Discover Panama: A Family Adventure
Go white-water rafting, take a zip-line through the forest canopy, and learn about conservation at the world-renowned Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
Our guide was really funny, super kid-friendly and AWESOME!”
Kate G. (age 10)
- Smithsonian Journeys to Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand
- A Leopard Named "Hollywood"
- Memories of Africa
- Treasuring Life in the Indian Desert
Introduce your kids to the wonders of nature in Panama. In the Chiriqui highlands, you’ll enjoy a thrilling white-water rafting adventure and soar through the tropical cloud forest canopy on a zip line for a total adrenaline rush. In Bocas del Toro, walk a rain forest trail alive with sloths, monkeys, birds, caimans, and more. Observe amazing marine life as you snorkel among coral reefs and mangroves. Every day of your itinerary includes exciting and memorable activities in some of the world’s most important ecosystems.
You’ll also give practical context to your children’s history and science lessons with an up-close exploration of the Panama Canal and the massive Miraflores Locks. Spend time with Panama’s most renowned wildcat researcher, Ricardo Moreno, sharing his methodology with camera-trapping. You’ll also ride a motorized dugout canoe, or piragua, up the Chagres River to an Emberá indigenous village, where villagers will share some of their traditions. Join us in Panama for families with children ages 8 and older and discover the abundant treasures of one of the planet’s richest ecological paradises.
Day 1 — U.S., Panama City, Panama
Upon arrival in Panama, your family is met and transferred to the hotel, where you can rest and relax. Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Day 2 — Panama City - Gatun Lake jungle boat ride meet Ricardo Moreno
Start the day with a jungle boat expedition across Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal. Pass by gigantic cargo and passenger ships and observe plenty of wildlife—iguanas, crocodiles, and Geoffrey’s tamarins; and howler, spider, and white-faced capuchin monkeys, just to name a few.
This afternoon join Panama’s most renowned wildcat researcher, Ricardo Moreno, who has studied jaguars and other wildcats in Panama and Costa Rica for more than a decade. He will share his experiences with tropical wildlife research, his methodology with camera-trapping, and how the data is analyzed and utilized. Families are encouraged to join Ricardo in setting camera traps along the nature trails at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Gamboa Rainforest Resort (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Panama City - Chagres River, Emberá indigenous village
Today board a motorized dugout canoe, or piragua, and travel up the Chagres River to an Emberá indigenous village. The boat journey cuts through the rain forest of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park, the largest of the National Parks protecting the Panama Canal Watershed.
Upon arrival at the Emberá village, your family will be greeted with music and dancing. Learn from the Emberá about their customs and close relationship with nature. You may opt to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Emberá use to adorn their bodies. After a lunch of fish, plantains, and fresh fruit served by the Emberá, visit a nearby waterfall for a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Chagres River and return to Panama City to reunite with Ricardo Moreno to discover your findings from camera trappings from the day before. Gamboa Rainforest Resort (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Biodiversity Museum, Miraflores Visitor Center, and the Chiriqui Highlands
Today visit Panama City’s newest edition, the Biodiversity Museum, designed by world-renowned architecture Frank Gehry. At the Museum, explore the effects on the biodiversity and ecology of the world as we know it today due to the raising of the Isthmus.
After, head to the Miraflores Visitor Center at the Panama Canal to eat lunch on the terrace overlooking the locks. From this vantage point, on the east side of the massive Miraflores Locks, observe the operations of this engineering marvel from a close distance. Learn about the history of the canal’s construction and its importance to world commerce, and watch in awe as gargantuan ocean-bound ships are ushered through the locks mere feet away.
Continue via plane to David in the Chiriqui Highlands, and then take an hour’s drive through mountainous terrain bordered by cloud forest to the small village of Boquete, nestled at the base of the Barú Volcano. Riverside Inn (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Chiriqui Highlands - Chiriqui white-water rafting
Today, go white-water rafting on a river that cuts through the lush and rugged Panamanian countryside. The river will offer the perfect balance of excitement and relaxation; with sections characterized by rushing rapids and calmer, more tranquil sections, this excursion makes for a family adventure that pleases everyone. The ride also leads through the Ngobe Indigenous Reservation. Alternatively, for those who are not interested in white-water rafting, may opt to join the Boquete Panormamic Tour, with stops along the way to see stunning views of the Boquete Valley and see how the local people of this vibrant area live and work. Groups will meet in Boquete, renowned for its brilliant afternoon rainbows. Riverside Inn (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Chiriqui Highlands, Bocas del Toro - Tropical cloud forest zip lining, Cocoa Presentation, Bocas del Toro
Glide through the tropical cloud forest canopy on a zip line, using a time-tested system of cables and harnesses. Flying high over the trees is a thrilling adrenaline rush that’s nearly impossible not to enjoy. Alternatively, for those who not interested in zip lining, may opt to join a coffee tour at the world renowned Kotowa coffee estate, Rio Cristal. Later, continue on to Panama’s Caribbean side, driving over the scenic Talamanca mountain range. Stop en route at the Ngobe indigenous village of Silico Creek, where your family will see how organic cocoa is grown and processed into chocolate. Upon arrival into the town of Almirante on the Caribbean coast, have dinner, and then, take a boat ride to the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. Playa Tortuga Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Bocas del Toro - Bastimentos Marine National Park and Salt Creek nature trail
Visit the island of Bastimentos and the Ngobe indigenous village of Salt Creek. Follow a local guide through a tropical lowland wet rain forest trail teeming with animals, such as sloths, monkeys, various tropical birds, caimans, and a poison dart frog known as the red strawberry frog. Later, snorkel among two other important ecosystems—coral reef and mangroves—home to a stunning array of marine life, including angel fish, squid, octopus, and other marine life. Hotel Playa Tortuga (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Bocas del Toro, Panama City - Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens, Pen Pal Meeting
Just outside of Bocas town, visit Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden. The owners, David and Lin Gillingham, have transformed 20-acres of thick, green wall of jungle into a botanical garden that maintains the beauty of the natural forest and they incorporated fruiting and flowering plants species that attract an abundance of wildlife, particularly monkeys. Your children will also meet their Panamanian pen pals here and join together for a tropical biology lesson. Afterwards, stop for some last-minute shopping in Bocas Town before flying back to Panama City. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant in the French Quarter of Panama City. Country Inn & Suites Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Depart Panama for the U.S.
This morning, transfer to the airport for departing flights. (B)