Length: 7 full days
Route: Cerro La Cruz, La Laguna de San Carlos, Valle de Antón, La Pintada, Nata de los Caballeros, and Aguadulce.
We start the next tour heading to all these beautiful sites that are west of Panama City.
The first stop is 58 kilometers from Panama City, arriving at the town of Chicá. The entrance is just before Campana, turning up onto the road on the right hand side just across from the famous "Enchanted House", which is a private estate but with an aspect that makes the locals tell ghost stories. At the Ministry of the Environment (ANAM) station, you are advised to stop and record your personal information for security reasons. The entrance to Cross Hill is 3.1 kilometers down the road and marked by a curious sign that reads "FARM I'M NOT HERE". The trail to the cross is well maintained and marked, but do take care climbing up and down the rock if it is muddy and the ground wet. The hike up can take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The adventure continues and next we invite you to the Laguna de San Carlos, known simply as "The Pond". Surrounded by green mountains and set in a natural landscape, the lake is a good place for you to practice sport or subsistence fishing and catch a variety of fish, such as sardine, common carp, and black crappie. It is located west of the hill Cerro Picacho, in the village of La Laguna, district of San Carlos.
From the lake in San Carlos we descend to a magical valley, El Valle de Antón, that abounds in flora and fauna by virtue of its favorable climate.
Tectonic activity ages ago created what are now the tourist attractions of The Sleeping Indian and Gaital and Iguana hills that encircle the crater of a dormant volcano. Lodging options in El Valle de Antónare in hotels, hostels, cabins, or a spa center. Feel free to walk around the area and enjoy the landscapes. El Valle is blessed with hot springs that boast healing properties. Visitors also have the opportunity to observe over 100 species of animals and 180 types of plants and trees from the well-marked paths inside El Níspero, the local zoo and plant nursery. El Valle de Antón is located 125 kilometers from Panama City. Turn off onto the road about 4 kms after passing San Carlos and you will reach the town in another 28 kilometers.
Next stop is at the picturesque town of La Pintada, recognized for their handicrafts and high coffee and citrus production, especially oranges. It is here where artisans display their skills in making the traditional Pintao, or painted, hat, as well as in pottery and other crafts. To reach La Pintada, first drive to Penonomé, the provincial capital of Coclé. At Simón Bolívar Park, take the highway next to the police station and in another 15 kilometers or so you will arrive at the charming town of La Pintada.
Very close to Penonomé, some 30 minutes down the Pan-American Highway, you will find the towns of Natá de los Caballeros and Aguadulce.
Natá de los Caballeros
The main attraction in the town of Natá de los Caballeros is its Church of Natá,whose walls relate that it was one of the first cities built on the isthmus during the colonial era, and a few silver pieces from the 17th century conserved inside the church merit it being declared a National Historic Landmark. Natá is also known for its strong development in the sugar, dairy, and shrimp industries.
Visit the Santiago ApóstolBasilica and San Juan de Dios Chapel
Visit the natural springs
Yet another quaint village we encounter in our excursion along the Pan-American Highway is Aguadulce, or fresh water, named after what immediately bubbled up from a well dug by the first settlers. It is nicknamed "The Land of Salt and Sugar" for these major industries in this region. Aguadulce is situated on a vast valley some 195 kilometers from Panama City.
Visit the Salt and Sugar Museum
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Along the Pan-American Highway you can find restaurants serving international fare, as well as roadside snack stands where you can sample dishes that are typical of the region.
Each town also has shopping centers with stores selling clothing, food, and gasoline. There are banks and ATMS accessible to visitors, and travelers can spend the night in hotels, hostels, cottages, or homes for rent at a range of prices.
