Panama Trans-Isthmian Route



Panama Trans-Isthmian Route

The Transisthmian Route of Panamá, between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across Central America, was developed by Spain during the 16th and 19th centuries. It was part of a vast imperial communication network based upon the exploitation of world resources. The important sites include the archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo, historic District of Panamá, the fortifications of Portobelo & San Lorenzo on the Caribbean coast and the route leading to it via the Chagres River.

This tour is designed to experience Panama’s local culture and explore its beautiful rainforests and wildlife. Take bird watching tours in Chagres National Park and Soberania National Park. A boating tour on the Gatun Lake and relax on palm-lined beaches, coral-ringed islands and jungle-cloaked mountains of San Blas. The highlight of the tour is meeting the Kuna Indians, one of the few remaining pure races in the world, who have managed to protect their unique culture. 

And, experience indigenous Kuna Indians on the San Blas Islands.

What We Love
  • The Soberania National Park is known for excellent birding and wildlife viewing.
  • Explore the paradise-like setting of Chagres National Park
  • Lake Gatún, once the largest artificial lake in the world provides a rich haven for wildlife.
  • Travel any day – shorten or lengthen the tour to suite your wishes.
  • This tour is designed to provide maximum outdoor experience.
What to Know
  • This is a relaxed tour but may require walking on rough surfaces. 
  • Panama is renowned for its riptides. Stay out of choppy water.
  • For domestic flights and boat transfers, luggage entitled is 12 Kilos.
  • We offer 24/7 support to give you complete peace of mind during your holiday.
  • We strongly recommend that you take travel insurance for this holiday.

Panama Trans-Isthmian Route

Gamboa Rainforest, San Blas Island, Bocas del Toro
(8 Days – Travel Any Day)

Day 01 – Arrive Panama City
Gamboa Rainforest On arrival at the Tocumen International Airport, you will be met by our representative and escorted to Gamboa Rainforest Resort for a four-night stay.

Gamboa Rainforest Resort: This 340-acre deluxe resort is located just 30 minutes from downtown Panama City, in the vicinity of the historic Chagres River, near the Panama Canal and the scenic town of Gamboa. The resort lies in the heart of Panama’s 55,000-acre Soberania National Park, and is surrounded by large tracts of lowland tropical rainforests that nourish thriving plant and animal populations. Each of the resort’s large, air-conditioned luxury guestrooms offers a balcony overlooking the hotel gardens and picturesque views of the river and forest.
Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

Day 02 – Chagres National Park
Gamboa Rainforest Take an early morning private transfer to El Corotu on the shores of Madden Lake. With your local indigenous expert guide, you will travel up Chagres River for about an hour in motorized canoe to a village of one of Panama’s native tribes where you will spend the afternoon. We will learn about the Embera culture and traditions, swim under a forest waterfall, enjoy lunch on a banana-leaf plate, and even try their traditional tattoo painting with a natural fruit dye called Jagua. Bird watchers will be delighted to see a variety of birds including the Little Blue and Green Heron, Great Egret, anhinga, cormorants, Amazon Ringed and Green Kingfishers.
Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort (B, L, D)

Day 03 – Soberania National Park & Gatun Lake
Gamboa Rainforest Awake to the sounds of the birds and the music of the rainforest. After breakfast, a day of adventure in the wilderness begins with a ride on the aerial tram. The aerial tram ride traverses a mile-long tract of forest that lies within the resort boundaries. Your guide will explain the flora and fauna as you pass slowly through the rainforest canopy. At the summit you will be rewarded with great views of the canal, the Chagres River as well as the surrounding forested areas of Soberania National Park and the town of Gamboa.

After lunch and afternoon siesta, continue on your next adventure. Embark on a small expedition boat for a voyage across Gatun Lake. You will pass by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway, creating an interesting contrast with the natural surroundings. Explore the surrounding rainforest covered islands to search for local primates species such as the white-faced capuchin, howler monkey, spider monkey and the endemic red-napped tamarin.
Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort (B, L, D)

Day 04 – Trans-Isthmian Route
Gamboa Rainforest Take a private guided tour of Fort San Lorenzo and the Gatun Locks. First you will cross the amazing Gatun Locks and then proceed to Fort San Lorenzo, which was constructed by the Spaniards in the 16th century to hold riches and gold that was transported by canoe to the fort from Peru. San Lorenzo was besieged by British pirates over the years due to its strategic location guarding the entrance to the Chagres River. Sir Henry Morgan captured San Lorenzo and used it as the entrance point to sack Panama City in 1671.

