2019 PANAMA and the CANAL
A Continent Divided / Oceans Connected

Grand Circle / OAT


With its spectacular rain forests, legendary canal, and lively urban centers, Panama offers a unique blend of treasures both natural and cosmopolitan. Your 15-day journey through this unforgettable country will bring its fascinating contrasts, vibrant cultures, and historic significance to life.

On our Panama Canal Small Ship Adventure, you’ll take three nights to complete a transit of this man-made marvel aboard our privately chartered, 24-passenger catamaran, the M/S Discovery. As you cruise the Panama Canal, (there is no internet onboard) the epic tale of its construction will unfold before you—and you’ll see how this massive, modern project has impacted everyday life and the surrounding landscape.

While on land, you’ll visit local villages, where Panama's indigenous people will introduce you to their enchanting traditions; embark on a tour of Chitre and Panama City to discover the myriad excitements of the country’s metropolitan hubs; enjoy a visit to a sugarcane farm and butterfly garden; and more. From the bustling activity of the Canal Zone and the abundance of wildlife to the quiet beauty of the coasts, Panama beckons.

Skip to the end for information on the catamaran.

Day 1, Wed, Oct 23 Depart U.S. • Fly to Panama • Panama City, Panama
Day 2, Thu, Oct 24 Panama City • Fly to David • Boquete
Day 3, Fri, Oct 25 Chiriqui Highlands • Cerro Punta • Boquete
Day 4/1, Sat, Oct 26 Boquete • Coffee plantation tour • David • Fly to Panama City
Day 5/2, Sun, Oct 27 Panama City (mostly free time)
Day 6/3, Mon, Oct 28 Chorrera • Home-Hosted Lunch • Chitre
Day 7/4, Tue, Oct 29 Pollera workshop visit • Sarigua National Park • Las Tablas
Day 8/5, Wed, Oct 30 Iguana Island (and wasted time on the beach)
Day 9/6, Thu, Oct 31 Chitre • Mask-making demonstration • Clayton
Day 10/7, Fri, Nov 1 Clayton • Embera village visit
Day 11/8, Sat, Nov 2 Gamboa • Embark ship • Taboga Island
Day 12/9, Sun, Nov 3 Panama Canal • Panama Canal history discussion
Day 13/10, Mon, Nov 4 Agua Clara Visitor Center • Gatun Locks • Capt. Farewell Dinner
Day 14/11, Tue, Nov 5 San Lorenzo National Park • Disembark ship • Panama City
Day 15/12, Wed, Nov 6 Panama City • Fly Home
I tried for the Colombia extension but it wasn’t even offered for “my” departure date.
Rip-off. "Bait and Switch"
Day 15/12/1, Wed, Nov 6 Panama City • Fly to Bogota • Bogata
Day 16/2, Thu, Nov 7 Bogata
Day 17/3, Fri, Nov 8 Bogotá • Optional market & Salt Cathedral tour
Day 18/4, Sat, Nov 9 Bogotá • Fly to Medellín • Santo Domingo Comuna
Day 19/5, Sun, Nov 10 Medellín • Guatape
Day 20/6, Mon, Nov 11 Medellín • Comuna 13
Day 21/7, Tue, Nov 12 Medellin • Fly Home


PRE-TRIP EXTENSION: CHIRIQUI HIGHLANDS

Immerse yourself in the natural splendor of Chiriqui Highlands, where Atlantic and Pacific winds mingle to create a year-round spring-like climate, mountains tower over volcanic soils, and bajareque mists embrace lush rain forests. From agricultural traditions to timeless native customs, experience the charms of this unspoiled paradise.

It's Included:
Airfare from Panama City to Chiriqui
Accommodations for 1 night in Panama City and 2 nights in Chiriqui
5 meals: Daily breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner
Included tours: Boquete • Cerro Punta
Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers
All transfers

DAY 1, Wed, Oct 23 - Depart U.S. • Panama City, Panama
(D)You depart the U.S. today for your Panama City. Your Trip Leader will meet you at the airport and assist with your transfer to your hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Accommodations: Las Americas Golden Tower: Las Americas Golden Tower is ideally located in the center of Panama City, within walking distance of the capital's many restaurants and shopping centers. The hotel has on-site restaurants. Each of its 285 air-conditioned rooms features city views, cable TV, safe, telephone, private bath, and wireless Internet.

