Classic Panama and Costa Rica Combo

  • Destination: ,
  • Duration: 16 days
  • Price: from $4,995 per Person

Combine the best of both Panama and Costa Rica with this 16-day vacation package that highlights a transit through the world-famous Panama Canal; spending a day being immersed in the fascinating culture of the Embera Indigenous community; and the opportunity to discover the incredible natural beauty and immense biodiversity of Costa Rica’s volcanoes and national parks.

Day 1

Arrive Panama and Transfer to Country Inn and Suites Panama Canal

You will be met upon your arrival at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport by your bilingual guide and taken to the Country Inn and Suites Panama Canal.  There you can relax while enjoying amazing views of the Bridge of Americas and the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal from your very own balcony.

Night at Country Inn and Suites Amador – Standard Canal View Room

Day 2

Half Day Walking Tour of Casco Viejo and Canal Museum

The oldest sector of modern Panama City, founded in 1673, it is known as the Casco Viejo. This beautiful little area has several attractions that tourist shouldn’t miss and can easily cover in a walking tour of a few hours. A monument to the French entrepreneurs who began the Panama Canal stands at the bayside end of the Casco Viejo.  There is also an adjacent art museum in the converted strong house, known as Las Bovedas, once used for storing gold. Other points of interest are the famed flat arch or Santo Domingo Church, the beautiful gold- plated altar of the San Jose Church, the Panama Canal Museum, the National Theater, the National Cathedral, the Presidential Palace and other numerous colonial churches and monuments.

During your tour you will have the opportunity to do a walking tour at the Casco Viejo section, walking by monuments such as the Plaza Bolivar, the San Francisco de Asis Church, Bolivar Palace and the National Theater; “Las Bovedas Promenade”, with one of the most spectacular views of Panama City.  You also have the opportunity to spend time at the Panama Canal Museum –

Night at Country Inn and Suites Amador – Standard Canal View Room

Day 3

Panama Canal Partial Transit Tour

The tour starts at the Flamenco Resort and Marina at approximately 9:30 a.m. where you board the ship for your northbound journey toward the Bridge of Americas, You will be in picturesque Panama Bay where you will be able to admire Panama City’s beautiful skyline.  You will enter the Panama Canal after cruising under the Bridge of Americas which is at the Pacific entrance to the Canal.  When you come to Miraflores Locks the vessel will be lowered 18 meters in two distinct steps.

You will then enter Miraflores Lake, which is a small artificial body of fresh water that separates Pedro Miguel from Miraflores Locks as you are on your way to the second set of locks which is Pedro Miguel.  After transiting Pedro Miguel Locks you will be able to view the Centennial Bridge that crosses over the Canal as you are on your way to Gaillard Cut, where the Chagres River flows into the Canal.  After traveling about 13.7 Kilometers you will reach Gailard Cut (also known as Culebra Cut because its curves resemble a snake) is one of the main points of interest for visitors because it was carved through the Continental Divide and this section of the Canal is full of history and geological importance.
Your journey of a lifetime will conclude once you reach the town of Gamboa and disembark.

Night at Country Inn and Suites Amador – Standard Canal View Room

Day 4

Chagres River Adventure and Visit to Embera Indigenous Village

We come to pick you up at your hotel around 8:30 am and we drive for about an hour or so to the boat ramp where the Embera’ meet us with their dugout canoe.  Then we head upriver for about 45 minutes or so (depending on the level of the river).  Along the way we have the option to stop by a beautiful waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip in the cool water.  Upon arrival in the village we receive a traditional greeting of music and all the villagers welcoming you to their community.  After about 10 minutes to wander around and explore the village on your own, we are given a short presentation about the Embera’ culture and traditions and their crafts.  After the presentation we are served a delicious lunch of either fish or chicken and patacones (fried plantains).  After lunch we can take an optional short (20 minute) hike in the jungle with one of the village elders to learn about medicinal plants.  Then we are given more free time to wander around, purchase any of their exquisite crafts or receive a temporary tattoo or have a conversation with the Embera’ people.    Finally we are given an opportunity to watch some of their traditional shamanic and celebrational dances and music before we climb back in the dugout and head back down river and return to Panama City between 4:00-5:00 pm.

Night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Deluxe Riverview Room with Hammock and Balcony 

Day 5

Pipeline Road Hiking and Discovery Center Tour

Join us on a morning hike through Soberania National Park as you observe a variety of exotic tropical birds while enjoying the surrounding trees and plants of this area. Pipeline Road, where our hike takes place, is a dirt road that goes through the heart of this national park and affords us views of some of the diverse bird life that abounds in the area. Pipeline road has for several years in a row; set world record bird counts in a 24-hour period – up to 367 different species of birds.

