If you have always wanted to learn in detail about the history, construction and present day status of the Panama Canal, this is the trip for you!
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Activity note: This is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check in is usually from 3:00 p.m. A Road Scholar notice board will be available in the hotel lobby with daily schedule information.
Afternoon: Upon arriving at the hotel, check in and get your room assignment. Then, take some time to freshen up and relax.
Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: City walking on paved and mostly flat surfaces. Some stair climbing and standing. Field trip to the Panama Canal Museum will only include the 2nd floor exhibits.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: Orientation: 8:15 a.m. at the hotel. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Transfers to and from program activities will be by air conditioned bus, unless specified otherwise. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Meals on our program feature local cuisine. In many cases, they will be plated and served set meals; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Beverages include coffee, tea, water; other beverages are usually available for purchase. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. After boarding the Road Scholar bus, we'll journey to Casco Viejo--the historic colonial center of the city of Panama-- in preparation for a walking field trip led by our Group Leader. Panama City's old historic quarter is called Casco Viejo and dates back to the 1670s. Casco Viejo showcases the multicultural history of Panama; parks and narrow streets are lined with colorful buildings in a breath-taking mix of Spanish, French and early American architectural styles. This eclectic display 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 the Plaza de Francia. We'll then head to the Panama Canal Museum to learn about the American era of the Panama Canal.
Lunch: At a restaurant featuring authentic Panamanian cuisine.
Afternoon: After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free. You might like to explore some of Panama City's other highlights on your own such as the Biomuseo with its fantastic design by Frank Gehry and galleries that illustrate the origins of the Panamanian isthmus and its impact on biodiversity. One of our buses will drop off participants at the museum, along with a group leader, before returning to the hotel with the rest of the group. The museum entrance fee, taxi fare to return to the hotel and any other expenses incurred during this activity are not included in your program cost. The museum is within walking distance from our hotel (about 1.5 miles) if you wish to forego taking a taxi to the hotel. We'll regroup at the hotel for a 5:00 p.m. presentation on the Panama Canal past, present, and future.
Dinner: At the hotel.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: City walking on mostly flat, paved surfaces. Some standing. The visit to the starting point of Las Cruces Trail will not include walking on the trail.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: Our first field trip in the Panama Canal area will begin with a bus ride and a brief stop at Lake Alajuela/Madden Dam. While there, we'll enjoy insights from our Group Leader on the impact of Lake Alajuela/Madden Dam on the lives of people in the region and in the daily operation of the Panama Canal. Lake Alajuela came into existence in 1924 with the construction of Madden Dam. In addition to helping maintain water levels in Lake Gatun, Madden's reservoir is also the primary supply of drinking water along the Canal. During a brief visit to the starting point of the Las Cruces Trail, we'll learn the historical connection between the trail and the California Gold Rush. Then, we will make a couple of stops to observe and discuss some of the work that was recently done to expand the Canal. The project cost an estimated $5.25 billion to add a third lane with larger locks, thus making it possible for bigger container and cargo ships to make use of the shortcut.
Lunch: At a local restaurant.
Afternoon: We'll stop at the French Cemetery Monument and review the role of immigrant workers in making the Panama Canal a reality. Then, driving to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, we'll view the museum's interactive displays and see the locks at work.
Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check out and departure early in the morning.
Activity note: Early morning transfer to port to board boat. The full transit through the Panama Canal can take between 12-13 hours hours to complete depending on ship traffic.
Breakfast: Aboard the boat plus water and coffee.
Morning: During our full day transit through the Panama Canal, we’ll be accompanied by a Canal expert who will enhance our experience with historical insights and detailed explanations of the transit process. Once the Panama Canal Commission Pilot, who will guide our vessel throughout the transit, comes on board we will be ready to start our Canal adventure. We will follow our 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 us through Miraflores Lake, Pedro Miguel Locks, Gailard Cut, Gamboa, and Gatun Lake. We 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.
Lunch: Aboard the boat, buffet meal with soft drinks and water.
Afternoon: We'll continue the Panama Canal transit until we disembark in Colon and transfer to our hotel for check in. Until 1852, Colon was an island, but was linked to the mainland once the United States started building the railroad. Contemporary Colon is known for its status as a Zona Libre (a free trade zone) and as the northern entrance/exit to the Panama Canal.
Dinner: At the hotel.
Evening: At leisure. Ready luggage for check out tomorrow.
