Pure Panamá: Cultures, Coasts & Canal

8-night Panama tour rich with culture, natural wonders, and the Panama Canal

From $4,395

Rates & Dates
  • Itinerary
  • Rates and Dates
  • Ports and Places
  • Land Packages
  • Vessels
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Itinerary

INCLUDED HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Included one-night pre-cruise hotel stay at the Bristol Hotel in Panama City
  • Panama Canal night transit; visit Agua Clara Locks Visitor Center
  • Kayak, paddle board, and snorkel among the Las Perlas and Guna Yala islands
  • Exchanges with indigenous Guna and Embera people
  • Historic Portobelo—UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Search for marine life in the Gulf of Panama
  • Wildlife viewing in Darien Jungle by motorized dugout canoe and on hikes
  • Bird watching along the Mogue River

Departure Dates & Rates

Select year and month

2018
May
2018
Jun
2018
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2018
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2018
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2018
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2018

Your day-by-day details

Colon to Panama City, Panama

|

Panama City to Colon, Panama

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DAY 1

Panama City, Panama
You’ll be warmly greeted at the airport upon your arrival and transferred to the Bristol Hotel for your overnight stay. Unwind from your day of travel enjoying the hotel’s amenities, or stretch your legs on a walk to nearby city sites and attractions.
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DAY 2

Panama City / Colon, Panama – Embarkation
Enjoy a morning of leisure at your boutique hotel or explore nearby city markets and cafes. Later, rendezvous with your shipmates in our hospitality area. As you cross the peninsula overland to Colon, make a stop at the Agua Clara Visitor Center. Take in the views of Lake Gatun and the newly expanded locks. Then, complete the transfer to the Safari Voyager for a hearty welcome from your captain and crew.
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DAY 3

Guna Yala
Home to one of the best preserved Native cultures in the Americas, the indigenous province of Guna Yala (formerly the San Blas Islands) encompasses over 360 islands of white sand beaches backed by palm trees and dotted with thatched-roofs. Discover the remarkable heritage of the Guna (or Kuna)—don’t pass on a chance to buy their colorful handcrafted “molas.” Enjoy the natural wonders of these islands with a snorkel in the crystalline Caribbean waters.
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DAY 4

Guna Yala
Another beautiful day awaits in Guna Yala. Slow the pace lazily lounging on a beach or taking an easy stroll in the sand with views of the brilliant sea. Snorkel, paddle board, or kayak among these picture-perfect islands.
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DAY 5

Portobelo / Panama Canal
A UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 1500s, Portobelo has a rich history including notable characters like Henry Morgan, Francis Drake, and Christopher Columbus. Stroll the passageways of this quaint colorful, village surrounded by jungle. You can sense the past of pirates and explorers before you. Imagine their approach while you take in the views of Portobelo from a kayak or skiff in the bay. Later, prepare for one of the most memorable travel experiences—transiting along the 48-mile marvel, the Panama Canal. (Time varies depending on when the lock authority gives the final go ahead for your evening transit).
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DAY 6

Pearl Islands Archipelago
Golden sand meets topaz-colored water, and beaches make way for lush vegetation and rocky volcanic outcroppings on the 90 islands and nearly 130 islets of Las Perlas—the Pearl Islands. Almost entirely uninhabited, the islands are host to a plethora of tropical flora and fauna. Mid-summer through early-fall, the archipelago is frequented by dolphins and humpbacks—so keep your eyes peeled for acrobatic spinning and telltale blow spouts. Select your modus operandi—kayak, paddle board, skiff, or snorkel—and set out in a nature lovers’ dreamscape.
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DAY 7

Darien Jungle
Untouched and untamed, the Darien Jungle is nearly as wild and magnificent today as it was for early conquistadors 500 years ago. Traveling the Mogue River by motorized dugout canoe, your expedition guide will help you spot wildlife—astonishingly-colored roseate spoonbills, ibises, osprey, and raccoons can be seen fishing for breakfast from the water’s edge. After welcoming formalities at a local Embera village, they’ll share their customs and stories, and you’ll have an opportunity to buy handicrafts from the villagers, including their highly-prized and intricately woven rainforest baskets.
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DAY 8

Darien Jungle / Marine Life Search
Explore the vast Punta Patino Nature Reserve on foot, part of Darien Province and the largest natural protected area in Central America. Then set sail in search of wildlife, keeping watch for bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, smaller shark species, and depending on the migration season, whales. This festive evening includes a special farewell dinner and celebratory slideshow from your expedition team.
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DAY 9

Panama City – Disembarkation
After an early breakfast, bid adios to your crew. You’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home or to begin you UnCruise hotel stay.

