Modern Panama City, the Canal's engineering marvel, cloudforest birdwatching and Caribbean bliss all in one trip
Discover Panama's treasures on a journey of contrasts: from Panama City's modernity to the historic canal, lush rainforests, highland beauty in Boquete, and Caribbean bliss in Bocas del Toro.
Exploring Panama's classic destinations promises an exhilarating journey through a country rich in history, culture, and natural wonders. Begin in Panama City, a vibrant metropolis where modern skyscrapers blend seamlessly with the historic Casco Viejo district. Stroll along cobblestone streets lined with colonial architecture, visit well-preserved cathedrals, and indulge in local cuisine at charming cafes.
A visit to the iconic Panama Canal is a must. Witnessing massive cargo ships traverse this engineering marvel at the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center is truly awe-inspiring, offering insight into its global significance.
For nature enthusiasts, the highland town of Boquete beckons with cloud forests and coffee plantations. Hike through lush trails, partake in thrilling zip line adventures, and savour Panama's renowned coffee.
For beach lovers, Bocas del Toro, especially Isla Colón, is a Caribbean paradise. Dive into crystal-clear waters, explore vibrant coral reefs, and bask on pristine beaches.
From the cosmopolitan allure of Panama City to the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, the natural wonders of Boquete, and the idyllic shores of Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro, Panama's classic destinations offer a diverse and exciting adventure for every traveller.
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Day 1: Arrive in Panama City
On arrival in Panama City, you will be greeted at the airport and transported to the American Trade Hotel in the charming Casco Viejo area of the city.
Panama City, the nation's capital and its largest urban centre, offers a rich tapestry of cultures and a sprawling historic district of Casco Viejo. In contrast, the bustling banking district exudes a modernity often likened to Miami. Panama City promises an exhilarating experience for your visit to this stunning country.
Day 2: Half day partial Panama Canal transit
Take an unforgettable journey with our Panama Canal experience, a tour that immerses you in the fascinating workings of this engineering marvel. As you set sail towards the entrance of the canal, take in the breathtaking panoramic views of Panama City, the iconic Bridge of the Americas, and the spectacular gulf adorned with numerous vessels eagerly awaiting their turn to traverse the canal.
Your adventure unfolds as you cruise through the Miraflores Lake, reaching the Pedro Miguel's locks, where the canal elevates another impressive 9 metres. Feel the canal narrow, and your ship continues its course under the imposing Centennial Bridge. The voyage takes you through the famous Gaillard Cut, also known as Culebra Cut, renowned for its winding bends where the Chagres River converges.
Day 3: Visit Soberanía National Park & Gatun Lake
Embark on a captivating adventure with a transfer to Soberanía National Park, a vital part of the Panama Canal watershed. Immerse yourself in the lush rainforests and diverse ecosystems of the park, where opportunities abound to encounter a wide array of wildlife, from vibrant tropical birds to playful monkeys and exotic plants. Accompanied by experienced guides, you'll navigate the park's trails, gaining insights into its rich biodiversity and natural history.
Next stop is the magnificent artificial Gatun Lake integral to the Panama Canal and surrounded by dense tropical rainforest. As you traverse Gatun Lake, be captivated by its tranquil waters and the chance to witness diverse wildlife, including crocodiles, monkeys, and a variety of bird species.
Day 4: Boquete Coffee Region
Begin your day with breakfast at the hotel before transferring to the airport for the short domestic flight to David. On arrival transfer to Boquete in the Panama Highlands and the charming Finca Lerida.
In the afternoon delve into the intricacies of coffee production. Led by an expert guide, this experience offers a comprehensive understanding of Boquete's coffee culture and agriculture. Traverse the lush green fields and processing areas, witnessing the entire journey of coffee from the harvesting of red cherries to the roasting process that results in the aromatic brown beans we all savour. This immersive encounter provides a firsthand glimpse into the coffee cultivation perfected over generations in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil of the highlands. It's a vital experience for gaining insight into the coffee tradition that has made Boquete and its brews highly acclaimed.
Day 5: Jeep tour to Volcan Baru
Reach the summit of Volcan Baru, Panama's highest peak on an adventurous 4x4 tour. The journey takes around 2.5 to 3-hour drive navigating rugged terrain as you ascend the volcano's slopes, winding through lush rainforests. At the summit of 3475 metres, witness a breathtaking sunrise, surrounded by the diverse colours of the sky, a spectacle unique to this elevated vantage point. This extraordinary trip offers unparalleled views and an unforgettable sunrise atop Panama's highest peak.
Day 6: Off to Bocas del Toro
After a wonderful adventure in the Chiriquí Highlands, it's beach time! Enjoy a delightful drive through lush highlands, culminating at the Caribbean coast where you'll embark on a boat to Isla Colon.