Some of the more common sights are the Salty-tailed Trogon, Keel-billed Toucan, Thick-billed Mot-Mot, and several species of ant birds, wrens, tanagers and flycatchers. Of course, just because this tour focuses on observing the bird life, it does not mean that you might not hear or even see Howler monkeys or other mammal life like sloth, anteaters and agoutis.

The Panama Rainforest Discovery Center is an ecotourism and environmental education facility created and administrated by Fundacion Avifauna Eugene Eisenmann-on Pipeline Road. It is located in the tropical forests surrounding the Panama Canal, adjacent to Soberania National Park.

The Visitor Center is 140 square meters of open structure with a terrace, 2 bathrooms and a small gift shop. Hiking trails extend from the center to the forest. The center is energy self-sufficient with solar panels and a rain water collection system from the roof for bathrooms. 70% of construction materials come from old houses in the Canal area. The Tower is a 100 feet observation tower with a 200 meter walkway from the visitor’s center. There are spiral stairs and 4 rest platforms every 25 feet. The Forest trails are a 1.1 kilometer circuit of forest trails. These trails are mild to a moderate difficulty level, made of gravel and are 1.2 meters wide. There are 2 rest areas along the trails, one small wooden deck on the Calamito shore for aquatic wildlife observation, and another wooden deck in the forest with benches

Night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Deluxe Riverview Room with Hammock and Balcony

Day 6

Canal and Jungle Tour

Your day of adventure will take you to the waters of the world’s most famous manmade lake. Lake Gatun is situated in the heart of the Isthmus of Panama. It was constructed between 1906 and 1914 to make the Panama Canal possible.

From the lake’s shore you will board a fast motor launch for a voyage of discovery. We will navigate above ancient routes that crossed the isthmus long before the lakes creation.

Hugh Ocean going ships can be seen transiting across this water bridge that links the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. See history in the making with the works to expand the canal.

We will glide past lush tropical forests to a scenic region of the lake and witness firsthand the splendor and excitement of the jungle. Exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that you can view in their native surroundings. The sights, sounds and scents that make up this tropical paradise will engulf you.

Our ultimate destination will be a private tropical island. A delicious native style lunch with refreshments will be served. Afterwards numerous activities are available at no additional costs. Explore on your own while kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Or if you prefer, just relax in the shade swinging in a hammock and sip a cool drink while taking in the beauty of the area.

There is a cash bar and gift shop where you can purchase unique souvenirs.

Night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Deluxe Riverview Room with Hammock and Balcony

Day 7

Panama Railway and Visit to Historic Portobelo with Canal Expansion Tour

Train Passage along the Panama Canal

You will be picked up at your hotel for the private transfer to Corozal station where you will board the comfortable train for a historical ride alongside the Panama Canal. This railroad, constructed with immense drama, snakes its way past protected rainforests, the river feeding the Canal and the once largest man-made lake in the world, the Gatun Lake. You will have unsurpassed views of the 8th wonder of the world and the giant ships transferring between two seas as well as of the spectacular nature of the isthmus where native Indians still live in the jungles and a vast array of birds and wildlife can be encountered.

Originally completed in 1855, The Panama Railroad became the first transcontinental railroad. The French Panama Canal Company purchased the railroad in 1880 to assist in their attempt to build the Panama Canal. In 1904, the United States purchased the New Panama Canal Company’s assets from the French, including the railroad. The United States rebuilt and operated the railroad until 1979, when it was transferred to Panama under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. In 1998, Panama privatized the railroad and awarded a 50-year concession to the Panama Canal Company, a joint venture of Kansas City Southern and Mi-Jack Products, to rebuild and operate the line. The new “reborn” railroad began operations in 2000. The visual charms of this train ride will make this an unforgettable trip.


Portobelo is a sleepy bayside town full of colonial history where you will feel transported back in time. Here, you will encounter no less than 5 colonial fortifications where the canons are still pointing their mouths towards the bay they once protected. Portobelo is also home to the statue of the Black Christ, which according to the legend possesses divine powers, that has several times prevented the statue from being removed from here. Other monuments of interest are: The Custom House (counting house) built in 1640 and the Hospital Chapel built in the year 1597.

Gatun Locks 

Off all three sets of Locks those at Gatun might be the most impressive and worthwhile visiting. Due to the fact that all three chambers are connected, you’ll have the opportunity to see the entire process completed in one set of locks. On the Pacific side the process is split into two distinct sets of Locks. It takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hours for a vessel to complete the transit at Gatun Locks, regardless of whether it’s heading northbound or southbound.

