Destination:  and Costa Rica  |  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 tour through the world-famous Panama Canal. Spend a day immersed in the fascinating culture of the Embera Indigenous community. Discover the incredible natural beauty and immense biodiversity of Costa Rica’s volcanoes and national parks.

Day 1: Welcome to Panama

You will be met upon your arrival at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport by your bilingual guide and taken to your hotel via your own private transfer.  The luxurious InterContinental Miramar Hotel has earned a reputation of being an icon of Panama City. The elegantly appointed rooms offer breathtaking views of Panama Bay, the Pacific Ocean and huge vessels in the distance waiting their turn to enter the Panama Canal.

When you are not out on one of your private tours, you can relax at the pool, choose from a wide variety of international dishes at the acclaimed restaurant, or indulge in a soothing spa treatment.

Night at Intercontinental Miramar Panama – Deluxe Ocean View Room

Day 2: Walking Tour of Casco Viejo

Founded in 1673, colonial Casco Antiguo is the oldest sector of modern Panama City. It is also known as Casco Viejo and boasts fantastic boutique hotels, a huge variety of different restaurants and cafes, and some of the best nightlife in Panama City.

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.

Night at Miramar InterContinental Hotel – Deluxe Ocean View Room

panama canal tour

Day 3: Panama Canal Partial Transit Tour

The tour starts at the Flamenco Resort and Marina where you board the ship for your northbound journey toward the Bridge of Americas, You will be in picturesque Panama Bay which is perfect for admiring 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.  Then you enter Miraflores Locks and the vessel will be lowered 18 meters in two distinct steps.

Next you come to the second set of locks which is Pedro Miguel which boasts beautiful views of the Centennial Bridge in the distance.  After transiting Pedro Miguel Locks 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 InterContinental Miramar Hotel – Deluxe Ocean View Room

Embera Indigenous Women

Day 4: Chagres River Adventure

This trip is truly paradise found in its purest form! The enchanting journey takes us deep into the dense jungles of Chagres where the Emberá Indians have lived for centuries. Our adventure begins with a 30-minute ride up river in a Cayuco, which are traditional dugout canoes used by Emberá.

Upon arrival at the village you will be taken back in time as you are immersed in the ancient Embera cultural dances and music that have not changed much since Columbus arrived in the 1500´s. The Indians will invite visitors to explore the area’s abundant variety of birds and wildlife during a trek that takes you through the untouched jungle and past sparkling waterfalls.

During your visit, the Emberas will give you a glimpse into their mystical rituals and amazing knowledge of medicinal plants and other natural remedies.

Night in Casco Viejo at Central Hotel – Jr. Suite

Day 5: Soberania National Park

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.

Night in Casco Viejo at Central Hotel – Jr. Suite

Panama monkey

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. 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.

Night in Casco Viejo at Central Hotel – Jr. Suite

Panama Railway

Day 7: Panama Railway & Historic Portobelo

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.

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. 

Night in Casco Viejo at Central Hotel – Jr. Suite

Day 8: Costa Rica and Arenal Volcano

Upon your arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica 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. 

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.

Arenal Observatory Lodge – Smithsonian Double Room 

Day 9: Arenal Volcano National Park

Just 3 miles outside the quaint little 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. 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 cold water lagoon below the falls if they wish.

In the afternoon you will visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges.  This is a complex of suspension bridges and trails crossing ravines and small waterfalls through the beautiful rain forest.  As you walk, you may encounter wildlife including toucans; poison dart frogs; and maybe howling, spider and white-faced capuchin monkeys. 

Arenal Observatory Lodge – Smithsonian Double Room 

Day 10: Caño Negro Wildlife Tour

Today your driver/guide will take you north almost to the border of Nicaragua and the town of Los Chiles and the Rio Frio River. This is where you will start your adventure boat tour to Caño Negro National Park. The wildlife reserve Caño Negro is one of the most important reserves for incredible bird watching and observation of wildlife in Costa Rica.

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.

Upon return you will be served a typical, delicious lunch in the restaurant “El Caiman” which is nicely placed onthe riverbank of “Rio Frío”.

Arenal Observatory Lodge – Smithsonian Double Room 

Day 11: Arenal to Monteverde Cloud Forest

Arenal Volcano erupted violently July 29th 1968 destroying the region west of its base with hot gases, rocks and ultimately 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 a 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.  

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

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Day 12: Monteverde Cloud Forest

First today you will visit the Sky Tram which will lead you up to the Continental Divide and to one of the highest mountains in the area. There you can have the opportunity to observe the cloud forest outstanding biodiversity, the majestic Arenal Volcano and the Nicoya Gulf. The Skywalk hanging bridges brings 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. 

In the afternoon visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the premier natural history destinations in Costa Rica.  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. You might also see the legendary crimson and green Resplendent Quetzal.

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

Ultimate Costa Rica Nature and Beaches

Day 13: Monteverde to Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park has been named by Forbes as one of the most beautiful national parks in the world 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. Here the wildlife, including squirrels, monkeys, capuchin monkeys, sloths, black iguanas and agoutis – are very accustomed to visitors so you can often get close to them.

 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 Resort, Spa and Wildlife Refuge – Standard Room 

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Day 14: La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Today after breakfast you will have a private transfer to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is about a 3.5 hour drive. Located in the mountains near Cinchona, this spectacular facility is adjacent to the Peace Lodge and nestled in the spectacular tropical rainforest. It boasts butterfly and hummingbird gardens, an aviary, a wildlife rescue center, a serpentarium, live frog exhibit, and an orchid exhibit.

One of the highlights is being able to explore several spectacular waterfalls of the pristine La Paz River. You will stroll by rushing white rivers and have the opportunity to see a wide variety of different types of birds, butterflies, monkeys, hummingbirds, snakes and felines. 

Night at Peace Lodge – Standard Room 

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Day 15: Peace Lodge & La Paz Waterfall

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 – Standard Room 

Peace Lodge Costa Rica

Day 16: Homeward Bound

Enjoy the morning at Peace Lodge – a scrumptious breakfast and perhaps one last dip in the swimming pool or a walk through the garden.

You will be picked up at Peace Lodge by our transport representative for a transfer to San Jose International Airport, 1.5 hours approximately. Arrive in time for your scheduled departure flight.