Panama City is recognized internationally as a great place to live, work and even retire.
As well, the architectural ruins and old world heritage buildings of Old Panama (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) continually attract tourists from around the globe.
Panama also gained worldwide recognition in 1914 with the opening of the Panama Canal, an engineering marvel that forever changed shipping and marine transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
But there is much more to Panama than the historical ruins and man-made wonders.
Although visitors to Panama generally overlook the significance of the Chagres and Piedras rivers, today’s Panama tour operators tend to include visits to both as part of their escorted and all inclusive Panama tours.
Panama’s Chagres River cuts through central Panama, crossing the continental divide before draining into the Caribbean Sea. The Chagres River is an integral part of the Panama Canal. The construction of the Gatun Dam across the Chagres River created what at the time was the world’s largest artificial lake. Gatun Lake has since become an important waterway for the tens of thousands of ships and boats that traverse the Panama Canal annually.
Chagres National Park
The Panama Canal watershed is vital to the continued operation of the Panama Canal. In an effort to protect the natural forests and to ensure sufficient water supply to maintain water levels for the operation of the Panama Canal, the Panamanian government created the Chagres National Park in 1985. Although much of the surrounding environment was disturbed during canal construction, modern day efforts have been made to maintain and restore this important natural resource.
This glorious area and the virgin rainforest jungles of Chagres National Park are the native habitat of the elusive jaguar, the tapir, and several unique species of monkeys, river otters and colorful birds. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise!
Chagres River Bridges
There are two main bridges that span across the Chagres River. The Bridges of the Americas was completed in 1962 and connects the North American continent with the South American continent. The second bridge is part of the Pan-American Highway. It is the newly constructed (2004) Centennial Bridge located just nine miles north of the Bridge of the Americas. Centennial Bridge was constructed to relive the traffic congestion of the older Bridges of the Americas.
Piegras River & Embera Indians
The Embera Indians of Panama are unique culturally and one of the original pre-Colombian indigenous peoples of the Central America. The Embera inhabit the lush tropical rainforests of Panama and a short river cruise up the Piegras River will bring you to thatched huts of an authentic Embera Indian village. Here, deep in the rainforests of Panama, where the Embera Indians co-exist with nature and the Piedras River, little has changed in the past 500 years since Columbus first discovered America. Piedras River is much smaller than the Chagres River and a little removed from the international attention and congestion of the Panama Canal. The Piedras River is a naturally protected setting and well worth the visit.
Chagres & Piedras River Wildlife
There are more than 240 species of reptiles and over 10,000 different types of plants, floral and fauna in Panama. Panama tours along the Chagres and Piegras river systems also offer plenty of opportunity for visitors to witness the Harpy Eagle (the national bird of Panama) along with howler monkeys, toucans and many other indigenous members of the wildlife population.
River Cruises – Part of Caravan’s All Inclusive Tours
River cruises along the Chagres River and Piedras River in Panama are included as part of Caravan Tours’ all inclusive Panama Tours. These are exceptionally priced, fully escorted 8-day tours, starting at just $1,195.
Visit Panama Tours Reservations to check tour availability.