Pure Panama: Cultures, Coasts & Canals

Trip highlights:


  • One night pre-cruise hotel stay at the Bristol Hotel in Panamá City
  • Transit the 48-mile-long Panamá Canal
  • Discover indigenous culture of the Guna Indians and Emberá people
  • Kayak, paddle board, and snorkel among the Las Perlas and Guna Yala islands
  • Explore historic Fort San Lorenzo—a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Marine life search in the Gulf of Panamá
  • Wildlife viewing in Darién Jungle by motorized dugout canoe and on hikes
  • Bird watching along the Chagres River
  • Interpretive presentations on board and ashore


DAY 1: Arrival/ Panama City ~ You’ll be warmly greeted at the airport upon your arrival and transferred to the Bristol Hotel for your overnight stay. Unwind from your day of travel enjoying the hotel’s amenities, or stretch your legs on a walk to nearby city sites and attractions.

DAY 2: Panamá City / Colón, Panamá – Embarkation ~ Enjoy a morning of leisure at your boutique hotel or explore nearby city markets and cafés. Later, rendezvous with your shipmates in our hospitality area and then cross the peninsula overland to Colón as you transfer to the Safari Voyager for a hearty welcome from your captain and crew.

DAY 3: Guna Yala ~ Home to one of the best preserved Native cultures in the Americas, the indigenous province of Guna Yala (formerly the San Blas Islands) encompasses over 360 islands of white sand beaches backed by palm trees and dotted with thatched-roofs. Discover the remarkable heritage of the Guna (or Kuna)—don’t pass on a chance to buy their colorful handcrafted “molas.” Enjoy the natural wonders of these islands with a snorkel in the crystalline Caribbean waters.

Bocas del Toro

Day 4: Guna Yala ~ Another beautiful day awaits in Guna Yala. Slow the pace lazily lounging on a beach or taking an easy stroll in the sand with views of the brilliant sea. Snorkel, paddle board, or kayak among these picture-perfect islands.

Day 5: Chagres River/ Panamá Canal ~ Once the “world’s most valuable” river and Panamá’s largest, the Chagres was the route by which Incan gold was transported in Colonial times, and today, is a vital artery of the canal. Walk among the battlements and canons of Fort San Lorenzo—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—built in the 1500s by the Spanish crown as a military stronghold and sacked multiple times by swashbuckling pirates. And if conditions allow, see the wild side of the river by skiff, paddle board, and kayak. Hundreds of avian species live in this migration hot-spot—ground cuckoos, crested eagles, trogons, toucans, white hawks, with their “neighbor” monkeys, wild pigs, white tailed deer, and other wildlife. Later, prepare for one of the most memorable travel experiences—transiting between two seas along the 48-mile marvel, the Panamá Canal. (Canal transit time varies depending on when the lock authority gives the final go ahead for late afternoon or evening).

Panama Canal

DAY 6: Pearl Islands Archipelago ~ Golden sand meets topaz-colored water, and beaches make way for lush vegetation and rocky volcanic outcroppings on the 90 islands and nearly 130 islets of Las Perlas—the Pearl Islands. Almost entirely uninhabited, the islands are host to a plethora of tropical flora and fauna. Mid-summer through early-fall, the archipelago is frequented by dolphins and humpbacks—so keep your eyes peeled for acrobatic spinning and telltale blow spouts. Select your modus operandi—kayak, paddle board, skiff, or snorkel—and set out in a nature lovers’ dreamscape.

humpback whale breach

DAY 7: Darién Jungle ~ Untouched and untamed, the Darién Jungle is nearly as wild and magnificent today as it was for early conquistadors 500 years ago. Traveling the Mogue River by motorized dugout canoe, your expedition guide will help you spot wildlife—astonishingly-colored roseate spoonbills, ibises, osprey, and raccoons can be seen fishing for breakfast from the water’s edge. After welcoming formalities at a local Emberá village, they’ll share their customs and stories, and you’ll have an opportunity to buy handicrafts from the villagers, including their highly-prized and intricately woven rainforest baskets.

guided birding tours Costa Rica

DAY 8: Darién Jungle / Marine Life Search ~ Explore the vast Punta Patiño Nature Reserve on foot, part of Darién Province and the largest natural protected area in Central America. Then set sail in search of wildlife, keeping watch for bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, smaller shark species, and early in the season for migration, whales. This festive evening includes a special farewell dinner and celebratory slideshow from your expedition team.

Wildlife watching in the rainforest

DAY 9: Panamá City – Disembarkation ~ After an early breakfast, bid adios to your crew. You’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home or continue with your post-cruise extension.

Themed Departures are available:

Birding: July 7 and July 14, 2017; July 1 and July 8, 2018.

Marine Biology: July 28, 2017; June 15, June 22, August 17 and August 24, 2018.

Photography: May 18 and May 25, 2018.


Pricing from $4395 per person (double occupancy).

Package includes onboard meals; premium spirits, wine, beer; non-alcoholic beverages; transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark days; entry fees to national parks/preserves; all from-the-boat adventure activities and equipment; wellness amenities: fitness equipment, yoga mats, and a complimentary massage

Exclusions: international airfare, passport/visa fees, travel insurance, exit taxes (if applicable), gratuities, and items of a personal nature.