Cruising the Panama Canal

By:  Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

The way to the dock itself already hosts one of the city‘s panoramic highlights: the Causeway, a road which is literally on the ocean, surrounded by water on both sides. Locals as well as tourists come here for jogging, biking or taking a walk while enjoying the stunning view of the skyline.

After a short bus ride leading through traditional canal villages and dense jungle forests you finally get to see what is considered one of mankind’s greatest ingenieuric feeds: the Panama Canal.

Starting with a nice and calm river cruise through canal landscapes, our little ship eventually reached the first lock. I heard in advance that ships are risen up to a total of 26 meters above sea level to cross the Gatun lake, but I just could not believe my eyes when I saw the sudden end of water behind the lock, making it look like our boat was on the edge of a cliff. I could not believe how incredibly high our vessel was, compared to the water level after the lock where we were about to go. And every year, 14.000 ships of several tons are lifted up and down this height, just by gravity! The technology behind this is amazingly simple, I actually could have thought of it myself, with a river dam-building experience of several years as a child. However, this simple technique is efficiently working like this since 100 years already, making the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of modern world. Together with two other passenger ships and a huge mountain of cargo ship transporting 6000 cars, we were slowly sinking down, making testimony of this amazing technology and the incredible force of human kind.

Ending this epic cruise, reaching the Pacific Ocean, you enter a scene where cargo ships are peacefully resting in the bay at dawn, surrounded by gulls fishing for their dinner in front of the Skyline.

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Tranquilo Bay Winter Escape From $2195.00 – Arriving on Friday

Escape the winter to the soothing waters of the Caribbean; discover the ecosystem of Bocas del Toro archipelago through snorkeling, kayaking or hiking the National Park.   The lodge lies within an area of nature reserves on land and in the sea, which is one of the most biologically diverse places in Panama. Encounter tropical birds, different monkey species, iguanas and many more during your stay and feel yourself relax and refresh in the unique natural environment.

Save $635.00 per person when you travel in February 2015. Applied to all February departures.

Day 1 – Welcome to Panama!- Today at the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos representative will meet you at the Tocumen International Airport to assist and transfer you to your hotel located in Panama City. At this time you will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit that will provide you with all the details for your stay in Panama. Once you arrive to your hotel, please check-in. Marriott Executive.

Day 2 – Fly to Bocas del Toro Archipelago – This morning your Caribbean adventure begins! You will be transferred to the domestic airport in Albrook to catch your flight to Boquete to Bocas del Toro Archipelago. Once you arrive to the island, you’ll board a water taxi that will route through the archipelago’s small canals, passing local communities, mangroves and into the Caribbean Ocean. You will arrive to Tranquilo Bay ecolodge and check in in your private cabin. Enjoy a welcome lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the beautiful surroundings. (B,L,D)

Day 3 – 5 Bocas del Toro Island Adventures – Awake to the sounds of nature and overlooking the Caribbean. After breakfast you will get ready for a day full of adventures. You will discover the tropical beauty that surrounds this magnificent Archipelago and National Park. Included in this adventure package is one daily standard activity each day. Daily actitivies include: snorkeling, kayaking, diving, hiking, fishing, visiting turtle nesting sites, surfing, birding, or exploring nearby beaches. The island’s midsection and surrounding waters are protected in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, and the entire island offers nature lovers an array of wildlife, both terrestrial and marine. The waters here are filled with brilliant parrot fish, angel fish, red snapper, slender needle fish and many others. Four species of sea turtles come ashore to nest on the beaches and the forests are home to many endemic and endangered species such as neon colored frogs, the red billed tropic bird and two and three toed sloths. (B,L,D)

DAY 6 – Return to Panama City and Visit the Biodiversity Museum or Miraflores Locks – This morning you will return to Bocas del Toro domestic airport for a short flight back to Panama City. You’ll be met at the airport for a visit to the Biodiveristy Museum design by Frank Gehry on the entrance of the Panama Canal or a visit to the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal to observe the “eighth wonder of the world.”  After the short visit, you will be transferred back to your hotel to enjoy your last afternoon in Panama City. (B)

Day 7 – Departure – At the appropriate time you will be transferred to the Tocumen International Airport for your outbound flight. You will arrive at the airport approximately 2 hours before your departure time.

Note: customers will be picked up 3 hours before their flight time.

Price per person in double room: $2195.00

Internal Flights (Panama City – Bocas del Toro – Panama City): $325.00

(Flight cost is subject to change)

The program includes:  Private Transfers from international airport to hotel in and out, 6 nights of lodging and taxes,  All meals in Tranquilo Bay, Government taxes, Tours as mentioned above, bilingual guide during tours and adventures, Breakfast at all mentioned hotels, Information kit, Lodging taxes, Panama kit.

