STEM Studies in Panama

Study Stem & Learn About Responsible Travel

at a map of the world where North and South America connect. That skinny piece of land is the Isthmus of Panama, the focus of this trip. The Panama Canal is one of the most important waterways in the world, and a great place for a demonstration of responsible travel.

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Sojourn – Gain a better understanding of the community you’re visiting. Learn about different religions or spiritual practices. How do these impact the communities? How does religion or spirituality influence local traditions?

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Savor – Will you choose sweet or savory? Take the time to visit local markets and discover unique local ingredients. Learn how to prepare traditional meals & local favorites.

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Tip of the Tongue – Each morning, take the time to learn a few basic greetings and phrases in the local language. Learn how to write greetings & your name in the local script.

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A Wrinkle in Time – History influences our present. Discover the history of the country you visit. Hear the stories of your guides & their family history. Where do they come from?

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Journal Journeys – Take some time to reflect on the day’s events and document your journey. Spend a moment journaling about the day had & day ahead. These are memories for a lifetime!

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Culture – From local dances, festivals, or simple gestures to communicate – all of these make up a country’s culture. Learn and practice cultural norms & how to show respect in the culture you visit.

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Upon arrival at the Panama City airport, you will be greeted by your local guide and transferred to your hotel to freshen up before going out for a traditional Panamanian meal and your first glimpse of the city.

Your guide is an expert on the area and will be with you throughout your visit to Panama. He or she will be sure to share important local cultural customs as well as safety tips for the trip.

This morning, you will embark on a panoramic tour of the capital city of Panama including the waterfront, the markets, the Old Quarter, the San Jose Cathedral, the twisting tower (the tallest building in Panama City) and other significant sites within the city.

You will then journey to the Miraflores Locks for an inside glimpse of the lock operations. You will have time to observe from above in the visitor’s center as ships of various sizes navigate the locks, as well as enjoy a delicious meal overlooking the canal.

Very early this morning, you will head out to Amador Causeway, the departure point for your trip through the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean – all in one day.

Your journey starts on the spectacular Bay of Panama with an impressive view of the city skyscrapers. You will pass underneath the Bridge of the Americas, the bridge that joins North and Central America with South America.

The first set of locks is the same one you visited yesterday. In the Miraflores locks, you will rise a total of 18 meters (60 feet) in a two-step process as you experience how the water elevates the boat above sea level.

Your journey continues through Miraflores Lake, a small fresh-water lake that separates the two sets of locks on the Pacific side of the canal. On the other side of the lake is the Pedro Miguel locks. 

At the Pedro Miguel Locks, the boat will ascend a total of 9 meters (30 feet) in one single step. At both the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, you will have the opportunity to see just how the water lifts up a boat as it is trapped within the confines of the locks. It is an impressive feat of engineering and technology that allows vessels of all sizes to traverse the canal.

Upon exiting the Pedro Miguel Locks, your boat will pass through the Corte Culebra where the Chagres Rivers flows into the Canal. It’s called the Corte Culebra section of the canal due to its curves appearing to be similar to those of a snake that has been chopped up: corte means “cut” and culebra means “snake.” After passing through the Corte Culebra you will travel underneath the second bridge crossing the Panama Canal, the Puente Centenario or Centennial Bridge.

Next, you arrive at the famous Gatun Lake. Because of its size, crossing Gatun Lake feels as if you were crossing the ocean. Here you will see dozens of islands, which are home to an immense diversity of flora and fauna. The Smithsonian Institute has a center for tropical investigations located on Barro Colorado Island. 

After sailing across the lake, you arrive at the Caribbean end of the canal, where your boat will enter the multi-level Gatun Locks. In a series of three steps, you will descend a total of 26 meters (85 feet) down to the level of the Atlantic ocean.

After leaving this final set of locks, your boat will navigate to the city of Colon on the Caribbean coast of Panama. Here you will disembark and spend the night.

Today you will visit the town of Gamboa, the site of the Panama Canal’s Dredging Division, to learn more about the science of the canal and to see first-hand the recently added new canal. A visitor’s center details the construction of the new locks.

In the afternoon, you will visit Monkey Island for a picnic lunch near the Gatun Dam before exploring San Lorenzo National Park and Fort San Lorenzo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking the Caribbean Sea. 

Later you will return to Panama City via bus, a trip of approximately two hours.

Today you will travel to El Valle de Anton, a small community in the mountains nearby Panama City to see how the original Quincha people lived. Visit a local parish to see the extensive collection of pots, bowls and other artifacts from early Panamanian people.

Enjoy a local fiesta and entertainment put on by a local music and dancing youth group. Their skills will impress you, especially when you are invited to join the festivities!

This morning you will visit the El Nispero, a local “zoo,” which is actually a rescue organization for wild animals as well as a conservatory for the Panama Golden Frog. The facilities house jaguars, white peacocks, a variety of monkeys and birds, and a research facility dedicated to frogs.

Following your visit to El Nispero, you have the option of experiencing a local mud bath and natural hot springs. The mud is reported to take 10 years off your appearance!

On the trip back to Panama City, you will stop by a local sugar cane plantation to try your hand at the harvest of this critical Panamanian crop as well as to see how it is used to create natural molasses.

This morning, you will depart to experience the life of a small native tribe. You will journey by bus to a river pickup point, and from there native tribesmen of the Embera tribe will escort you in dugout canoes to their village. The tribesmen navigate the canoes using long poles and physical strength as they point out local birds and wildlife.

The villagers will welcome you with song and dance, as well as a meal prepared by the local tribal women. All the food is organically grown and harvested.

You will return to Panama City in the afternoon for free time before your travels home tomorrow.

This morning you will begin your return trip home. We hope you have enjoyed your travels through this beautiful country and take home many wonderful memories and insights.

Learn how the Panama Canal is a vital economic transportation hub for this country and the world, as well as an engineering wonder that traverses swamps, jungles and gorges. Discover how the canal’s expansion impacts the local ecosystem and what is being done to protect nearby habitat. With responsible travel practices, transportation of goods becomes easier and faster as well as supporting local economies.


3-6 Day
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7-14 Day
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