Passport required. Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur to maximize your experience.

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DAY 1

Panama City, Panama
You’ll be warmly greeted at the airport upon your arrival and transferred to the Bristol Hotel for your overnight stay. Unwind from your day of travel enjoying the hotel’s amenities, or stretch your legs on a walk to nearby city sites and attractions.
400x300_CAM_Pure_Day-1-Embarkation.png

DAY 2

Panama City, Panama – Embarkation
Enjoy a morning of leisure or explore nearby city markets and cafe’s. This afternoon, rendezvous with your shipmates in our Bristol Hotel hospitality area, then board the Safari Voyager for a hearty welcome from your captain and crew. At sunset, watch the city’s glittering lights as you sail into the Pacific.
400x300_CAM_Pure_Day-6-Darien-Jungle.png

DAY 3

Darien Jungle
Untouched and untamed, the Darien Jungle is nearly as wild and magnificent today as it was for early conquistadors 500 years ago. Traveling the Mogue River by motorized dugout canoe, your expedition guide will help you spot wildlife—astonishingly-colored roseate spoonbills, ibises, osprey, and raccoons can be seen fishing for breakfast from the water’s edge. After welcoming formalities at a local Embera village, they’ll share their customs and stories, and you’ll have an opportunity to buy handicrafts from the villagers, including their highly-prized and intricately woven rainforest baskets.
400x300_CAM_Pure_Day-3-Guna-Yala.png

DAY 4

Darien Jungle / Marine Life Search
Explore the vast Punta Patino Nature Reserve on foot. Part of Darien Province and the largest natural protected area in Central America, your exploration of this mythical jungle reveals the lush forest and exotic wildlife. Back on board, relax and enjoy the changing scenery with the cocktail du jour in hand. Motor toward Las Perlas—the Pearl Islands—where golden sand meets topaz-colored water, and beaches make way for lush vegetation and rocky volcanic outcroppings. Keep watch along the way for bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, smaller shark species, and depending on the migration season, whales.
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DAY 5

Pearl Islands Archipelago / Panama Canal
The 90 islands and nearly 130 islets of the Pearl Islands are almost entirely uninhabited by humans but play host to a plethora of tropical flora and fauna. Mid-summer through early-fall, the archipelago is frequented by dolphins and humpbacks—so keep your eyes peeled for acrobatic spinning and telltale blow spouts. Select your modus operandi—kayak, paddle board, skiff, or snorkel—and set out in a nature lovers’ dreamscape. Take in the whole of it, as you prepare for one of the most memorable travel experiences—transiting between two seas along the 48-mile marvel, the Panama Canal. Join your shipmates on deck for a toast as the canal lights up and the temperature subsides. (Time varies depending on when the lock authority gives the final go ahead for your evening transit).
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DAY 6

Portobelo
A UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 1500s, Portobelo has a rich history including notable characters like Henry Morgan, Francis Drake, and Christopher Columbus. Stroll the passageways of this quaint colorful, village surrounded by jungle. You can sense the past of pirates and explorers before you. Imagine their approach while you take in the views of Portobelo from a kayak or skiff in the bay.
400x300-Guna-Yala-molas.jpg

DAY 7

Guna Yala
Home to one of the best preserved Native cultures in the Americas, the indigenous province of Guna Yala (formerly the San Blas Islands) encompasses over 360 islands of white sand beaches backed by palm trees and dotted with thatched-roofs. Discover the remarkable heritage of the Guna (or Kuna)—don’t pass on a chance to buy their colorful handcrafted “molas.” Enjoy the natural wonders of these islands with a snorkel in the crystalline Caribbean waters.
400x300_CAM_GunaYala.png

DAY 8

Guna Yala
Another beautiful day awaits in Guna Yala. Slow the pace lazily lounging on a beach or taking an easy stroll in the sand with views of the brilliant sea. Relish one last snorkel, paddle board, or kayak. This festive evening includes a special farewell dinner and celebratory slideshow from your expedition team.
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DAY 9

Colon / Panama City – Disembarkation
After an early breakfast, bid adios to your crew. Cross the peninsula, making a stop at the Agua Clara Visitor Center. Take in the views of Lake Gatun and the newly expanded locks, then continue along your transfer to the Panama City airport for your flight home or to begin you UnCruise hotel stay.