The program does not include:  Optional activities, International and domestic airfare and taxes,  Departure taxes ($40.00 per person for Panama), Meals not specified in the itinerary, Alcoholic beverages, Personal equipment, Extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service, etc.), Gratuities

Rates are valid until October 15th, 2015 and subject to change due increases on fuel prices

  • Prices are net per person.
  • Prices are given in US Dollars.
  • Prices are subject to change without previous notice depending on any significant increase in rates, taxes, fuel or due to availability problems.
  • Prices are based on the minimum of paying participants previously informed.
  • If the minimum number of paying participants changes, the rates would also change
  • Tips for drives and guides not included

Note: This is a quote not a reservation. Please note that all quotations given are subject to availability at the time of reservation and cannot be guaranteed until payment is received. Please note that credit card payments are subject to processing fees.

EcoCircuitos realizes that has important environmental and social responsibilities in and out of the office. We create memorable travel experiences in Panama’s natural history and cultural heritage.   Our office team and suppliers ensure quality service, cultural sensitivity, local knowledge, innovation and social and environmental responsibility. As travelers ourselves we believe giving something back is essential. Therefore we work with our team, suppliers and customers to ensure that benefits will contribute directly to the communities we visit and their environment.

For more information, please visit our Responsible Travel Policy link.

Encourage the channeling of part of our revenues towards supporting the conservation and sustainable use of Panama’s biodiversity. We are committed to the conservation of protected areas, education and local community development.

 

Exploring Panama City – From Old over New Panama to the famous Panama Canal

By Anne  KehmeierImage

And another tour I was able to join: a city tour through the capital of Panama!

In the morning we started from the middle of the city and immediately experienced the crazy and chaotic traffic of Panama City. After this interesting ride we arrived at Panama La Vieja where the ruins of Old Panama are located. These ruins are the remains of the old city of Panama that was founded in 1519 as the first settlement on the Pacific Ocean. After arriving we visited the Museum and learned a lot about the exciting history of Panama and Europeans who were looking for gold and other treasures in Panama. For example about Balboa who was the first European who saw the Pacific Ocean. We had a very interactive conversation about the history and also recent situations of Panama with the nice guide. The tour then continued with a ride along the ruins which ended at the old church tower of Panama La Vieja. Arrived at the old church we climbed up the tower from where we had a stunning view of Old Panama and also the rest of Panama City, including the high-rise buildings. After this thrilling morning we headed to Las Tinajas to have a traditional Panamanian lunch in this cozy local restaurant in Bella Vista, a very nice and central area in Panama City. At the restaurant we had delicious dishes like Arroz con Pollo (rice and chicken), Tamal de Olla (corn-based dough filled with chicken and vegetables) and fresh salad, of course traditionally served with rice and beans and fresh fruit juice. After refreshing our energies we headed to the newer part of the city Casco Antiguo which was built after the destruction of Panama La Vieja. However, nowadays this part is the historic district of Panama City. We explored Casco Antiguo starting with the old church of San Jose which is home to the famous Golden Altar. Hundreds of years ago this altar was located in a church in Panama Viejo. When the Pirate Captain Morgan came to sack the city the Jesuits painted the golden altar black and Captain Morgan left the precious altar untouched. Afterwards we walked though Casco Antiguo and saw several other churches and listened to interesting stories of Panama City. We arrived at the Plaza de Francia, the square where workers and French engineers are honored who participated in the construction of the Panama Canal. Then we were transferred to the Miraflores Lock where we learned more about the Canal in the Visitor Centre and observed the operations of the Canal from the observation deck. We were really lucky because as soon as we reached the observation deck two giant container ships entered the lock. With this absolutely interesting experience we completed the day tour and were transferred back to the city center.

I was really glad to join this tour as I haven’t known so many things about Panama before and it was interesting to get to know the city from this perspective! In fact I am grateful to be part of the team of EcoCircuitos that makes my discovery of Panama possible from time to time.

Panama Expedition 7 day adventure from $740.00

Experience the contrasts of Panama in this great itinerary, which combines historical tours, rainforest, paddling the Canal´s Gatun Lake surrounded by tropical rainforest, 2 nights in El Valle mountain town at Los Mandarinos SPA and lodge and a beach tour at the Pacific side of Panama with an option of a surfing class. For complete information and complete itinerary please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com