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Embera Village on Chagres River Panama

Although visitors to this central American country generally overlook the significance of the Chagres River Panama, we have included a river cruise on our fully guided Caravan Panama tour.

Our begins in Panama City, which 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.

However, there is much more to this country than the historical ruins and man-made wonders and that’s why we have included a Chagres River Panama cruise on our tour.

Chagres River

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.

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 many unique species. There’s always a chance you’ll spot the elusive jaguar, a tapir, or several exotic species of monkeys, river otters, and colorful birds. Panama is 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.

Embera Indian Village

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 Piedras river trip 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 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.

River Wildlife

There are more than 240 species of reptiles and over 10,000 different types of plants, floral and fauna in Panama. Caravan Panama tours along the Chagres river also offers 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.

Caravan Panama Tour

River cruises along the Peidras and Chagres River Panama are included as part of our all inclusive Panama Tours. These are exceptionally priced, fully escorted 8-day vacations by Caravan Tours, starting at just $1,295.

To check tour availability, call Caravan toll free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) or visit Panama Tours Reservations.

More and more travelers from around the globe are discovering the beauty and impressive man made landmarks of Panama. You now have a lot of options for fully guided all inclusive Panama tour companies.

And, while many people vacation in Panama to explore this country’s Spanish colonial heritage or to enjoy world-class resorts, white sandy beaches and rainforest tours, Panama offers so much more.

Caravan Tours wants to show you the amazing man made landmarks in Panama. Explore the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake, both of which remain the most popular tourist attractions in Panama.

On your fully guided Caravan Panama tour, you will have a chance to explore many of these exceptional man-made wonders.

#1 – Gatun Lake Panama – 164 sq. miles

Completed in 1913, it took engineers six years to build the Gatun Dam across the valley floor. Gatun Dam is just six miles inland from the Caribbean Sea on the Atlantic side of Panama. At the time, Gatun Dam was the world’s largest dam, blocking off the Chagres River to create what was then the world’s largest man-made lake, Gatun Lake.

Water from Gatun Lake is integral to the operation of Gatun Locks,  a major part of the Panama Canal project.

Ships passing through the Panama Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans travel approximately 15 miles across Gatun Lake. Canal ships must traverse around man-made islands; remnants of the flooded surrounding hilltops. One of these islands is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research, a privately funded institute.

#2 – 48 mile Panama Canal Connects Atlantic & Pacific Oceans

Gatun Lake is a man-made lake and part of the Panama Canal. It is one of the largest man made landmarks of Panama and nothing short of an engineering marvel. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914. Cargo ships and pleasure craft (15,000+ annually) that want to travel between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean no longer have to journey for weeks and over 5,000 miles around the tip of South America. Instead, they can traverse approximately 50 miles in a matter of hours across Gatun Lake and through the Panama Canal’s three sets of locks.

#3 – Gamboa & Pipeline Road Trail Panama

The Gamboa Panama area was once a key stop on the gold trail during Spanish occupation. The town of Gamboa was established in 1911 as part of the Panama Canal project and is located in the original Canal Zone. Gamboa’s first inhabitants were employees of the Panama Canal construction.

Hidden by lush rainforests, Gamboa Panama is now a popular destination for biologists, zoologists and bird-watchers because of its thriving animal and plant populations. In fact, Pipeline Road is widely known for its bird species. The Pipeline Road Trail is used for guided tours that take visitors into some of the most highly regarded bird-watching locations in the world.

Gamboa has also become a favorite starting point for avid fishermen who want to try their luck on Gatun Lake. The Rainforest Resort offers excellent accommodations in this beautiful region.

#4 – 5,425 Ft. Bridge of the Americas Panama

Our Caravan Panama Canal tour also includes a canal cruise beneath the Bridge of the Americas, another one of the amazing man made landmarks of Panama. This is a “must see” man-made bridge for vehicle traffic. The Americas Bridge name is derived from the fact that it connects the North American landmass with the South American landmass. Bridge of the Americas took three years to build, is over a mile wide, and was completed in 1962. In fact, it actually crosses part of the Pacific Ocean at the Panama Canal entrance near Panama City, the capital.

