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Panama Nature Tour - The Biological Bridge 

  • Highlights
2 million years ago the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama allowed the ‘’great exchange’’, plant and animal species passing from North America to South America and vice-versa. This led to Panama’s amazing biodiversity, despite its relatively small territory…Panama has long coastlines on two oceans, 4 archipelagos with more than 1700 islands and islets which make it an exceptional place to observe ...

2 million years ago the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama allowed the ‘’great exchange’’, plant and animal species passing from North America to South America and vice-versa. This led to Panama’s amazing biodiversity, despite its relatively small territory…

Panama has long coastlines on two oceans, 4 archipelagos with more than 1700 islands and islets which make it an exceptional place to observe marine wildlife.

About 40 % of its territory is still covered with rain forest… our little country counts more than 2400 tree species, compared with less than 1000 in the whole North America! 

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Customizable tour itinerary

This tour idea is fully customizable

This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Welcome To Panama

Between the Americas...

Your journey on the natural bridge between the Americas starts at Tocumen International airport, located 20 km East of Panama City.Your private driver will be waiting for you. You will take the ‘’corredor norte’’, the highway that goes around the north part of Panama City and drive to Soberania National Park and the little town of Gamboa. This small village is located about halfway along the canal, where the Chagres River meets with Gatun Lake.Gamboa Rainforest Resort is ideally located in the heart of Soberania National Park's rainforest, only 40 minutes from the centre of Panama City.Night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Visited:
Tocumen Soberanía National Park Gamboa

Day 2: Soberania National Park

Watch the birds...Created in 1980 Soberania National Park protects an area of 220 km2 of secondary rainforest on the sides of the Panama Canal, less than 45 minutes from the centre of Panama City.The first stop will be at the Rainforest Discovery Centre where you will enjoy a spectacular view of the forest from a 100 ft. high observation tower. There are also hummingbird feeders where you will admire and photograph up to 10 different species of the tiny acrobats!Then comes a hike on Pipeline road. During World War II a pipe was built to transfer oil from the Pacific to the Caribbean and was never used. Today the road built for this purpose, located inside Soberania National Park, is one of the most famous birding spots in America, with an astonishing list of 525 species. Monkeys such as white-faced capuchins, howler monkeys and the diminutive Geoffroys' tamarins are very frequent sights. The area is home to other mammals like three-toed sloths, agoutis or anteaters and countless reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.Night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Visited:
Soberanía National Park

Day 3: The Jungle Boat

A unique ecosystem...

The Panama Canal is not only a technical marvel, it is also a unique eco-system.

Lake Gatun used to be the largest artificial lake in the world until the Hoover Dam was open in 1936. It is surrounded by thick rainforest. No wonder that the Smithsonian Institute maintains one of its most important bases in the area, on Barro Colorado Island.

This fascinating tour will take you out on the lake in a boat, kayak and even during the night time.  

You will get as close as possible to the shores to try to spot the abundant wildlife, that doesn’t seem to be disturbed by the passage of huge ships.

See mammals such as mantled howler monkey, white-faced capuchin monkey, two and three-toed sloths and tamanduas. See birds such as herons and egrets, osprey and snail kites. Finally, see reptile species, such as; green iguanas, American crocodiles and the common basilisc.

You will stop for lunch on a houseboat located on the immense lake in the middle incredible jungle scenery.

During the afternoon you will keep exploring the canal rainforest by Kayak, looking for more exciting experiences.

After dinner you will take one last boat excursion to try to spot nocturnal species. American crocodiles and spectacled caimans are very commonly seen together with nighthawks and sometimes owls and potoos.

Night on the houseboat.

Visited:
Panama Canal Gatún

Day 4: Metropolitan Park & Miraflores Locks

Panama's capital...

After breakfast you will come back to Gamboa Rainforest Resort’s private dock where you will find your vehicle waiting to take you to Panama City.

Located on the Pacific side of the Isthmus Panama’s capital is cosmopolitan and full of life. It is well known for its numerous banks, its tall buildings and its picturesque colonial quarter.

We will first go to Parque Metropolitano. It is a vast area of protected secondary rainforest located in the centre of the Capital. There are several trails, one of them leading to the top of a hill with a beautiful view over the city.

There are some impressive trees and lianas and interesting local animal species are frequently seen:

Mammals: coatimundis, agoutis, two and three toed sloths, tamarin monkeys (saguinus geoffreyi).

Birds: trogons, motmots, tanagers and with a bit of luck the elusive common potoo.

Reptiles: common basilisc, slider turtle, brown vine snake.

Invertebrates: terrestrial and arboreal tarantulas.

The second visit will be to the recently inaugurated biodiversity museum.

