Sail from one ocean to another on an iconic journey through the Isthmus of Panama, and discover its rich history and surprising wildlife
Constructed between 1800 and 1914, the Panama Canal remains one of the singular engineering feats of the modern age and has been a major passageway for international trade for nearly 100 years. Aside from its historic and economic importance, this vital artery passes through areas of remarkably rich cultural and natural heritage, offering chances to encounter indigenous tribes and abundant local wildlife. Our unique adventure takes you aboard a small, deluxe 24-passenger motor yacht for an intimate exploration of Panama’s famed waterways, traveling between two mighty oceans on a one-of-a-kind, cross-continental journey.
Your week-long voyage begins in Panama City on the Pacific Ocean. Weaving through the mangroves of the lush Darien Jungle, you’ll stop for a personal encounter with the Embera natives, a proud people who have been able to preserve their traditions and lifestyle as they were before Spanish colonization. You’ll have a chance to learn about their ways and admire their mastery of crafts such as cocobolo wood carvings and basketry. Next, you’ll pause to snorkel, kayak and swim in the picturesque Pearl Islands, known for their abundance of pearl oysters and home to unspoiled beaches and fertile fishing grounds.
Then, it’s on to the historic canal itself, where you’ll have the rare opportunity to witness the operation of this engineering marvel. Continuing east, you’ll reach the vast jungle area that is now Gatun Lake, renowned for its profuse wildlife. As the region was flooded to create the lake, animals took refuge in the mountain peaks, which today are the many islands that dot the lake’s surface. You’ll explore Barro Colorado Island, where the Smithsonian´s Tropical Research Center is located, and cruise with your guide on small vessels to secluded areas of the lake, witnessing first-hand the splendor and excitement of the jungle as you spot exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles. Cameras are a must, as this is considered the world’s premier location for viewing monkeys in the wild.
Exiting the canal, you’ll reach the magnificent Chagres River, which was used by the conquistadors and US prospectors as a way to transport their caches of gold. You’ll explore Fort San Lorenzo, built by the Spaniards in the 16th century, and learn about this area’s immensely detailed history. Your voyage ends here, but not your adventure—you’ll continue by motor coach to quaint Portobelo, founded by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to the New World. Here, you’ll tour the town’s many historic sights before boarding a train for a scenic journey back to Panama City, traversing the picturesque trans-isthmian route alongside the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Sailing through the Panama Canal is one of life’s iconic experiences, a must-do for students of history and lovers of nature. Cross it off your bucket list in style with this luxurious MTS excursion, filled with our signature expertise and activities that go deeper than your average tour, for a journey you will always remember.
7 days of cruising with optional kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and zodiac boat rides. Minimum age: 12.
- Cruise the historic Panama Canal and the narrow Gaillard Cut as you cross the continental divide aboard a deluxe, 24-passenger yacht
- Spot exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas and other wildlife at Gatun Lake, considered the world’s premier location for viewing monkeys in the wild—more than mainland Africa or Madagascar!
- Experience one of life’s iconic experiences, a must-do for students of history and lovers of nature
- Kayak and snorkel the pristine beaches of the Pearl Islands
- Navigate the wild, tropical Darien Jungle, and journey into the lives of the indigenous Embera tribe, whose traditions have remained unchanged for 600 year
Duration: 7 days Start Location: Panama City End Location: Panama CityDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Panama City - Flamenco Marina
We'll embark the Discovery and cruise toward Contadora, where we will stay the first night before navigating to the Darien Jungle. Welcome orientation and dinner.
Day 2 : Darien Jungle
Cruising into the Darien Jungle, we will visit the village of the Embera Indians, who are master craftsmen of cocobolo wood carvings and basketry. Keep your eyes open along the way as this area is abundant with wildlife along the river's edge.
Day 3 : Pearl Islands – San Telmo
Today, we'll snorkel and swim in the picturesque Pearl Islands, known for an abundance of pearl oysters. We'll kayak along beautiful beaches and visit the islands of San Telmo and Mogo Mogo.
Day 4 : Panama Canal Transit
We'll wake up at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal and join the morning’s ship convoy for our northbound canal passage. We'll then navigate the famed Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, and bisect the Continental Divide. Spend the night in Gatun Lake along the Panama Canal.
Day 5 : Panama Canal – Barro Colorado
We'll explore Gatun Lake famous for its abundance of wildlife and visit Barro Colorado Island. Aboard small crafts, we'll reach lush rainforests and secluded areas of the jungle to see exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles. The Discovery will exit the Panama Canal in the afternoon on its way to the mouth of the Chagres River.
Day 6 : Chagres River - Fort San Lorenzo
Experience the magnificent Chagres River, the centerpiece of the colonial inter-oceanic route and the lifeline of the Panama Canal -- full of wildlife and tropical jungle. Explore Fort San Lorenzo on the Atlantic side. Later that evening, the Discovery will cruise to Colon.
Day 7 : Portobelo – Caribbean
Wake up to a farewell breakfast before you disembark the Discovery. Travel by motor coach to explore Portobelo, a town founded by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to the new continent in 1597. Later in the afternoon, board the Panama Canal Railway train for a scenic journey back to Panama City.
DATES: Best time to go: April - July, October - November Departures: Oct 31, 2014 - Nov 6, 2014 Northbound Nov 7 - 13, 2014 SOLD OUT Apr 2 - 8, 2015 SOLD OUT Apr 28, 2015 - May 4, 2015 Northbound May 5 - 11, 2015 Southbound Nov 19 - 25, 2015 Northbound Nov 26, 2015 - Dec 2, 2015 Southbound
The Discovery is a 33 meter catamaran with capacity of 24 passengers, to ensure that everyone can enjoy serenity and privacy together with the excitement and closeness of a true exploration cruise. All cabins have individual climate control, private bathrooms and windows extend the lenght of the cabin. The Discovery is equipped with a unique platform that lowers kayakers gently into the water and also retrieves them in perfect safety and comfort.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.