Experience the biodiversity of Panama during hikes amid Panama's Highlands and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, learn about the engineering marvel of the world-famous canal during a partial transit, and participate in cultural and culinary traditions during this new Active Journey.

Starting at: $5,695 Register Interest or Call 833-254-6678
 Skywalk in the rain forest canopy  Research facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  Barro Colorado Island, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  Crossing the skywalk bridge in the rain forest   The luscious cloud forest from the forest floor  STRI scientist at work in lab  Flora found in Panama  Colorful orchid  White-faced Capuchin monkey  Coati found in Panama  One of the many locks at the Panama Canal. Credit: Russell Kord /Alamy.com  Lock in the Panama Canal  View of Panama City  Waterfront, Panama City  Coffee field  Learning about the coffee industry

Hiking in Panama

9 days from $5,695

Experience the biodiversity of Panama during hikes amid Panama's Highlands and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, learn about the engineering marvel of the world-famous canal during a partial transit, and participate in cultural and culinary traditions during this new Active Journey.

or Call 833-254-6678

CONTACT OUR ACTIVE JOURNEYS SPECIALISTS

Call Our Active Journeys Specialists at 833-254-6678 (M-F 10 am - 8 pm ET) to Book or to Learn More, or Register Your Interest / Ask Questions Online and we will reach out to schedule a convenient time to talk. For calls from outside of the U.S., please call 510-852-8350.

Overview

Enter a natural world of amazing biodiversity, getting up close to hundreds of species of flora and fauna during hikes and nature walks. Here, in Panama, you'll learn about the important work of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the engineering marvel of the world-famous Panama Canal,  and the country's cultural and culinary traditions.  (Level 3/Hiking of 2 to 6 hours, cycling of 2 to 3 hours)

Highlights Include

  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI): A century after its creation, STRI is a standard-setting global platform for groundbreaking research on tropical forests and marine ecosystems and their astounding biodiversity. Travel to Barro Colorado Island (BCI), the primary research facility in Panama, where you'll meet Smithsonian scientists and get a firsthand look at biodiversity research. You'll also hike through its rain forests, which teem with biodiversity. BCI is home to almost 400 bird species, some 500 butterfly species, and 500 species of trees. Visitors may see (and hear) troupes of howler monkeys, colorful toucans, mischievous agoutis, and millions-strong ant colonies. 
  • Hiking the Highlands: For two magical days, explore the ecology of the Highlands in the Chiriqui province. Watch for wildlife and diverse flora during a three-mile walk along skywalk bridges in the cloud forest canopy. You’ll also spend a day hiking along the Los Quetzales Trail, one of the most scenic trails in Central America.
  • Panama Canal: Board a boat and feel the excitement of making a partial transit of the canal. Learn firsthand about the history and workings of the canal as you go through the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, then ply the waters of the canal to the Chagres River. 
  • Panama City: Hop on a bicycle to explore Panama City’s promenade and Causeway, stopping at the Biomuseo to learn the full story of the Isthmus of Panama. Spend the afternoon on a gastronomic tour, beginning with a lunch of traditional cuisine, followed by stops to sample coffee, chocolate, and microbrews. 
  • Lodgings: Enjoy stays in a comfortable eco-lodge in the Highlands and a charming inn in Panama City.
  • Small Group Feature: With a small group of no more than 18 people, you’ll quickly develop a strong sense of camaraderie with your Adventure Guide and fellow active travelers—resulting in an interesting and enjoyable trip that is also more flexible! 

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in Panama

Arrive in Panama City, Panama today. A Smithsonian Journeys representative will meet you at the airport and escort you to the hotel. Early this evening, join your guide and fellow travelers for orientation and a welcome dinner. (D)

Day 2 – Biking & Biodiversity

After breakfast this morning, explore the long promenade of Panama City by bike. Cycle with your guide past the yacht harbor and the traditional fish market and stop for a ceviche. Admire the colorful Old Town before pedaling onto the Causeway, an alley of palm trees offering impressive views of the Panama Canal and Panama City’s skyline.

Your first stop will be the Biodiversity Museum. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Biomuseo is his only work in Latin America. The building was designed to tell the story of the Isthmus of Panama, uniting two continents, separating a vast ocean, and changing the planet’s biodiversity forever.

