Day 1: Panama City, Panama
Welcome to Panama. After exiting customs, you are greeted and privately transferred to your hotel, a lovingly restored landmark building in the historic Casco Viejo, commonly called the walled city. American Trade Hotel
Day 2: Panama City
Begin your day with a scenic flight over the city and canal, enjoying amazing views of the San Lorenzo Fortress and the villages of the indigenous Embera people. Fly 30 meters/100 feet above the Chagres River and snap some great pictures of the lush rainforest below. On your return, fly over the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side of the canal. Then, enjoy a walking exploration of the picturesque Casco Viejo, founded by the Spaniards in 1673 after the first city of Panama (Old Panama) was destroyed. Together with Old Panama, the Casco Viejo is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is appreciated worldwide for its unique historical and artistic value. The neighborhood’s character comes alive as you walk through its narrow cobblestoned streets and see the area’s beautiful preserved colonial and neoclassical architecture, squares and monuments as you learn about the history and culture of the city.
Then, you continue to the famous Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal via private car. Here you will learn about the dramatic history and construction of the canal at the Visitor’s Center and Museum. You have the opportunity to watch massive vessels transit through the locks. American Trade Hotel (B)
Day 3: Panama City / Darien
This morning, you set out by private transfer to Darien, about five hours to the most remote and least visited province in Panama. The national park is one of world’s richest biomes, where the primeval meets the present with scenery nearly unaltered from one million years ago. Canopy Camp Darien is a birdwatcher’s paradise and the surrounding forests are teeming with a large diversity of mammals, frogs, insects and plants, providing endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. During a stay at the camp, you visit some local towns, and travel by piragua (dugout canoe) along the Chucunaque and Tuira Rivers. Even today in the Darien, the Emberá and Wounaan people maintain many of their traditional practices and retain generations-old knowledge of the rainforest. In a stroke of irony, the Darién has remained so pristine because of its volatile reputation. Your camp offers wonderful opportunities for nature photography. Set up your gear on our observation deck and wait for passing wildlife in the forest and river below, or stake out the fruit and hummingbird feeders. Canopy Camp Darien (B,L,D)
Day 4: Darien
After an early breakfast, travel to Yaviza, the end of the Pan-American Highway. Here you board a boat for a ride along the Chucunaque and the Tuira rivers, two of Panama’s longest and largest rivers through the heart of Darien, scouting for wildlife along the river’s edge. Look for cocoi, little blue, tricolored and capped herons, white ibis, neotropic cormorant, black-collared hawk and American crocodile, green iguana, common basilisk, white-faced capuchin, mantled howler and much more. Stop at one of the Embera villages, home to one of the indigenous groups of eastern Panama to learn something about their culture, the history of the village, and their food, dress, artisan crafts and dance. After the morning on the river and at the village, travel back to Yaviza, stopping along the way for a picnic lunch. The far reaches of the Pan-American Highway are bordered by marshes and fields, providing another opportunity for bird watchers, who may spot pearl kite, striped cuckoo, pied water or long-tailed tyrant, blue-headed parrot, and maybe the rare chestnut-fronted or great green macaw! Return to camp in late afternoon. Canopy Camp Darien (B,L,D)
Day 5: Darien
Several trails into the lowland rainforest of the Darién have trailheads located directly at the camp. The wide trails offer varying terrain and endless scenery to enjoy while you hike. After a hearty breakfast this morning, you head into the forest on Nando’s Trail, for a morning hike to explore the forest and search for wildlife. After lunch, take time to enjoy the hummingbirds and other species around the camp, take a dip in the rocky stream or simply relax. Later, you continue to explore the nearby forest. After dinner, go in search of nocturnal species including a variety of owls. Canopy Camp Darien (B,L,D)
Day 6: Darien
Spend the day exploring the farmlands and rural areas of the Darien by horseback. This specially arranged adventure gives you the opportunity to view nature and the local environment from a different vantage point. Then hike along the trails to a waterfall, about three kilometers/1.9 meters away from the camp. Here you are able to go for a refreshing swim and relax before heading back to the camp. Canopy Camp Darien (B,L,D)
Day 7: Darien / Panama City
This morning, you return to Panama City by private transfer. Remainder of the day is at leisure. American Trade Hotel (B)
Day 8: Panama City - Alton Valley - Panama City
After being picked up by your guide early in the morning, you will be driven about two hours to the magical Anton Valley, known for its Sunday morning market, golden frogs and square trees – the only square-trunked trees in the world. El Valle is located within the crater of the second largest inhabited dormant volcano in the world. Scientists speculate that the soil may be the reason these trees take their unique shape. The cooler climate is a pleasant change from the heat and humidity of the city and on warm days, there are always refreshing breezes that rush down the slopes of the surrounding hills.
The crater stands at about 600 meters/1968 feet above sea level. The surrounding mountains range from 800 to 1,000 meters/2625 to 3281 feet. Much of this land has been cleared for agriculture and pastureland except for two – Cerro Gaital and Cerro Pajita, which remain natural forests. Hiking trails lead to scenic vistas of the crater floor. The area offers some striking features such as Painted Rock, a massive stone covered in pre-Columbian petroglyphs. The most popular mountain is known as the Sleeping Indian Girl because from certain viewpoints, the outline of the mountain resembles a girl lying on her back gazing at the skies. According to legend, an Indian princess wandered the mountains and died in disgrace after her lover committed suicide. The realism of the outline is enhanced by the fact that the ‘face’ and ‘neck’ have been cleared for grazing while her ‘hair’ remains forested and it is in this area that the best route to the top is found. You can hike to El Chorro Macho, a lovely 35-meter/115-foot waterfall formed by the Quebrada Amarilla River. It is located within the boundaries of an ecological refuge with walking trails that take you to the top of the falls. Endemic trees are labeled and if you are lucky, you may see the stunning blue morpho butterflies. This is an exquisite spot within a compact area. There is an optional canopy tour that enables you to zoom across El Macho through the treetops high above the forest floor. Before returning to the city, visit the local farmer’s market, where local produce, flowers and handicrafts are sold. American Trade Hotel (B,L)
Day 9: Panama City / Depart
Today you will be privately transferred to the airport to connect with your outbound flight. (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$550 per person per day - minimum two people.