Global Travel Club
Central American Travel Specialists


The Treasures of Panama Adventure Tour
Treasures of Panama : 16 nights / 17 days



This fascinating small group tour incorporates all the natural highlights of Panama including the exotic wildlife, abundance of birds and beautiful beaches.

Absorb the turbulant history as we walk in the Path of the Pirates in old Panama City, Portobello and Bocas del Toro.

Learn about the human cost of building the 8th Wonder of the World - the Panama Canal - including a FULL CANAL TRANSIT.

Be amazed by square trees, endangered golden frogs, waterfalls ... and even play "TARZAN"
in the Anton Valley.


Travel by boat into the jungles of Panama to visit native people who cling to an ancient way of life.

Explore the islands of Bocas del Toro - the film locations for Survivor II.

Experience the Kuna people of the San Blas Islands in the Caribbean.ific - including TWO OCEANS IN ONE DAY

Enjoy some well-earned "R&R" on lovely Isla Taboga!!!


ITINERARY


Day 1 - Thursday - Arrival in Panama-
Meet & Greet on arrival at the Panama International Airport and transfer the Hotel Radisson Decapolis for a 5 night stay.

Located in the heart of Panama City, the Radisson Decapolis the hotel combines a chic, modern design with Panamanian art and atmosphere.

The spacious rooms are exquisitely decorated and feature spectacular views of the ocean or Downtown Panama City through floor to ceiling windows.

Day 2 - Friday - Panama City - Through the Ages - (B,L)
Today we will enjoy a tour of Historical Panama City and the Canal Locks. First it is off to the historical regions of Old Panama, which was founded in 1516 by the Spaniards and destroyed in 1671 by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan. This will be followed with visits to the major sites and beautiful historic buildings in the Colonial District including the fascinating "Museum of the Interoceanic Waterway" where it is possible to get a glimpse of the true cost (both financial and human) of the Panama Canal construction.
Next it is time for a typical Panama-style Lunch followed by a visit to the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side of the canal for a bird's eye view of the operation of the locks in preparation for our exciting day on Sunday
CHIVA PARRANDERA NIGHT TOUR
This evening we will be picked up at the hotel for this one of a kind tour which is a fun way for people to see Panama City at night and enjoy good music and a drink along the way. The Chiva Parrandera is a Partying Bar-Hopping Bus which has been specially designed to carry a Murga Band (typical Panamanian band. They will play latin and salsa music in the rear of the bus whilst we have seats with a special bar system that holds glasses and bottles in order not to loose even a drop of the Open Bar of Rum and Seco.

Day 3 - Saturday - Panama Canal Full Transit - (B,L)
Today's tour should be considered a once in a life time experience as rarely are people able to see such an engineering wonder from this perspective. Our transportation will pick us up at our hotel and transfer us to the Balboa Port to embark the vessel and start this famous journey.
The vessel makes her way up to Miraflores Locks, the first of the Panama Canal's three sets of locks. We will experience how the ship is raised up to 54 feet in a two step process. Once the first set of locks is transited, the vessel enters Pedro Miguel’s locks to be raised up to 85 feet. The vessel cruises through the famous Gailliard Cut, a nine-mile excavation through Panama's back bone and into Gatun Lake. taking advantage of gravity to transfer water from Gatun Lake, which is higher, to fill the last Chamber of the Pacific site.
Then, the ship transits the Gatun Lake, once, the biggest man-made lake in the world. During our transit, we will pass the Smithsonian Institute's Barro Colorado Island and witness beautiful jungle scenery and wildlife. On reaching the Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side, the ship will be lowered to sea level in a three step process. It is worth knowing that fifty million gallons of fresh water are emptied into the ocean per full transit. The vessel arrives at Cristobal, on the Atlantic (Caribbean) side of the Canal at about 3:30 p.m., (depending on Canal traffic). We will return to Panama City by road

Day 4 - Sunday - A step back in time.... (B,L,D)
This morning we will leave early in a microbus with a naturalist tour guide to the community of Nuevo Vigia to board a dug-out canoe. Continue in the Alajuela Lake, which is the second largest man-made lake of Panama. Upon arrival, explore the community while our tour guide provides information on this ethnic group.

The Chocoe Indigenous group is divided into two smaller groups: Chocoe-Wounaan and Chocoe-Embera. These two groups have exactly the same roots. They originally came from the ancient Great Colombia over 300 years ago, and settled down mainly in the Darien Jungle.

