From: February 3 to February 11, 2018

Destination: San Blas to Boquete, Panama

  • Exploring Panama, the new Costa Rica - FULL

    Panama is what Costa Rica used to be. Just emerging as a popular Central American destination, it combines a stable government, diverse ecosystems rich in bird species, and indigenous populations that are both in touch with modern life and still keeping traditional customs. And because most of it is still not well known as an active destination, it receives fewer visitors than neighboring countries: thus it is possible to feel that you have truly gotten off the beaten track here. We'll spend nine days exploring this beautiful country from one end to the other, from the San Blas Islands to the Chiriqui highlands. Maximum: 12 

    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on the waitlist, please register for the trip (no deposit required).  

  • Saturday, February 3: Arrival in Panama. Our trip officially begins at 5pm at our hotel in Panama City. We will have group introductions, a trip orientation, and then go out for a welcome dinner. Whenever you arrive, you will be met at the airport by one of our Panamanian representatives and transferred to our hotel. Panama City is quite safe and if you get here early, its an interesting city to walk around. Overnight Hotel in Panama City (D)

    Sunday, February 4: Panama is best known for the Panama Canal, so it's fitting that our first day here should be spent learning about it. After breakfast drive along the Panama Canal to Gamboa Public Ramp. We continue our journey through the Canal for another hour by motorboat, and then switch to 2-person expedition kayaks once we are in Gatun Lake. The laske was created by flooding the area now contained in Sobernia and Chagres National Parks, turning many mountain tops into islands and creating an amazing kayaking resource with endless channels to explore. We spend the next few hours scouting channels through the forest, with a break for lunch and a rest on our motor boat. While wildlife is never completely predictable, we are almost guaranteed to see sloths and different types of monkeys, including Capuchin (white-faces), howling, spider, and titi.

    On the way back we'll stop at the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks. We'll learn how locks work and watch ships rise (or descend) over 40 feet as they transit through it. The Canal is still vital to world trade today and indeed, without it there isn't world commerce as we know it. Dinner is on your own tonight so you can check out any restaurants you may have heard about, or you are welcome to join your guide. (B, L)

    Monday, February 5:
    We will catch an early domestic flight to El Porvenir, gateway to the extraordinary San Blas Archipelago. With more than 350 islands spreading out along the isthmus, the archipelago is a Kuna Native Reservation. The Kunas are known for their handicrafts and their unique culture. A nation within Panama, The Kuna have their own language, culture, laws and territory. The Kunas' efforts to preserve their own identity and control over San Blas has made it possible to keep this region the pristine paradise it is today. We will be spending two nights at Yandup Island Lodge, a family-owned lodge on a small private island near the community of Kuna Yala. The island is surrounded by coral reefs and a small beach with white sand and crystal clear water. Your biggest problem most likely will be deciding how to spend your time! The lodge offers tours twice a day, and your choices include visiting nearby uninhabited islands for swimming and exploration (and snorkeling if you have your own gear), learning more about everyday Kuna life and culture with a visit to the Playon Chico community, walking through the rain forest as your guides explain the importance and use of nature for Kuna traditions and beliefs, learning about Kuna beliefs and rituals around death with a visit to a nearby cemetery, or hiking through the rain forest to a small waterfall. Or perhaps more appealing is simply relaxing in a hammock or paddling at leisure through the surrounding mangroves in a traditional dugout canoe. Whichever you do, you will be amply fueled by the fresh local seafood, fish, vegetables, and fruit served in the lodge's dining room that looks over the water. Lodging at Yandup Island Lodge (B, L, D)

    Tuesday, February 6: Another day in Paradise! Perhaps you'll try one or two of the tours or activities that you didn't get to do yesterday. Or perhaps the slow pace and delicious food will lull you into deep rest. Whatever you choose will be just perfect. B, L, D

    Wednesday, February 7: Another early morning as we transfer to the opposite end of Panama: the pristine western highlands. We'll start with an early morning flight from Guna Yala to Panama City, which we'll tour before our flight to David. Panama City is rapidly changing, and we will visit the colonial Panama, "Panama Viejo", the old Panama, "Casco Viejo", and the modern Panama City. We'll visit historic buildings such as San Jose Church, the National Theater, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Old Slave Market, and Old Spanish prisons. We'll end our tour at the Amador Causeway, where three islands were united with the mainland by using materials that had been removed when the Panama Canal during its excavation. After lunch on your own, we check in at 3:00pm at the airport for our afternoon flight to David.This part of Panama is completely different both in culture and climate: you will feel like you're visiting a different country. Upon arrival in David we transfer to Boquete, a small and charming mountain village tucked away on the eastern slopes of the Baru Volcano. For the next 3 nights we'll be staying at the lovely Hotel Valle Escondido. (B, D)

    Thursday, February 8:
    Today we hike the magnificent a trail in Baru Volcano National Park, home to Panama's tallest peak (11,400 ft) and an enchanting cloud forest. Cloud forests, also called fog forests, occur only in tropical or subtropical mountainous environments, where the atmospheric conditions allow for a consistent cover of clouds. Often taking the form of fog, these clouds hover around the upper canopy of the forest before condensing onto the leaves of trees and dripping onto the plants below. This forest is some of the tallest trees in the hemisphere and 5,000 species of plants found nowhere else on earth. We'll make sure there is plenty of time for pictures, and also for some relaxing time (maybe a massage) at our hotel before we go out for dinner. (B, L, D)

    Friday, February 9: Today we spend rafting on the Chiriqui Viejo River. With most rapids being Class III, the river is eminently suitable for beginners. The river passes through a canyon and spectacular waterfalls characterize it. Depending on the water level and section used we will be rafting about 3-4 hours. We will return to our hotel, clean up, and have some free time this afternoon before gathering again for dinner, either at the hotel or a neighboring restaurant. (B, L, D)

    Saturday, February 10: Today we start with visiting a Coffee Plantation and learn all about Panama's robust coffee crops (samples included), or, to the Boquete Tree Trek, a completely thrilling zipline. Imagine gliding through the tops of trees that are over a century old, high above pristine rivers, traversing a cloud forest of century-old trees and waterfalls where at anytime you may encounter fog and the gentle rain called "bajareque", as well as monkeys. Fortunately you will be attached securely in a harness to an overhead line. Ziplining is an activity where adrenaline is high but the actual risk is quite low, something that becomes obvious once you see how it is actually constructed. However, it's definitely not mandatory and another equally great option is to go on a bridge walk where the birding is excellent. We will return this afternoon to Panama City.

    We'll gather again at the Panama City hotel for a Farewell Dinner, toasting our accomplishments and each other (B, D) (B, D)

    Sunday, February 11: This morning we bid a fond farewell to this country we have come to know and are transferred to the International Airport for our flight home or on to other adventures.
  • $2895 (see this page for travel discounts) $400 deposit. There are a limited number of single rooms available for an additional $650. You can see our cancellation policies here.

    Trip Includes

    • A Panamanian guide (who may be male) and an Adventures in Good Company guide
    • Eight nights double occupancy lodging 
    • All activities specified on the itinerary, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, and ziplining
    • All transportation within Panama, including four internal flights 
    • Meals as specified on the itinerary
    • Gratuities for drivers and day guides
    Not included: Travel to Panama city; guide gratuities; alcoholic beverages
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Visiting an incredibly beautiful country that is still off the mass tourism radar
  • Discovering the amazing diversity that Panama offers, from islands to highlands
  • Exploring the San Blas Archipelago and learning about the Kuna inhabitants
  • Hiking and rafting in Panama's Chiriqui Highlands
  • Sampling Panamanian culture and cuisine

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