Panama Canal Boat Eco Tour
Panama Canal Boat Eco Tour
4.5
Boat Tours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.5
36 reviews
Excellent
23
Very good
8
Average
2
Poor
1
Terrible
2

kenaisoki13
Sequim, WA23 contributions
May 2011 • Friends
Panama Marine Adventures (PMA) provides a unique week-long, small ship eco-cruise experience unparalleled in our many world travels. We explored the Panama Canal and environs from the Caribbean Coast to the Pacific Coast, and the Bay of Panama, in a 121 foot, modern, air conditioned catamaran, Discovery, from which we took many shore excursions in inflatable Zodiacs, kayaks, and in a panga (large seaworthy skiff) up the Sambu River into the Darien Wilderness. We leisurely traveled by train from Panama City to Colon, toured Porto Belo, and saw all of the Chagres River from its mouth in the Caribbean to Gatun Dam. After passing through the Canal's Gatun Locks, we spent a night in Gatun Lake, and took a tour of a Smithsonian Research facility on Barro Colorado Island. The next day we exited the Canal, refueled in Panama City, and proceeded to the Pearl Islands archipelago, where we anchored off Contadora Island, which we explored on foot and by Zodiac. The next day was another trip highlight, when we traveled by panga about 10 miles up the Sambu River in the Darien Wilderness of SW Panama for a day long visit-of-a-lifetime with the remotely located Embera Indians. These happy, friendly people graciously received us, danced and played music for us, provided a tribal history, gave us a village tour (~360 population), showed us how they lived off the land, offered some unbelievably high quality arts and crafts for sale, and a few of us got some temporary arm tattoos with an indelible "home-made" ink. The last day was spent at another Pearl Island snorkeling, swimming, beachcombing or just relaxing.
For those readers, who are used to taking large ship cruises, which have very expensive shore excursions, and fees for many other things, PMA offers this week-long, pleasure adventure for one all-inclusive price with all land transportation (including coast-to- coast railroad, vans and buses), excellent food, all beverages, a very personable, attentive crew, and a very knowledgeable Panamanian naturalist guide. All spoke good English. Even though birding and wildlife was not particularly advertised, as a bonus, we saw more than 60 species of birds, and sloths, crocodiles, Howler and Tamarin monkeys, iguanas, lizards, a non-poisonous water snake, turtles, and flying fish. Discovery holds a maximum of 24 passengers with a crew of 14. On our trip, we had only 11 travelers and, by the end of the week, we were all spoiled rotten! (smile) We would unequivocally recommend to anyone interested in a unique, pleasureful, learning adventure! It far exceeded our expectations!
Written July 27, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelinDantheMan
Willemstad, Curaçao192 contributions
Oct 2011
Took this day tour with Captain Carl while travelling through Panama for a conference with 11 high school students. We had a fantastic time! Carl is funny and a bit sarcastic - the kids loved him. He took us to do cool things that any adult/teen/kid would love: boating, animals (4 types of monkeys, alone), big ships, chilling in hammocks, a good lunch (no complaints from 11 kids? unheard of), kayaking, swimming, jumping off waterfalls....We had an amazing time. It was an all-day adventure and the 45 minute bus ride back to the city was quiet as we all slept - happy and satisfied. I would recommend this for all travellers interested in being shown a bit of Panama's wild side. We only went for the day, but I think it would be cool to stay overnight out in the wilds of the canal on Carl's "houseboat" (like a small and rustic hotel). I'll bet it is amazing at night. Great work, Carl! Thanks for a great day!
Written November 3, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Folsom5outback
Sacramento, CA105 contributions
Sep 2012 • Couples
Captain Carl’s tour is an entire day. There are other tours that are mornings only; they don’t include the afternoon of activities on his houseboat. We had to find our own ride to the boat ramp. We hired reliable driver Fernando Kelly who took us down the lush jungle road to the Gamboa public boat ramp with no problems, held our luggage, and picked us up at the end of the day – dropping us off at the airport. He only charged $60 total; all the other quotes were $100.

Captain Carl is the type of guy who tells so many jokes, you never know when he is being serious. I think it is because his reality is unreal.

