2014 marks the Panama Canal's 100th anniversary, and we've curated 6 ways to experience this engineering marvel. Choose from expedition cruises and land-based tours that are focused on the 48-mile Panama Canal. On a variety of itineraries, learn the history of overcoming hardships endured from 1881 when work on the canal first began, only to be aborted and started again when the United States in 1904 put its resources behind this engineering miracle that began changing the course of commerce – and world history - in 1914, the same year that World War I began. Today some 14,000 ships pass annually through the canal.
Following are six ways to experience with AdventureSmith Explorations the Panama Canal by sea and by land in 2014:
This 7-day cruise aboard the 24-guest Discovery catamaran is the region’s only all-Panama small ship cruise and it offers a guaranteed daytime transit of the Panama Canal. The per-person double rate, inclusive of land excursions, is from $3,850. Guests are introduced to tropical rainforests, isolated beaches and remote native villages as well as the Panama Canal. Expert naturalist guides lead nature hikes; there are also kayaking and snorkeling excursions among unspoiled reef.
This 8-day expedition aboard the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Lion offers a two-day canal transit with a visit to Barro Colorado and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute with experts from National Geographic. The per person double rate is from $5,690. Guests explore exuberant, colorful and diverse nature in national parks, wildlife reserves and a privately owned tropical garden. In addition to abundant wildlife, guests swim and snorkel Panama’s famed Isla Coiba, kayak along remote coastlines and horseback ride on the beach.
This 8-day voyage aboard the 72-guest Variety Voyager showcases Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline. Guests enjoy one of the most upscale small ships in the region at a per-person double rate from $2,590. This is also an experience in private yachting as guests unravel the Pacific Ocean coastline of Costa Rica, enroute accessing the nature reserves and national parks of Isla Coiba, Corcovado and Manuel Antonio, and witnessing life in the San Blas Islands while crossing the Panama Canal.
Celebrate the Panama Canal's historic 100th anniversary in 2014 with the special 8-day itinerary designed just for the occasion. Revisit the Panama Canal history, and witness the Panama Canal expansion currently in the works, while also getting to experience the wildlife, stunning landscapes and indigenous culture of the region. Jungle boat tours, a canal transit and a view of the canal during a ride on the Panama Canal Railroad are included. The per person double rate is from $1,995.
This trip explores the canal, volcanic highlands and the Caribbean Coast, enroute meeting some of Panama’s indigenous people. From coast to coast and past to present, guests on a private guided tour of the locks and on a jungle boat adventure in the canal glean the history and workings of the canal and the original Panama railway. Guests visit a thriving indigenous village and Spanish colonial forts and enjoy moderate daily hikes to, among others, the tropical cloud forest rich in flora and fauna. There are opportunities for zip lining, paddling a dugout canoe and touring a coffee plantation. The per-person double occupancy rate is from $2295 for 10 days.
Panama Family Adventure embraces nature, culture and wildlife at a per-person double rate of $2,600 (adult), $950 (child age 3-5), $1,250 (child age 6-11) for nine days. Guests experience the Pacific coast and the Panama Canal before venturing to the western highlands of the Caribbean coast to white water raft the Chagres River, go canopy zip-lining in the Chiriqui highlands, snorkeling in the Caribbean waters of Bocas del Toro. Touring historic Panama City is also included.
Top image courtesy of Ancon Expeditions