DAY 2, Thu, Oct 24 - Panama City • Fly to David • Boquete
(BLD) Depart for the airport late this morning for your flight to David, the capital of the Chiriqui province.

Upon arrival, you'll savor lunch at a restaurant in David before traveling north to Boquete, a small mountain town boasting impossibly lush surroundings and a cool climate. This scenic appeal—as well as a range of cultural charms—will be on full display during a walking tour here.

Next, depart for a local honey bee farm. Take a tour of the gardens and farms while you learn about these industrious pollinators. Finish your visit with a taste of the sweet, golden results. After checking into your hotel late this afternoon, the evening is yours to relax or explore at leisure.

Accommodations: Hotel Ladera: Just a five-minute drive from the center of Boquete, the Hotel Ladera is a contemporary retreat in the heart of the Chiriqui Highlands. Features include a restaurant, garden, and complimentary wireless Internet. Rooms are equipped with cable TV, a phone, a balcony, and a private bathroom with shower.


DAY 3, Fri, Oct 25 - Chiriqui Highlands • Cerro Punta • Boquete
(BLD) Delve into the heart of the Chiriqui Highlights this morning, as you depart for Cerro Punta, stopping en route to visit the local botanical garden, which is home to more than 2,200 species of orchid. After lunch on your own, continue on to Cerro Punta.

Located inside the crater of an extinct volcano, the town of Cerro Punta is literally cradled by the landscape—and its vast natural resources are key to its economy: The town provides more than 60% of all vegetables consumed in Panama. After savoring lunch on your own here, you'll learn firsthand about the region's agriculture during a visit with local farmers who grow a wide variety of produce.

Then, return to your hotel for an afternoon of leisure before dinner this evening.


DAY 4/1, Sat, Oct 26 - Boquete • Optional Coffee plantation tour • David • Fly to Panama City
(BLD) Enjoy a morning at leisure to do as you please. Or, join us for an optional coffee plantation tour for a firsthand look at how Panama's coffee beans are cultivated—and how they make their way into your morning mug.

After checking out of your hotel, depart for David, where you'll enjoy lunch on your own before flying to Panama City to begin your Panama Canal Cruise & Panama: A Continent Divided, Oceans United Small Ship Adventure.

OPTIONAL TOUR – COFFEE PLANTATION - $50/person - DOUBTFUL, but maybe just to pass the time
Discover the history of Panamanian coffee on a tour of a local coffee plantation. As you stroll the grounds, you'll discover why coffee thrives in this region, as well as the tricks and techniques for producing the highest-quality beans—and the most flavorful brews.

On arrival back in Panama City, your Trip Leader or a member of our local staff will meet your flight at the airport and help you transfer to your hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening. Accommodations: Las Americas Golden Tower (2 nights)


DAY 5/2, Sun, Oct 27 - Panama City
(BLD)Diablo Rojo Witness the demise of the Diablos Rojos, the wildly decorated school buses that once comprised Panama City’s bus system.

After your orientation walk, discover Panama City via its cultural touchstones as you stroll through Old Panama. Visit the ruins here and learn about this "first city built in the Pacific" at the museum on site. The remainder of the morning is yours for discovery. Spend your free time at the museum or perhaps you go back to the ruins to ascend the cathedral tower. Lunch is on your own and you can enjoy an afternoon of free time before joining your Trip Leader later.

Upon reuniting with your Trip Leader later this afternoon, you’ll continue to discover sites like Cathedral Plaza—the Old Quarter’s largest plaza and the site of celebrations after the country won its independence from Colombia and Spain—and the Paseo Esteban Huertas promenade where you’ll take in sweeping views of the bay. This evening, enjoy an included Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant, an opportunity to celebrate the discoveries to come.