Passport required. Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur to maximize your experience.

Theme Departures Available for this Itinerary

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Marine Biology

Learn about the amazing aquatic world all around and beneath you with your onboard marine expert during excursions and in-depth presentations.

2018: August 24, August 31

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Rates and Dates

Fares are per person double occupancy, in USD. Single fares are "from prices" reflecting the lowest fare available in select cabins. Charter up to 62 guests.

View fare details


Departure Dates

Select year and month to view rates

2018
May
2018
Jun
2018
Jul
2018
Aug
2018
Sep
2018
Nov
2018

See ALL 2017-19 Costa Rica & Panamá Rates & Dates (.pdf)

May 04

2018

Colon to Panama City
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Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

May 11

2018

Panama City to Colon
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Jun 29

2018

Colon to Panama City
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Jul 06

2018

Panama City to Colon
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Jul 27

2018

Colon to Panama City
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Aug 03

2018

Panama City to Colon
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Aug 24

2018

Colon to Panama City
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
marine-biology.pngBiology
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Aug 31

2018

Panama City to Colon
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
marine-biology.pngBiology
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Sep 07

2018

Colon to Panama City
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Nov 02

2018

Panama City to Colon
270_180_safari_voyager.jpg
Safari Voyager

Refurbished in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

Specs:

  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
Cabin Options
Rate Per Person
Indicate Choice
Master
$4,395
Commander
$4,995
Captain
$5,395
Admiral
$6,095
Jr Commodore Suite
$6,795
Owner's Suite
$7,995
Single
$6,395
Charter
$332,495
Port taxes/fees
$250

Port taxes/fees are in addition to your cruise fare; if included in fare, the amount is indicated by $0

Important Notice: If you're traveling with minors, take note of special entry requirements. Click here for more details.

2017+ FARES INCLUDE: Onboard meals; premium spirits, wine, beer; non-alcoholic beverages; transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark days; entry fees to national parks/preserves; all from-the-boat adventure activities and equipment; wellness amenities: fitness equipment, yoga mats, and a complimentary massage

Additional amenities and inclusions vary by vessel. View our comparison chart for details.

Ports & Places

The places you visit play a starring role throughout every journey. While this list isn’t exhaustive of every nook-and-cranny you’ll explore along the way, we’ve included descriptions of key ports and places to help you get to know the wilderness areas, landmark locations, notable regions, and coastal towns relevant to this itinerary.

Departure Dates

Select Year and Month to View Rates

2018
May
2018
Jun
2018
Jul
2018
Aug
2018
Sep
2018
Nov
2018
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Colón

On Panamá’s Caribbean coastline, the city of Colón is just south of the entrance to the canal. In 1850, the city was founded by Americans on the marshy end of Manzanillo Island at the Atlantic terminus of the Panamá railroad. Later, during the canal-building years, the island was connected to the mainland by a causeway and today includes former Canal Zone towns within the city limits. The second largest city in the country, over 200,000 people reside in Colón, including large expat communities from all around the globe. Part of the city’s commercial center was made a free-trade zone in the 1950s and is one of the world’s largest duty free ports.
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Darién Jungle

A lush, mountainous rainforest, the Darién Jungle climbs from sea level to several hundred feet in lowland valleys to over 6,000’ at the top of the tallest peak. Rarely visited, the region is characterized by unspoiled sandy beaches, jagged rocky coasts, mangrove swamps, and tropical forests bursting with endemic and rare species of plants, birds, and wildlife. It is also at the northernmost range for many migratory South American species and the southern range of numerous Northern and Central American species. In an effort to save the Darien Jungle from being poached by loggers and developers, UNESCO declared the Darien National Park—the largest national park in Central America—one of its World Heritage Sites in 1981. The region is home to the Emberá and Kuna native peoples who regularly travel through the jungle by dugout canoe. Darién offers a rich cultural history, from the migration of First Peoples between the Americas to its role as the main Spanish transportation route for gold and silver from Peru to Panamá. 
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Guna Yala

Formerly called the San Blas, Guna Yala is an autonomous province encompassing approximately 365 islands, almost 40 of which are inhabited. The Guna Yala successfully revolted against the Panamánian government in 1925, resulting in their sovereignty being written into the country’s constitution.