General Tour Activities
Go on hikes
Visit swim spots and rivers
Photograph the landscapes and sites
Buy regional fresh fruits and vegetables
Relax at spas
Purchase exotic plants
Nightlife in casinos
Length: 3 full days
Day 1: History of the Isthmus
A guided tour of the Panama La Vieja Visitor Center highlights its potential as a historical and archaeological site. The center advocates for preserving and promoting history and valuing our national and global heritage, while providing the visiting public with a high-quality service that satisfies their needs for leisure, entertainment, and education.
-Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
-Visit the Panama La Vieja Artisan Center, recently opened with over 51 booths selling handicrafts.
-Open: 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Dine in the Old Town
Spend the afternoon shopping in the Multiplaza Mall. Savor an excellent cup of coffee from the famous islands or restaurants in the facilities.
Evening entertainment includes the opportunity to hear live music, enjoy performances, go dancing, or do some gambling at casinos or betting tables.
Day 2: Adventure
Adventures on the banks of the Chagres River. Visit the Emberá indigenous community.
Panama is one of few countries that offers this enriching experience to share, learn, and enjoy the culture of indigenous cultures.
Canoe up the Chagres: The ride up the river from Puerto Vigia takes you deep into the indians' historical and cultural environment. From inside the canoe you can observe the flora and fauna that are part of native traditions and customs.
Departure from the port of Vigia: 8:15 a.m.
Arrival at village: The Emberá will greet you and immerse you in their world through costumes, dancing, cooking, and giving you a tour of their territory. You will have the chance to take photographs, buy souvenirs, and discover the indigenous history and culture through the villagers's stories.
Native meal: Eat a lunch of traditional ethnic dishes, typically consisting of fried plantains with freshly caught tilapia, a freshwater fish.
Emberá Chief: Antonito Zarco
To make reservations: call 6511-7408
Bathe under a refreshing waterfall
Dance with the indians
Body painting with vegetable dyes
Photograph the Emberá
Last tour stop:
Duty-free shopping just 10 minutes from Panama City's downtown, followed by a delicious dinner on the seashore and an array of nightlife options on the Amador Causeway.
Open hours: Duty Free: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Day 3: Beach
Relax on a charming island on the Atlantic coast of the country.
Depart from the town of La Guaira, where you can enjoy white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, a world of marine species, and mangrove forests near the coast.
The island is situated to the north and offers a view of ancient canyons, caves, and unique mazes of coral reefs.
Your choice of accommodations on the island ranges from B/.25.00 for a beach cottage to B/.150 per night in a luxurious hotel room.
Lunch/Dinner: Enjoy the local cuisine served at seaside restaurants. Traditional coastal dishes made by the Afro-Caribbeans are based on seafood and flavored with coconut.
Sunbathe and swim at the beach
Boat ride along the coast
Tour length: 1 full day (8 hours)
Visit the Miraflores Locks and Visitor Center
The Miraflores Locks provide an opportunity for all visitors to learn the history and operation of the Panama Canal and witness as ships transit through the locks. Enjoy the views of the natural landscape lining the banks of the Canal from the on-site restaurant area. A tour of the Panama Canal Museum's four exhibition halls covers these topics:
History behind the Canal
-Water: Source of Life
-The Canal in Action
-The Canal in the World
The Visitor Center has a large fully equipped theater, three observation decks, two refreshment stands, a restaurant with panoramic views, a gift shop, and a banquet hall.
Take photographs of the Canal
Dine at the restaurant overlooking the Canal
Go on a guided tour of the museum
Watch the film "History of the Canal"
Monday to Sunday, including public holidays, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Ticket Office 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Exhibition halls, refreshment stands, and gift shop 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Restaurant: 12:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Last tour stop: Go shopping at the Mega Centro Albrook Mall, where you will find brand-name stores with competitive prices and a variety of restaurants offering both fast food and a la carte dining options.
In the first two months of the year, an average of 65,000 tourists have disembarked cruise ships at Panamanian ports.
Every year, hundreds of great hotels open. We considered 510 this year alone, in 400 cities and 93 countries—but in the end, only 33 made Condé Nast Traveler's 2014 Hot List.