Please note: Today's activities include 2 hours of walking on uneven surfaces and stairs in high temperatures.


DAY 6/3, Mon, Oct 28 - Chorrera • Home Hosted Lunch * Chitre
(BLD) After breakfast, you'll depart Panama City for the Azuero region, stopping en route to visit the town of Chorrera. You'll explore a local produce market in search of ripe fruits and vegetables. Your Trip Leader will explain how to select the best produce.

Next you'll arrive at Feuillet Park, a vibrant urban oasis where you'll meet local entrepreneurs and mingle with people as they shop, work, and socialize. Then savor a Home-Hosted Lunch, as you learn to cook an authentic recipe with a local, using the produce your group helped to select at the market earlier today to make your meal. Your Trip Leader will help facilitate discussion as you learn about everyday life in Panama.

After experiencing a Panamanian welcome, you'll depart to Chitre. One of Panama's oldest communities, Chitre is a charming modern city with vestiges of its colonial past—most vividly seen in its ornate, red-tiled Spanish houses. Chitre has also been called "the gateway to the Azuero Peninsula," a less-touristed area of Panama known for its colonial traditions, festivals, and handcrafts.

Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and enjoy an orientation walk with your Trip Leader. This evening, enjoy an included dinner at your hotel.

Accommodations: Hotel Cubita or similar 3 nights: Hotel Cubita is a boutique resort and spa just steps from downtown Chitre. The hotel has an on-site gourmet restaurant. Each of its 90 air-conditioned rooms features 24-hour room service, cable TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, telephone, private bath, a hair dryer, and wireless Internet.


DAY 7/4, Tue, Oct 29 - Pollera workshop visit • Sarigua National Park • Las Tablas
(BLD) This morning you'll visit a pollera shop. While initially brought over by the Spanish, the lavish, embroidered pollera dress has been adapted and embraced as the national costume of Panama. Traditionally, polleras are white with a full, two-tier skirt, and are hand-embroidered with exquisite details that can increase the value of the garment from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Afterward, you’ll visit Las Tablas where you'll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. Later this afternoon you’ll visit Sarigua National Park. Also known as the Sarigua Desert, the park is a dry, barren vista, in stark contrast to the rest of Panama’s green landscapes. The site was once forested until colonizers in the second half of the 20th century clear-cut all the vegetation.

This evening dinner will be on your own.


DAY 8/5, Wed, Oct 30 - Iguana Island
(BLD) After breakfast, you’ll depart for Iguana Island—a wildlife refuge famous for its white sand beach, crystal waters, mangrove forest, and coral reefs. Perhaps you will spot dolphins, frigate birds, iguanas, turtles, or humpback whales, depending on the time of year. You will explore a hiking trail and witness a variety of coral reefs while snorkeling or enjoy time swimming at the beach. After enjoying an included lunch, you will depart for the hotel. Dinner will on your own this evening.


DAY 9/6, Thu, Oct 31 - Chitre • Mask-making demonstration • Clayton
(BLD) Discover how Panama's indigenous Kuna people are striving to maintain their culture in a changing world. Depart Chitre this morning. En route, stop to visit a local artisan for an exclusive Discovery Series event and witness a demonstration of indigenous Panamanian mask-making.

After your visit, you'll have lunch in a local restaurant before heading to your hotel in Clayton. Enjoy time to relax or explore more of the area. Afterward, you’ll savor an included dinner.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn at the Panama Canal or similar (2 nights) Located just in front of the Panama Canal, the Holiday Inn at the Panama Canal offers panoramic view of the Canal and the rain forest. Each of the 137 rooms features coffee- and tea-making facilities, high-speed, wireless Internet access, and private bath.