Their behavior is the same: both have the ancestral use of the blowgun with poison darts for hunting purposes, men wear loincloth, their house system is based on (Tambos) elevated houses with palm-leave roofs. They decorate their bodies using a mixture of ashes and plant pigments and they both are master wood carvers and basket weavers.

One of the remarkable contrasts of the modern city of Panama is still having an Embera community living as their ancestors did, keeping their customs very jealously, in the watershed of the Panama Canal, only 1:30 hrs away, right in Chagres National Park.

During our visit, the Embera will perform a welcome flute dance. After lunch and rest, return to the river and, if desired, you can swim and enjoy the cool waters of the river. Late afternoon we will return to the hotel.
FOLKLORIC NIGHT SHOW AND DINNER

Tonight we will go to Las Tinajas, a typical Panama Restaurant for a typical Panamanian Dinner.

The restaurant features a Folkloric Dance Show featuring dances and costumes from different provinces. For the grande finale they dress in the unique "Pollera", a hand made cotton dress complemented with precious body and head jewellery.

Day 5 - Monday - El Valle - The Anton Valley - (B,L)

This morning we will be picked up by our driver/guide for the transfer to El Valle. Less than two hours away from the City, over 600 meters above sea level and located in the crater of a dormant volcano that blew off its top 5 million years ago is the unique Valle de Anton, one of the most colorful areas of the Panamanian interior.

Our first visit of the day is to El Nispero Finca, with its unique collection of orchids and the endangered golden frogs. We will also go in search of the square trees

Next we are off to Chorro del Macho, a waterfall that is within a nature-protected area. The adventurous can experience an optional rapelling descent on "The Canopy Adventure" - "You Tarzan, Me Jane!".

When we are back on "terre firme" it is time for lunch at Santa Librada Restaurant, an excellent local restaurant which serves the traditional Sancocho, a tasty Panamanian chicken soup and country-style desserts called "los postres de la abuelita" (grandma's desserts). Our favourite is "No me olvides" (don't forget me) which really deserves its name.

This will be followed by a dip in thermal wells and maybe a mud facial! Return to Panama City.

Day 6 - Tuesday - The Caribbean Coast of Panama - (B,L,D)

Today we set off by road back across the isthmus to the Caribbean Coast.

We will take a break at the Gamboa Rainforest Lodge on the edge of the historical Chagres River.

We will have time to explore or, for those that would like to, there is the chance to do an optional trip on the Aerial Tram high above the rainforest.

We will have lunch at the hotel's Los Lagartos Restaurant, used as a film location in the movie "The Tailor Panama" starring Pierce Brosnan. The restaurant has an amazing view of the Chagres River including a stretch of he Panama Canal itself. As we enjoy a delicious lunch we will be treated to the spectacle of huges ships passing as we dine. From the terrace the waiters will give us bread to throw into the river below. Alligators, colourful tropical birds, dozens of large turtles and fish will flock to gobble up the bread - great fun and unforgettable moments.

Then we continue by road to La Guaira from where it is a short hop by boat to our island destination, Isla Grande and a two night stay at the Hotel Bananas

Day 7 - Wed - Isla Grande (B,L,D)
Day to relax on Isla Grande, a funky little island located inside the Ecological Park of Portobello. The island is home to about 300 people of African descent who make a living from fishng and coconuts. The island is surrounded by wonderful, unspoiled coral reefs for excellent snorkelling and scuba diving. There are kayaks and canoes for those who want to explore the waters around the island. If you are feeling energetic you can hike up to the huge lighthouse, built by The French, with fabulous views from the top. Or it could just be time for some horizontal hammock surfing!!
Day 8 - Thurs - Portobello (B,L)
Return to the mainland by boat and transfer to Portobello ("Beautiful Port") named by Christopher Columbus on his fourth New World Voyage. This is one of Panama's most historic places. There are extensive ruins of old fortifications, complete with cannons. This was the principal Spanish Port where the Camino Real ended and it was here that all the treasures of the Americass were brought to be stored in huge warehouses whilst awaiting shipment back to Spain. Naturally it proved to be an irresisble target for Pirates. Sir Francis Drake died here and is buried offshore in a lead lined coffin.

We will then continue to Colon City where we will take a short drive around the Colon area including the Washington Hotel, built in 1850 for employees of the Railroad Company; the Casa de Lesseps, and the Old Stone Episcopal Church, built in 1865 for the railway workers; it was then the only Protestant Church in Colombia (Panama was a province of Colombia at the time). We depart Colon from the Railway Station for our return transfer to Panama City on the historic Panama Canal Railway for another overnight stay.

