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Grit and Glory: Exposing the Panama Canal

Program Number: 9901RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/18/2013 - 3/23/2013; 10/27/2014 - 11/1/2014; 11/10/2014 - 11/15/2014; 12/1/2014 - 12/6/2014; 1/12/2015 - 1/17/2015; 1/19/2015 - 1/24/2015; 2/2/2015 - 2/7/2015; 2/9/2015 - 2/14/2015; 2/23/2015 - 2/28/2015; 3/2/2015 - 3/7/2015; 3/9/2015 - 3/14/2015; 10/26/2015 - 10/31/2015; 11/9/2015 - 11/14/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Panama
Price starting at: $1,629.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt    

The Spanish thought about it. The French drew plans for it. In the end though, it took a revolution, technology, money, determination and grit to complete the Panama Canal. On this unique journey, traverse the canal by boat and learn about the epic struggle to carve a nautical shortcut from one ocean to another. Learn about the canal’s construction and its impact on world history, commerce, and medicine.




Highlights

• Learn about the history of the Panama Canal during an all-day transit with lectures aboard the boat.
• Witness the workings of the busy Miraflores and Gatun Locks and the Alajuela Dam.
• Board the transcontinental train at Colon for a historic ride alongside the Panama Canal.



Activity Particulars

Walking and standing for up to 90 minutes at a time in hot, humid weather.



Due to the popularity of this program the group size has been limited to 54.




Date Specific Information

10-27-2014, 11-10-2014, 12-1-2014, 1-12-2015, 1-19-2015, 2-2-2015, 2-9-2015, 2-23-2015, 3-2-2015, 3-9-2015, 10-26-2015, 11-9-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Panama City, 3 nights; Panama Canal transit to Colon, 1 night; train to Panama City, 1 night; departure.



Flight from the U.S.A.
Arrival Panama City
3 nights
Coach to Colon
1 night
Train to Panama City
1 night
Departure

Explore Panama City, both a thriving center of international commerce thanks to the Panama Canal and a cradle of colonial history dating to the 16th century. Expert-led excursions illuminate the city’s history and its role in today’s globalized world. Discover the Las Cruces Trail, a treacherous path through the jungle that was the only way to cross Panama from coast to coast before there was a railroad or a canal. Visit the Pacific Canal Commission Compound and watch ships passing through the Miraflores Locks. Embark on a ship at Balboa on the Gulf of Panama to voyage through the entirety of the canal, ending at Colon on the Caribbean. Onboard lectures detail the construction and operation of the canal and how the locks make it all possible. Admire views of the rainforest and Gatun Lake as you sail through the canal. Return to Panama City on a scenic, narrated train ride along tracks that were built to aid the building of the canal. Meet Panamanians and gain an insight into their culture during an evening of traditional Panamanian music and dance.




Panama

Panama’s abundance in transient wealth attracted the likes of English explorers Sir Francis Drake and Henry Morgan in search of goods. The historical reliance on commerce has made this tropical oasis a melting pot of culture. Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, its dominant features are the mountainous highlands – formed along the central spine of the country, grasslands and over 500 rivers, 125 of which flow into the Caribbean Sea.