Picture Disneyland's Jungle Cruise, and you can imagine just what our day was like (minus animatronics and a headhunter). The boat and jungle shore looked just like the ride, but real. Captain Carl took us right out into the canal, passing the container ships. A few different times he would pull up to the shore and call for ... Something. The trees started shaking like King King or Mighty Joe was going to come out (and attack us), and out pops these little, very cute monkeys! We saw 4 kinds: a howler, several capuchin, and 2 others. The capuchin monkeys jumped into the boat for bananas. (Note: Captain Carl did not bring food; one of the passengers had bananas.) One of them looked two-headed... It was carrying its baby on its back! At this point I was thinking the tour was pretty amazing, and unlike anything I have ever done.

Our next stop on the tour was Captain Carl's houseboat tucked off one of the waterways of the canal. He served us a very good, hot lunch - and gave us time to swim (with the crocodiles? No thanks) or lay in hammocks. Or get a picture of a baby caiman on our head.

Then the group of us got in kayaks and went up stream. Oh yeah, now it is raining (Panama hard) and thundering but it makes no difference and doesn't dampen the experience one bit. We paddled through the muck of water plants and reached a tucked away waterfall.

The jungle cruise excitement ends here. I'm cold and wet, and can't dry off. No point in changing into my dry clothes because it is still raining. Note to self: bring a towel.
Written October 13, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Carlos C
Panama City, Panama3 contributions
Jun 2012 • Friends
The boat driver Karl Davis surprised his clients by been rude, pretending to bully his clients, other tour operators and the local natives. He tells people that the islands belong to his company and that no one can land or beach at his islands. He miss treats the natives that fish and work in Lake Gatun. The Canal Zone and 2 miles in width on each side is the Parque Nacional Soverania of public use, therefore no body has properties rights in this land. Some people have been allowed to build shacks and docks, but this does not give them the exclusive right of use of this places. Karl loudly screams, cruses and bullies people in front his own clients and other operators tourists, embarrassing everyone. He should be given a warming by ACP and a reprimand by the Tourist Authority of Panama.
Written August 29, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lee_Melville
Irvine, CA1 contribution
Jul 2012 • Couples
I had the opportunity to take part in two different jungle tours on my recent trip to Panama. This one with my wife, and another with a larger family group. This tour was far superior in every way! Carl is not only very knowledgeable but he's a friendly guy that puts you right at ease. As far as I can tell, his boat is the only one of all the tours which monkeys will climb on to and get right up close to everyone on board. Also, the house boat from which you can swim/kayak/fish and experience some other wildlife up close, is unique. Trust me, you will have an awesome time with Carl.
Written July 4, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

HappyTraveller213
Los Angeles, CA669 contributions
This is a fun boat tour through the Panama canal / jungle area, visit local animals, feed monkey, canoe to waterfalls, go swimming, watch big container ships / cruises cross the canal, see the new Panama canal expansion. This trip was lots of fun, a perfect day trip in Panama with a very professional and knowledgeable tour guide: Captain Carl.

I was picked up at 8:30am at my Hotel in Panama City. The drive to Gamboa, in a comfortable Toyota van, was about 30 minutes, where we met our host Captain Carl. A fun, yet professional tour guide, who actually lives in the jungle.

We were a group of about 10 people from the US, Europe and South America. The morning part we toured the Panama Canal by boat, first getting a detailed tour on how the Panama canal was built, how the seas were designed to capture rain water needed for the locks in raising the big ships. We also visited the new sites where the Panama canal is being expanded to allow more and even larger vessels cross the oceans.

One of the highlights of the trip was to feed Capuchin monkeys. Once we got closed to them, they jumped on the boat and took our treats. Captain Carl had provided us with peanuts and bananas upfront; he had also explained to us the safety guidelines about feeding the monkeys.

Lunch time we went to a house boat, where very yummy and delicious lunch was served: Caribbean flavored chicken and rice with Panama tamales. Vegetarian dishes were also available for those who didn’t eat meat.

After lunch, we went canoeing to a nearby waterfall, where we went swimming. Along the way we met many bird species. Around 3pm we canoed back to the house boat, where we left at 3:30pm to head back to our hotels.

