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
(D)Day 2 — Panama City - Gatun Lake jungle boat ride, Miraflores Visitor Center
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. Afterwards, head to the Miraflores Visitor Center of the Panama Canal. From the visitor center, 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. Gamboa Rainforest Resort
(B,L,D)Day 3 — Panama City - Chagres River, Emberá indigenous village
Transfer to Port El Corotú on the shores of Madden Lake, which supplies 40% of the water required for the operation of the Panama Canal. 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. Gamboa Rainforest Resort
(B,L,D)Day 4 — STRI, the Punta Culebra Nature Center, and the Chiriqui Highlands
Visit Punta Culebra Nature Center, a non-profit initiative of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The Center has an open-air museum focusing mainly on marine science and the conservation of marine coastal environments. Learn about the diverse ocean habitats in Panama and nearby regions of South and Central America. See what the scientific discoveries made in this area can teach the public about the natural world and how we can better protect and appreciate it. This is a great place to bring what the kids are learning in school to life and provide some exciting context that books can’t convey.
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. Chiriqui Hotel
(B,L,D)Day 5 — Chiriqui Highlands - Chiriqui whitewater rafting
Today, go whitewater 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. After the rafting excursion, explore the quiet town of Boquete, renowned for its brilliant afternoon rainbows. Chiriqui Hotel
(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. 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, take a boat ride to the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. Hotel Playa Tortuga
(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 - Caribbean Ocean Research Station, pen pal meeting
Just outside of Bocas town, visit a STRI field station where research scientists and students study the plant and animal life found in the oceans of the region. Meet with a STRI staff member and explore the laboratories at the facility, learning about the discoveries taking place here. Your children will also meet their Panamanian pen pals here and join together for a tropical biology lesson. Afterwards, fly back to Panama City, transfer to your resort at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, and enjoy a gala farewell dinner. Playa Bonita Resort
(B,L,D)Day 9 — Panama, U.S.
This morning, transfer to the airport for departing flights. (B)