Return to Gamboa on the famous Panama Canal Railway Train. Your one hour ride across the Isthmus takes you from the Caribbean port city of Colon to the Pacific side, passing rainforest, the canal and local villages along the way.
Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort (B, L, D)

Day 05 to 07 – Transfer & Explore
San Blas Islands Early this morning board a small plane to the San Blas Islands, located off the Caribbean Coast of Panama. Spend your day to experience the Kuna culture and meet the local chiefs responsible for enforcing the law of the community as well as offering advice on other aspects of life, including marital problems. Learn about the construction of the typical Kuna house, Kuna economy, traditional “mola” and the processing of sugar cane into the local drink.

Stay at the Akwadup Lodge and Resort on a coral island in the heartland of Kuna Yala, built by Kuna builders in traditional style but with modern amenities. The seven cabanas are built over the sparkling Caribbean Sea, linked to the dock and the mainland by short, wood planks. The lodge has its own restaurant offering fresh lobster, crab and fish in season.
Overnight at Akwadup Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 08 – Explore
Panama City Return to Panama City and take a private guided tour of the famous first city of Panama La Vieja. This was the first Spanish city established on the Pacific side, and destroyed in 1671 by the famous English pirate Henry Morgan, who took Fort San Lorenzo on the Caribbean side and proceeded to Panama City.

Continue to Casco Antiguo, the city that was strategically constructed in 1673 after Henry Morgan abolished the first city. It was built by the Spanish and then used by the French during the construction of the canal and also by the railroad workers. Here you will observe the diverse architecture and city layout. Take a panoramic view of the city from Ancon Hill before lunch at a gourmet restaurant in the city, Manolo Caracol or similar.

Next, travel to the Miraflores Locks, the entrance to the Pacific side of the canal. Here you will learn about and watch this engineering master piece in motion. In the nearby French Cemetery, you may pay your respect to over 1,000 people who died in the construction of the canal.
Overnight at Country Inn Amador (B, L)

Day 09 – Canal Crossing
Panama City Early this morning you will transfer to Flamenco Pier where you will begin a journey of a lifetime! Experience the incredible historic passage through the Panama Canal on this half-day tour with a professional guide to explain the trials and tribulations of this engineering feat. The ship will be raised 55 feet above sea level in two steps and enter Miraflores Lake, which is about a mile long. A transition from salt water in the Pacific Ocean to fresh water in the locks chambers and lake take place here. Navigate in the lake until reaching the Pedro Miguel locks, which are not entered. At this point the vessel turns around and exits in the Pacific Ocean, where you will have the opportunity to admire the view of beautiful Panama Bay and the entrance to the Canal. After your tour you will have some time to do your last minute shopping.
Overnight at Country Inn Amador (B, L)

Day 10 – Depart
Panama City Private transfer to Tocumen International Airport for your onward flight (B)

Panama Trans-Isthmian Route Panama

Make this your holiday

  • Exclusive Tour: your own private multilingual guide throughout the trip  
  • Price Guarantee: costing 25-30% less than similar tours of the same flexibility and quality
  • Tailor Made: customised itinerary to create your dream holiday
  • Duration: shorten or lengthen the tour to suit your wishes
  • Dates: depart and return whenever you choose
  • Hotels: change hotel grade to suit your budget
  • Group Discounts: call 020 8350 6199

Getting There International flights arrive at Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City. Flight from the US are mostly routed through Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston or Miami and other Central and South American cities; KLM and Iberia fly from Amsterdam and Madrid, respectively. Flights from San José, in neighbouring Costa Rica, often stop in David before continuing on to Panama City. The recently upgraded airport in David is expected to see direct international flights from and to the US at some point.

When to go The best time to visit Panama is during the dry season from around mid-December to mid-April. There is a prolonged rainy season from May to November, with the heaviest rain between October and November. Rain in Panama tends to come in sudden short downpours followed by sunshine. The climate is less tropical at higher elevations. In mountain areas, the average annual temperature ranges from 10 C to 19 C at various mountain elevations.