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 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 90 minutes), we will head 45 minutes north to the Caribbean side of Panama. We will visit the Agua Clara Visitor Center to see the new expansion locks working up close. Located on the west side of the brand new Agua Clara Locks, the Agua Clara Visitor Center allows you to observe transiting vessels from a scenic lookout point and learn first hand about the various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its participation in the world markets, and the importance of its watershed. An observational deck lets you watch the ships pass through the Agua Clara Locks on their way to the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Once we finish up at the locks we will cross to the other side of the canal and travel to a scenic and quiet spot beneath the Gatun Dam and have a picnic lunch at the confluence of the old French West Diversion Channel and the Chagres River. The next stop will be a visit to San Lorenzo National Park where we can visit a remote rainforest full of flora and fauna, followed by a tour Fort San Lorenzo. A 400-year-old Spanish fort on a scenic cliff overlooking the Caribbean, here we will recount the many attacks by pirates and privateers that happened at one of the most historically important places in Panama. The Fort of San Lorenzo, located on an 80 foot (25m) cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea at the estuary of the Chagres River, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 along with the fortifications of the city of Portobelo. It was part of the defensive system for the transatlantic trade of the Spanish Crown, and is a fine example of military architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Fort of San Lorenzo is one of the oldest fortresses in Spanish America. Here we will recount the many attacks by pirates and privateers that happened at one of the most historically important places in Panama. Once we finish our tour of the fort, we will return to Panama City for hotel drop off.
For this tour, we start with free hotel pick up to central Panama City hotels at 8 am and head north to Chagres National Park. Once we arrive at Puerto Corotu on the banks of Lake Alajuela, our Embera friends will be waiting to take us up the Chagres River aboard their version of a dugout canoe. We are brought to the village where our hosts will be waiting. We will witness a presentation about their culture along with a traditional dance. We will 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 then have opportunities to buy 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. This tour is a wonderful selection for those who love nature. All the areas we will visit are remote and known bird watching areas. It is very common that we see monkeys, sloths, and other jungle wildlife. There is not much strenuous activity on this tour, but it does require entering and exiting a canoe and optional walking around the rainforest. 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.