History, Culture & Nature

History, Culture, & Nature: The Isthmus of Panama or better known as “the land bridge of the Americas” is an extremely biodiverse region with a rich cultural heritage and numerous historical landmarks. The isthmus was created millions of years ago and has shaped the world as we know it today. On this week long journey, you’ll experience a country filled with lush rainforests, wildlife, and deep-rooted traditions. Start your trip in Panama City where you’ll have a unique mix of metropolis, rainforest, and indigenous culture all within a half-day or full-day tour of the city. Spend one full day visiting a Modern World Marvel, The Panama Canal, along with UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Fort San Lorenzo, Panama Viejo, and Casco Antiguo. Exchange modern marvels and history for wildlife and indigenous cultures on another full day when you visit the Embera people deep in the Darien jungles or hike the Pipeline Road within Soberania National Park. Next you’ll travel to the beach at Playa Cambutal in the Azuero Peninsula. Enjoy a rum tour at the famous Ron Abuelo as you make your way down to Playa Cambutal. Spend two full days on the beach relaxing, looking for sea turtles nesting/hatching, watching humpback whale migrations, snorkeling off Isla Iguana, and hiking through primary rainforest to lost waterfalls in Cerro Hoya National Park. Finally, you’ll spend a full day learning about the traditions and folklore of the Azuero Peninsula, known as the “cultural heart of Panama”. Call us today to book the History, Culture & Nature vacation package and have the experience of a lifetime!

Destinations: Casco Viejo, Playa Cambutal/Azuero Peninsula, Panama City

Duration: 8 days

*Price Range: $$$

*Rates inclusive of full vacation experience – hotels, tours, domestic transfers, and tax (excluding international airfare).  Actual price based on length of travel, number of travelers/rooms, seasonal rates (high, low, peak), number of tour activities, and mode of domestic transportation.

$$$: At or under $1,200 per person.

$$$: $1,200 – $1,800 per person.

$$$: $1,800+ per person

  1. Day 1

    Fly into Tocumen International Airport (PTY) where one of our local airport representatives will meet you as you exit your plane and guide you through an expedited immigration process.  They will show you to the VIP Lounge where you can enjoy snacks and drinks while they collect your luggage for you.  Once you are ready, the airport representative will guide you to your private transfer waiting outside the airport.  Enjoy a guided history tour of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Panama Viejo and Casco Viejo, before being dropped off at your hotel.  Panama Viejo was founded on August 15, 1519 by Pedro Arias Dávila and was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Ocean.  You’ll learn about Panama Viejo’s history with fires, earthquakes and pirates while walking around the old ruins.  You’ll then continue to Casco Viejo, settled in 1673 after the destruction of Panama Viejo by pirate Henry Morgan.  Walk along the cobblestone streets of this colonial city lined with cafes, rooftop bars, boutique shops and museums.  You’ll see the San Jose church with the famous gold altar, the National Theater, Presidential Palace and walk along the French Plaza with views of Panama City’s skyline.  Finally, check into the historic American Trade Hotel and enjoy dinner this evening at their restaurant, The Dining Room.

  2. Day 2

    After breakfast at American Trade Hotel, you’ll enjoy a full day tour that’ll take you from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.  You’ll begin the tour by passing over the Panama Canal at Gatun Locks to reach the Fort San Lorenzo.  Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this castle was once a fort used by the Spanish to protect the river entrance that lead to Panama City and was later used by the gold diggers on their way to California.  After exploring the ruins of the castle you’ll have lunch at Shelter Bay Marina and continue to the new Agua Clara Locks to see the Panama Canal expansion.  These two new sets of locks increase the waterway’s ability to move cargo by 50% on larger ships than previously able.  You’ll return to Panama City aboard the Panama Canal Railroad following a similar route as the original train used to transport the 49ers during the California Gold Rush.  Return to American Trade Hotel to freshen up and enjoy a gourmet dinner at one of the restaurants in the trendy French Quarter.  Return to Danilo’s Jazz Club located in American Trade Hotel to catch a local or international jazz performance in the evening.

  3. Day 3

    Today, choose between a nature tour with a guided hike on the Pipeline Trail and boat ride on Gatun Lake or a cultural journey to visit the Embera Indians.  The nature day will take you on a moderate walk along the Pipeline Road, which runs 13.7 miles through Soberania National Park’s 55,000 acres of rainforest.  There are over 100 species of mammals and 500 species of birds inside this national park.  After the hike hop aboard a boat for a scenic ride along Gatun Lake for more up-close wildlife viewing opportunities including the green iguana, three species of monkeys, three-toed sloths, and tamarins.  Alternatively, the other full day adventure is a cultural tour deep in the Darien jungle to visit an indigenous village where the Embera people still live as they have for decades.  You’ll travel on a motorized dugout canoe within the 320,000 acre Chagres National Park.  Once you arrive to the Embera village, you’ll learn their traditional lifestyle, dance, music, singing, home construction, natural medicines, and more.

  4. Day 4

    After an early breakfast, a private transfer will take you to Albrook Airport where you’ll fly over to Chitré from Panama City.  Your private transfer will be waiting at Chitré to take you just 30-minutes over to Pesé, the home to Panama’s best rum – Ron Abuelo.  You’ll take a rum tour that begins with a ride through sugarcane fields out to the rum distillery of Hacienda San Isidro.  You’ll learn about the different steps to produce rum from sugarcane and see the warehouse where the rum ages in oak barrels for 5, 7, 12, and 30 years.  Finally, enjoy a rum tasting along with a traditional Panamanian lunch with open rum bar.  Concluding your rum tour will be a two hour transfer south to Playa Cambutal for your stay at Sansara Resort.  Check into Sansara in time to catch a vibrant sunset over the Pacific Ocean with happy hour drinks.

