Explore Panama’s most fascinating features, including the Panama Canal, both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, as well as the forests and wildlife of Central Panama, on this wonderful suggested itinerary.
We have chosen some of the most delightful, individual boutique accommodation that Panama has to offer, at the four locations that you will be visiting, and this itinerary can be extended to also include a few days at idyllic Tranquilo Bay on the Northern Caribbean coast, should you wish.
Day 1 Arrival in Panama City
Upon arrival to Panama, our representative will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the newly restored ‘Casco Antiguo’, the attractive colonial district of Panama City, the capital and largest city in the country. It is home to a diverse blend of cultures and this historical sector of the Old City now boasts a variety of bohemian bars, stylish restaurants, craft stores and boutique hotels. You will spend the first two nights at one of these, the Central Hotel Panama.
Day 2 Private Pipeline Road Tour
This morning, you will take a guided hike through Soberania National Park, where you can observe a variety of exotic tropical birds while enjoying the surrounding trees and plants of this area. Pipeline Road, is a dirt road that goes through the heart of this national park and affords you views of some of the diverse bird life that abounds in the area. For several years in a row, this area has set world records in bird counts in a 24-hour period, with up to 367 different species of birds recorded. Some of the more common sights are the Slaty-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. A wonderful introduction to Panama’s wildlife!
Day 3 Panama Railway – Portobelo
Today you will undertake a train trip on the historical and original railway line from Panama City to Colón. The railway line was finished in 1855 and the journey, lasting about one hour, takes you through the jungle and along the Panama Canal. The French Panama Canal Company acquired the railway line in 1880, and then in 1904 the Americans bought the Canal and the railway line and were operating it until 1979. In 1998, Panama privatized the railway line and renewed it completely and since 2001, it has become a unique attraction.
After the beautiful train trip, you will continue with your guide from Colón to Portobelo, one of the Spanish Empire’s most important ports. The now ruined complex was built in the middle of the tropical jungle and includes a fortress, castles and military bases. After visiting the site, you will be transported to your next hotel by boat, which takes just ten minutes across the bay.
Hotel El Otro Lado, is a 110 hectacre private retreat within Portobelo National Park and offers an infinity pool and very stylish cabins, flanked by steamy rainforest and the Caribbean Sea. The wonderful landscape that surrounds El Otro Lado provides the backdrop for endless hours of relaxation, but there are countless options to explore should you feel like being more active, including fishing, rainforest tours, and snorkelling at one of the nearby beaches.
Days 4 & 5 El Otro Lado
Two more days to enjoy the surroundings at El Otro Lado. Some of the included activities during your stay are a beach excursion to Puerto Frances, a 45 minute guided hike, the use of kayaks, stand up boards and paddle boats. In addition, you can book a variety of tours and activities such as birding hikes, fishing, diving, boat trips and even art workshops with the hotel.
Day 06 David – Boca Chica
An early morning transfer to Albrook Airport, from where you will catch a flight to David in the Chiriquí highlands. You will be picked up on arrival in David and then transferred by road to Boca Chica, where you will spend 3 nights at the lovely Hotel Bocas del Mar, a boutique hotel with a focus on quality customer service and attention to detail. In a privileged coastal location, Bocas del Mar is simply the best place from which to access the breathtaking beauty of the Gulf of Chiriqui Marine National Park with its unspoiled islands of tropical jungle. The National Park covers 60 square miles (155km) of islands and ocean, and is known for its green iguana lizards, humpback whales, dolphins, many species of turtles, stingrays, monkeys, and hundreds of types of exotic birds and tropical fish.
Days 7 & 8 Bocas del Mar
This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the gorgeous views, two infinity pools and small private beach, but it would be a shame not to take advantage of the many different tours and activities that are available. You can explore many miles of pristine, dense mangroves in Bocas del Mar’s own excursion boat or head out late afternoon and cruise gently along the serene waterways surrounded by amazing mangrove forest vegetation. Go bird watching, snorkelling, diving, kayaking, fishing, whale watching (from July to October), horseback riding or enjoy the spa.
Day 09 Boquete – Boca Chica
You will be picked up this morning and transferred by road to Boquete on the western side of the Barú Volcano. Boquete’s surrounding hills and slopes are primarily covered in shade-grown coffee plantations, providing a rich product recognized by international connoisseurs. Coffee is primarily picked by the Ngobe-Bugle Indians during the months of October through February. Coffee picking season is a festive time when colourfully clad Indian families come from various parts of the province to harvest the coffee cherries.
Your home for the next 3 nights will be Panamonte Hotel & Spa, which offers the most comfortable accommodation in the region, combined with gracious hospitality, antique charm, beautiful surroundings and delicious cuisine. This is the perfect base for exploring the Chiriqui Highlands.
Day 10 Bird Watching in Boquete
There are a whole host of activities on offer in the surrounding area including river rafting, zip line canopy tours, hiking and horse riding through the lush forests and bathing in volcanic hot springs. This is also one of the best areas in Panama for bird watching and we have included a private birding tour with you your expert guide, who knows the very best spots in and around Boquete to see many different species of birds. You might find the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, the Collared Trogon, Orange-bellied Trogon, Bellbirds, Dark Pewee, Silvery-throated Tanager, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Black Guan, Violet Saberwing, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, White-tailed Emerald and many more.
Day 11 Giant Millenary Quercus Tree Hike
This amazing hike begins in a Nature Reserve that belongs to Baru Volcano National Park, it retraces the steps of pre-Columbian Indians into a remote virgin cloud forest, surrounding the perimeter of Baru Volcano, habitat of 5 of the most ancient trees in Panama. During the hike you will have the experience of visiting the enormous Quercus Trees that survived a volcanic eruption 800 years ago. These magnificent millenary trees grow naturally throughout primary forests of Panama and Costa Rica. The trail parallels Quebrada La Mina, a gorgeous creek that meanders through the ridges and valleys above Boquete. With more than 220 bird species native to the area, birding opportunities abound. During the hike, you will also have great possibilities to spot mammals such as howler monkeys, white faced capuchins and two-toed sloths. This adventure offers the chance to see the cloud forest like no other hike will do and it is suitable for all, given the easy and accessible trails.
Day 12 Boquete – David – Panama City
You will be picked up and transferred from Boquete by private taxi to David, then a short flight from David to Panama City. Upon arrival your driver will take you to your hotel, Central Hotel Panama, in old colonial Panama City for your last night.
Alternatively, you can extend your holiday in Panama, by travelling overland from Boquete to Bocas del Toro for a few days.
Day 13 Departure
After breakfast you will be transferred to the Tocumen Airport for your international flight back home.
Day 14 Arrive back to UK