Panama City, Chagres National Park and Darien National Park
13 days /
From $3,403 per person, double occupancy for 2013
Day 1: Panama City
On arrival to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City you will be greeted by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. Tonight you will meet with your guide for an orientation of your upcoming adventure.
Overnight at the La Estancia B & B.
Day 2: Historic Panama City & Embera Village
Your morning begins with a thorough inspection of your equipment for the hike on the Camino Real. Afterwards, visit the ruins of Old Panama City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which holds historical relevance to the area that you will explore in the upcoming days. Early afternoon drive to Madden Lake, where you board your motorized dug out canoes in route to an Embera village where you will spend the night. You are greeted by the Embera people, who are proud to share their culture and heritage with you.
Overnight at the Embera Village in screened tents (B,L,D)
Days 3 - 5: Chagres National Park
You bid farewell to your Embera friends and continue your adventure in the Chagres National Park. This protected area was created in 1985 to preserve 130,000 hectares (320,000 acres) of rainforests as part of Panama’s conservation strategy and to help preserve the watershed which provides all of the fresh water needed for the operation of the Panama Canal, as well as the drinking water for the two largest cities in the country. The park is home to endangered species such as jaguars, Central American Spider Monkeys, and anteaters. It is also a bird sanctuary for more than 400 species, including the harpy eagle -- the largest eagle in the world and Panama's national bird. As you skirt along the park’s boundaries you will come across peasant farms and hamlets and gradually enter the thicker and more pristine rainforest, where you run into vestiges of late 1800s manganese mines, including railroad tracks and locomotives encroached in the tropical vegetation that has taken over these relics. You cross the watershed divide of the Boqueron River over a low mountain pass into the Nombre de Dios River basin as you head north toward the Caribbean Sea.
3 nights in Field Camps. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Portobelo
After four days of trekking, you finally reach the road which where a vehicle will transfer you to Portobelo, the final destination of the Camino Real on the Caribbean Sea. Set on a deepwater bay deemed easier to defend from the ravages of pirates, Portobelo was heavily fortified and for 150 years was home to the famous trade fairs, when the Spanish treasure fleet came to collect the riches that traveled across the isthmus on mule trains from Panama City and to leave merchandise brought from Seville for distribution throughout the Americas. Unsurprisingly, the wealth concentrated in the royal warehouses here was an irresistible target for the pirates who scoured the Spanish Main.
Overnight at a waterfront lodge in Portobelo (B,L,D)
Day 7: Portobelo Bay - Panama City
This morning enjoy swimming in the Caribbean Sea. In the afternoon you will drive to Colon City to catch the train back to Panama City. The Panama Railway was inaugurated in 1856 and was the first train to cross the continent from one ocean to the other. The completion of the trans-isthmian railroad was inspired by the Gold Rush when pioneers were in need of a fast and safe way to get to California. The train ride is 1 hour long from coast to coast and skirts the Panama Canal. Overnight at the La Estancia B&B. (B,L)
Day 8: Panama City - Darien National Park - Santa Cruz de Cana
This morning you are picked up at the hotel by your naturalist guide for the short transfer to Albrook domestic airport where you board a chartered plane to Santa Cruz de Cana, in the heart of Darien National Park and World Biosphere Reserve. As you fly in you can admire the vast forest cover of Panama’s largest park (1.3 million acres). Cana Field Station is located at the foothills of Pirre Mountain, which stands like an island in the most remote area of Panama. Very few places in the world rival Cana in birding potential. From the plane be on the lookout for King Vultures and Macaws. After getting settled at the Field Station you explore the Boca de Cupe Trail and surrounding area. Specialties here include Blue and Gold, Red and Green, Great Green and Chestnut-fronted Macaws, Black tipped Cotinga, Swallow Tanager, Red-throated Caracara, Streaked Antwren, Dusky-backed Jacamar, Ornate Hawk-Eagle and others. Overnight at Cana Field Station.(B,L,D)
Day 9: Cana Field Station and surrounding trails
Today is a good day to explore the Mine Trail where rusting machinery was left to be overtaken by the jungle after the British Gold Mine ventures collapsed at the beginning of the last century. Specialties of this area include Great Curassow, Crested Guan, Dusky-faced Tanager, Olivaceous Piculet. Also the Seteganti Trail with open scrub areas and mature forests are good for various Woodpeckers such as Crimson-bellied and Red-rumped, Red-billed Scythebill, Brown Violetear. Overnight at Cana Field Station.(B,L,D)
Day 10: Pirre Cloudforest Camp
Today you begin a slow-paced 5-hour hike to the Pirre Cloud Forest. At 1,200 meters above sea level, the Pirre Cloud Forest is a good place to look for specialties such as Beautiful Treerunner, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Slaty Antwren, Tody Motmot, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Immaculate Antbird, Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, Pirre Warbler, Pirre Hummingbird, Pirre Bush Tanager, Greenish Puffleg, Orange-bellied Euphonia. In the afternoon you hike to the top of Pirre Mountain in search of the Golden-headed Quetzal, Gray and gold Tanager, Sharpbill, Chlorophonia and several Tanagers among other highland species. Overnight at Pirre Camp (screened tents with sleeping mats) (B,L,D)
Day 11: Pirre Camp - Cana Field Station
After breakfast we will start our descent to the field station with more birding along the way. This afternoon is spent looking for birds around the main camp. Possibilities include Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Spotted Barbtail, Barred Puffbird, Yellow-green Tyrannulet, Jet Antibird, Black-crowned, Fulvous-bellied, Ochre-breasted and Scaled Antpittas, White-fronted Nunbird, Cinereous Becard, Golden-headed Manakin. Overnight at Cana Field Station. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Darien - Panama City
This morning, after some last minute birding from the airstrip, your charter flight takes you back to Albrook Airport in Panama City Panama City. Transfer to your hotel. Use this last day in Panama to relax at your hotel pool or to take a walk along the Causeway Amador before your guide will pick you up tonight for a farewell dinner by the Bay of Panama on the Pacific side. Overnight at Country Inn Amador.(B,D)
Day 13: Int'l departure
You will be met at your hotel and transferred to Tocumen International Airport for your departing flight. (B)