Day 9 - Friday - Bocas del Toro - (B,L)
After breakfast we will transfer to the domestic airport. In a land already rich in colourful biological and cultural diversity, one isolated area stands out. On the remote northwest coast of Panama on the border with Costa Rica is the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, visited by Christopher Colombus on his fourth and final voyage to the New World in 1502. The islands have provided a protected anchorage for ships throughout history and many famous pirates have sought sanctuary here.

Bocas del Toro has had a see-saw existence over the years. Founded in the early 1800's by Scottish and American Slavers, exploited by the Banana Barons at the turn of the century and finally finding its niche in the world of ecotourism. More than a dozen coral reefs protect a marine environment unequaled in most of the Caribbean because of its remote location. Four of the world's eight species of sea turtles nest in and around the Bastimentos National Park.


On arrival we will check into the Hotel Bocas del Toro which is our home for the next three nights. Then we will set off on our first boat trip to historic Hospital Point.

Starting from Bocas Town, the boat takes us to the closest tip of Solarte Key. There we will visit the site where the United Fruit Co Hospital existed between 1900 and 1925. A short walk brings us to Red Frog Beach to see the tiny poisonous red frogs. This is the only place in the World that these frogs live. The beach provides a good refuge to rest, take a swim, or snorkel on the reef. We will return to Bocas for lunch.

After lunch we will take another boat trip. Starting from Bocas Town, the boat travels along the south coast of Colon Island reaching the other end in about 30 minutes. Our first stop is Boca del Drago.

When Christopher Columbus arrived in Panama this was the first place he stopped, entering what is now known as Admiral Bay We can explore the shady trails, relax on the beautiful beach or snorkel in the nearby reef.

10 minutes away by boat is Swan Key, a bird sanctuary that attracts the beautiful and unique tropic bird, with their snow white color, long tail and orange beak, the funny looking boobies, the graceful frigates, those thieves of the sea, and the clever pelicans. Seagulls too make the island their place of stay. We can sail around Swan Key but cannot land as it is a protected area and there are nests everywhere.

Subject to weather conditions we will return along the eastern coastline of Colon Island so that we can enjoy the magnificent views of a coast that is unique.

Day 10 - Saturday - Bocas del Toro - (B,L)
This remote area was chosen as the setting for TV's Survivor II series and today we will take a boat trip around the islands to see the locations where the intrepid adventurers pitted their wits against each other to see who was the ultimate survivor.

Although the beauty of Zapatillas Keys attracts most of the tourists who arrive to the region the Park has other attractions which can please the most avid naturalist.

The Marine Park comprises the central sector of the Bastimentos Island, both Zapatillas Keys and the waters surrounding them, and the mangroves zone at the south of Bastimentos island.

Fortune hunters over the years have chanced the Pirate's Curse to seek the fortune reputedly buried in the Zapatillas Keys by Henry Morgan

Starting from Bocas town, the boat cruises along the south coast of Solarte Key through the Marine Park, navigating between the mangrove islets.

We will stop at Crawl Key for lunch before crossing the lagoon to reach the Zapatillas Keys. On the way back the boat passes between Bastimentos and Solarte, returning close to the north coast of Solarte Key.

Day 11 - Sunday - Bocas del Toro - (B,L)
Today our boat rides along the ships channel in the western side of Bastimentos Island. On reaching the open ocean we begin to follow the coast line passing several beaches to get to Wild Cane Key. Then, the boat enters the reef to get to Ola Chica Beach. Here we can spend some time snorkelling, walking the nearby forest and lunching on food prepared by a hermit who lives in isolation here. He is a real character On the way back we will make a stop at Bastimentos Town.
Day 12 - Monday - Bocas/Panama City - (B,L,D)
This morning there is a choice between a drive around Colon Island with a stop at one of the most beatiful beaches of the Archipelago, Bluff Beach, famous because of its golden sand, where marine turtles come to nest. Its waves are also an attraction for surfers.

Alternatively, it is a final short boat trip across Admiral Bay to San Cristobal Island for a visit to a Guaymi Indian Village to learn about a completely different culture and way of life. Although they are not set up to receive tourists they are very kind and willing to talk to visitors about their customs. Indian communities are very poor, depending almost exclusively on fishing and survival agriculture.

We will depart Bocas on the 3.20 pm flight back to Panama City where we will have a farewell Dinner for those departing tomorrow. those that are staying on for the "Islands in the Sun" Extension tour will need an early night as we have to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.