DAY 10/7, Fri, Nov 1 - Clayton • Embera village visit
(BLD) After breakfast, you'll depart for the Embera Drua by dugout canoe, a mode of local transportation. As one of Panama's seven indigenous tribes, this community embraces their traditional way of life and practices age-old customs as they were passed down through the generations. Your visit begins at their on-site school—supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation—where you'll meet with the principal and a teacher. You'll then gather with the Embera tribe for an introduction to their culture and you'll savor lunch together. After you dine, the community will perform traditional dances. You'll have free time to peruse local crafts, walk the grounds, or perhaps swim in the river.

You'll return to your hotel later this evening and enjoy the balance of the afternoon at leisure before savoring dinner in a local restaurant.

You may choose to join an optional tour this evening (NO THANKS). On the Chagres River Nocturnal Safari, your guide—with the help of reflectors and flashlights—will point out the places where crocodiles and caimans typically stalk their prey.

Please note: Today's activities will include boarding and deboarding fiberglass boats on floating docks.

Chagres River Nocturnal Safari - $40/ person VERY DOUBTFUL
I did this on the other Amazon trip. Indulge in the serenity of the tropical rain forest at night as you navigate the calm waters of the Chagres River in search of birds and nocturnal animals. Your guide—with the help of reflectors and flashlights—will point out the places where crocodiles and caimans typically stalk their prey. If you are lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of their eyes as they shine in the light and follow them as they swim downstream.


DAY 11/8, Sat, Nov 2 - Gamboa • Embark ship • Taboga Island
(BLD) After breakfast and morning at leisure, you'll depart for Panama City. Your Trip Leader can offer you suggestions of where to explore. You'll enjoy lunch on your own in the marina before boarding the M/S Discovery, the 24-passenger catamaran that will be your private home throughout your three-night Panama Canal cruise. After a short onboard orientation, your ship sets sail later this afternoon.

Note: the tap water aboard is NOT SAFE TO DRINK. Use bottled water only.

Your first port of call is Taboga Island, known as the “Island of Flowers,” a befitting title given the abundance of birds of paradise, orchids, and other tropical species that blanket the island.

It's a colorful island with an equally colorful history. The birthplace of Santa Rosa de Lima, the Southern Hemisphere's first saint and a role model to Mother Teresa, the island also beckoned artist Paul Gauguin, who began incorporating bright colors into his work more often after his stay here. The island also played an important role in the construction of the canal, serving for more than three decades as a retreat for canal builders, first French and then American.

Here you'll have time to either kayak in the bay or disembark to explore the island, a mostly pedestrian haven, with your Trip Leader.

This evening, enjoy dinner onboard the ship and after-dinner activities on the Top Deck. Our overnight stay here allows us to be in prime position for tomorrow, when the Discovery commences its transit of the Panama Canal, the vital link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


DAY 12/9, Sun, Nov 3 - Panama Canal • Panama Canal history discussion
(BLD) You'll wake up this morning to find yourself at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, where you'll begin your northbound canal passage. You'll witness a new chapter in the canal's 103-year-old history: a new set of locks, completed in 2016, that now allow the world's largest cargo ships to pass through.

The notion of building a path between the seas here is as old as the voyages of Christopher Columbus, but it wasn't until 1879 that Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal, made the first attempt. The scope of the effort proved too great, and the project languished until 1902, when Teddy Roosevelt brought the dream to life.

In 1913—a full year ahead of schedule and nearly $23 million under budget—the Panama Canal was completed. It officially opened on August 15, 1914, and a dream became a reality. A journalist who witnessed its opening wrote, “This canal is both a first and a last … man will never again build with such scope, such imagination.” Now, more than 40 ships a day, or more than 14,000 annually, traverse its 50-mile length—eliminating a 9,000-mile trip around the tip of Cape Horn.

Begin your own transit by cruising beneath the soaring Bridge of the Americas, which connects the two land masses that were separated by the canal's construction, to join today's convoy of ships from around the world for your northbound canal passage. As you cruise, you'll take in the full spectrum of everyday life on the canal's banks, from the bustling activity at the commercial port of Balboa to crocodiles lounging in the sun.