This vibrant island, the archipelago's largest, hosts the provincial capital of Bocas del Toro, a charming town adorned with early 20th-century wooden houses. Isla Colon is your gateway to exploring remote beaches and stunning snorkelling spots via convenient water taxis. Immerse yourself in the laid-back Caribbean ambiance and unwind amidst the island's alluring charms. Head to Hotel Playa Tortuga where you’ll stay three nights.
Day 7: Free day
Savour a leisurely day in Bocas del Toro, where you have the freedom to tailor your experience to your desires. Embrace the opportunity to engage in optional adventures, such as snorkelling, dolphin watching, and invigorating walks. Alternatively, bask in the sun and relaxation at the picturesque beaches that grace this tropical paradise.
The choice is yours, as you relish the beauty and tranquillity of Bocas del Toro at your own pace.
Day 8: Tour Dolphin Bay, Coral Cayo and Zapatilla Cayo
Explore the enchanting Bocas del Toro Archipelago, revealing its diverse and vibrant beauty of hidden beaches nestled within lush island vegetation. Encounter mangrove clusters and witness the flashy marine life that populates the area. Marvel at the allure of white-sand atolls surrounded by barrier reefs, creating a submarine paradise perfect for snorkelling and diving.
Enjoy leisure time at the stunning beach of Zapatilla Cays, two of the archipelago's most beautiful islands situated within the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park. This area boasts dreamy beaches, crystalline waters, and magnificent seabeds adorned with splendid coral reefs teeming with angel fish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, moray eels, jewfish, lobsters, and crabs. A mesmerising journey through the underwater wonders of Bocas del Toro.
Day 9: Return to Panama City
Transfer to Bocas del Toro airport for your flight back to Panama City. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the American Trade hotel for your last night in Panama City. Take the opportunity to participate in Panama City’s vibrant nightlife.
Day 10: Depart Panama City
Enjoy your final Panamanian breakfast at the hotel and spend your morning doing some last-minute souvenir shopping. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the international airport for your flight back home.
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Panama Holidays, South and Central America Holidays
From £2,595 pp based on two people sharing, excluding international flights.
The trip includes all accommodation and activities specified above. Rooms and meals as below:
- 4 nights at American Trade Hotel - Cuatro Chico room, breakfast included.
- 2 nights at Finca Lerida- Standard Room, breakfast included.
- 3 nights at Playa Tortuga Hotel, Standard Room, breakfast included.
- Internal flights and all transfers.
- Private guides and entrance fees for city tours.
This trip excludes:
- Single Supplements.
- International flights to/from Panama City from the UK (expect these to start from £850pp depending on travel time and cabin class)
- Meals not mentioned as included.
- Park fees not mentioned as included.
Panama and Costa Rica Highlights
- Panama City
- San Jose
- Manuel Antonio National Park
- 13 Days
- £6125 PP
- View Trip
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When to go to Panama
Best time to visit Panama
January is part of the dry season, offering pleasant temperatures and ideal beach weather on both coasts. Go snorkelling and diving in Bocas del Toro or explore Panama City's festivals and vibrant nightlife.
Dry season continues, perfect for wildlife spotting in national parks like Soberania. Participate in Carnaval celebrations four days before Ash Wednesday, with colourful parades, music, and “mojaderos” that will spray the crowds with water.
Dry season persists, making it a great time for hiking and exploring volcanic landscapes. Head to Azuero Peninsula for Semana Santa celebrations.
Dry season nears its end, but pleasant weather lingers. Witness sea turtles nesting in Bocas del Toro and Coiba National Park.
Transition to the rainy season begins, with lush landscapes and fewer tourists. For a unique cultural experience try the Foundation Day celebrations in the province of Chiriquí.
Rainy season intensifies, but showers are often short-lived. Visit the San Blas Islands for clear waters and fascinating indigenous culture in a land that entirely governed and managed by the Kuna people.
Rainy season in full swing, ideal for river rafting adventures in Chiriquí. Explore the Embera villages in the Darien Gap and learn about one of Panama’s incredible indigenous cultures.
Rainy season continues, but there’s plenty of adventure to be had. Discover the Panama Canal's engineering marvel and learn about its history. Explore the lush rainforests, teeming with unique wildlife.
Rainy season persists, offering excellent surf conditions on the Pacific coast. Head to Guararé for the Festival de la Mejorana, dedicated to preserving and celebrating all the diverse forms of Panamanian folklore.
Rainy season begins to ease up but not entirely, making it a good time to take in the stunning natural beauty of the country by exploring rainforests and national parks like Soberania and Darien. Experience eco-tours and birdwatching amidst lush landscapes.
Transition to the dry season begins, with less rain and more sun. Enjoy the splendour of magnificent whales breaching the ocean in the Gulf of Chiriquí.
Dry season officially starts, perfect for beach vacations and exploring the Pearl Islands. Visit Bocas Del Toro, San Blas or Santa Catalina. Embrace the festive spirit during Christmas and New Year celebrations.
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