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Day Trips and Tours from Panama City

Whatever your passions, the day trips and tours from Panama City will provide you with some marvelous opportunities to satisfy your interests.

Spend a rustic and relaxing time amidst the beauty of the San Blas Islands, or marvel at the wonderful biodiversity of the Gamboa Rainforest.

Admire the amazing engineering feats of the Panama Canal, and if you’re an anthropology addict, discover the fascinating culture of the indigenous Embera people.

Or explore the history of the centuries-old Fort San Lorenzo and Camino Real colonial transport route.

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is arguably the most iconic attraction in Panama and features in almost all day trips from Panama City. The canal is crucial to the world’s marine trade and every year, about 14,000 ships pass through it.

Opened in 1914, it eliminated the need to sail around Cape Horn, cutting out 8,000 kilometers from the voyage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

At a cost of more than US$350 million, it was the United States’ most expensive construction project to that date. Since construction had begun in 1904, some 25,000 laborers, mostly Afro-Caribbean, died from diseases and accidents.

During day trips from Panama City, you can visit the amazing Panama Canal extension moving New Panamax super tankers through enormous locks.

You will discover how marine engineers raised the water level of Gatun Lake and widened existing channels to let through these ships.

These trips also incIude visits to the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center, Monkey Island and the UNESCO-listed Fort San Lorenzo.

San Blas Islands

Panama’s San Blas Islands consists of an archipelago of about 365 islands of which 49 are inhabited. The islands lie north of the Isthmus of Panama, separating the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans.

Its official name since 2011 has been Guna Yala, as the local Guna people call it. To get to San Blas Islands from Panama City, you can either take a 4x4 Jeep taxi and water taxi trip (4 hours), or a 45-minute Air Panama flight (leaving daily).

On the day tours to San Blas from Panama City, you can explore the beautiful islands with kayaks and snorkeling equipment.

With its crystal clear water and white sands, the San Blas Islands are popular for its unspoilt beauty. Major islands in the archipelago include Perro Grande, Perro Chico, Isla Diablo and Pelicano Island (of “Money Heist” fame).

The islands are administered by the indigenous Guna people, who you can also observe going about their daily lives on the islands.

Monkey Island

Monkey Island lies inside the Panama Canal, in the middle of the freshwater artificial Gatun Lake and north of the Miraflores canal locks.

The little island is alive with wildlife – especially monkeys, hence the name – and other animals and covered in lush forest. Visiting Monkey Island is a most favorite thing to do for visitors to Panama City.

On day tours to Monkey Island you will go on a boat cruise from Gamboa Marina on the Chagres River to the island.

Day tours to Monkey Island gives you the opportunity to discover the breathtaking biodiversity of the Soberania National Park along the banks of the Panama Canal.

You will be excited by Canal boat trips, marveling at the big ships as you pass them in Lake Gatun, and the Canal engineering extension.

You will also be able to visit the local Embera people in their villages and discover their fascinating way of life in the rainforest.

Embera Village

If you are a student of other cultures, the Embera village tours from Panama City will be right up your alley. Today, there are about 33,000 Embera living in Panama, having settled as far west as Lake Gatún and the Panama Canal Zone.

There are several day trips from Panama City to Embera villages in the region. The Emberá are historically a riverine people and many established Emberá communities are still found along Lake Gatun and Panama Canal riverbanks.

Day trips involve an hour-long drive from Panama City to the 334,000-acre Chagres National Park, consisting of forest, rivers and lakes.

This is usually followed by a traditional piragua (dugout) boat ride on the Chagres River to an Embera village in the forest.

On these occasions, you will learn about different aspects of their fascinating culture and be treated to their traditional music and dance.

Traveling along the river, it is also a good opportunity to see Panama’s fascinating variety of fauna and flora.

Gamboa Rainforest

The Gamboa Rainforest Reserve lies in the magical Soberanía National Park at the confluence of the Chagres River and the Panama Canal. Just 30 minutes from Panama City, it covers 340 acres of prime forest overlooking the Panama Canal.

Gamboa forest day trips from Panama City offer a great variety of activities, including an exhilarating aerial tram ride to view its nature labs accommodating butterflies, frogs and a sloth sanctuary.

On these day trips to Gamboa rainforest you can also enjoy a boat cruise along the Panama Canal waterways, marveling at the artificial Lake Gatun.

You can visit the Panama Canal extension of 2016, watching super tankers pass through the series of Agua Clara locks. Or visit an indigenous Embera tribe in their village or explore the historic ruins of San Lorenzo Fort.

Fort San Lorenzo

Some 13 kilometers west of Colón, lie Fort San Lorenzo and the deserted old village of Chagres at the Chagres River mouth. Traveling by car, the trip from Panama City to San Lorenzo will take you an hour and 20 minutes.

The massive fort is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and over 30,000 acres of rainforest in the Panama Canal watershed.

Considered as an extraordinary example of 17th-18th century military architecture, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress site can be visited as part of several day trips from Panama City to the area.

By order of Spanish King Felipe II, San Lorenzo was built to protect the entrance/exit of the Las Cruces route to the Americas. Between 1596-1740, the fort was under constant attack by pirates.

Take some time to explore the majestic ruins and musty hallways and see the heavy cannons behind the walls.

Chagres was once the chief Atlantic port on the Panama isthmus but with the construction of the Panama Canal, residents were resettled at Nuevo Chagres.