Activity note: Early this afternoon, our luggage will be transported to the hotel in Panama City and delivered to our rooms. Meanwhile, we'll stay in Colon and prepare for the train ride back to Panama City. Please prepare a day pack with personal items you may need during the day and have luggage ready for transport before lunch. The train journey takes approximately 1 hour. Walking on unpaved, undulating nature trails and some standing and stair climbing.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: We'll depart by bus on a field trip to the New Locks Visitor Center to learn about the expansion of the Canal, including a video on the expansion project and construction of the new locks in addition to pictures of various stages. Then we'll accompany our Group Leader on a slow-paced walk on the Center's nature trails for a chance to spot resident wildlife before ending at a lookout point to view the new Panama Canal locks.
Lunch: At the hotel.
Afternoon: Free time. Our rooms will be available until we transfer to the train station. Enjoy the hotel's amenities or just relax. The bus will drop us off at the Atlantic Passenger Station and we'll board the train back to Panama City. The historic Panama Railroad paved the way for the construction of a transoceanic canal. It also became the main method for transporting equipment, supplies, and workers for the Panama Canal project. Construction of the railroad began in 1850; the ambitious project cost a total of $7,407,535.00. and took five years to complete. After disembarking at the Panama City station, we'll board a bus to the hotel and check in.
Dinner: At the hotel with Panamanian music. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends on our last evening together in Panama.
Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. 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: At the hotel (depending on flight time). This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!
If you have always wanted to learn in detail about the history, construction and present day status of the Panama Canal, this is the trip for you!
Outstanding program. The highlight for me was the full transit of the Canal on our own private boat - the Islamorada, which was previously owned by J. P. Morgan and (allegedly) Al Capone. The ship holds about 80 people, but our group was only 28. The train ride in the domed car was also great. I absorbed so much about the Canal history, operation and economic / political impact. Although the focus of the program was on the Canal, I learned so much more about the country and enjoyed visiting the rainforest, nature walk, the historic quarter of Panama City (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and just seeing the country (we even visited a grocery store!). Our group leaders (Claudio, Benny and Patrick) did an outstanding job. Their knowledge, love of Panama, delightful wit and humor made the trip a joy. Weather was great (no mosquitos). My only regret was that I did not pack my swimsuit (there was enough time at the Melia hotel to use their outstanding pool). I highly recommend this program, not only to learn about the Canal, but also to enjoy the country of Panama.
This was a well-organized program, focused on the history and operation of the Panama Canal, the fascinating history of its construction, with necessary attention to the history and current status of Panama itself. A full canal transit was included, with return by rail, and accommodations were excellent. The three group leaders were exemplary.
Awesome experience ... educational & fun
Awesome trip! The information and excursions leading up to our Panama Canal transit made the transit so much more meaningful and interesting, Great instructors and very fun group of participants!
On my bucket list, it didn’t disappoint! History, building, the locks and a small boat comfortable for 45 of us with a great crew. Great lectures. Sad to hear of the ‘ugly Americans’ time in the Canal Zone - something that darkened the week, but a part of history. Guide could be more personable, perhaps it’s the past. Food was terrific, hotels fine. Don’t think you’ll find a more thorough tour of the canal - especially in 5 days - and better choice of boat and crew for the day’s journey. Lectures could have been more concise and hence, take up less time sitting and listening, but guides were well versed.
A very busy 6 days with lots of learning and fun. Great leaders and all details of travel, accommodations, meals, etc taken car of.
Panama canal is an engineering marvel and worth seeing especially the visit is made so comfortable and interesting by Road Scholar.
All of our Road Scholar trips have been marked by great lectures and field trips; good food and nice hotels; and great tour leaders. This trip was more of the same, with one exception. Our tour leaders -- Rey, Beny, and Lewis -- were outstanding. Not only were they extremely knowledgeable about all things Panama, they were consistently patient, kind, and very funny. Thanks to these guys, we learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed our time in this beautiful country. Kudos, also to Rey and Lewis for stopping our bus on a busy road to rescue a stranded sloth and moving him to safety at the edge of the forest. Nice!
A meaningful tour. So much to see - so much to learn. Loved staying initially at the hotel directly on the canal and watching the ships come and go. The lectures made the tour come alive. We loved seeing and experiencing the old canal technology vs. the new canal technology AND touching the canal. Being on the small boat and going through the canal made the experience SO much more rewarding.
Good program for seeing and learning about Panama and the Canal.
This was a great trip! The hotels; food and folks were outstanding. It was apparent the trip leaders are passionate about their country. They were well organized, enthusiastic and caring. This was my first RS trip and they set the bar high!
I find the trip locator easy to use. After finding a trip, the drill downs provide excellent information.