#5 – 3,451 Ft. Panama Centennial Bridge

Completed in 2004, Panama’s Centennial Bridge is another one of the impressive man made landmarks of Panama. This structure spans nearly 3,500 feet. Earlier Panama bridges across the Chagres River were built to swing out of the way of the large ships that passed through the canal. Both the Bridge of the Americas and the Centennial Bridge are elevated, non-swinging bridge designs. The Centennial Bridge addressed the need for a new companion bridge to ease the volume of traffic across the Bridge of the Americas.

Panama Canal Tour by Caravan

Family owned and operated Caravan Tours has been conducting North and Central American fully guided tours since 1952.

As part of your all inclusive Panama vacation, Caravan includes a guided Panama Canal cruise across Gatun Lake plus a chance to witness some of the other Panama man-made wonders mentioned in this article. These are some of Central America’s most impressive man-made structures and major Panama tourist attractions!

Caravan Panama tours are exceptionally priced, fully escorted vacations that also include all ground transportation, tour activities, meals, and hotel accommodations. Visit Caravan’s Panama tour reservations page to check tour availability or visit our Panama Canal Tour page

Call us today toll free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve the best dates for your all inclusive Caravan Panama Canal tour!

Close to El Valle Panama is Grand Playa Blanca Panama, a four-star resort and spa located in a tropical setting on the Pacific coast, less than an hour and a half from Panama City.

Translated, Playa Blanca means “white beach” and the area boasts what could arguably be the best unspoiled beaches in the country.

This is a fabulous beachfront hotel resort with 220 guest rooms, gorgeous suites and all the amenities including a swim-up bar, a quiet pool, several Jacuzzis, mini-golf, and a games area.

Many travellers to Playa Blanca Panama choose this resort for its wonderful accommodations, natural beauty and outdoor activities. On the priority list for many tourists is a hike to the nearby waterfall or participation in a canopy tour or rainforest jungle trail hike (paved for easier walking).

Playa Blanca Panama resort offers refreshing drinks, a swimming pool in a beautiful setting and a handy snack bar for those who aren’t ready for a formal meal. Watch out for the “friendly” native birds. They seem to have a knack for finding the visitor with accessible snacks. Even toucans are known for coming right to the outdoor tables.

The Pacific coast beach at Playa Blanca Panama is a favorite among visitors. Because it is so close to Panama City and equally close to the virgin rainforests of El Valle, the beach is attracting more visitors each year. This stretch of sand is recommended in many tourist guidebooks, for good reason, according to reports from satisfied visitors.

At times the surf is good for body surfing or surfboards, though the waves can be a bit inconsistent. Most people come to simply relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.

El Valle Panama

Although Panama is a small country the landscape is quite diverse. Within Panama’s borders you will find Caribbean and Pacific beaches, cloud forests, lush rainforests, cosmopolitan cities, historic ruins and unique canals and waterways.

The El Valle area of Panama is another unique destination. Just two hours from Panama City, El Valle de Anton, as it is formally called, is very picturesque. It is situated in a large (15 square mile) 5 million year old, dormant volcanic crater.

Visitors come to El Valle to enjoy the town’s beautiful homes, the panoramic views and the local open air marketplace where Indian artisans display their handicrafts including hand decorated wood and soap stone carvings plus handmade indigenous clothing and hats.

Nearby attractions include bird watching in the cloud forests of Gaital National Monument, nearby waterfalls and thermal hot pools, pre-Colombian petroglyphs, rainforest canopy tours and a hiking trail up to the top of “Sleeping Indian Woman Mountain.”

Because El Valle is a village in the mountains, the atmosphere is a bit cooler than at lower elevations. This is a still a refreshing spot that draws many visitors .

As is the case with many locations in Panama, the Pacific coast and the El Valle area offer more than enough animal and plant life for the nature enthusiast. Add to this the beauty of the beach, the proximity of the Panama Canal and excellent weather and you might say that this side of Panama is paradise.

Whether its beach activity, water sports, fishing or nature hiking you crave, they are all available on the Pacific coast of Panama. Full-service resorts like Grand Playa Blanca Panama provide the best in dining and overnight accommodations, with an excellent golf course available for good measure.

Playa Blanca Part of Caravan Panama Tours

A visit to Playa Blanca beach is included as part of our Caravan Panama Tours. These fully escorted 8-day tours are exceptionally priced starting at just $1,295. They are also all inclusive Panama vacations and includes a two night stay at Grand Playa Blanca Resort.

Visit Panama Tours Reservations to check tour availability.

To book your tour call Caravan toll free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826).