6. Monkey Island & Sloth Sanctuary Tour in Panama Canal
Between 6:30am and 7:00 am, your personal guide and driver will meet you at your Panama City lodging (Please wait in the lobby of your lodging starting at 6:30am. We start our tour earlier than others to see more monkeys before their bellies are full from other visitors feeding them). As you commence the 40 minute drive, you will have the chance to see the old, colonial American neighborhoods, which served as homes for the Canal construction families and we will pass the famous Culebra Cut. As we arrive at the shores of Lake Gatun you will be greeted by the dense rainforest and all its intriguing sights and sounds. We will embark with our boat into the Chagres River, which will lead us into the artificially created Gatun lake, which is a hotspot for biodiversity, giving you the chance to spot wildlife such as the coati, howler monkeys, squirrels and sloths, as well as beautiful birds like the toucan and parrots. Our path takes us mostly parallel to the Panama Canal and into Soberanía National Park on our way to the Gamboa Public Docks, where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal. A couple of minutes into the boat ride, we enter the Canal and take a quick ride past the Dredging Division's facilities and along the shipping lane (and past a large ship or three) toward the Monkey Island area. Needless to say, thanks to Panama’s abundant biodiversity, a bit of luck, and your boat captains’ uncannily sharp eyes will give you plenty more to look for, so keep that camera handy at all times. As we land on the Monkey Island, listen for the different primate sounds and the rustling in the trees as monkeys jump amongst the branches. Prepare for monkeys to come up to you and inspect your clothes, hats and bags. Being surrounded by these magnificent creatures will be an unforgettable experience and give you many photo opportunities. Next up, we will visit the Sloth Sanctuary, which is located inside the Gamboa region, nestled within the lush rainforests of Panama. As you arrive at the sanctuary, you will immediately be surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. Upon entering the sanctuary, you will be greeted by knowledgeable and passionate staff who will provide you with an introduction to the world of sloths. They will share interesting facts about these slow-moving creatures, their behaviors, and their importance in the ecosystem. We will also visit the Butterfly House, the Orchid gardens and a Frog Exhibition, all located within walking distance from the sloth sanctuary. On our last stop we visit the Butterfly House where we will observe the endemic butterflies that live in the Panamanian rainforest such as the colorful Blue Morpho Butterfly. We will also visit the orchid and frog exhibitions. At 12:00pm, we start to make our way back to our tour starting point and back to Panama City.