10 Nov Panama Multisport Holistic Adventure – Two Oceans and an Isthmus – 8 days 7 nights, or 14 days 13 nights
Next Trip: February 2018
Experience Panama the Venture Outside way, with plenty of mixed sport activities, immersion in nature and culture, music, and doses of holistic well being scattered throughout the trip. Our Panama Adventure starts with sea kayaking on the Atlantic side, works its way across the isthmus with plenty of hiking and mountain biking, and ends up on the beaches of an island in the Pacific. Along the way, we’ll immerse ourselves in waterfalls, experience the incredible nature and biodiversity of Panama, and visit with several indigenous communities.
The trip is described as a two-week trip, but it is designed it so you can select various lengths of 7, 10, and 14 days. The 7 day trip can consist of either the first or second weeks. The maximum group size is 12.
PART 1 – The Atlantic/Caribbean. The first part of the adventure will be a paddling excursion into the Guna Yala, the autonomous comarca (nation) of the Guna indigenous tribe. The territory is a long narrow stretch of land than encompasses the coastal islands and shoreline from near the canal zone all the way to the border with Colombia. It is an amazing “lost-world” place of white sand islets and primitive Guna communities. A paddling expedition here begins at an island village and then continues by boat to a remote camping island where paddling excursions are based. We are shadowed to ensure full safety, out of ear range, by a motorboat. We will have at least one Guna Indian guide with us. In addition to water activities (snorkeling, swimming), there can be excursions to native burial sites and other archaeological sites. Paddling in the Comarca is generally regarded as a world class experience.
PART 2 – The Canal Zone – Lowland Tropical Jungle. The Gamboa part of the adventure is the Panama Canal Zone. It’s largely a lowland tropical forest and it is a wonderful place to explore jungle, see the canal, and experience history in that Gamboa is like a community stuck in time from when the canal was built in the early 1900’s. This area also has some of the best birding in the world, as its location relative to South America and at the base of Central America means it hosts both migrants and an incredible diversity of native birds.
PART 3 – The Western Highlands and Cloud Forest. After Gamboa, we’ll start a transition phase towards the Pacific side of Panama. We’ll begin with a relaxing “spa” day of to recharge ourselves with beach time, yoga and water activities, and then have another day along the way taking in amazing archaeological sites, waterfalls, and more. We’ll hang out in Boquete for two days, which is one of the favorite places for expats from around the globe to retire, because of the climate and scenery, healthy lifestyle, and all around great vibe.
PART 4 – Pacific Ocean. After Boquete, we move on to the Pacific Ocean part of the trip. We’ll focus on the region around Boca Chica, just offshore in the Chiriqui National Marine Park, an area that encompasses a large number of islands with the rocky bluffs and sandy coves typical of Pacific islands. It is a wonderful wild area to explore by sea kayak and by traditional cayuca wooden boat.
Day 1 – Arrive Panama City. Most flights arrive afternoon to early evening. Transportation to hotel.
Day 2 – We will depart early in the morning for the 2.5 to 3 hr drive to Guna Yala and the start of our sea kayaking adventure along the Caribbean coast of Panama. We’ll travel by boat to our camp island, and have the opportunity for our first paddle. At some point during our adventure in Guna Yala, we will do a cultural tour to an authentic Guna Indian village. We’ll visit a village, see and have an opportunity to purchase crafts like molas, and be treated to traditional music and dancing.
Night 2 – Camping in tents on an island.
Day 3 – This will be a big day of sea kayaking as we paddle island to island through the archipelago, stopping on cays, reefs, and uninhabited islands, islets, and beaches. There will be plenty of opportunity to snorkel and swim. The group will have an opportunity to influence the amount of paddling, however we can spend up to half the day paddling. A motor boat will accompany the group at all times and will be available to transport any and all tired paddlers at any time. Accordingly, this excursion can accommodate people who wish to “paddle hard in open water” through to those who wish to be in the motor boat for open water paddles, and wish to paddle short excursions in the vicinity of camp islands.
Night 3 – Camping.
Day 4 – Another day of exploration, beach walking, paddling, and snorkeling in the archipelago.