Leaving your bikes behind, set out on a gastronomic tour of Casco Antiguo, which will provide a unique introduction to both Panama’s history and its diverse gastronomy. Enjoy a delicious lunch in a local restaurant followed by a visit to a favorite local coffee shop to learn about the different types of coffee that are produced in Panama. Throughout the day, your guide will share the history of Casco Viejo, the old city compound, which dates back to the late 1600s.

The day ends at a local microbrewery to taste a selection of Panama’s artisan beers. Return to the hotel where the remainder of the evening is free for you to explore. (B,L) (Biking 2-3 hours, Walking 2 hours) 

Day 3 – Smithsonian’s Barro Colorado Island

Your adventure begins with an early morning transfer through the tropical rainforest towards the small town of Gamboa where a boat awaits. Cruise along Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal to the Barro Colorado Natural Monument (BCNM).

Barro Colorado Island is the largest forested island in the Canal waterway and the Smithsonian’s primary site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests established in 1946. You'll learn about the research in progress at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the rich natural history of the BCNM as you hike along the trails of Barro Colorado Island and meet with STRI scientists and naturalists. 

Return to Panama City in time for dinner together this evening.  (B,L,D) (Hiking 2-3 hours)

Day 4 – The Panama Canal

Early this morning, meet your guide and driver and transfer to the Causeway to explore the Panama Canal. Admire the Bay of Panama, Panama City’s splendid skyline, and the Bridge of the Americas. Enter the Miraflores Locks where your boat will ascend 54 feet in two distinct steps before entering Miraflores Lake, a small, artificial body of fresh water. Continue into the Pedro Miguel Locks on the Pacific side. Cross under the Centennial Bridge, making your way to Gatun Lake, which was formed by erecting the Gatun Dam across the Chagres River. After reaching the Gamboa Dredging Division, meet your waiting driver and transfer back to the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Flight to Boquete, Chiriqui

Midmorning today, transfer to the Panama City airport for the approximately one hour flight to David, in the province of Chiriqui. Upon arrival, transfer to the lush grounds of Finca Lerida, your home base for the next three nights. Set out to explore the grounds by foot before meeting for dinner tonight. (B,L,D) (Walking 1 hour) 

Day 6 – Skywalk in the Highlands

Today is a fascinating day with a birds-eye view! A short drive takes you into the valley behind the town of Boquete. Be sure to appreciate the rolling countryside and coffee farms as you climb into the valley. Spend the morning exploring over three miles of skywalk bridges that range around a mile above sea level. Walk through the treetops of the cloud forest, keeping your eyes open for exotic bird species and other animals native to the area. Admire the scenery as your naturalist guide interprets the surrounding ecosystem. Enjoy a picnic lunch then return to Boquete for a walking tour of a local coffee plantation.

Learn about the entire process of coffee production as you walk the plantation grounds and tour modern processing facilities. Follow your coffee from the Ngöbe-Buglé Indians harvesting the cherries, through roasting and processing, to the final brew in your cup. Return to the hotel with time to relax and enjoy the grounds before dinner. (B,L,D) (Hiking/Walking 3-5 miles, 4-6 hours) 

Day 7 – Hiking the Quetzales Trail

Today you'll hike part of the famous Los Quetzales trail, one of the most scenic trails in Central America. Depart the hotel early this morning and drive to the ranger station in Baru National Park where you begin the hike. Following the Los Quetzales trail through breathtaking landscapes,you'll have a full day to hike and explore. Your naturalist will help point out a variety of trees, plants, and bird species, including the Quetzal and Magpie gorgiplateada, amongst many others. Stop along the way to enjoy another picnic lunch. Late this afternoon, return to the hotel. (B,L,D) (Hiking 5-6 miles, 5 hours) 

Day 8 – Return to Panama City

After a leisurely morning, transfer back to the airport for your return flight to Panama City, where a driver will be waiting to transfer you back to the hotel. Enjoy some free time this afternoon then gather with your group this evening for a farewell dinner at a favorite local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 9 – Departure

A transfer is provided to the Panama City airport for homeward-bound flights. (B,D)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)