The Guna—or Kuna—have maintained their own customs, culture, and economic systems having never been conquered by another culture—including conquistadors and colonists—and also fiercely rejecting pressures to adopt Spanish traditions by the government prior to the revolt. Guna culture is both patriarchal and matrilineal. For example, property and land is owned and inherited by women; government issues are handled by the men.

The Guna Yala are known for their colorful “molas”, the traditional blouse worn by women. A mola panel consists of brightly colored layered pieces of cloth, intricately appliqued and embroidered. This elaborate design process can take two or more months to create. Traditional designs depict mythology, religion, and nature in abstract forms.

Although they are aware of the modern lifestyle of nearby Panamá City, Gunas still live in thatched huts. While they choose to live a traditional lifestyle, the Guna are also savvy businesspeople and have nurtured the tourist economy in their territory.

The archipelago is postcard-perfect—tiny islands with white sand beaches backed by lush jungle dot the crystal-clear turquoise Caribbean water. The islands offer fantastic paddling, diving, snorkeling, and fishing, hikes and walks to waterfalls, and beachcombing in a quintessential tropical paradise.
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Panama Canal

An incredible example of human persistence, the Panamá Canal is one of the most important waterways of the world. Connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, this engineering marvel provides passage to vessels through Central America, allowing them to avoid traveling several thousand extra miles around the dangerous southern tip of South America’s Cape Horn. The construction of the canal began in 1881 by the French, but the search for such a route of passage began long before. Early explorers to Central America believed the possibility of finding a passageway was high and, with both truly helpful information and misleading reports disguised as helpful from natives of the area, they searched for a way across.

After the successful construction of the Suez Canal, the French and in particular, the man behind the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps, believed construction of a sea-level Panamá Canal would be swift and inexpensive. But due to challenging terrain that cut through the mountainous spine of Central America, dense forest, and across two large rivers, and the propensity for workers to die of malaria and yellow fever, the French project plagued with financial struggles and was sold to the United States in the early 1900s.

Then-president Theodore Roosevelt was a forceful advocate for the building of the canal. His belief in its importance was so strong that the US went so far as to support a rebel uprising that gave Panamanians their independence from Columbia.

Construction began again in earnest in 1905 after John Frank Stevens, the engineering mastermind behind the Great Northern Railway, was hired as Chief Engineer. Building better housing and sanitation for workers and hiring a massive labor force, he got the ball rolling and convinced Roosevelt and Congress that the canal should be a lock system, not sea level.

Major George Geothals, who succeeded Stevens, saw the project to completion. During the course of construction, over 268 million cubic yards of earth was dug and moved; two artificial lakes—Lake Gatun and Miraflores Lake—were constructed along with four dams; and the continental divide, which originally rose 360 feet above sea level was brought down to just 40 feet above sea level at the Culebra Cut. The canal has three sets of locks—the Miraflores, the Pedro Miguel, and the Gatun Locks—that raise vessels 85 feet above sea level during passage through. Over 56,000 people were employed and nearly 5,600 died during the US-phase of construction. The canal remained under US administration until 1999 when control was returned to Panamá and the Panamá Canal Authority took over.

The Panama Canal was opened on October 10, 1913 when the dike that separated Lake Gatun from the Calebra Cut was demolished. The first vessel to pass through was a French crane boat, Alexandre de Valley. The canal officially opened to traffic in the summer of 1914 and since its opening, over 1 million vessels have passed through.

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Panamá City

The capital city of the Republic of Panamá, Panamá City is a thriving metropolitan center with a terrific blend of old and new. Home to over 800,000 people, it is an advanced center of communications, banking, commerce, and tourism, in part due to the wealth it has accrued since the country took control of the Panamá Canal at the end of 1999. Panamá City is located on a 6-mile stretch of the southern Pacific coast from the Panamá Canal to the ruins of Panamá Viejo in the east.

