On this spectacular two week journey you will cross Panama from east to west and stop at some of the most beautiful and secluded spots in the country. First you will spend three days in Panama City and then drive to towns and villages that could not be more diverse . . . the tranquil El Valle and Boquete with exuberant nature and Santiago with its rich cultural life in the heart of Panama. Add to all this the unspoiled beaches on the Azuero Peninsula and on Isla Boca Brava and you have a self-drive tour that lets you experience the very best of this fascinating country.
Arrival in Panama City
On arrival one of our tour representatives will pick you up at the airport and take you to your city hotel for your first night in Panama. Panama City is the capital and largest city in the country. It is home to a diverse blend of cultures and an enormous historical sector in the Old City. The lively and vibrant banking district on the other hand is very modern and often compared to Miami. Panama City is a thrilling introduction to this gorgeous country.
Half Day tour of Panama City and Miraflo
In the morning your guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a private tour of the city and the Miraflores Locks. You will see the huge vessels passing through the canal and ships getting lifted or lowered 18 meters in two distinct steps. Visit the museum and visitor centre at Miraflores which tells you all about the canal's construction. Later travel to the Amador Causeway, a road that connects three Islands in the Pacific Ocean and offers magnificent views of the canal and the skyline of Panama City. Continue to the Casco Viejo, the city’s colonial quarter, to admire the lovely houses and impressive churches.
Embera Indians Village
Today your guide will take you north towards Lake Alajuela. There you will travel by canoes through dense jungle up the Rio Chagres. Then take a short hike to a beautiful waterfall in the rain forest. Enjoy this tropical paradise and swim in the refreshing pool beneath the waterfall. Next stop is the village of the Embera Indians, one of seven indigenous tribes in Panama. They will welcome you and show how they still live today. After a traditional lunch of fish and plantains you will see a traditional dance and have the opportunity to shop for handicrafts.
Panama City to El Valle
Today your rental car, a Toyota Yaris Advance or similar, will be delivered to your hotel. You can decide what time you want to receive the car and after a short explanation about driving in Panama you are free to explore the country on your own. Drive to El Valle de Antón, around two hours away, which is situated in the middle of an extinct volcanic crater. Here you stay for two nights at the charming family guest house Park Eden, which is surrounded by lush green gardens.
Today you can explore the El Valle area which is surrounded by the caldera of the former volcano. There are many tour opportunities such as hiking, horse riding, biking and bird watching and all along the way you will be surrounded by flowering plants that bloom all the time in this "eternal spring" micro-climate. Today you can also bathe in the natural thermal waters, take a relaxing mud bath, see the petroglyphs (cave pictures) and sample the delights of the must visit gourmet restaurant "Los Mandarinos".
El Valle to Pedasi
A good day today to linger south-west down the Azuero Peninsula in Los Santos Province. This region is the folkloric heart of Panama. The locals have a passion for what they call, "cultura tipica". Here they stitch the national costume - brightly coloured, multi-layered, ruffled skirts, - and make the myriad hued papier-mache masks worn at festivals. This is an arid cowboy ranching region edged by empty Pacific beaches. Stay for two nights in the centre of Pedasi, at the lovely colonial style Casita Margarita.
After all the travelling and excitement, today is free for you to chill out on the beaches of the stunning Azuero Peninsula. If you are still feeling energetic, however, you can book an optional snorkeling tour to Isla Iguana, take out a kayak out and explore the mangrove swamps, or watch the amazing sight of turtles nesting on Isla Cañas.
Pedasi to Las Lajas
Leave the coast today and head in land via Tonosi and Macaracas to Santiago, the region's bustling commercial hub. On the way see the impressive, ornately decorated church at San Francisco de La Montana before continuing via Sona to Santa Catalina, a small fishing village on the Pacific Ocean. It is home to black sand beaches and incredible waves that attract surfers from all over the world. The village is also the closest access point to Isla Coiba which is literally a tropical paradise, offering a plethora of wildlife to spot, jungle to explore, and sea life to dive or snorkel with.
Free day in Las Lajas. Relax at the beach or book an optional snorkeling, diving or kayaking tour to Coiba, try surfing or take Yoga classes at the beach – the choice is yours.
Las Lajas to Boquete
The journey from Santa Catalina towards David is a picturesque one with grazing horses and cattle, sparkling rice paddies, coffee plantations and numerous rivers heading down from the central Cordillera to the Pacific. Then head up into the cloud forest on the eastern slopes of Barú volcano to the growing mountain resort of Boquete. Here you stay for two nights at the charming Finca Lerida, which is surrounded by a beautiful coffee plantation.
A free day today for you to explore Boquete. We recommend a visit to one of the high quality local coffee estates to learn all about the process from cultivation to grinding. There are plenty of hiking, bird watching, white water rafting, zipline and hot springs offering plenty of local excitement, and there are a number of extraordinary gardens which are open to the public.
Boquete to Boca Chica
After breakfast back downhill to David.
As soon as you reach David, please follow the Panamerican Highway to the east for 45 minutes approx-imately you will see a small sign for the entrance of Horconcitos, after it you will have to drive just 30 minutes until you reach the town of Boca Chica. Follow the signs to your hotel. Boca Chica is located very near to the Chiriqui Gulf National Park. The park contains many secluded white sand beaches. The forested islands are home to howler monkeys, coyotes, ocelots, margays, rac-coons, jaguarondis, ant-eaters and in the bays and in the ocean there are leatherback and hawksbill tur-tles, dolphins, whales and a wide variety of other tropical, colorful fishes. The rest of the day is at your free disposal.
Boca Chica & Chiriqui Gulf Islands
Enjoy the free day at your hotel or check with your hotel for optional excursions. Optional excursions are available locally to explore the archipelago (cost not included in the package).
Isla Boca Brava to David to Panama City
Today you will travel by boat to Boca Chica and then be taken by road to David where you will be dropped off at the airport to catch the short flight to Panama City. On arrival in the city one of our tour representatives will meet you and drive you to your city hotel. Then enjoy a final evening out in this vibrant and lively city which is often compared to Miami.
End of tour
Today your wonderful tour of Panama comes to an end. After breakfast there may be time for some last minute shopping for souvenirs or sightseeing before one of our tour representatives picks you up at your hotel and drives you to the airport for your onward flight or to begin your journey home.