Sun, Feb 17: Fly to Panama City, Panama, a vibrant blend of Manhattan, Miami, and Las Vegas with a Latin American flavor and style. Transfer to the hotel for dinner and check in for two nights. (Meal: Dinner)
Mon, Feb 18: After breakfast, visit the ruins of the original City of Panama – Panama Viejo – founded by the Spanish in 1519 as a gateway for gold from the Inca Empire. Next, stop in nearby Casco Viejo. This walled colonial quarter, built in 1671, was intended to protect Panama City’s citizens after the destruction of Panama Viejo by the pirate, Captain Henry Morgan. Now one of the most vibrant parts of Panama City, Casco Viejo has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterward, enjoy a lunch overlooking the Panama Canal Locks. Visit the Miraflores Locks and the Canal Museum. (B,L,D)
Tue, Feb 19: Cross the Isthmus to Colon, the Caribbean port at the north end of the Canal. Visit Gatun Locks and experience Gatun Lake, the artificial lake that forms part of the canal, on a boat ride. See the lush jungle watershed region of the canal as you cruise through jungle canals and by hilltop islands. Panama has a staggering variety of wildlife; the country is home to 940 bird species (including the national bird of Panama, the harpy eagle), 218 mammal species, 226 species of reptile, 164 amphibian species, and 125 animal species found nowhere else in the world. Watch for some of the many species of primates as you pass by Monkey Island, with white-faced capuchin monkey, mantled howler monkey, Geoffroy’s tamarin monkey and the grey-bellied night monkey residing there. Enjoy a relaxing two-night stay at your resort in the rainforest. (B,L,D)
Wed, Feb 20: Today cruise another portion of the Panama Canal. Cruise by the Bridge of the Americas, a cantilevered bridge that spans the Pacific entrance to the canal. Pass through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks before crossing the Continental Divide. Wind through the Gaillard Cut to the town of Gamboa. Your small passenger vessel allows for close-up views of the opening and closing of the huge, six foot thick steel gates of the locks. Watch, at eye level, how transiting ships are guided by tugboats and pulled by small trains through the locks. (B,L,D)
Thu, Feb 21: This morning, cruise on the Chagres River to visit an Embera Indian village. The Embera are one of two indigenous tribes who inhabit the rainforests of Panama. They are known for their handmade baskets, carvings made from local tagua nuts and the cocobolo tree, and for the black vegetable dye used to paint their hands and faces. (B,L,D)
Fri, Feb 22: Today visit El Valle de Anton, a town situated in the crater of an immense dormant volcano. Take a scenic drive of the village’s charming homes before visiting a tropical zoo, home to a variety of exotic birds and wildlife, including Panama’s golden frog. Stop at a local artisan marketplace before returning to the resort. The afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy the sandy beach and swimming pools. (B,L,D)
Sat, Feb 23: Return to Panama City via the Bridge of the Americas, the newest bridge over the canal and the carrier of the Pan-American Highway. Drive along the spectacular Amador Causeway that connects Perico, Naos, and Flamenco Islands. Enjoy stunning views of Casco Viejo and a panoramic view of the modern Panama City. There will be time to shop at the Guna Yala indigenous marketplace where you’ll find colorful molas embroidery depicting rainforest animals and marine life. Check into your hotel for the last night before departure and join your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner. (B,L,D)
Sun, Feb 24: After breakfast at the hotel, head for the airport for your flight home. (B)
Sheraton Grand Panama.
Centrally located, this stylish and modern hotel provides the perfect location and upscale amenities for your stay. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • restaurants • bar • casino • outdoor pool • hot tub • fitness center • spa.
Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
Situated minutes from the breathtaking Panama Canal, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort sits on 340 acres of picturesque, tropical land nestled between two national parks. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • restaurants • bar • fitness center • tennis • swimming pools • hot tub • spa
Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort.
This all-inclusive resort is located in lush surroundings on the white sands of the warm and soothing Pacific Coast. The hotel offers countless options for relaxation and entertainment. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • restaurants • bar • fitness center • tennis • swimming pools • hot tub • spa