The rest of the world may be focused on more widely advertised destinations for their vacations, but savvy travelers know Panama Canal cruises offer a diverse selection of sights, sounds and adventures not found elsewhere. Aside from the fact that the Panama Canal is a modern-day engineering marvel, the area in and around Panama also offers elegant beaches dotted with swaying palms. In addition, a world-class assortment of wildlife and playful festivals make Panama a jewel for cruise vacations in the crown of North America.
The Darien Gap
The Pan-American Highway System connects North America and South America with the exception of one 62-mile stretch of swampland: The Darien Gap that falls between Panama and Colombia. Two major national parks fall within The Darien Gap: Darien National Park and Los Katios National Park. One of the most exceptional excursions many attempt while on Panama Canal cruises is a crossing of The Darien Gap. Many have traversed this area via Range Rover or Jeep, and several have crossed by foot. It certainly is possible, but if you plan to attempt a crossing, then you'll want to plan your Panama Canal cruises during the dry season.
Every year during the four days prior to Ash Wednesday, the towns of Las Tablas, Pennomene and Los Santos transform into a partygoer's dream. Similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnaval marks the last four days before Lent, the season of sacrifice. Carnaval brings droves of tourists and locals to the area in and around the Panama Canal. Discount cruises put you in the middle of all the fun, as ships line the Canal filled with passengers ready to participate in all the fun. During the day, giant trucks spray the crowds with water, keeping them cool in the exhausting heat. At night, street dances, firework displays and parades take place. This colorful festival is fun for the entire family.
The Cornell University website does a wonderful job of depicting Panama by describing, “…misty mountains, brilliantly colored orchids, exotic wildlife, staggering ecodiversity, amazing snorkeling, and warm, welcoming people. From its teeming coral reefs and rushing rivers to its volcanic peak, Panama is a lush, inviting playground for active families.”
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