Night 4 – Camping.
Day 5 – After a breakfast on the island, we’ll return to our starting point via motorized cayuca/boat to begin the Gamboa part of the adventure. We’ll stop in the Town of Miraflores to see the Panama canal. There is a great museum on the premises, which makes a visit worthwhile whether or not ships are in the canal. Later, we’ll embark on an early evening walk in the jungle to hear night noises and maybe see some rain forest frogs.
Night 5 – Gamboa – We stay in the Gamboa Rainforest Lodge. They have great trails and roads on their property and is adjacent to the Village of Gamboa, a wonderful place to walk at any time of the day or night.
Day 6 – Today will begin with an optional sunrise birding hike in Gamboa. The main activity of the day will be a paddle (kayak or canoes) on one of the waterbodies adjacent to the canal (ships in view) and a hike into the lowland jungle. We’ll allow some time in the late afternoon and early evening for you to either have some down time or experience some of what the Gamboa Rainforest Lodge offers, including a huge pool, a rainforest aerial tram, wonderful gardens, orchid house, herpetile house, and more.
Night 6 – Gamboa, same as previous night.
Day 7 – We’ll leave after breakfast and drive from Gamboa to a beach hotel on the Pacific coast to recharge a bit from the strenuous first week. We can relax on the beach, do an early afternoon yoga session, and have the potential for beach activities.
Night 7 – Beach Hotel.
Day 8 – We’ll wake up with a before breakfast yoga session and stretch to get ready for second half of trip. We’ll be transported to Boquete, but along the way, the group can select one of two options for an activity: either a hike to a waterfall where we can swim, or a visit to the el Cano ruin. This is an amazing pre-Columbian cemetery and tombs recently discovered, with the remains of bodies, weapons and artefacts made of gold that dated back to between 400 and 900 AD, a period in which the Mayan civilization had reached their highest state of development. (http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-americas/unknown-civilization-el-cano-panama-001194). Alternatively, we can do a longer hike and swim, and have the option of skipping the el Cano ruin. Our plan is to continue on to the Village of Boquete in the higlands of western Panama, not far from the border with Costa Rica.
Night 8 –Boquete at the Bajareque Inn. This is a bunkhouse-style inn – each room has its own bathroom and shower.
Day 9 – Early in the morning we will begin a most-of-the-day hike in the cloud forests of the region of Panama around Boquete. Cloud forests are an amazing higher elevation forest community known for luxurious growth of bromeliads and orchids, and fantastic birds, like the resplendent quetzal. After we finish the hike, we’ll recover with a soak in volcanic hot springs.
Night 9 – Boquete same as previous night.
Day 10 – This day will be free for individuals to take in their own exploration of Boquete. Activities will not be included this day, but breakfast and dinner will be provided for the group. Potential activities could include horseback riding, coffee plantation/processing plant tours, shopping, and much more. Several transfers to Boquete from the Inn will be provided to Boquete. Once in Boquete, individuals can arrange for their own transportation to whichever activity they wish, or just hang out in the Village. The Bajareque Inn also is a wonderful place to chill, as it overlooks Volcano Baru, the highest peak in Panama.
Day 11 – We’ll depart early to drive from Boquete to the Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of the Village of Boca Chica. We’ll begin our Pacific adventure today with sea kayaking along the shore in mangroves north of Boca Chica and/or Isla Boca Brava.
Night 11 – Boca Chica – We will stay in one of several types of lodging available in the Boca Chica area.
Day 12 – Chiriqui National Marine Park Exploration.
Today may include a combination of paddling and motor boat excursioning. We have arranged to have a dedicated motor boat so that we can get well out into the island cluster, really do some exploring of islands and beaches in the marine park. We’ll have plenty of opportunity to snorkel on offshore islands where under water visibility is better than inshore.
Night 12 – Same as previous.
Day 13 – Morning – option to paddle in shore areas, or do a hike in the dry coastal forest near Boca Chica. Late morning or early afternoon, we will journey back to Panama City, eat dinner along the way, and arrive in the evening.
Night 13 – Panama City.
Day 14 – Most flights depart in the early morning. Transportation included.
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