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 ride along the waters of the Panama Canal right next to the ships passing through on their way to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Our destination is Gatun Lake, where we will cruise around islands created during the canal construction and see the abundant wildlife on its shores. We will visit the famous Monkey Islands where we can see capuchins, howlers, and tamarins up close in their natural habitat. Once we finish with our canal and lake boat ride (around 2 hours), we will head to the famous Pipeline Road in Soberania National Park. One of the premier birding spots in the world, the Pipeline Road will give us an opportunity to travel through a mature rain forest that is full of an incredible mix of wildlife. A bird count here organized by the Audubon Society set a record when 385 species were observed in 24 hours. Here we will visit the Rainforest Discovery Center, an environmental education project administered by the Fundación Avifauna. We will visit the canopy of the rainforest on a 100 ft. (32 m) observation tower and see an amazing abundance of birds from the different viewing levels. A walk along the trails on the rainforest floor will take us to a panoramic view of a lake where we can see different species of waterfowl and aquatic animals. You will surround yourself with hundreds of hummingbirds at the hummingbird feeders where we will enjoy a freshly made picnic lunch. Once we finish up at the Rainforest Discovery Center 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 will 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 along 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.