Accommodations
Panama City: Hotel near the entrance of the Panama Canal with outdoor pool. Colon: Resort on Gatun Lake. Panama City: Modern downtown hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   Amador Country Inn & Suites
  Panama City, Panama 3 nights
   Melia Panama Canal
  Colon, Panama 1 night
   Crowne Plaza Hotel
  Panama City, Panama 1 night
 Amador Country Inn & Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: Modern hotel located at Fort Amador, on the boardwalk overlooking the entrance to the Panama Canal and the Bridge of the Americas.
  Contact info: Amador Avenue & Pelicano Avenue
Panama City,  00000 Panama
phone: +507-2-114500
web: www.countryinns.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, balcony, cable TV, coffee maker, microwave oven, and WiFi.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, outdoor pool, jacuzzi, coin-operated laundry facilities, health club, spa services, meeting rooms, and tour desk. High-speed wireless Internet in all rooms, lobby and pool-side.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Prices subject to availability Additional nights are subject to hotel availability. Please contact the program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com for current prices and assistance with reservations.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Melia Panama Canal
Type: Hotel
  Description: Modern hotel located on Gatun Lake, just 10 minutes from the city of Colón.
  Contact info: Espinar Colón
Former Las Americas Military School
Lago Gatun,  000000 Panama
phone: +507-4-701100
web: www.meliapanamacanal.solmelia.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable TV, hair dryer, safe, direct dial phone, and mini refrigerator.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, bar, pool, meeting rooms, spa services, laundry services, gym, and tennis courts.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Crowne Plaza Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Modern hotel located approximately 2 miles from downtown Panama City.
  Contact info: Ave Manuel Espinosa Batista
Panama City,  000000 Panama
phone: +507-2065500
web: www.crowneplaza.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable/satellite TV, coffee maker, hair dryer, mini refrigerator, iron/ironing board, and Internet access.
  Facility amenities: Pool, restaurant, tour desk, Internet cafe, business center, fitness center, laundry/dry cleaning services, and gift shop.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Price subject to availability. Type of accommodations and rates are subject to hotel availability. Please contact the program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com for assistance in booking additional nights.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Arrivals at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Amador Country Inn & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from Panama City's Tocumen International Airport in Panama. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
NA
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Panama City
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. For information about the airport transportation options, please consult the airport's official website: www.tocumenpanama.aero/
  From End of Program
  Location: Panama City
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available at the hotel. Please ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive to Panama City.
(Monday, March 18)
   
 Arrive To: Arrive at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel and check-in, followed by time at leisure.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in usually begins at 3PM.
   
Accommodations: Amador Country Inn & Suites

Day 2: Panama City -
The History of Panama City/Casco Viejo/Panama Canal Museum

(Tuesday, March 19)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Program orientation.

Field trip to the Pacific Canal Commission Compound.

Excursion to Casco Viejo, the historic colonial center of the city of Panama with site lecture.

Panama City's old historic quarter (a.k.a. Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo) dates back to the 1670s, when the destruction of Panama Viejo made relocation a necessity. Casco Viejo’s parks and narrow streets are lined with colorful buildings representative of Spanish, French and early American architectural styles. This eclectic collection of architectural styles reflects the city's role as an international trade center and cultural melting pot that began well before the building of the Canal. Some of Casco Viejo's must-see sites include the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Municipal Palace, the National Theater, the Panama Canal Museum (originally the Grand Hotel), the French Embassy, and France Plaza.

 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.

 Afternoon: Field trip to the Panama Canal Museum, showcasing the American era of the Panama Canal.

Excursion to the French Square, a monument to the French builders who began the Panama Canal.

Lecture: The Panama Canal in the New Millennium.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Amador Country Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Panama City –
The History of the Panama Canal.

(Wednesday, March 20)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

 Morning: Field trip to the Miraflores Locks to view ships passing through the first series of locks in the canal.

Visit the interpretive museum.

 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

 Afternoon: Field trip to Las Cruces Trail, used by early travelers to California lured by the Gold Rush.

In the past, Las Cruces Trail served as the primary artery for sending most, if not all, of the gold brought from the Incan Empire to port for shipment back to Spain. In many ways, the Las Cruces Trail of the colonial era was the wealthiest road on earth. At the same time, because so much gold traveled the same route, just about every enterprising pirate sought access to this trail.

Excursion to the Chagres River, where early travelers would sail, then cross the isthmus before the canal was built.
Visit the Lake Alajuela/Madden Dam.

Lake Alajuela was "created" in 1924 with the construction of the Madden Dam. The dam's reservoir maintains the water levels in Lake Gatun and provides primary supply of drinking water along the canal. Lake Alajuela is surrounded by a 129,000 hectare national park of primary rainforest.

Enjoy a visit to the French Cemetery that honors the many lives that where lost during the construction of the Panama Canal.

 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant with views of the ships passing through the canal.
   
Accommodations: Amador Country Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Transiting the Panama Canal –
Panama City to Colon.

(Thursday, March 21)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning transfer to port to board boat.

Breakfast on board the boat.

 Morning: Full day transit through the Panama Canal.

This transit leaves at 7:30 am and heads out the Pacific entrance of the Canal, just outside Flamenco Island. Here you will wait for the Panama Canal Commission Pilot who will guide you through the transit. Follow your companion vessel for the transit of the Miraflores locks (by Canal standards, we are a small vessel, so we rarely transit the locks alone).