Panama is much more diverse than expected. Soaring skyscrapers and rush hour traffic jams with lush jungle nearby. The Canal is an amazing engineering feat with the original canals still running well after 100 years and the new canal lane accommodating the world's newest and largest ships.
My interest was triggered by David McCullough's book and this program enlarged my reading, both with recommended readings and the tour by informed guides who helped us expand our knowledge of the canal and Panama, the country and it's peoples. It's a short, well integrated program that doesn't waste time. Accommodations, transport and dining were good.
I have always wanted to visit the Panama Canal but did not want the mega-passenger cruise ship experience. This program provided exactly the up close and personal trip I was looking for.
My husband wanted to visit and sail the Panama Canal. He's a retired engineer and wanted to learn more about the engineering marvel. I love to travel and knew I would enjoy it, but I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. The locks are very interesting and watching world commerce sail in both directions was amazing.
The Panama Grit and Glory is an amazing opportunity to visit one of the greatest man-made features in the Americas. The trip gives you an experiential tour of the old and new canal and the workings of the locks. The tap water is drinkable and the tour gives you and opportunity to eat fresh Panamanian fruits and fish. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and share their love of nature and Panamanian culture while travelling around the Canal Zone by bus, train and boat.
This program fosters a deep understanding of the Panama Canal, its operation and its influence on the existence, culture, economy and history of the nation of Panama. I found it a most worthwhile and enjoyable experience. It fulfilled a life-long dream of mine.
The scale of the Panama Canal and modern shipping vessels has to be experienced firsthand to have its full impact. This program brings you as close as you can get to both. Our guides were friendly, knowledgeable, and well organized. Every day was an educational experience.
Excellent trip! I would highly recommend this.
This was a GREAT opportunity to learn ALL about the Panama Canal System, past and present. Highly recommend!
An excellent trip. It was a wonderful up close view if the engineering marvel of the canal and lock system. And a taste of the Panamanian culture. Great informative guides. Archie was fantastic! Thanks so much Jim and Carolyn Mitchell
Just returned from RS Grit and Glory in Panama as my maiden trip. I definitely picked a WINNER!! You will have to put a gun to my head for me to find something wrong with this program. I had a blast! The quality of the hotels, food, transportation and staff were AAA+. The group leader, extraordinaire!! I am ready to retire and go again with Road Scholar, this is a MUST item for your bucket list.
This is the most comprehensive, thoroughly thought out program I have ever experienced. Everything from the food, the accommodations, the instructors to transportation were outstanding. Would highly recommend this program to any travelers concerned about traveling on their own, but wish to see, taste, and get the feel of a country. You can't do it any better than this. Absolutely amazing experience!
This trip will not disappoint. Anyone interested in the history of the Panama Canal should take this tour, and also anyone wanting to have a real experience of this wonderful country’s history and the diversity of its people, as well of it’s animals and birds. The guides are well versed in both areas and project genuine pride and love for their county. A wonderful educational tour with a personal touch made for a wonderful vacation.
I greatly enjoyed the Grit and Glory: Panama Canal Program
This program was perfectly designed to cover the history and operation of the Panama Canal, without a lot of extraneous "fluff". We found it fascinating, most enjoyable, and terrific value. I do recommend reading the David McCullough book before going: it really enhances the experience.
This Panama Canal experience on a small boat far exceeded our expectations. I am so pleased we didn't select a large ship for this trip. Our group leaders, Beny Wilson and Gabriel Ortiz were extraordinary in their knowledge and communication. We would HIGHLY recommend this if you are considering visiting the Panama Canal.
Website is improved and easier to use.
Unfortunately when people hate their jobs it shows. FORTUNATELY for the participants of this trip Claudio and Patrick LOVE their job and it showed. THIS is what road scholar is all about: information...a LOT of information and VERY knowledgable people to present it. The accommodations were good, the food was good, and the guides were beyond EXCELLENT. One participant when I asked what he thought said it went beyond his expectations. That I think that sums it up well. Claudio and Patrick ran the show like a well oiled comedy team. They were a pleasure to be around. Well done [ and well staffed] Road Scholar. Thank you.
If your objective is to see and learn as much about the Panama Canal, including its history and operation, as possible, in comfort, this is the program for you!
This is a very informative and interesting program. We learned a lot that we did not previously know about Panama and the Panama Canal.
OMG!!!!---riding in our little skiff in front of the huge, gigantic, enormous SEA HELIOS in the Gatun Locks was unbelievable---to watch the super ships go through the new locks was almost as awesome---
Grit and Glory was just the right amount of time (6 days) and had wonderful first hand experiences throughout the trip.