I was very impressed with our tour guide, who was fluent in English and Spanish, as well as very knowledgeable. We were a mixed group of English and Spanish speaking tourists. We saw at least 20 different kinds of birds, many kinds of vegetations and received detailed information about all of them.

Overall the tour is also organized very professionally. Pickup and drop off at the hotel was on time. We had a professional driver. The boat was equipped with life vests for everyone, and Captain Carl made sure we all followed the safety guide lines he gave us, especially when animals would come near us. Also the food was good quality.

I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Panama, it is a great experience and lots of fun.

For more info, please visit:
http://panamatours.com.pa/index.php/Panama-Canal-Tour.html
Written December 2, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Danaeve
Washington DC, DC14 contributions
Sep 2011 • Friends
A friend and I spent a long weekend in Panama and did this tour on our last day there. Could not think of a better way to have ended our trip!

We met Carl, our guide, at the Gamboa Boat Ramp. There were about a dozen others going on the tour too. Off we went on a 2-hour boat ride, watching tall ships go by the canal, learning about the ecosystem, and stopping by Monkey Island where a handful of Capuchin monkeys scurried about our boat for a bit. That was a thrill! And this was just the beginning.

We then pulled up to an anchored house boat where we had a hot lunch and then relaxed in hammocks, where a few of us had a cocktail while others took a quick nap. Then we broke into two groups. Some went fishing, and the rest of us took a short kayak trip to an inlet with a waterfall where we swam and splashed around for a good, long while. We never felt rushed. It was a slice of paradise.

Back at the house boat, some relaxed in hammocks while some of us jumped into the water to swim some more. Then, it was feeding time. A number of creatures live on this house boat and we loved meeting them. I got to feed fruit to a night monkey. We all got to feed a toucan. Most of us took turns holding a Colombian boa. And we also enjoyed pulled up on shore near the house boat to admire little Tamarin monkeys running through the trees.

Then, we got on the boat back to Gamboa, relaxed and all smiles. Carl was a lively, informative, and wonderful guide. It was an incredible experience!
Written September 10, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

AlyssaN
Baltimore, MD1 contribution
Dec 2010
My husband and I periodically visit our old friends in Panama on trips to Latin America. They suggested we try a day tour on the Panama Canal and recommended Capt Carl's house boat as one of the better nature adventures.
We were not disappointed. Not only did he give an informative visit to monkey island ( I'm sure the creatures there know him well as they respond to him as he calls out each of their names) but we enjoyed a magnificent visit to waterfalls in a beautiful, unspoiled jungle setting. The meal on the house boat was pleasant.and close up encounters with all the animals was exciting. My only regret was being too ' chicken' to be photographed holding the large Boa Constrictor.

Our next visit will certainly involve the overnight stay. Another couple on our tour stayed overnight and couldn't stop talking about the beauty and sounds of the jungle at night.
The Captain gave us a new website if you are interested.
www.junglelandpanama.com
Alyssa
Written February 28, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jane3722
Kitchener, Canada246 contributions
Jan 2015 • Family
we took two young kids with us to see the monkeys and wild life, which they did...but lunch wasn't until 1:30 when we made sandwiches and had a muffin and pop...a long time as we did a two hour bus ride, a boat ride, a walk in the jungle...so take food!
Written January 6, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elaine B
San Dimas, California, United States2 contributions
Jul 2012 • Family
This Eco-tour will be one of my most memorable excursions. Captain Carl is indeed very charismatic. His sense of humor added to the enjoyment of this tour. Word of caution to those who take things to seriously, this may not be for you. Captain Carl knew the animals by name. Great photo shots. I did things I would never have thought of doing. I held a snake, baby crocodile, and a monkey on my shoulder. I also fed a Tucan. All of this took place on the house boat when you stop for lunch. The lunch is not a typical sack lunch. We had a nice hot and delicious meal. After the meal, the group ventured off on the kayaks.. The journey ended at a beautiful waterfall. The return back to the houseboat allowed time to try out the hammocks or try your hand at some fishing. My niece caught a fish. This excursion is a must do while you are in Panama.
Written August 4, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Panama Canal Boat Eco Tour - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)