In this tour you will travel the Panama Canal by boat and see the diverse wildlife on its shores, followed by a ride in a dugout canoe up the Chagres River in the rugged and remote Chagres National Park to an indigenous Embera village.
This tour begins with hotel pickups starting at 7 am. We know it sounds crazy to get up so early on your vacation, but if you really want to see the wildlife you need to do it when they are most active. Starting this early we can beat the crowds and see more wildlife in cooler temperatures.
To start this tour, we will follow the Panama Canal north to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the canal. We will begin our wildlife viewing from a boat on the waters of the canal and Gatun Lake. We will ride along the waters of the Panama Canal right next to the ships passing through as well as an up close view of the the abundant wildlife on its shores. We will visit the famous Monkey Islands where we can see capuchins, howlers, and tamarins.
Once we finish with our canal and lake boat ride (around 2 hours), we will head 1 hour northeast to the rugged and remote Chagres National Park. Once we arrive at Puerto Corotu on the banks of Lake Alajuela, our indigenous Embera friends will be waiting to take us up the Chagres River aboard their version of a motorized dugout canoe. From the canoe we will witness pristine rain forest that is protected as part of the Panama Canal watershed. Chagres National Park is one of the most biologically diverse national parks in the world and along with the Embera people is home to jaguars, harpy eagles, tapirs, monkeys, sloths, and hundreds of bird species. We will take an optional short hike to visit a beautiful waterfall before we are brought to the village where our hosts will be waiting. We will witness a presentation about their culture and have the opportunity to walk and explore the village. A light lunch of fried fish, plantains, and fresh fruit will be prepared by our hosts. We will have opportunities to buy traditional handicrafts and receive traditional "tattoos" which will fade away after a few days. We will then load back into the canoe for our return to Panama City for hotel drop off.
This tour requires a minimum of 2 adult passengers to start. There is not much strenuous activity on this tour, but it does require entering and exiting a boat and optional walking around the rain forest. The hike to the waterfall is short but requires walking through ankle high water and a brief steep climb. Your shoes will get wet! We will bring a large pack for extra dry shoes. Please let us know if anyone in your group has problems with mobility. Also, please keep in mind that we will be visiting remote areas and we may have to deal with nature. If it rains there is a chance you will get wet. We have umbrellas and ponchos for your use, but rain is a fact of life in Panama and must be prepared for no matter what time of year.