This trip is truly paradise found! The enchanting journey takes us deep into the dense jungles of Chagres where the Embera Indians have lived for centuries. Our adventure begins with a one-hour ride up the river in dugout canoes, the Embera traditional, hand carved boats. During this tranquil journey through the lush rainforest, alive with sounds and radiant flora and fauna, we will negotiate rapids and cross the 25 square kilometer lake Alajuela, where the first vestiges of human presence on the Isthmus were found (dating back 11,000 years). Upon arrival to the village you will be taken back in time as you are immersed in the ancient Embera cultural dances and music that have not changed much since Columbus arrived in the 1500's. The Embera women are known as one of the world's finest basket makers, and you will be able to watch them create these beautiful objects made out of palm leaves and dyed with natural dyes. You can also have your body painted with the natural fruit dye called Jagua, used by the Indians for body decorations as well as for its health-giving properties. Before returning back to civilization, the Indians will offer us a traditional meal of fresh fish and plantains and you will have an opportunity to purchase some of their beautiful handicraft. What to bring: Comfortable clothes and shoes, hat, swimwear, sunblock, sunglasses, camera , insect repellent and money for souvenirs. Note: Be prepared for 20-25 minutes hike (medium level), please have your swim wear and wear closed toe shoes (skeaners, water socks, hiking boots).
Take a ride on the Aerial Tram (open air gondola) through the rainforest. You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide who will describe the flora and fauna as you pass slowly through the forest's canopy. At the summit you will take an easy walk to the observation tower to see the breathtaking, 360º panoramic views of the town of Gamboa, the Soberania National Park and the Chagres River, plus opportunities to watch ships transiting Panama Canal on Lake Gatun. After enjoying lunch (not included) in the restaurant alongside the Chagres River, you will enjoy a boat ride on Gatun Lake where you'll pass large ships transiting the Canal. And you might see—onshore as well as on the island—monkeys, birds, sloths, and possibly other animals.
Barro Colorado Island is located in the middle of the Panama Canal. After completion of the Canal, the island was formed by damming of the Chagres River. Then, in 1923, the pristine area was declared a Nature Reserve. Now, it is managed as a biological reserve by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. At least 1,300 plant species, more than 280 bird species, and no less than 100 species of mammals are known to be there. The trip starts early in the morning. We depart Panama City and travel to Gamboa, where we board boat and navigate Gatun Lake to Barro Colorado Island. Once there, we visit the Smithsonian office before following the trail through this virgin ecological environment with all its unique flora and fauna. This trip is a highly-recommended experience.