This is a Partner Post by Ancon Expeditions (see end of post for details).
The Journey Between the Seas
THE EXPERIENCE, the encounter.
A journey on the DISCOVERY is a feast of intense, sensory experiences: the aroma of remote places, the texture of unknown things, the multicolor tapestry of nature, the accent of unheard languages, and the exquisite flavor of what has never been tasted; that is the incomparable feeling of penetrating the secrets of other worlds, other lives. That proximity is life, it is beginning and end.
The yearning for that closeness is the virtue and spirit of the true traveler and it is the reason for the Journey Between the Seas. That communion of body and spirit is only possible within the intimate realm of a compact craft, designed to cover the narrowest marine routes that take us to pristine lands.
A crew of ten has been carefully selected and trained to ensure a perfect journey for the 24 exclusive passengers of the Discovery. Inside the cozy, spacious cabins and lounges, the magic of night melts imperceptibly with the fabulous sunrises at amazing places that offer their purest charms at dawn ready for a day of excursion. From its decks, everything looks close, vivid, amazing, moving and…simply unforgettable!
THE PANAMA ADVENTURE
November 30 – December 8, 2017 (8 nights / 9 days itinerary)
Thursday, November 30 – Arrival to Panama
Arrive to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. Transfer to your hotel in Panama City.
1 night at the American Trade Hotel
Friday, December 1 – Train to Colon – Portobelo – Chagres River
Early morning pick up at the American Trade Hotel. Start your day aboard the Panama Canal Railway train to Colon City. This one-hour railroad trip will allow you to traverse the picturesque trans-isthmian route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforests, cruising alongside the Canal’s locks, and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake.
Arrive to Colon City where your motor coach will be waiting to take you to the Agua Clara Locks, an integral part of the recently completed Panama Canal expansion. The US$5.2 billion project included, among other tasks, dredging works on both ends of the canal and the route itself to increase water depth and the straightening of bends along the route that will allow larger ships to transit through the canal. The most important aspect of the project, however, was the building of two new sets of locks, one at each terminus of the canal, which will increase the waterway’s capacity to move cargo from one ocean to the other by 50% within the next 15 years and will allow the passage of bigger ships (almost 3 times the capacity of the largest size vessels that can cross the old locks. The new locks accommodate neopanamax ships that can carry up to 14,000 containers. A ship with this capacity pays approximately US$850,000.00 in toll fees to cross the Panama Canal. The new locks were designed to reuse up to 60% of the fresh water that would flow into the ocean by using recycling water basins. Board the MV Discovery at Shelter Bay Marina and set sail in the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea towards the Chagres River where you will spend the first night. Take this opportunity to meet your hosts, your expedition leader, the crew and your fellow travelers while you savor our tempting native cuisine. Once you arrive to the Chagres River, you will get off to explore Fort San Lorenzo. This fort is located on a cliff at the mouth of the Chagres on the Atlantic side where the naturalist guides will offer details of the immense amount of history found on this area. The fort was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century to defend this important access route.
6 nights aboard the M/V DISCOVERY (B,L,D)
Saturday, December 2 – Chagres River – Gatun Locks
Experience the magnificent Chagres River which was first used by the conquistadors to move gold across the Isthmus of Panama en-route from Peru to Spain and later by the gold prospectors who attempted a “short cut” from the US East coast to the gold fields of California. The river was the centerpiece of the colonial inter-oceanic route and is now the lifeline of the Panama Canal full of wildlife and tropical jungle. In the afternoon, you will set sail towards the entrance of the Panama Canal. You will start transiting the canal, while enjoying a Caribbean sunset as the waterway’s locks lift the Discovery 26 meters. (B, L, D)
Sunday, December 3 – Barro Colorado Island
Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the vast jungle area that is now the Gatun Lake was teeming with an overwhelming abundance of wildlife. As the region was flooded to create the lake, animals took refuge in the mountain peaks, which are now the many islands that dot the renowned lake. Explore Barro Colorado Island where the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute conducts scientific research.