There are many exhibits, the central theme being the ‘’Great Exchange’’: the development of the Panama isthmus 2 million years ago joined North and South America and allowed the passage of countless animals and plants species from one part of the new continent to the other and vice-versa.

After lunch a short transfer will take you to Miraflores locks. Ships must pass those imposing water elevators to navigate in and out the Panama Canal and it is a fascinating and unforgettable show to watch the steel giants going through the locks.

Night at hotel Tryp Panama Centro

Visited:
Panama City Miraflores

Day 5: Taboga Island

Beach views...

Taboga Island is located in the Bay of Panama, only a few miles from the Canal’s entrance.

In the morning you will meet with your guide at your hotel, then take a private transfer to Naos Island Marina, at the end of the Causeway. You will board the ferry for about 1 hour. You will pass between big ships waiting for their turn to get inside the Canal, see many marine birds and, with a bit of luck, spot a group of dolphins.

Once you have arrived at Taboga we will cross the little village, where Paul Gauguin spent a few months during the Panama Canal’s construction. The church is quite remarkable. Built at the very beginning of the 16th century it is one of the oldest in America!

At the end of the village we will start our hike uphill on an open path in the middle of the tropical vegetation. You will enjoy beautiful points of view on the village and its beach, the Pacific Ocean and the Bay of Panama. Just before reaching the top we will take a little trail going down steep inside the rainforest. Delicately coloured poison dart frogs are very common in shady areas, you will certainly see them hopping on the forest litter!

Back to the village we have our lunch and you will have time to swim and enjoy the beach before returning to Panama City with the afternoon ferry.

Your driver will be waiting at the marina to take you back to your hotel.

Night at hotel Tryp Panama Centro

Visited:
Taboga Island Panama City

Day 6: From Panama City to Volcan

Forests and mountains...

After breakfast a vehicle will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Albrook National Airport where you will board the first flight for David, the capital of the state of Chiriqui located at the west end of the country.

A private driver will be waiting for you. After a short drive on the Pan-American Highway you will take a picturesque road that you will follow until your arrival at Volcano. There you will take a dirt road through a beautiful landscape of forested mountains and reach the limits of La Amistad National Park.

Mount Totumas is located in the buffer zone directly bordering La Amistad National Park, some 1900 metres above sea level.

This little lodge is built in the ‘’cloud forest’’, a fascinating ecosystem where tree ferns abound and where every inch of bark is covered with moss and epiphytes!

It is the natural territory of the resplendent quetzal, the sacred bird of ancient Mayas and Aztecs. This magnificent animal is very frequently seen around the lodge, especially during mating season (December to March).


Night at Mount Totumas.

Visited:
David Volcan Amistad National Park

Day 7: In the Cloud Forest

Monkeys and birds...

Apart from the quetzal there are numerous other species that make Mount Totuma’s a first-class birdwatching destination… see the three-wattled bellbird and its extraordinary metallic call! There are also, among other mammals, three species of monkeys.

There are 8 self-guided marked trails for guests to choose from. Hikes to the peak of Mount Totumas (a challenging feat) as well as to remote areas in La Amistad National Park can be organized. Guides are available for birdwatchers and for nature lovers.

For the less adventurous there is an unbelievable show of hummingbirds above the lodge’s feeders. Admire the tiny, bumblebee-like scintillant hummingbird, the delicately coloured white-throated mountain gem, the glittering violet sabrewing and the magnificent hummingbird!


Night at Mount Totumas

Visited:
Amistad National Park

Day 8: The Boquete Valley

Wildlife galore...

You will have the morning to keep on exploring the surroundings of the lodge.

After lunch your vehicle will take you back to Volcano, then to the valley of Boquete, on the other side of Baru Volcano, Panama’s highest peak (3500 m).

Boquete is a charming little town located at an altitude of 900 m, surrounded by rainforest and coffee plantations. It is Panama’s little Switzerland, full of flowers and boutique hotels but the presence of Ngabe Indian women in their colourful traditional dress.

Night at hotel Boquete Tree Trek

Visited:
Boquete District

Day 9: The Quetzal Trail

Strawberry fields forever...

Meeting with your guide early morning. Your vehicle will take you to Cerro Punta, on the other side of Baru Volcano, in the middle of strawberry fields and on the edge of La Amistad national park. The ‘’Quetzal Trail’’ starts a few kilometers from the village.

The trail links Cerro Punta with Boquete. It goes up to 2500 m of altitude shortly after departure and goes down most of the way after, through a marvelous scenery of mountain rainforest and cloud forest, full of bamboos, tree ferns, orchids and bromeliads. The fresh climate here is ideal for trekking….