Transiting the canal was the highlight of the tour. The train ride was a waste of time because mostly we saw only jungle. The bus trip to Madden Dam, Las Cruces, and Pedro Miguel lock was of little value.
This was a wonderfully constructed program. I felt we had seen everything we came to see and more and had received a good understanding of the history of the country, the canal and the significance of both while enjoying the group, the leaders, and the whole experience tremendously.
18 members of Canal Societies in the United States attended this tour. All of us were impressed with the quality of the program and the amount of new information we learned. Panama is a great place to visit and the canal is out of this world. This trip should be on everyone's top locations to visit. Currency is US, time zone EST, language English, This is a great place to start with foreign travel. You are learning something every minute.
Great program. Archie and Wendell were terrific!
This is a wonderful trip of a lifetime. Seeing the Canal up close and personal is amazing.
For all the single women who might be thinking of taking this trip, please know I felt completely safe. The transportation to and from the airport was most appreciated.
This was a great, fun trip!
Wonderful trip. Great value. Perfect for when you don't have a whole lot of time.
We are so glad we participated in the Grit and the Glory -Panama Canal Program. It was well presented with great leaders and included several others educational components such as music, dance, and a closer look at the Darian Jungle.
The people are interesting and informed. But you also don't need to be intimidated. They are nice. The leaders and topics are interesting too. So it's the best way to travel. Alone or w a friend.
The "Grit and Glory: Panama Canal" program was simply fascinating! The educational programs prepared us well for the Canal transit which was an experience unto itself! Thanks for a great introduction to Road Scholar.
This is a fantastic program. If you want to learn about the ins and outs of the Panama Canal, this program is for you! The highlight for me was the transit through the canal in a small vessel being together in the same locks with a huge cargo ship going from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
This program gives you all the 'behind the scenes' operations of the canal plus good viewing of birds and other animals. The hotel right at the opening of the canal was great; viewing ships traveling any time of day or night was a wonderful plus. Leader, Wendell quite well versed in canal and nature.
If you want an in-depth experience to learn about the Panama Canal, this is the program.
This program was fantastic. The itinerary was well planned, and executed at a slightly leisurely pace. We had a wonderful lecture the first night providing a great overview of the history of the building of the canal by an entertaining guest speaker. The hotels were all very nice, and the food was very good. My only disappointment was that Road Scholar offered a Vegetarian option when I registered but did not provide any Vegetarian entrees during the trip itself. If you are a meat eater, there was always 3 entrees offered: fish, chicken, and either beef or pork. If you are a Vegetarian, you simply don't get served an entree at all (even if you selected the Vegetarian option during registration). Too bad.
This program is great if you are interested in the Panama Canal. Don't expect to get a lot about Panama itself or a deep historical or ecological perspective. It focuses on the building of the canal and the canal today. Crossing by boat and returning by train is a wonderful experience. You will not be able to wander around in Panama City or Colon on your own so if you are someone who likes a lot of free time on a tour to explore new cities this is not the trip for you. For safety reasons we always remained with the group. The tour group is larger than a typical Road Scholar trip, probably because of the expense of crossing the canal and needing to fill the boat, but the leaders do a good job of dividing the group into smaller sections for many of the activities. Panama in January is fantastic and the accommodations are excellent on this trip.
I would give this trip 5 stars! The boat trip through the canal was incredible. just the right amount of time. If you are a vegetarian I would not recommend this trip as there was little or no non-meat protein available for the included lunches and dinners. Not sure whether Road Scholar understands vegetarian needs.
This is a GREAT program. If you have any interest in the Panama Canal you gotta do it. Archie & Claudio did a super job leading the group. The transit of the canal is the high point of the program and it was just awesome. The small (well, 90 ft) boat lets you get up close & personal with the locks...you just can't get the same experience going thru it on a cruise ship. I had read a couple books and done a lot of research on the canal & Panama but actually seeing & touching it is an incredible experience. We also got a sense of the pride the Panamanian people have for their canal & country. Road Scholar did their usual great job...the hotels were nice, the food was good, the buses were nice, the leaders were exceptional. It was hot & humid & rainy, tho, but you gotta expect that in the rain forest. Overall, the program exceeded our expectations & we'll definitely be doing more Road Scholar programs.
In addition to the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, the program provides insight into Panamanian culture. Archie and Claudio provide an extraordinary experience that should not be missed.
This was a fascinating and informative program guided by outstanding professionals.
You must experience this for yourself to understand what a marvel it is.