for overnight.  (B)

Day 15 - Depart Panama City: At the appropriate time, transfer to the international airport for your flight back to the USA. (B)

RATES and DETAILS:

SAMPLE LAND RATE PER PERSON: (All rates subject to change without notice)
YEAR Single Occupancy Twin Occupancy - P/P Triple Occupancy - P/P
2017 Request $9,500 to $11,900 Request
2018 estimate + 10%
Plus Air fares and USA Departure Taxes
PAYMENTS: By credit card; special form required & must carry Card Holder's signature
Deposit - Per Person 2nd deposit - Per Person Full Payment Due
$1000 in order to confirm Upon confirmation - to complete 30% 65 days prior departure
CHANGES:
After reservations confirmed If new documents are required
$100 per change $100 per change + $100 re-issue documents
CANCELLATIONS:
Cancelled Between Up to 91 days 89 to 61  days 60 to 31 days 30 to 00 days
Fees Per Person $1000 30% 50% 100%
TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE: Highly recommended
RATE INCLUDES:
  • Hotel accommodations with hotel taxes and service charges
  • Meals as indicated, table d'hôte basis
  • Transfers as indicated, with English speaking guide
  • Luggage handling at airports
  • Sightseeing as indicated, with English speaking guide
  • Surface and overland travel as indicated
  • Internal air Panama City-David roundtrip
RATE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
  • Air fare USA-Panama City-USA
  • USA and Foreign airport departure taxes
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips to drivers, guides, hotel bellboys, ship's personnel
  • Meals not specifically indicated as included
NOTE: Information was last updated January 2, 2017. Information & rates subject to change.
Responsibilities, Terms & Conditions