Founded in 1519 at the site of Panamá Viejo, it was the first European settlement on the American Pacific coast. Sacked and burned to the ground by pirates led by the infamous Henry Morgan in the late 1600s, the new city was built further down that small peninsula. Rich history can be discovered in the city’s many archeological sites and historic districts, including archeological ruins of Panama Viejo, a Spanish sea wall built 400 years ago, and the 17th-century Metropolitan Church.

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Pearl Islands Archipelago

The 250+ islands and islets that make up this archipelago in the Gulf of Panamá have a long history dating back several million years to the geologic creation of the isthmus. Inhabited by Native people for several thousand years, the Spanish encountered the islands in the early 1500s and took a strong interest in the archipelago for the abundance of the pearls found there. Within two years after the arrival of the conquistadors, the entire indigenous population was wiped out. The islands remained an important location to the Spanish and slaves from Africa were brought to the islands to harvest more of the valuable gems. With so many islands, most of which were not inhabited, the archipelago also became an important spot for pirates looking for safe hideouts.

Today, the minimally inhabited islands attract adventurers who are lured to this tropical playground by its crystal blue waters and pristine white sand beaches. While pearls can still be found, swimming and snorkeling among colorful fish, hiking, fishing, paddling, and observing unique flora and fauna are the bigger draw for visitors.

Extend Your Experience

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HOTEL STAY

PANAMÁ CITY, PANAMÁ – BRISTOL HOTEL
2017 RATES: From $160

Intimate and upscale, the Bristol Hotel is a reflection of Panamá’s unique history, architecture, and dynamic art scene. A short walk away, explore craft markets in Old Panamá or Frank Gehry’s unmistakable Biodiversity Museum.

Summary

This hotel stopover package includes airport meet & greet; airport/hotel/vessel transfers, deluxe room accommodations; breakfast; and taxes & service fees. Children under 12 stay free sharing with adults.

Vessels for this Itinerary

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Safari Voyager

A quick clip on the Safari Voyager—discreet, classy, and stealth. She is a leader in expedition functionality and features the fleet’s most advanced skiff launching platform. Comfortable in warm water regions, she’s specifically built to handle the humidity and heat that can challenge lesser-designed vessels. Tropical adventure and wilderness access are always at the forefront. So is the natural landscape.

A seamless extension of the places she sails, the ship and her mostly-local crew exude pura vida (pure life). Handcrafted artwork throughout the vessel and in each cabin pays homage to the regions of Costa Rica and Panamá. Casual in nature, the Safari Voyager is a bit of a show-off, too—take in 270-degrees of view from the top deck or window-to-window in the air-conditioned lounge.

An aft EZ Dock launch platform provides convenient access into and from the water for adventure activities. The vessel is outfitted with kayaks, paddle boards, inflatable skiffs, snorkel gear, and hiking poles. For rejuvenation and relaxation, guests can take advantage of our wellness amenities with fitness equipment, yoga mats, and a complimentary massage.

Depending on the cabin category, singles, doubles, or triples can be accommodated. Common to all cabins are: wide panoramic view windows; individually controlled air conditioning; generous storage and closet space; desk and chair; iPod/MP3/MP4 docking stations; TV/DVD player; private bath with shower.

Destination: Costa Rica & Panamá

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  • 62 guests
  • 32 cabins
  • 29-31 crew members
  • 174 feet in length
  • 36 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 9 knots
  • Built in 1982 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, renovated in 2016
  • Registered in Saint Kitts
  • 2.2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
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103-108
Queen or twin beds; desk and chair; view window; private bath with shower

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205-206, 209-212, 215-222
Queen or twin beds; desk and chair; view window; private bath with shower

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308, 310, 312
Fixed twin beds; desk and chair; view windows; private bath with rain shower

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307, 309
Queen or twin beds; desk and chair; view windows; private bath with shower; (youth-sized sofa bed for triple)

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201-204
Queen or twin beds; refrigerator; desk and chair; flat screen TV/DVD player; view window; private bath with large shower; (sofa bed for triple)

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Fixed queen bed; sitting area with wet bar; refrigerator; media center; large bow-facing view windows; jetted whirlpool tub; private bath with shower; (sofa bed for triple—suitable for child/teen)

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207-208
Twin bed; desk and chair; view windows; private bath with shower