Day 13 - Tues - San Blas Islands - (B,L,D)
Early transfer to the local airport to take a 50 minute flight in an Islander aircraft to the Achutupo airstrip on Panamas Atlantic Coast. Transfer by motorized dugout canoe for the 5 minute trip to Dolphin Island Lodge on the Island of Uaguitupo, in the San Blas Archipelago.



The Lodge has capacity for 26 guests. Dolphin Island Lodge has outside fresh water showers and toilets, also 3 comfortable double size beds in each Kuna style thatched roof cabin. When you have settled in, a breakfast will be waiting for you in the bohio dinning room. Lunch and dinner will feature delicious San Blas seafood. Tour to the neighboring Island of Achutupo to observe the Indian culture. The energetic can go snorkelling in the pristine waters or we can spend time with the Kuna Indians to learn how they create their incredible molas.

The Kuna women stand out in the beautiful landscape, due to their picturesque dresses with beautiful blouses, handmade from the world famous "Mola" of different colours. Considered as a unique craft which makes it one of the most beautiful indian garments in the world, Kuna women spend countless hours stitching the colorful reverse-appliqué cotton "molas" which are the basis for their dress.

The Kuna woman also highlights her native beauty with large earrings, rings in her nose and a significant amout of pure gold ornaments.

Day 14 - Wed - TWO OCEANS IN ONE DAY!! - (B)
After an early breakfast we will be transferred by boat back to the mainland for our flight back to Panama City as we leave the Atlantic Ocean behind and head for the Pacific Ocean.

We will be driven to the pier to take the ferry for a tour of the Panama Bay to Taboga Island, known as the "Island of Flowers". In Panama Bay we will get a great view of the Panama City skyline, a bird sanctuary on Flamenco Island and ships awaiting to transit the canal. Historically, this is the island from where Francisco Pizarro organised the conquest of the Inca Empire of Peru. Later the French established a Hospital for the workers on the Canal construction. One of those workers was the French artist Paul Gaugin who settled for a time on the island.

The next two nights will be at the Vereda Tropical Hotel , a gorgeous hotel that is one of the newest on the island, and it is the best lodging on Taboga. Perched high on a hill and overlooking Playa Honda near the pier, the Vereda Tropical has stunning views of the sea. Rooms are decorated differently, some with wonderful, high ceilings. The restaurant is one of the best in the Panama Province and there are amazing view from their open-air veranda.


Day 16 - Friday - Island of Flowers - (B)
This morning there is free time to relax or the energetic can enjoy hiking the numerous paths. The islands longest path is titled "Three Crosses Hill" or "Cerro de las Tres Cruces" and can take upwards of three hours. This path leads you to the top of the island and provides terrific panoramic vistas.

On the far side of the island lies the Taboga Island Wildlife Preserve, containing various species of sea birds that use the island as a refuge. The lazy amongst us can lay back and sunbathe whilst dreaming of the days when the pirates roamed these beached. Isla Taboga was also home to the infamous Welsh pirate Henry Morgan and later to Sir Francis Drake.

We will return to Panama City for our final night.

Day 17 - Saturday - Departure - (B)
Today we will transfer back to the airport for return flights.




An Escape You Will Always Remember...
To a Place You Will Never Forget.
A Place of Yesteryear's History,
Today's Hospitality and Tomorrow's Hope.



The Treasures of Panama Adventure Tour - 2010 Rates
( All rates are per person in US dollars )
Double Occupancy $3,890
Single Occupancy $4,280
Notes:
  • All rates are PER PERSON in US dollars
Includes:
  • All accommodations
  • All domestic road, boat and air transfers
  • Local Guide Services
  • All entrance fees
  • Meals as listed (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • All hotel taxes and service charges
Hotel Taxes:
  • All our rates automatically INCLUDE hotel taxes
  • All our rates automatically INCLUDE sales taxes
  • All our rates automatically INCLUDE all service charges
  • THERE ARE NO HIDDEN "EXTRAS".
Not Included:
  • International Flights. See Getting to Panama
  • Departure taxes and border fees
  • Beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities - at your own discretion
International Flights:
  • Please check out Getting to Panama for Special Discount
    International Flight Prices to/from Belize
Insurance:


Please contact us for further information:
Global Travel Club
Tel: +44 (0)1268 541732 Fax: +44 (0)1268 541363
E-mail: info@global-travel.co.uk http://www.global-travel.co.uk


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