*Please book this tour by 3pm the day before the tour.
This is our most popular tour because we combine history, adventure, culture, and ecology into a one-day experience! You cannot visit Panama without going to Monkey Island.
We visit one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, only 45 minutes from the city.
Your boat goes right next to the Panama Canal channel on this tour.
You visit and learn about an indigenous culture and their rainforest skills.
We get up-close with monkeys!
It’s not just the destination, it’s the journey that makes this tour, and it has something for everyone. Your knowledgeable Spanish/English speaking guide will spill the beans on local history, ecology, wildlife and indigenous groups.
Guests are picked up from their hotel in the morning and take the 45-minute drive through Soberania Rainforest Park, perhaps spotting a sloth or other creatures along the way.
Arriving at the dock, we board a covered boat and cruise the famous Gatun Lake to Monkey Island. As we parallel the Canal shipping lanes, we may have a close encounter with a transiting ship. Once at the island, we scan for some of the 3 different species of monkeys and many varieties of birds and wildlife, including crocodiles. Your guide explains the history of each of the rescue monkeys that were placed on the island and also how to SAFELY interact with each of them.
After seeing the amazing monkeys, the boat takes us to a REAL indigenous community. The Wounaan and Emberá people migrated to this spot from Darien Province when the US military hosted a Jungle Survival School in the 1960s and 70s.
Many of them helped train both soldiers and astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, in jungle survival. We will meet the community that is related to those trainers and learn about survival techniques and materials of the rainforest. (No, the astronauts did not expect to find jungles on the moon, but they never knew where their capsule might accidentally land upon returning to earth.)
The Wounaan are world famous for their woven baskets and wood carvings. They will talk about the traditional materials used in their art and how they are adapting to outside influences while still maintaining their traditional language and culture.
The Wounaan will have baskets and carvings for display and sale if you are interested. Only cash accepted.
Please note: At New Leaf Panama we believe in equitable tourism. A percentage of this tour’s fee is given to the community we visit. We maintain a family-like and working relationship with this particular community and try to help out as much as possible.
After the village visit, we will again drive along the Canal and head out of the jungle to a rest stop/lunch destination with many choices. The guide can advise on different options depending on dietary requirements, but lunch is not included in the price of tour. Guests will finally be dropped off in Casco Viejo where you can explore this historic district on your own or take an Uber back to your hotel.