Kosher X Tours 2021, Summer Vacation in Panama City, Panama
Join Kosher X as we explore the wonders of Panama. Experience a unique and in-depth travel adventure exploring the regions locks, lakes, indigenous cultures, wildlife and surrounding rainforests.
Panama: Eons 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. 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 hunters 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.
Day 1 (Su): Arrive Panama City:
Airport meet and greet, transfer to hotel, orientation & dinner
Day 2 (Mo): Panama – Old & New
Our tour takes us on a fascinating historical journey of old and new Panama. Starting in Panama Viejo, where Pedro Arias de Avila founded the first Spanish City on 15th of August 1519; continues to Casco Antiguo, the historic center of Panama City with beautiful restored colonial houses, interesting museums and plazas finishing with a visit to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center at the Panama Canal.
We first visit the ruins Panama Viejo, the first official city founded by Europeans on the Pacific coast of the Americas and the starting point of the treasure trails that crossed the isthmus to the Caribbean. This city was attacked and looted by English pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. Visit the Old Panama Museum, climb up the Cathedral tower, and stroll among the stone walls and remnants of what was once considered the richest city in the Americas. Continue to Casco Antiguo (the old city compound) which dates from the late 1600’s. At the folk market you will have the opportunity to admire and obtain local and indigenous handcrafts. Casco Viejo is home to monuments to Ferdinand de Lesseps and other Frenchmen instrumental in the ill-fated attempt of the French to construct a canal through Panama became the new Panama City of the times. This part of town was never successfully attacked, being protected by a wall that surrounded the new settlement. Walk along the French Plaza – a monument to the French canal effort and take a panoramic look of the modern city from this vantage point as well as the ships that are anchored in the bay awaiting transit of the canal. Next we visit the Interoceanic Canal museum that is housed in the same building that was the original headquarters for the French canal building effort in the 1880s. The museum is beautifully restored and presents a broad perspective of the historical development of Panama from its Spanish colonial days to the completion of the canal in 1913.
After lunch we continue to Casco Viejo and a tour of the Panama Canal area, including the town of Balboa, formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone. You will then visit the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal where large ships can be seen transiting the canal. Enjoy a presentation by the Panama Canal Authority on the history of the Panama Canal and marvel at the workings of this feat of human engineering. Special to a Kosher X Tour, you will also have a special access to some restricted áreas usually closed to the general public with the unique oportunity to be closer to the locks and the ships transiting the canal.
Day 3 (Tu): Private Sailing Trip to Taboga Island
Sail away to the beautiful Island of Taboga located only 45 minutes away from Panama City’s Bay. This is the perfect choice for those who are looking to relax in style and escape the crowds while enjoying the ocean life of Panama. Live a memorable day on board our private 56 foot long catamaran snorkeling, fishing, or simply relaxing at seculded beachs.
Day 4 (We): Embera Native & Rainforest Experience
This special journey will bring you to a a local Embera village on the Chagres River for a unique peek into the lives of one of Panama’s 7 recognized indigenous tribes. The Embera people have populated the Choco region of western Colombia and the Darien region of eastern Panama for centuries, long before Spanish colonization. Today over 30,000 Embera inhabit Panama; while most still live in the Darien region, some communities have migrated to Chagres National Park between Panama City and Colon, allowing for more accessibility for tourism.
Your adventure will begin with a 1-1.5-hour drive into the Panamanian jungle. From here, you will take an Embera dugout canoe ride down the Chagres River, observing the lush flora and fauna of this virgin rainforest along the way. Look out for a great variety of birds, turtles, caiman, monkeys, sloths, and more. Welcomed at the pier by members of the community, you will have the rare opportunity to interact with the Embera natives and learn more about their traditions, music, homes, typical dances, native dress, and overall way of life. They are proud of their history and culture and open to sharing.
From the village we walk into the rainforest searching out its flora, fauna and wildlife. Here where you will also have the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing swim in a small waterfall surrounded by the sounds of nature. On your way back to the community enjoy some fresh fruit along one of the hidden beaches that this river has to offer. (this will depend on water levels and weather)
Returning to the village you will also have time to browse and buy handcrafted art and souvenirs made by the villagers to help support the community.
Day 5 (Th): Visit the Anton Valley
After being picked up by your guide early in the morning, you will be driven for two hours to the magical Anton Valley. This enchanting town located within a dormant volcanic crater is filled with abundant flora and fauna.
Cloud Forest Adventure: The crater rises 600 meters above sea level and provides many hiking opportunities. Once at El Valle, you will visit some highlights with your guide as we experience a tropical rain forest: The Painted Rock, a massive stone covered in pre-Columbian petroglyphs; the Sleeping Indian, a mountain shrouded in legend and whose profile resembles a sleeping woman; the Chorro del Macho waterfall, located within an ecological refuge; and a butterfly sanctuary showcasing around 250 live butterflies. Easily accessible trails including a number of hanging bridges traverse the valley as we explore the wonders of the cloud forest.
*Optional zip line and horseback riding opportunities are available in the valley
Day 6 (Fr): Panama Canal Rainforest Boat Adventure
Aboard an expedition boat explore the waters of the Panama Canal through coves and inlets in search of wildlife including countless species of birds, reptiles and several species of monkeys. This is the most comfortable and accessible way to discover the natural attributes of the Panama Canal watershed. At the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal, we board an expedition boat and depart on an adventure that will include a voyage across Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway, making contrast with the natural surroundings. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to spot Green iguana and Three-toed sloth resting on tree branches, Crocodile, Osprey in the hunt for Peacock bass, Snail kite and Keel-billed toucan among other wildlife.
Gatun Lake is located within an immensely diverse tropical ecological zone and is surrounded by untouched exotic rainforest. Barro Colorado Island, the largest island on the lake, has been protected as a nature reserve by the U.S. Government since 1923 and is the one of the most important sites of scientific study on tropical forests in the world. A boat ride on the lake will reveal the area’s many different species of birds, monkeys, iguanas and sloths, among others. You will also have the opportunity to navigate close to massive ships as they wait to cross the Canal. Your expedition boat will allow for us to explore the rainforest covered islands (former hill tops) in Gatun Lake as we search for White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey, and Geoffrey’s Tamarin.
Day 7 (Sa): Shabbat with the Jewish community of Panama. Day at leisure
Experience a special Shabbat with the Jewish community of Panama City. After Kiddush return to your hotel for a day at leisure. Evening we experience a guided walking tour of the old city by night filled with shopping opportunities or just take in the local ambience.
Day 8 (Mo): Depart