This is without any doubts one of the most spectacular jungle hikes to be done in Central America and there is always the possibility of observing the mysterious quetzal!

Upon arrival at Boquete our driver will be waiting for you to take you to the hotel.

Night at hotel Boquete Tree Trek

Visited:
Cerro Punta Boquete District

Day 10: Bocas Del Toro

Two oceans in one day...

After breakfast your driver will pick you up to take you to the port of Almirante, on the Caribbean coast. This is a unique drive through Panama’s Central Mountain Range with, if the weather is clear, beautiful points of view on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans!

The vegetation is amazing and will become thicker and thicker as you get closer to the Caribbean Sea. You will be impressed by the ‘’Sombrillas del Pobre’’ with their huge leaves… You will pass little Indian villages on the side of the road that belong to the Ngabe tribe, also called ''Guaymies'' by the Panamanians.

After about 3 hours you will reach the little town of Almirante, were ships load the bananas harvested in large plantations near the border with Costa Rica.

There, you will embark in a water taxi for a 20 mn navigation to Bocas Town, on Colon Island. Upon arrival a private launch this time will take you to the other end of the archipelago to the eastern extremity of Bastimentos Island.

Bastimentos is the largest island in the archipelago. It is almost entirely covered with thick rainforest.

Al Natural Resort is hidden behind a spectacular beach that managed to resist the invasion of the tropical vegetation.

Night at Al Natural Resort

Visited:
Bocas del Toro Isla Bastimentos Almirante

Day 11: All Natural Resort 

Dive or snorkel...

Al Natural Resort is an ideal place to explore the amazing nature of the Archipelago.

The hotel has its own diving center and organizes also snorkelling tours to nearby reefs.

You will use the kayaks (complementary) to reach the nearby mangrove and the little Indian village of Salt Creek. The inhabitants organize rainforest tours to the inside of the island. They will help you spotting the delicate strawberry-coloured poison dart frogs that abound on the island, together with three toed sloths and white-faced capuchin monkeys.

But the local highlight must be a visit to ‘’Cayos Zapatillas’’, two paradise islands located right in front of the lodge a few miles from the coast… the contrast between the white beaches, the deep blue water of the Caribbean Sea and the dark green of the incredibly lush vegetation is truly unique!

2 nights at Al Natural Resort

Visited:
Bocas del Toro

Day 12: Exploring the Island

Dive or snorkel...

Second day at Al Natural Resort
Take the opportunity to kayak your way to the
mangroves and Salt Creek
Rainforest tours are available for a first-hand
opportunity to spot poison dart frogs 
Discover Cayos Zapatillas, boasting vibrant
colours reflecting off the Caribbean

Visited:
Bocas del Toro

Day 13: Back to Panama City

Last day in paradise...

Your plane for Panama City leaves in the afternoon, so you will have more time to enjoy the lodge’s enchanting surroundings in the morning.

After lunch the hotel will organize your transfer to Bocas Town, where a taxi will take you to the local airport.

Your chauffeur will be waiting for you in Panama City to drive you to your hotel.

Night at hotel Tryp Panama Centro

Visited:
Bocas del Toro Panama City

Day 14: Goodbye Panama!

Thank you for visiting...

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it is time for you to go back home with your eyes full of Panama’s natural beauty.

Your trip will finish where it started, at Tocumen international airport where you will be transferred to your plane by one of our drivers.

Visited:
Tocumen

Tocumen Soberanía National Park Gamboa Panama Canal Gatún Panama City Miraflores Taboga Island David Volcan Amistad National Park Boquete District Cerro Punta Bocas del Toro Isla Bastimentos Almirante

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. $2,580 / 14 days
Excluding international flights
Price per person, based on double occupancy  Low Season (April 16th - December 19th)     High Season (January 4th - April 15th)                     Christmas (December 20th - January 3rd)                    
$2,660 $2,760 $2,820

Included in price:

  • All mentioned in the text description
  • All transfers as described
  • All tours as described with English-speaking guide
  • 2 nights at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Gamboa.
  • 1 night in the ‘’Jungle Boat’’
  • 2 nights at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest, Volcan in the ‘’ Bellbird Lodge ‘’
  • 2 nuits at Boquete Tree Trek, Boquete, standard room
  • 3 nights at Al Natural Resort, Bocas del Toro, standard bungalow
  • 3 nights at hotel Tryp Panama City
  • Flights Panama City-David and Bocas Town-Panama City( 14 kg PP )

Not included in price:

  • Guide in Mount Totuma’s (available upon request)
  • Guide in Al Natural Resort
  • Guide during airport transfers
  • Optional tours and activities

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