While there is a rather large roof that overhangs the front portion, nice pictures can be taken from here. As in Miraflores, there are bilingual guides providing Final speeches during organized tours. Public bathrooms and bottles of water are available. There is a small gift shop at the entrance, to the left side, where they sell souvenirs.

Night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Deluxe Riverview Room with Hammock and Balcony

Day 8

International Flight to Costa Rica and Transfer to Arenal Observatory Lodge

Upon your arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica and after clearing customs and immigration, exit the airport terminal where you will meet your private bilingual naturalist driver-guide who will be with you for the next 6 days. While each of our guides have unique talents and knowledge and each is naturally the kind of person we enjoy spending time with, your driver-guide is a trained bilingual naturalist who will maximize your travel experience.  En route he will share his national culture with you, its history, and explain the sights en route and on site. In addition he will bring important materials such as pertinent field guides. This gives the most flexibility in travel and allows you to even enjoy taking occasional short side-trips that will enhance the journey.

Unlike any other hotel in the area, this lodge is situated within the Arenal National Park. The Arenal Observatory Lodge was originally a family farm and later a Smithsonian Institute scientific research station. Just about every room has picturesque views of Arenal Volcano, whose steep conical slopes rise majestically out of vast surrounding rainforests. The National Park surrounding the lodge teems with wildlife. The lodge practices reforestation and contributes to community projects.

Arenal Observatory Lodge – Smithsonian Double Room

Day 9

Arenal Volcano

Just 3 miles outside the town of La Fortuna, the 200 foot-tall La Fortuna waterfall receives its cool clear waters from the pristine forested mountains of Arenal Volcano National Park. In addition to viewing a majestic waterfall visitors are helping the local community as the entrance fees are used for important public projects.   The waterfall is located in a small canyon surrounded by lush forest, and is accessed by walking down a steep, short trail. Daring visitors can take a swim in the coldwater lagoon below the falls if they wish.

Bring: comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, insect repellent, camera, binoculars, sunscreen and rain gear and bathing suit and water shoes if you wish swim. 
Includes: entrance fee.

For lunch visit Arenal Vida Campesina which lets you experience life in the Costa Rican countryside with a farming family that grow typical crops and are practicing newer sustainable agricultural techniques. The tour begins with a demonstration of sugarcane juice production using a manually-operated sugar mill.  Then continue into the cultivated sections of the farm where visitors will see and learn about common Costa Rican crops such as coffee, bananas, plantains, sugar cane, etc. Also on the farm are various animals, whose organic waste is converted to biogas and an organic foliar fertilizer.  At the end of the tour, you will enjoy a traditional lunch with freshly harvested vegetables. Lunch includes a hands-on demonstration on tortilla making!

In the afternoon you will visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges.  This is a complex of suspension bridges and trails through beautiful rain forest.  The terrain undulates and the trail crosses ravines with small waterfalls and travels over bridges with panoramic vistas over the treetops including views of Arenal Volcano. As you walk you may encounter wildlife including toucans, poison dart frogs, howling, spider and white-faced capuchin monkeys. The 1.5 mile trail is an easy walk for people in good condition and loops back to the starting point.

Arenal Observatory Lodge – Smithsonian Double Room

Day 10

Caño Negro Wildlife Tour

With your driver/guide you will drive north to the town of Los Chiles and the Rio Frio River to start your adventure boat tour to Caño Negro National Park. Here you can find a great variety of resident and migratory birds plus three different species of monkeys, iguanas, sloths, turtles and caymans. This floating safari begins as you glide through the tropical rain forest and pastures until arriving at the marsh, where the true biodiversity can be found.

Arenal Observatory Lodge – Smithsonian Double Room

Day 11

Arenal National Park Tour and Transfer to Monteverde Cloud Forest

With your guide you will explore the area around the volcano, learn about its fascinating history, and view how the flora and fauna are reclaiming the formerly devastated landscape. Arenal Volcano erupted violently July 29th 1968 destroying the region west of its base with hot gases, rocks and later, lava flows.  Today the volcano steams quietly and heats local rivers that have been developed into popular hot springs and spas. Forest vegetation is quickly returning and covering the massive rock fragments and lava flows, and rainforest wildlife once again flourishes in and around the park.