You'll pass through the Miraflores Locks and the Pedro Miguel Locks, experiencing for yourself the thrill of these engineering marvels. Then, your ship will navigate the Gaillard Cut; the narrowest section of the canal that bisects the Continental Divide, it is named for the American who oversaw its construction and then died just before it opened. You'll see up close the dramatic landscape 6,000 canal laborers toiled to cut. At the peak of construction, up to 600 holes daily were drilled and then blasted with as much as 50,000 pounds of dynamite. Steam shovels dug out the rubble, which was loaded onto 160 trains a day for the twelve-mile trip to the dumps. Your Trip Leader will describe how, nearly a century later, this section of the canal requires continuous maintenance due to its susceptibility to landslides.

After a leisurely lunch onboard, experience the highlight of the day's cruise when the Discovery is raised 85 feet above sea level to Gatun Lake. This man-made lake was created during the construction of the canal by damming the Chagres River, which supplies the Gatun Locks with more than 52 million gallons of fresh water per ship that passes through. You may explore the lake by kayak today, if you wish.

The Discovery will anchor for the night in Gatun Lake, where you'll enjoy dinner together followed by an exclusive Discovery Series discussion that will prepare you for the rest of your cruise: the expansion of the Panama Canal and history of the Chagres River. Because ours is the only ship small enough to moor at the lake overnight, you'll drift off to sleep onboard, listening to the lullaby of the rain forest around you.

Please note: Today's activities include boarding and deboarding fiber glass boats.


DAY 13/10, Mon, Nov 4 - Agua Clara Visitor Center • Gatun Locks • Captain's Farewell Dinner
(BLD) This morning, you'll visit the Agua Clara Visitor Center to get a unique panoramic glimpse of the Panama Canal. This observatory not only provides great views of the canal, but also history of its construction.

Later, you'll return to our ship for lunch onboard and some time for a short rest, or siesta. Your ship will continue your transit of the canal, as you pass through the Gatun Locks—the largest of the Panama Canal locks. The ship will begin its descent back to sea level here, a process that takes about two hours. You'll enjoy a Captain's Farewell Dinner.

Please note: Today's activities include boarding and deboarding fiber glass boats.


DAY 14/11, Tue, Nov 5 - San Lorenzo National Park • Disembark ship • Panama City
(BLDDisembark the Discovery this morning and set off for San Lorenzo National Park. You’ll take a nature walk to view its diverse flora and fauna, picturesque coastline, and enjoy opportunities to spot several hundred bird species. Later this morning, your discoveries continue with a visit to the Panama Canal Administration Building, inaugurated exactly one month before the canal itself.

After lunch on your own, your afternoon is free to enjoy at leisure. This evening, check into your hotel before gathering with your fellow travelers to reminisce in a local restaurant over dinner. Accommodations: Las Americas Golden Tower or similar


DAY 15/12, Wed, Nov 6 - Panama City • Fly home
(B) After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Skip to the end for information on the
catamaran.

HERE IS THE LISTED/ADVERTISED OAT EXTENSION I HAD WANTED TO DO but I found out that it isn’t even offered on my departure. Down with Overly Awful Travel. “Bait-and-Switch”.


POST-TRIP EXTENSION: NEW! Colombia: Bogotá & Medellín
6 nights from only $1995, no single supplement

Experience Colombia’s colonial past and vibrant future in two contrasting cities. You begin your adventure in Bogotá—the urban, cultural soul of the country. Explore this capital in the clouds, uncovering Bogotá’s pulsing markets and graffitied streets. Then, travel to Medellín to witness a city in the midst of an economic and cultural rebirth. Learn about Colombia’s decades of turbulence, and meet the resilient Colombianos who are forging a bright path for this rich and welcoming country.

