Panama City & San Lorenzo Pre-Extension
Extend your stay in Panama City and have a private tour at the Panama Canal Museum at the Miraflores Locks, as well as a former U.S. Army base, Frank Gehry’s BioMuseo, and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the historic Casco Viejo Old Town and the natural beauty and wildlife of the San Lorenzo Protected Area.
Day 1 - Home/Panama City
Arrive Panama City, transfer to our hotel, meet your guide, and enjoy a welcome dinner. (D)
Day 2 - Panama City / Miraflores
Positioned strategically to protect the southern terminus of the Panama Canal at Panama Bay, the U.S. Army Fort Amador is our first stop of the day. Named for the first president of Panama, Manuel Amador Guerrero, the fort served as an US Army base until 1999, when it was turned over to Panama.
Later, tour the Frank Gehry-designed BioMuseo. This is Gehry’s first and only design in Central America and features over 30,000 feet of gallery space with eight exhibits dedicated to the history of the isthmus and its extraordinary biodiversity.
At Miraflores Locks, a behind-the-scenes tour awaits us followed by a private VIP tour of the Panama Canal Museum. Lunch at the new, on-site restaurant is an experience in itself as we dine in the Atlantic & Pacific Co.’s private dining room, with floor-to-ceiling windows and an unparalleled view of the canal. After lunch, transfer back to the hotel for the afternoon.
In the evening, we visit the first of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the extension—the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panama City. Walk the Old Town and experience the color and ambiance of the historic core of the city. Set on a peninsula and walled for protection, with cathedral spires overhead, narrow streets, and small shops, Casco Viejo offers us a look into Panama’s colonial past. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to the hotel for the evening. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - San Lorenzo Protected Area / Embark
Departing from our hotel, we make our way through the Canal Zone toward the northern terminus of this massive human-made waterway, where Punta Toro juts into the Caribbean Sea. Our destination today is the San Lorenzo Protected Area. Here, experience the dazzling biodiversity of one of Panama’s little-known and rarely explored natural gems. On our walks into the trails, among the verdant green of the forest, we listen for mantled howler monkeys and watch for the movement and color of tropical birds in the canopy including yellow-throated toucans and slaty-tailed trogons. On the ground and lower down may be poison dart frogs and blue morpho butterflies. Although much less commonly seen, northern tamandua anteaters are here. As we explore, we may be watched by ocelots or even the legendary jaguar, remaining hidden from view in the thick vegetation of the tropical forest.
Following our visit, we turn toward fabled Fort San Lorenzo, where Punta Toro juts into the ocean and where the Chagres River meets the Caribbean. Dating back to the early 1600s, this iconic fort, our second UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, stands sentinel perched on a cliff above the river. The fort was later converted to a prison after the Spanish abandoned the Chagres trading route, opting to travel overland via the isthmus.
We finish our day at the Agua Clara Locks Visitor Center. Experience history in the making with a firsthand look at the newest operational locks. At 70 feet wider than the original locks, Panamax-sized vessels start or finish their ocean-to-ocean transit here. In the late afternoon, we continue to Colón to embark National Geographic Quest. (B,L,D)
Costs & What's Included
Cost per person 2023
Cost Includes:Two nights hotel accommodations, meals indicated, transfers, sightseeing, and entrance fees.
All airfare, personal items, and immigration fees.