12Days / 11Nights
This post is also available in: Spanish
This course involves an extended trip to study the natural history (Including tropical rainforest and coral reefs) along with the indigenous cultures of Panama. The program is open to all disciplines and majors.
• Experience the classroom that nature designed.
• Explore Central America’s rainforest.
• Snorkel the colorful coral reef of the turquoise Caribbean.
• Visit the Panama Canal and Colonial Panama.
• Discover the cultures of Panama
• Design and conduct exciting research projects
- 11 Nights of Lodging
- Domestic Flights
- Entrance Fees
- Information Kit
- Meals as Specified
- Meet and Greet
- Private Transportation with A/C Throughout the Tour
This post is also available in: Spanish
Day 1 Arrival
PANAMA ECOLOGY 12 DAY TOUR. Arrive at Tocumen International Airport, where you will meet our representative and be transferred to the Hotel in Panama City. No meals.
Day 2 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
After breakfast your group will be transferred to the Tupper Center, the main building of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). After a short tour, morning lectures will start. After lunch, we will take a trip through the tropical rainforest of Soberania National Park, bordering the Panama Canal watershed. The park includes some 19,500 hectares of protected lowland tropical forest. Here we can find a superb diversity of plants, birds and mammals. Night in the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
Day 3 Secondary Humid Forest Ecology at Barro Colorado
In the morning you will depart to the tropical rain forest that surrounds the Panama Canal in the Gatun Lake. Here you will take a boat to Barro Colorado Island Monument and visit their installations in the forest, as well as their visitors center with“The Forest Talks” exhibit. Before returning to Gamboa, we will hike on a nature trail on the island to observe plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects. Our guide will reveal the secrets of this complex ecosystem. Return to hotel for afternoon lecture by a Smithsonian investigator. Overnight at Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
Day 4 Emberá Indian Community and Secondary Pre-mountain Very Humid Forest Ecology
Depart Gamboa Resort in the morning for a visit to the Embera village in the Chagres National Park. We will cruise by “piragua” (a native boat) the route used by these Indians for their daily transport along the Chagres River. We will hike to the tribe’s village to learn about their culture and traditions. We will have lunch with them and, if you would like to, you can paint your body with “jagua,” a vegetable ink used to paint the bodies by the Embera. Time to hike around the area and discover this amazing culture. Return to Panama City in the afternoon. Night at Hotel in Panama City.
Day 5 Ecology of Marine Ecosystems – Part I
Pick up at your hotel to catch your 25-minute flight to the Archipelago of San Blas, governed by the Guna Indians. Upon arrival, the group will meet a local host and proceed to an island lodge, your home for the next two days. There will be a lecture and the rest of the day spent at leisure interacting with the Gunas, swimming, snorkeling (equipment not included) or relaxing on beautiful white sand beaches.
Day 6 & 7 San Blas and the Kuna/Guna Culture
We highly recommend two nights in the San Blas islands, as one night is not enough to learn about and observe marine ecosystems and the Guna culture. We will visit a neighboring island where there is a Guna village. You will learn about their ancient culture and traditions.
Day 8 El Valle and the Secondary, Very Humid Tropical Forest
Flight back to Panama City and then the group will have a surface transfer to El Valle de Anton. At 1,900 feet above sea level, El Valle is located in the crater of an extinct volcano with its slopes covered by tropical rainforest and crossed by rivers. We will visit the “El Macho Waterfall” and through a tropical rainforest, appreciating the dense vegetation, and numerous bird and animal species. We will visit the botanical garden of El Nispero, where there are several endemic and endangered species, like the Golden Frog and multicolored macaws. We will see “square trees” and petroglyphs, anthropomorphous images and symbols yet to be deciphered by anthropologists. Finally, we will visit the arts & crafts market. Optional: Canopy Adventure. Transfer to Penonome, Cocle. Overnight in Hotel La Pradera.
Day 9 Pacific Coast Fishery
After an early breakfast we will travel by bus to the Achotines Laboratory on the Azuero Peninsula. This is a research facility and hatchery for tuna, snappers and sea bass, managed by the Tropical Tuna Commission. Biologist will explain the complicated and delicate process of hatching tuna in captivity. We will see a tank with more than 20 tunas over 100 pounds each that are reproducing every day in captivity, the larva produced by them, and the aquaculture techniques for producing also their food in a laboratory. Lunch in the area and then we will drive to Pedasi, where we will spend the night.
Day 10 Island Ecology & Marine Coastal Ecosystems Part II – Pacific Coral Reefs
After an early breakfast we will take a boat to Iguana Island, where we will hike along the tropical forest and rocky shores of the island, observing marine birds, green and black iguanas, and other species in their natural habitat. We will spend the afternoon snorkeling in the biggest (37 acres), oldest (500 year), best-studied and uniquely protected coral reef in the Gulf of Panama. This shallow reef has more than 200 fish species and 13 of the 20 coral species that inhabit the Eastern Pacific. Even the inexperienced snorkeler will enjoy the underwater beauty. (Equipment not included.) Overnight in Pedasi.
Day 11 Panama City
At appropriate time, transfer to Panama City.
Day 12 Departure
Transfer to the International Airport approximately two hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time.