Last Day of Grit and Glory

Visit to Fort San Lorenzo which was used as protection for ships while transporting goods such as gold, silver, spices etc.  Some cannons pointing towards the ocean and river are still on display. 


Entrance to the fort

Some of the ruins of the Fort

The cannons

Met a friend - The main cannon at the door way

The day ended with a special Farewell Dinner topped by a surprise Panamanian Traditional dance which was enjoyed by the entire group.

Traditional Panamanian dance

Traditional dress - hand made

Little boat, big Canal, WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!

The Grit & Glory group are all smiles!! 

Traveling through the Miraflores Locks

I can't believe we just went through the Miraflores Locks! What an experience. The Holbrook Travel office took these screen shots as our boat passed through, so I thought I'd share them. 


Here we are entering the locks.
We're in the locks! See the Road Scholar banner on the side of the boat?
We're waiting for the lock to fill before we exit to the other side.
The container ship on the left was in front of us in the locks. That's us on the very right.
We just went through the locks, and we're on our way through!
Here we are on our way out.
Bon voyage!

DAY 3 Mid Canal Upper Watershed

The Caribbean side of Panama has much to offer as well.   This is where the famous Maddem Dam is located.  This dam is mainly a backup for the Gatun Lakes in case of drought, low water level.  The Lagartos Restaurant where we do lunch is located on the Chagres River with a superb view of the many ships sailing across it daily.

Day 3 - Field trip - The Chagres River

It's about an hour cruise with lots of birds such as parrots, blue herrings,  mammals such as 3-toed sloth and Howler monkeys.  The Chagres River is a mixture of fresh and sea water.

Cruising the Chagres River

Mini bird island on Chagres River with birds perching

Day 2 of Grit & Glory Program

Now with all participants under one roof we're off to our first excitement after the morning orientation.  Firstly, our hotel is located in the most perfect spot at the entrance of the "Canal" with some breathtaking views of this one of the seven wonders of the world.   We visited the Administration Building, which has so much history of the canal to offer - the rotunda depicting pictures of the various construction phases of the canal.  The drive on the bridge of the Americas was incredible, it was saved as a surprise for the group who were all very excited.  To end the day with a drive through colonial Panama combined with the bridge crossing was the absolute highlight of the day.

Day one in Panama - Pre tour

I'm now in this very interesting country that is Panama. We had early morning (6:30) bird watching along the Pipeline Road.  It covers approximately 4 miles of rainforest, saw endless amounts of birds as well as wildlife such as White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys and various types of rodents. This has made a birder out me.  I even had the privilege of joining a small group of 6 experienced birders who didn't mind being my instructors along the way.  After that, we visited the Gamboa Resort which overlooks the Chagres River-WHAT A VIEW. We are now transferring to the next hotel in time to start greeting the first group of participants as they arrive.


Itinerary

Day 1 - March 7, 2011
Arrival in Panama City.

Day 2 - March 8, 2011
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. Two miles from the center of Panama City are the ruins of Old Panama or Casco Viejo, founded by the Spanish in 1535. From here, expeditions were launched to conquer Peru, Chile and California. In 1673 the governor of the old city ordered the city’s powder magazine burned in defense against the extirpation by privateer Henry Morgan. Morgan’s buccaneers sacked the city, but many of Old Panama’s buildings dating from the early 1600s have been reconstructed: the Town Hall; Bishop’s House; Royal Houses; and the Fort of the Nativity, which protected the entrance to the gold route. Excursion 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.

Day 3 - March 9, 2011
Field trip to Miraflores Locks to view ships passing through the first series of locks in the canal. Visit the interpretive museum. 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. Field trip to 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. Excursion to the French Cemetery that honors the many lives that where lost during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Day 4 - March 10, 2011
Early morning transfer to port to board boat. 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. Disembark in Colon. Colon Province was once known for its wealth, its seemingly endless supply of gold and silver. Here, Spain moved the gold it acquired from the Incans and prepared it for shipment back to Spain. The gold is gone and swashbuckling pirates rarely visit this 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.

Day 5 - March 11, 2011
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 Lorenzo 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. Visit to the Gatun Locks, dam, power-generating plant and spillway. Train ride excursion to Panama City via the isthmus.

Day 6 - March 12, 2011
Transfer to hotel.


About

Holbrook Travel Destination Consultant and Air Specialist Bernadette Bernard shares her experience on the Road Scholar program 9901 Exposing the Panama Canal: Grit and Glory.

I was born and raised in the Seychelles Islands. I moved to the U.S. (Florida) in 1997 and ever since then I’ve been representing and providing you with dedicated service through Holbrook Travel. Travel is my passion.


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