Three million years ago a thin strip of land emerged from the sea, uniting the Americas. The recently formed bridge turned into the path of an ongoing natural pilgrimage. Time immemorial testifies the passage of the strangest animals and the recently appeared humans through this narrow bridge of land. At that moment, Panama defined its vocation to be a place of transit and travel. Thousands of years later, other men arrived by sea and crossed the narrow strip from one ocean to the other. Centuries later, the same path was covered by the natives, the Conquistadors, the Inca gold followers, pirates, slaves, the railway builders, the California gold diggers and the incoming ships from coasts and seas all over the world. Today, the Panama Canal stands as a living monument to this land of transit, this crossroads, stretching over a historic path trodden by those who opened the way and by the footsteps of those who remained. After that first meeting the people came, creating a culture and this culture became a country, in the most spectacular way. The Journey Between The Seas A journey in the Discovery is a feast of intense, sensory experiences: the aroma of remote places, the texture of unknown things, the multicolor tapestry of nature, the accent of unheard languages, and the exquisite flavor of what has never before been tasted; that is the incomparable feeling of penetrating the secrets of other worlds, other lives. That proximity is life, it is beginning and end. A crew of ten has been carefully selected and trained to ensure a perfect journey for the 24 exclusive passengers of the Discovery. Inside the cozy, spacious cabins and lounges, the magic of night melts imperceptibly with the fabulous sunrises at amazing places that offer their purest charms at dawn ready for a day of excursion. From its decks, everything looks close, vivid, amazing, moving and…simply unforgettable!
A Panama Trails representative will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the Corozal train station to start your Journey Between the Seas Tour.
Start your itinerary aboard the Panama Canal Railway train to Colon City. This 45-minute railroad trip will allow you to traverse the picturesque trans-isthmian route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforests, cruising alongside the Canal’s locks, and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake. Arrive to Colon City where your motor coach will be waiting to take you to Portobelo. Enjoy this town located on Caribbean waters which was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to the new continent in 1502. Explore the fortifications built by the Spaniards to protect their treasures and visit the Church of San Felipe, the sanctuary of the Black Christ.
At noon time you will board the MV Discovery and set sail in the tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean towards the Chagres River where you will stay the first night. Take this opportunity to meet your expedition leaders, the crew and your fellow travelers while you savor our tempting native cuisine. Once we arrive to the Chagres River, you will get off to explore Fort San Lorenzo. This fort is located on a cliff at the mouth of the Chagres on the Atlantic side where your leader 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.
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 gold prospectors who attempted a "short cut" from the US East coast to the gold fields of California. 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. In the afternoon you will set sail towards the entrance of the Panama Canal. You will start transiting the Gatun Locks, the biggest set of locks, while enjoying the Caribbean sunset and watching the Canal being lit.
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 expedition leader will take you on board zodiacs 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 can see in their native surroundings. The sights, sounds and scents that make up this beautiful, tropical jungle will engulf you. Cameras are a must as this is considered the world’s premier location for viewing monkeys and other animals in the wild.
Wake up in the middle of the Panama Canal and join the morning’s ship convoy for our southbound canal passage. The Discovery will complete its full Panama Canal transit on its way to the Pacific Ocean. Navigate the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, bisecting the Continental Divide. This section of the canal is full of history and geological value and you will be able to appreciate the continuous maintenance that this area requires, because it is very susceptible to landslides. At Pedro Miguel Locks and Miraflores Locks the Discovery will be lowered 85 feet back to sea level in the Pacific. You will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience up close the history and operation of this engineering marvel.
Step aboard a time machine and travel back 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 maintain their traditions and lifestyle as they were before the Spaniards colonized the region. These natives are also master crafters of cocobolo wood carvings and basketry. After motoring up river you will see the village emerging from the jungle, as if by magic. Keep your eyes open along the way as the region offers abundant wildlife that is particularly active along the river’s edge.
Snorkel and swim in the waters of the Pearl Islands. The archipelago owes its name to the abundance of pearl oysters which supported a substantial fishery in the early 1900’s. On the outer portion of the archipelago, the islands of San Telmo and Galera are home to some pristine beaches and fertile fishing grounds. View the remains of the submarine Explorer built in 1865 during the Civil War and which sunk off the coast of San Telmo during the oyster fishery of the late 1800´s.
Wake up to a farewell breakfast before you disembark the Discovery. Panama Trails will take you from Colon Pier to the hotel in Panama City.
This description is for the southbound journey. The northbound journey follows the same exploration route in reverse.
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