Panama Canal and Rainforest

Available to Club Members Only.

Discover the Panama Canal’s natural attributes and experience a partial Panama Canal transit, visit the new Agua Clara Locks of the Panama Canal Expansion, share a unique experience with indigenous people. Also visit Frank Gehry’s Biodiversity Museum and bike along the scenic Causeway Amador. Explore tropical cloud forests in the Chiriqui Highlands known for the best outdoor adventures and coffee in the country, take a swim in the beautiful Pacific waters and get the chance for humpback whale watching (in the months from July through October) while staying at unique jungle ocean lodge in the Gulf of Chiriqui.

Day 1 Panama Canal Transit - Gamboa Rainforest (B,L)

Early this morning pick up from your hotel (pre-tour night not included), transfer across the Amador Causeway to begin your partial transit of the famous Panama Canal. During your journey, admire the Bay of Panama, Panama City’s splendorous skyline, as well as the imposing Bridge of the Americas. Your ship will transit through the Miraflores Locks and vertically ascend or descend 54 feet in two separate steps before entering the Miraflores Lake. Your vessel continues towards the Pedro Miguel Locks, where it will be raised the final 27 feet before cruising under the dramatic Centennial Bridge towards the Gatun Lake.

Gatun Lake was formed to give way to the Panama Canal in 1914. With a surface of 262 Km2 (164 Mi2), at the time of its creation was the largest man-made lake in the world. The flow of all the rivers within the Panama Canal Watershed is contained in Gatun Lake to provide water for the operation of the locks system. Nearly 200 million Liters (52 million gallons) of fresh water are used for every ship that transits through the Panama Canal from one ocean to another. You will board a 250 passenger ferry for the Partial Panama Canal Transit. Now you will be sailing at 26m (85 feet) above sea level. Shortly after departure, the ship will enter Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. The 13.7Km (8.5 Miles) long portion of the Continental Divide was carved through rock and shale at beginning of last century when the canal began operating (1914). You will have the opportunity to look at the work’s progress on this extraordinary engineering venture. The ship will reach Pedro Miguel locks, where the vessel will be lowered 9.4 meters (30.8 feet) into Miraflores Lake. After traveling nearly 2 kilometers you arrive to Miraflores locks, where the transition from fresh water to salt water takes place in the locks chambers. Due to the Pacific Ocean’s extreme tidal variations, Miraflores locks miter gates are the tallest of the locks system. In two steps, the vessel will be lowered 16.6 meters (54.5 feet) onto the Pacific Ocean. You will then sail under the bridge of the Americas, which reunites the land divided by the Panama Canal as part of the Pan-American Highway. After disembarking at Flamenco Island, you will be taken back on an approx. 45-60-minute ride to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Tucked deep in the mystical Soberania National Park at the meeting place of the Chagres River and the Panama Canal, Gamboa Rainforest Resort is an exceptional destination. It’s where contemporary comfort and warm, fascinating adventures come together to offer the best accommodation for experiencing the unspoiled beauty of the Panamanian rainforest. Just 30 minutes from Panama City on 340 acres overlooking the Panama Canal, you can commune with nature in a pristine environment that explorers and pirates once tread. 3 nights at Gamboa.

Day 2  Barro Colorado Island (B,L)

A unique and intimate adventure begins with any early morning transfer through the tropical rain forest towards the small town of Gamboa where a boat will be waiting for us. We will cruise along the Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal to the Barro Colorado Natural Monument (BCNM), administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. BCNM consists of 5,600 hectares (13,837 acres) of land located in the heart of the Panama Canal. It was established in 1923 and has been administered by the Smithsonian since 1946. Today we will be visiting Barro Colorado Island (BCI) that makes up 1,560 hectares, it is the largest forested island in the Canal waterway. BCI is Smithsonian’s primary site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests. While visiting the Island you may come across one of the many scientist carrying out research in this amazing outdoor laboratory!

You will learn about research in progress and the rich natural history of the BCNM. After a welcoming and introduction about natural history by your guide, you will go on a 2-3hour group walk along the trail on Barro Colorado Island. Most trails are about 2 km long and include steep sections and stairs. The trails are not appropriate for people who suffer from heart and respiratory conditions, knee injuries, or are in generally poor health. Also, if you are traveling from a non-tropical country, please note that tropical weather (high humidity and heat) can stress your body. We recommend bringing water. The walk ends at the Visitor Center, where you will find an exhibition about BCNM. Lunch will be on site, cafeteria style.

Duration: All day tour. Takes 45 minutes to get to STRI pier, 45 minutes to 1-hour boat ride, and 2-3 hours the forest hike. Lunch on the island. 2 hour boat and transfer back to Gamboa.

Day 3 Soberannia National Park, Pipeline Road – Rainforest Discovery Centre (B,L)

Early morning breakfast and orientation with other trip participants and your Birds of Panama guide. This morning you drive to the nearby Pipeline Road within Soberania National Park. Soberania is home to some 525 species of birds. Located within this protected area Pipeline Rd. is the site where Audubon Society held its world Christmas bird count record for 19 years straight, with 357 species of birds identified in a period of 24 hours. As one of the most accessible rain forests in the world, Pipeline Road is a great place to look for birds, reptiles, mammals, and tropical plants. At the Rainforest Discovery Centre where you enjoy spectacular views of Soberania's vastness and canopy bird species from the 100 feet observation tower. Standing above the canopy, we witness the morning flight of Keel-billed Toucans, Red-lored Amazons and the silent and stealthy movement of Mantled Howler Monkeys. A picnic lunch will be served at the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Return to Gamboa for an afternoon at leisure. There are many free activities that you can sign up for (must be done in advance) such as trail walks, aerial tram, paddling on the Chagres River, biking, and night safaris.

Day 4 Gamboa departure (B)

Morning at Gamboa until it is time to transfer to the airport for your departure flight, or for a connecting tour.