The transit will take you through Miraflores Lake, Pedro Miguel Locks, Gailard Cut, Gamboa, and Gatun Lake. You will exit the canal at the Atlantic Ocean and dock at Cristobal.

Throughout the transit there are numerous opportunities to see dolphins, birds, monkeys and crocodiles. The whole experience will take about 10 hours.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the boat.
 Afternoon: Continue with canal transit.
Disembark in Colon.

Colon Province was once known for its wealth and its seemingly endless supply of gold and silver. This is where the stolen Inca gold was stored and sorted before being shipped back to Spain. The gold is gone and swashbuckling pirates no longer visit the province these days but Colon, the provincial capital, maintains a reputation as a place to make money.

Until 1852, Colon was an island, but was linked to the mainland when the United States started building the railroad. Contemporary Colon is known for its status as a Zona Libre, a free trade zone. Next to Hong Kong, Colon is the largest free-trade zone and marks the northern terminus of the Panama Canal.

Transfer to the hotel.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Melia Panama Canal
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Colon to Panama -
Fort San Lorenzo & transit by train.

(Friday, March 22)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Fort San Lorenzo, constructed in the 1500s during the reign of the Spanish King, Phillip the II.

Site lecture: The importance of Fort San Lorenso during the early years of the canal.

Located on the mouth of the Chagres River, this Spanish fort was once a primary defense against English pirates. While the fort successfully thwarted some (look for a captured British cannon on the fort’s grounds), it is perhaps best known for its failure to stop the infamous pirate, Henry Morgan. In 1672 Morgan defeated the forces at San Lorenzo, sailed up the Chagres River and led his men to Panama where they sacked, looted, and burned the city. By the time they completed their raid, Morgan safely escaped with massive quantities of gold and treasure.

Return to the hotel.

 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.

 Afternoon: Visit to the Gatun Locks, dam, power-generating plant and spillway.

Train ride excursion to Panama City via the isthmus.

 Dinner: Farewell dinner with Panamanian music.
   
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Depart Panama/Flights to the U.S.
(Saturday, March 23)
   
 Depart From: Transfer to the Tocumen International Airport for flight to the U.S.

Note: Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel (depending on flight time).
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide


Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer


Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.



A Guide to the Birds of Panama


Author: Robert Ridgely, J.A. Gwynne


Description: This comprehensive field guide, noteworthy for its beautiful color plates, covers additional species found in Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica.



Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish


Author: Joseph Keenan


Description: Idioms, common mistakes in word usage, and other helpful advice on tackling spoken Spanish. You'll need some foundation to take full advantage of this book – but even a complete novice will appreciate the author's playful sense of humor.



Culture Smart! Panama


Author: Heloise Crowther


Description: This practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture is concise and well-illustrated.



Lonely Planet Panama


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: Written in the tradition of Lonely Planet travel guides. This book is a good general resource and provides accounts of the Panamanian history and local culture and also detailed descriptions of sites of interest.



National Geographic Panama


Author: Christopher Baker


Description: Award-winning travel writer and photographer Christopher Baker introduces the history, nature and attractions of Panama, thoroughly illustrated in National Geographic’s style



Panama Map


Author: ITMB


Description: A full-color, double-sided map of Panama for the traveler at the detailed scale of 1:480,000.



Panama Wildlife Guide: Birds


Author: Rainforest Publications


Description: PLASTIC CARD, 14 PAGES/A handy 14-panel fold-up card featuring accurate color illustrations of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. We also carry Panama Wildlife Guide: Birds.



The Building of the Panama Canal in Historic Photographs


Author: Ulrich Keller


Description: These archival photographs tell the story of the people who built the Panama Canal, the engineers who designed it and the changes wrought on the landscape through its construction.



The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914


Author: David McCullough


Description: The national best-selling chronicle of the conception and building of the Panama Canal. Applying his remarkable gift for lucid, lively writing, McCullough tells the story of one of humankind's greatest accomplishments. Winner of countless book awards, this is probably the most acclaimed history of the Canal ever written.



Tropical Nature


Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata


Description: A lively, lucid portrait of the tropics as seen by two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists. Its 17 marvelous essays introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforest





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