Your naturalist guides will take you on board rigid inflatable boats past lush rainforests to secluded areas of the lake to witness, first-hand, the splendor and excitement of the jungle. Smithsonian staff will lead a walk along one of the few trails that transect the island. Exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that you can see in their native surroundings. The sights, sounds and scents that make up this beautiful, tropical jungle will engulf you. (B, L, D)
Monday, December 4 – Panama Canal Transit
Wake up in the middle of the Panama Canal and join the morning’s ship convoy for the southbound canal passage. Navigate the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, bisecting the Continental Divide. This section of the canal is full of history and geological value and you will be able to appreciate the continuous maintenance that this area requires, because it is very susceptible to landslides.
At Pedro Miguel Locks and Miraflores Locks the Discovery will be lowered 29 meters back to sea. The Discovery will have completed the ocean to ocean Panama Canal transit when it reaches the Pacific Ocean. (B, L, D)
Tuesday, December 5 – Darien Jungle
Step aboard a time machine and travel back more than 600 years to a place that not many have had the privilege of experiencing. More than an excursion, this is a journey into the lives of the Embera Indians. A proud people who have been able to maintain their traditions and lifestyle for centuries. They are master crafters of cocobolo wood carvings and basketry. After motoring up river you will see the village emerging from the jungle, as if by magic. Keep your eyes open along the way for wildlife that is particularly active along the river’s edge. (B, L, D)
Wednesday, December 6 – Pearl Islands
Snorkel and swim in the waters of the Pearl Islands. The archipelago owes its name to the abundance of pearl oysters which supported a substantial fishery in the early 1900s. On the outer portion of the archipelago, the islands of San Telmo and Galera are home to some pristine beaches and fertile fishing grounds. View the remains of the submarine Explorer built in 1865 during the Civil War and which sunk off the coast of San Telmo during the oyster fishery of the late 1800s. (B, L, D)
Thursday, December 7 – Panama City
Wake up to a farewell breakfast before you disembark the Discovery at Flamenco Island for a tour of Panama City. You will first visit the Biodiversity Museum, designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. As a Smithsonian Affiliate museum, the Biodiversity Museum serves as a gateway to new information about the biodiversity and natural history of the Isthmus of Panama. Scientific experts from both the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Panama oversee the contents of the museum and aim at teaching visitors about eco-awareness, conservation and Panama’s extraordinary natural treasures in various unique exhibition galleries. Did you know that the Isthmus of Panama has more bird, mammal, reptile and plant species than the US and Canada together in just 75,990 Km2 (approx. 29,000 square miles)? In fact, 3 million years ago, the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama changed both the climate and the biodiversity in the planet and played a key role in the creation of the world we know today.
Continue to colonial Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is home to the Presidential Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Theater, the French Plaza and several other iconic landmarks that offer testament to the city’s rich history, culture and heritage. Enjoy a historical walking tour including a visit to the Inter-Oceanic Canal museum which is housed in the same building that was the original headquarters for the French canal building effort in the 1880s. After lunch at a local restaurant you will be dropped off at the American Trade Hotel. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner.
1 night at the American Trade Hotel (B,L,D)
Friday, December 8 – Depart Panama
Pick up from your hotel for the transfer to Tocumen International Airport. Depart Panama
Price in DBL: US$4,795.00 per person plus 7% tax
Single supplement: US$4,020.00 plus 7% tax
Note: Surcharge +$195 plus 7% tax per person in DBL if a room with 2 beds is required.
- Hotel accommodation in Panama City
- Meals as specified in the itinerary (B – breakfast, L – lunch, D – dinner) and beverages on board (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
- All land and water transportation within Panama
- Transportation, shore excursions and use of equipment (kayaks, zodiacs and snorkeling gear)
- All airport/hotel transfers on scheduled arrival and departure dates
- Port charges • Services of an in-bound land operator for airline re-confirmations and tour operations
- Drivers’ gratuities
- International airfare
- Gratuities for guides and staff on board
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal equipment
On our Blog
Find out more about Ancon Expeditions and their holidays on the blog:
“Thank you for recommending Ancon Expeditions to us, our trip with them worked a treat. The initial 3 days bird watching and wildlife observation, as well as spending some of the time on the Panama Canal were memorable and then the visit to the Miniflores Lock was very special. The 3 days at Tranquilo Bay were tremendous – I managed to go snorkelling twice one of which was for over 2 hours seeing a variety of colourful fish and coral.”
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