Sail from one ocean to another on an iconic journey through the Isthmus of Panama, and discover its rich history and surprising wildlife
At nearly 100 years old, the Panama Canal remains one of the singular engineering feats of the modern age. Aside from its historic and economic importance, this vital artery passes through areas of remarkably rich cultural and natural heritage. Sailing through the canal is one of life’s iconic experiences, a must-do for students of history and lovers of nature. On this exciting MTS voyage, we’ll take you aboard a small, exclusive 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. Along the way you’ll meet the indigenous Embera people, whose traditional lifestyles have remained unchanged for 600 years; kayak and snorkel the pristine beaches of the Pearl Islands; and spot abundant wildlife at Gatun Lake, the world’s premier location for viewing monkeys in the wild. On the canal’s Atlantic side, you’ll explore the magnificent Chagres River and tour quaint, historic Portobelo before returning to Panama City via a scenic, trans-isthmian train ride. Throughout your adventure, you’ll enjoy plush accommodations, our signature expertise, and deep immersions into the surrounding culture.
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
Sail the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean towards Contadora, where the Discovery will stay the first night before navigating to the Darien Jungle. Take this opportunity to meet your expedition leaders, the crew and your fellow travelers while you savor our tempting native cuisine.
Day 2 : Darien Jungle
Travel back in time more than 600 years to a place that not many have had the privilege of experiencing. More than an excursion, this is a journey into the lives of the Embera Indians, a proud people who have been able to preserve their traditions and lifestyle as they were before Spanish colonization. These natives are also master crafters of cocobolo wood carvings and basketry. After motoring up river we will see their village emerging from the jungle. 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. The archipelago owes its name to the abundance of pearl oysters, which supported a substantial fishery in the early 1900s. On the outer portion of the archipelago, the islands of San Telmo and Mogo Mogo are home to pristine beaches and fertile fishing grounds. Kayak along beautiful and unspoiled beaches and view the remains of a sunken submarine from a civil war in the late 1800s.
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 through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks. The Discovery will be raised 85 feet above sea level to Gatun Lake. You will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience up close the operation of this engineering marvel. We'll then navigate the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, and bisect the Continental Divide. This section of the canal is full of history and geological interest; you will be able to appreciate the continuous maintenance that this area requires, because it is very susceptible to landslides. Spend the night in Gatun Lake along the Panama Canal.
Day 5 : Panama Canal – Barro Colorado
Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the vast jungle area that is now the Gatun Lake was teeming with an overwhelming abundance of wildlife. As the region was flooded to create the lake, animals took refuge in the mountain peaks, which are now the many islands that dot the renowned lake. Explore Barro Colorado Island where the Smithsonian´s Tropical Research Center is located. Your guide will take you aboard small crafts past lush rainforests to secluded areas of the lake to witness first-hand the splendor and excitement of the jungle. Exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that you could see in their native surroundings. The sights, sounds and scents that make up this beautiful, tropical jungle will surround you. Cameras are a must as this is considered the world’s premier location for viewing monkeys in the wild. 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
We'll experience the magnificent Chagres River, which was used by the conquistadors to move their gold across the Isthmus of Panama en route from Peru to Spain, and by the US gold prospectors as a shortcut from the gold fields of California to the East Coast. The river was the centerpiece of the colonial inter-oceanic route and is now the lifeline of the Panama Canal full of wildlife and tropical jungle. We'll explore Fort San Lorenzo which is located on a cliff at the mouth of the Chagres on the Atlantic side where your guide will offer details of the immense amount of history found on this area. The fort was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century to defend their well known gold trail. Later that evening, The Discovery will cruise to Colon, where we will spend the night before disembarking the next day.
Day 7 : Portobelo – Caribbean
Wake up to a farewell breakfast before you disembark. Travel by motor coach to Portobelo, a town founded by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to the new continent in 1597. This quaint town is rich in history as it was the site of many sea and land battles between the Spanish colonials and the pirates and corsairs raiding the Spanish Main. Explore the fortifications built by the Spaniards to protect their treasures and visit the Church of San Felipe, the sanctuary of the Black Christ. Later in the afternoon, board the Panama Canal Railway train back to Panama City. This one-hour railroad trip will allow you to traverse the picturesque trans-isthmian route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforest, cruising alongside the Canal’s locks, through the historic Gaillard Cut and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake.
SOUTHBOUND JOURNEY FOLLOWS THE SAME EXPLORATION ROUTE IN REVERSE.
*Cruise itineraries are subject to wind, tide and weather conditions and are operated in the interests of the safety and welfare of teh passengers, vessel & crew.
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.