Panamá, which is a true land bridge between North and South America, is home to more than 10,000 species of plants, 1,500 species of trees and nearly 1,000 species of birds.
When searching for the right land trip or cruise, look for one that differentiates itself by focusing on under explored regions, with visits to untouched wilderness and rarely seen villages.
Highlights of any trip might include:
Panamá Canal: One of the engineering wonders of the world, the Canal comprises about 50 miles traversed by cargo vessels and cruise ships passing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Panamá City: Sometimes referred to as the “Manhattan of the Tropics,” this city is the center of finance and commerce between two oceans and two continents. Its historic old town, Casco Antiguo, is a popular stop for visitors.
San Blas Islands: More than 370 islands spread out over the length of this archipelago. The few inhabited ones are populated by the self-governing Kuna Yala, one of the most culturally cohesive tribes of indigenous peoples.
Islas Secas: This small archipelago of 16 volcanic islands is a haven for such species as white-tip sharks, rays, moray eels, lobster, frigatebirds, brown boobies, sea turtles and humpback whales.
Darién Jungle: This lush rainforest is inhabited by the semi-nomadic Emberá-Wounaan people, known for their intricate body tattoos, dugout canoes and ability to hunt with blowpipes. Darién National Park, the largest in Central America, is home to such creatures as macaws, tapirs, sloths, capybaras and anteaters.
The Pearl Islands: The 100-plus islands, which have gained recent fame through the TV show Survivor, are known for their white-sand beaches and water activities.
Coiba National Park: Coiba Island, one of 38 islands in the park, is the largest uninhabited tropical forested island in the Americas. It’s a haven for birds and mammals, including crested eagles and howler monkeys.
Cruise Panama. Newcomer Sea Voyager Expeditions sets itself apart from other cruise lines and adventure-tour operators by offering its guests a year-round array of experiential itineraries through which they can explore four of the world’s most wildlife-rich countries – Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panamá. Panamá is featured on nine of the company’s 10 itineraries, the majority of which include either a Panamá Canal transit or tour of the canal locks. Other highlights of a visit to Panamá include exploration of the country’s islands and parks, opportunities to interact with some of its residents, and chances to spot rare wildlife.