It's Included:
* Airfare from Quito to Bogotá and from Bogotá to Medellín
* Accommodations for 6 nights
* 11 meals: 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 2 dinners
* Included tours: Bogotá • Guatape • Medellín
* Services of a local Trip Leader
* Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
* All transfers

DAY 15/12/1 - Fly to Bogotá, Colombia
(B/-/D) Instead of flying home, after concluding your Panama Canal Cruise & Panama: A Continent Divided, Oceans United Small Ship Adventure, you'll fly to Bogotá—Colombia's energetic capital city. Lunch on our own. You'll check in to your hotel, and then embark on a brief orientation walk to acquaint yourself with the area. Then, return to the hotel for an included dinner. Accommodations: Hotel de la Opera or similar – 3 nights

Hotel de la Opera: Housed in Bogotá's La Candelaria district, the 29-room Hotel de la Opera boasts traditional Spanish-style architecture, two on-site restaurants, a bar, spa, fitness center, heated pool, and Jacuzzi. Each room features high-speed Internet access, and a private bath.

DAY 16/2 - Bogotá
(BL-) After breakfast this morning, set off on a walking tour of the largest city in Colombia. Originally a settlement known as Bacatá by the indigenous people who inhabited this area on the high plains of the Andes, the site became a full-fledged Spanish colonial outpost by 1550. Bogotá remained under the control of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1717, when it became the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, a vast stretch of land encompassing the modern countries of Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Since then, the city has served continuously as a political and social center; today this bustling capital city has a population of more than eight million people.

Today, you'll learn about Bogotá's history and culture as you explore the city's streets and plazas, ending at the famous Gold Museum (Museo del Oro). Spread out over three floors, this fascinating museum contains more than 55,000 pieces of gold from pre-Hispanic Colombia. Next, try your hand at tejo, Colombia's explosive national sport. Tejo combines lawn bowls with gunpowder to a conflagrant effect, and Colombianos' passion for the sport is mirrored in its volatility.

After working up an appetite playing tejo, head to a local restaurant for lunch before embarking on a graffiti tour of Bogotá. The city has a casual attitude toward graffiti; as a result, Bogotá's walls are covered in everything from tags and amateur scrawls to elaborate murals. Dinner on our own. Accommodations: Hotel de la Opera or similar

DAY 17/3 - Bogotá • Optional market & Salt Cathedral tour
(B) Breakfast at the hotel. Spend the day in Bogotá, exploring the city at your leisure.

Or, join our optional tour to a local market and Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá—an area located in the mountains north of Bogotá. First, you'll visit a local market in Bogotá. Then continue to the cathedral, which is built into the tunnels of a salt mine, stretching more than 600 feet underground, with statues and ornaments carved out of the mine's rock walls. The complex features an entryway lined with 14 small chapels that depict the Stations of the Cross, and is considered a highlight of Colombian architecture. More than just a monument, this site is an active Roman Catholic Church, drawing up to 3,000 visitors to its Sunday services.

Following your tour of the cathedral, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant that features dishes cooked using salt from the Zipaquirá mine, as well as ajiaco, a traditional Colombian soup of chicken, potatoes, and corn.

Afterwards, return to the hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening. Accommodations: Hotel de la Opera or similar

OPTIONAL TOUR Local Market & Salt Cathedral - $95
Venture into the mountains north of Bogotá to discover the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, which is built into the tunnels of a salt mine. First, stop at a local market. Then, continue to the cathedral, where you'll witness statues and ornaments that are carved into the mine’s rock walls. The site is considered a highlight of Colombian architecture, and serves as an active Roman Catholic Church, drawing up to 3,000 visitors to its Sunday services. Following your tour of e cathedral, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant that features dishes cooked using salt from the Zipaquirá mine.

DAY 18/4 - Fly to Medellín • Santo Domingo Comuna
(BL) Your travel in Colombia continues with a flight from Bogotá to Medellín this morning. As you explore the city, you'll see how it is undergoing an economic and cultural rebirth. Enjoy an informative discussion on Pablo Escobar's rise to power as one of the most recognized and infamous drug cartel leaders in history before ascending the Antioquia Mountains via the Metrocable (an aerial tram) for panoramic views.