After the Arenal National Par tour continue on to Monteverde, approximately 4 hour transfer plus any stops on the way. The Monteverde Cloud Forest in the Tilaran mountain range is one of the world’s premiere destinations for naturalists.  A cloud forest is an especially beautiful and rare type of rain forest created by frequent mists from low lying clouds.  This cool and moist environment is characterized by massive trees covered by thick carpets of small plants.  Much of the resident wildlife is unique to these habitats.

Fonda Vela is located in misty and magical Monteverde; next to the Cloud Forest and a unique community of Ticos and Quakers. The owners grew up on what is now the site of the hotel. Their father, Paul Smith Sr., besides being a craftsman of fine violins and violas, created most of the 450 paintings which hang in the Hotel. The rooms are comfortable, elegant, and spacious. The property has spectacular views of the Gulf of Nicoya to the west.

Night at Hotel Fonda Vela in Monteverde Cloud Forest – Junior Suite

Day 12

Monteverde Cloud Forest

In the morning visit The Sky tram/Skywalk (entrance fee included). Sky Tram will lead you up to the Continental Divide and to one of the highest mountains in the area. You can have the opportunity to observe the cloud forest outstanding biodiversity, the majestic Arenal Volcano and the Nicoya Gulf. Skywalk bridges bring visitors face to face with the upper level of the forest canopy. There are five bridges in total, the longest of which spans some 984 feet. The trails extend for slightly over a mile and a half (2.5 km), making this tour extremely feasible for anyone in moderate shape. The climb is not strenuous or muddy, as the trails are well maintained and generally very flat.

Afternoon visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the premier natural history destinations in Costa Rica.  The forest is dominated by trees densely covered with mats of small plants known as epiphytes that include mosses, lichens, orchids, ferns and bromeliads. This cool, very green and often misty forest is home to a variety of wildlife.  On your walk you may encounter monkeys, coatimundis, agoutis and numerous bird species such as Toucanets, Chlorophonias and seasonally the Bellbird and legendary crimson and green Resplendent Quetzal.

Night at Hotel Fonda Vela in Monteverde Cloud Forest – Junior Suite

Day 13

Monteverde to Manuel Antonio National Park

In 2011 Forbes Magazine compiled a list of the 12 most beautiful national parks from among nearly 7000 parks around the world. Manuel Antonio National Park was included in the list of 12 top parks for its gorgeous cream colored beach, lush forest growing to the beach edge, abundant wildlife, warm pacific waters, easy forest trails and scenic ocean overlooks. Walking the park trails you will likely encounter a variety of wildlife-the animals are accustomed to visitors-including squirrel monkeys, capuchin monkeys, sloths, black iguanas and agoutis.  

Si Como No Resort is a central-Pacific coast resort in the jungle-covered hills just above Manuel Antonio National Park.

Si Como No expresses the magical nature of Costa Rica s incredible bio-diversity. It creates a vacation experience deeply rooted in the culture and pace of this unique Democratic country.  Located in Manuel Antonio, a veritable treasure chest of natural beauty, Hotel Si Como No is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, soft sand beaches and clear water rivers.

Night at Si Como No (Yes, Why Not?) Resort, Spa and Wildlife Refuge – Standard Room

Day 14


Transfer from Manuel Antonio to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, approximately 3.5 hours plus any stops on the way. Located in the mountains near Cinchona, is a beautiful facility with restaurants, flower, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, aviary, rescued animal zoo, serpentarium, live frog exhibit, orchid exhibit, all surrounded by cloud forests.  Stroll leisurely along the well-maintained trails to view the numerous exhibits and gardens and the famous waterfalls of the pristine La Paz River.

The Peace Lodge is the perfect place to begin or end your vacation as it is only one hour from the International Airport. Peace Lodge is the ultimate place for the awakening of your senses. Here every magical sight, wondrous smell and sensual touch create irreplaceable memories of a journey you wish to take again and again. Peace Lodge prides itself on offering guests the most unique luxury mountain lodge experience in Costa Rica. You don t need to spend your first or last day in a city hotel. Spend them in the rain and cloud forest very close to the Poas volcano.

Night at Peace Lodge – Standard Room

Day 15


Free day to explore on your own if you choose to stay at the Resort you can take advantage of the free unlimited access to La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Night at Peace Lodge – 1 Standard Double and 1 Standard Single Room

Day 16

Peace Lodge – San Jose International Airport

You will be picked up at Peace Lodge by one of our transport representatives for transfer to San Jose International Airport, 1.5 hours approximately. Arrive in time for departure flight US Airlines flight 2807 at 3:35 p.m. Check in 3 hours before flight´s scheduled departure time.

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