  5. Day 5

    Wake up early during turtle hatching season (November – January) to watch baby turtles emerge from the sand and make their journey out to sea.  Return to Sansara for a tropical breakfast smoothie alongside a delicious breakfast.  Today you’ll enjoy a full day on the white sandy shores of Iguana Island, a 50-acre wildlife refuge 8km off the Azuero Peninsula coastline.  Iguana Island is well known for its crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling with more than 300 fish.  It’s also a wonderful place to look for dolphins, humpback whales (June – October), turtles, crabs, iguanas, and various marine birds.  The island is home to the largest breeding colony of Fregatidae where you can watch the male birds squat over their nest with inflatable red throat pouches while the females fly overhead.  Spend the late morning snorkeling and then have a picnic lunch and drinks off of El Cirial beach, the calmer of the two beaches for swimming.  After lunch, hike across the island to El Faro beach in search of iguanas and marine birds.  Return to Sansara in time for dinner followed by a guided turtle nesting tour (June – October) to see these majestic creatures lay eggs along the shores of Islas Cañas.

  6. Day 6

    For those that wish to have a day at Sansara, start your morning with a breakfast smoothie and then hit the waves or the yoga deck!  Those new to surfing can take private lessons while experienced surfers can rent a board for the day.  There is daily yoga overlooking the ocean as well as an on site spa that offers pampering massage and facial treatments.  Other activities at Sansara include kayaking, paddle boarding, or simply relaxing by the pool with a cold beverage.  For those that wish to explore off-the-beaten-path jungle, you can horseback ride to lost waterfalls in Cerro Hoya National Park while keeping a watchful eye out for the endangered scarlet macaw, the great green macaw, parakeets, deer, five species of monkeys, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.  Jaguars, ocelots, and pacas also can be found in these jungles yet are rare to see, so look for their tracks along the trail.  Return to Sansara in the afternoon to enjoy a spectacular sunset before your final dinner under the stars in the Azuero Peninsula.

  7. Day 7

    Wake up early for a full day of exploring the best of Azuero as you make your way from Playa Cambutal back up to Chitré.   You’ll start by experiencing the many different uses of sugarcane (other than rum) before learning how salt is extracted from the Pacific Ocean.  Then you’ll see how clay pottery is handmade and finally how the traditional La Arena bread is baked.  Enjoy a delicious, typical lunch and then learn how the Pollera is handcrafted into one of the most beautiful dresses in the world.  You’ll conclude your tour at the Chitré airstrip for your 30-minute flight back to Panama City.  Spend your last night at Hilton Panama and have dinner this evening at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse inside the Hilton or explore many nearby restaurants.

  8. Day 8

    After breakfast, take a private transfer from the Hilton back to Tocumen International Airport (PTY) for your international flight home.

Itinerary Highlights:

  • Experience and learn about Panama City’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo and Fort San Lorenzo
  • After visiting The Panama Canal expansion at Agua Clara Locks, ride the Panama Canal Railroad train along the 49ers gold route back to Panama City
  • Visit the Embera indigenous people deep in the Darien jungle or look for Geoffroy’s Tamarin, monkeys, and the Three-toed Sloth on a boat ride over Gatun Lake
  • Listen to live jazz music at Danilo’s Jazz Club during your stay at American Trade Hotel
  • Sip on Panama’s best rum, Ron Abuelo, after an in depth rum tour
  • Enjoy seasonal turtle nesting, turtle hatching, and humpback whale tours
  • Snorkel off of Isla Iguana’s white sand beaches and look for iguanas and nesting Fregatidae
  • Horseback ride or hike to lost waterfalls within Cerro Hoya National Park with over 80,000-acres of primary rainforest
  • Learn about the Azuero Peninsula centuries old traditions – from salt extraction in the Pacific Ocean to handmade clay pottery and the beautiful Pollera national dress

 

Best for: Family, Couple, Small Group

Bucket list experiences: Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo, Panama Canal, UNESCO sites, Castle of San Lorenzo, Gatun Locks, Agua Clara Locks, Panama Canal expansion, Trans-Isthmian Route, Panama Canal Railroad, jazz music, Pipeline Trail, Soberania National Park, Chagres National Park, Gatun Lake, Embera Indians, rum tour, Isla Iguana, turtle nesting/hatching, dolphins, humpback whales, surfing, yoga, birding (fregatidae, macaws, parakeets), sea turtles (nesting & hatching), dolphins, humpback whales, Isla Iguana, Islas Cañas, Cerro Hoya National Park, waterfalls, rainforest, surf, yoga, Azuero traditions (produce, craft, & folklore), Pollera

Accommodations & Location:

  • American Trade Hotel, Casco Viejo
  • Sansara Resort, Playa Cambutal/Azuero Peninsula
  • Hilton Panama, Panama City

Every Central America Vacation itinerary includes 24/7 in-country support.  We’re here with you every step of the way to insure the best experience possible, from the initial planning stages to the moment you’re on your flight home!