Here, you'll visit the comuna (a small traditional community) of Santo Domingo and interact with its residents. Then, gain a richer understanding of Colombia's recent history during a lively discussion with a local expert on some controversial topics. Learn about the Colombian government's lengthy conflict with guerrillas and the role that drug cartels played in the country in the late 20th century. This evening, check into your hotel and take a brief orientation walk. Dinner tonight is on your own. Accommodations: Hotel Du Parc Royal de Medellin or similar – 3 nights

Hotel Du Parc Royal de Medellin: Located in Medellin, the 4-floor Hotel Du Parc Royal de Medellin features air conditioned rooms with Internet access, a kitchen or kitchenette, microwave oven, and refrigerator. Enjoy laundry/dry cleaning service, complimentary newspaper and coffee-making facilities.

DAY 19/5 - Medellín • Guatape
(BL) This morning, head east out of Medellín to Guatape, hailed as "the most colorful town in Colombia." Along the way, you'll stop at Alto de las Arepas, where you'll sample arepas, or traditional, thick corn tortillas.

Continue on to Guatape, a pueblo town situated on the shores of a man-made lake. Guatape is perhaps best known for El Penon, a mammoth rock on the lake's edge that rises more than 650 feet into the air and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. You'll take a boat ride on the lake before arriving in the town proper, where you'll have lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon, take a walking tour of Guatape, stopping along the way to admire the brightly colored homes that line the streets. Each house has its own unique zócalo, beautifully crafted tile placards. You'll meet a local artist to learn more about this tradition and explore the town by moto taxi—the locals' transportation of choice. After some free time in Guatape to make your own discoveries, head back to Medellín. Dinner tonight is on your own. Accommodations: Hotel Du Parc Royal de Medellin or similar

DAY 20/6 - Medellín • Comuna 13
(BLD) After breakfast, set out for Comuna 13. Once considered one of the most dangerous comunas in the city, Comuna 13 is now a model example of Medellín's transformation. You'll get to see firsthand the thriving street art scene and innovative urban design that is quickly reshaping this neighborhood.

Next, visit Plaza de Botero in central Medellín. The plaza has an open-air collection of 23 sculptures by Medellín-born Fernando Botero, whose exaggerated figures have been shown in the world's greatest museums and galleries. You'll have lunch at a local restaurant, then visit the Botero Museum.

This afternoon, enjoy some free time in the city. Perhaps you will explore El Poblado, the city's wealthiest neighborhood whose main street is nicknamed the Milla de Oro—the Golden Mile. This evening, you'll gather together with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. Accommodations: Hotel Du Parc Royal de Medellin or similar

DAY 21/7 - Medellín • Return to U.S.
This morning, you depart the hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

M/V DISCOVERY



The M/V Discovery is a 110-foot purpose-built catamaran perfect for small ship cruising in Panama. She accommodates 24 guests, ensuring everyone can enjoy serenity and privacy together with the excitement and closeness of a true exploration cruise in Panama.

Panama Discovery Review
Discovery has found the perfect home in Panama. With only 24 guests on board she is able to offer a more intimate and active program than other small ships in Panama. The lounge/dining room/bar area offer fantastic views with comfortable accommodations in a relaxed atmosphere. The cabin deck has wide halls accessing very small but well-appointed cabins with either twin or double beds. The cabins are small but bright with large view windows and plenty of storage space. The Observation deck is the perfect place for a BBQ lunch with jungle views or to relax and enjoy the breeze between excursions. The crew aboard Discovery is top notch. Knowledgeable, professional guides lead excursions. Most unique aboard the discovery is the aft deck platform which lowers into the water making loading and launching the kayaks a breeze.

Common Areas aboard Discovery
The dining area, bar and lounge are located on the upper deck which is fitted with floor to ceiling "glass walls" providing a spectacular dining experience and plenty of space to unwind. A BBQ and sun deck are located on the topmost observation deck. The Discovery is equipped with a unique platform that lowers kayakers gently into the water and also retrieves them in perfect safety and comfort.

Cabins & Deck Plan aboard Discovery
All cabins have individual climate control, bathrooms and huge windows that extend along the length of the cabin allowing you to enjoy the scenery in complete privacy. Category 1 cabins (mine) are 116 square feet.