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Complete the form below to begin the process of booking the Panama Immerson Tour. A Summit Incentives team member will contact you within one business day.

Join us for a Once-In-a-Lifetime Excursion to Panama!

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From clear turquoise seas to the coffee farms and cloud forests of Chiriquí, Panama can be as chilled out or as thrilling as you wish.

Endless Summer

With a plethora of deserted islands, chilled Caribbean vibes on one side and monster Pacific swells on the other, Panama sits poised to deliver the best of beach life. And a whole other world begins at the water's edge. Seize it by scuba diving with whale sharks in the Pacific, snorkeling the rainbow reefs of Bocas del Toro or setting sail in the indigenous territory of Guna Yala, where virgin isles sport nary a footprint. Meanwhile surfers will be psyched to have world-class breaks all to themselves. Hello, paradise.

Cosmopolitan Panama

The dazzling blue coastline and shimmering skyscrapers say Miami, though many joke that you hear more English spoken in Panama. Panama City is culturally diverse and driven, rough-edged yet sophisticated. And there's much that's new or improved. Central America's first subway is operating, the historic Casco district has been beautifully restored and a massive canal expansion completed. Take in the city's funky particulars. Pedal the coastal green space, explore the Casco or attend an avant-garde performance and you will realize this tropical capital isn't only about salsa: that's just the backbeat.

The Great Outdoors

In Panama, nature is all about discovery. Explore the ruins of Spanish forts on the Caribbean coast or boat deep into indigenous territories in a dugout canoe. Wildlife is incidental: a resplendent quetzal on the highland trail, an unruly troupe of screeching howler monkeys outside your cabin or a breaching whale that turns your ferry ride into an adrenaline-filled event. Adventure tourism means zipping through rainforest canopies, swimming alongside sea turtles or trekking to sublime cloud-forest vistas. One small tropical country with two long coasts makes for a pretty big playground.

Lost-World Adventure

You don't have to make it all the way to the Darién to get off the beaten path – though if you do, you've hit one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet. Go where the wild things are. Soak in the spray of towering waterfalls near highland Santa Fé. Visit one of Panama's seven indigenous groups through community tourism. Live out your castaway fantasies in the Guna Yala or idle on a wilderness beach in Península de Azuero. Howl back at the creatures sharing the canopy. Panama is as wild as you want it to be.

The American Trade Hotel is a 5 star deluxe hotel and you will really feel at home here. Full American style breakfast is available daily.

Price per person double $

Price per person single  $

*Prices per person (adults 18+) based on double occupancy (unless otherwise stated). Escorted tour packages items listed. Panama Airfare is extra and can cost from $600.00-800.00 depending on departure city and finalized dates.

Trip Cancellation and supplemental insurance policies apply. Be certain to understand how and what is possible in Cuba.

A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person is required to secure your participation on this program.  After you are confirmed the space, air should be booked next.    Book your air by Emailing marty @ or calling  Marty at 973-239-4005 ext 110.

Flight options 

  • Flight from Newark on the nonstop is under 7 hours.

  •  Marty (Director of Reservations Services at Summit) can explain the options. He can be reached at (973) 239-4005 ext 110.

  • Service Fee is $25.00 per ticket



Early Arrivals (We suggest you extend your stay and not arrive early)

thursday November 7

  • Arrivals (Please note- Most guests will land at 2:00pm)

  • Afternoon at leisure

  • Hotel Check in after 3:00pm

  • Dinner at American Trade (optional and on own)]

Friday November 8

  • AM Walking tour of Panama City and visit to the famous Panama Canal

  • Lunch (included)

  • Afternoon at leisure

  • Dinner included at a local public restaurant

saturday November 9

  • Lunch included

  • Afternoon Tour of Panamanian Countryside

  • Dinner at Private Mansion

sunday November 10 

  • Afternoon at leisure

  • Farewell group dinner at private restaurant

monday November 11

 Are you thinking about staying an extra night on your own? Extra Nights if desired is $ per person. Includes Breakfast tax and gratuity. Add $ if single.

Included in our PANAMA IMMERSION Program:

  • 4 nights Hotel at The American Trade Hotel

  • Meet and greet services at the airport

  • Round-trip airport to hotel transpiration

  • Hotel taxes gratuities and baggage handling,

  • Local fuel surcharges,

  • All pre-collected U.S. and foreign taxes and fees (including September 11th Security Fee).

  • Baggage fees at the hotel.

  • Wi Fi Internet connectivity at the hotel is included  

 Meals as specified

  • Breakfast Daily at the hotel  

  • 2 Lunches

  • 1 evening dance club with 2 drinks

  • 3 private restaurant dinner experiences

  • Excursions and touring as specified

  • General gratuities for the itinerary are included

  • Services of an English-speaking local tour guide and driver tour transfers.

Please Note: We have taken care of mostly everything. For any charges at the hotel of personal nature, Spa, mini bar, bottles of wine on own, etc., you will be asked to sign your check and pay your final bill after you return to the United States. US currency is accepted, but and US credit Cards are noy accepted. Local currency is accepted everywhere.



The official currency of Panama is the Balboa, named after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513. One Balboa is divided into 100 cents. Since 1904 one Balboa equals one US Dollar and since then, the US Dollar has legally circulated in Panama. In other words, in practice, the currency used day-to-day in Panama is the US dollar, which is also legal tender. For this reason, Panama is considered a dollarized country and was the second economy in the continent to become a dollarized economy. Currently there are Panamanian coins that have the same weight, dimension and composition of the coins used in the USA (1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents). Panama also has its own $1 coin. For paper money, only the US Dollar is used (there are no paper Balboas).

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Don’t Forget to Add Trip Protection with “Cancel for Any Reason” Coverage!

Here’s what you get if you purchase a plan for your program:

  • Cash reimbursement of fees if canceling for a covered reason

  • “Cancel for Any Reason” benefit provides a credit good for future travel with Road Scholar for the full amount of the Road Scholar cancellation fee if you cancel for a reason not covered by insurance.

  • Trip Interruption coverage

  • Travel Delay coverage

  • Your airfare is covered whether you purchase it through Road Scholar or independently

Our Travel Insurance partner Berkshire Hathaway offers plans
for any kind of trip for every type of traveler.

Panama History and Facts


Lost Panama

The coastlines and rainforests of Panama have been inhabited by humans for at least 10,000 years, and it’s estimated that several dozen indigenous groups including the Kuna, the Ngöbe-Buglé, the Emberá, the Wounaan and the Naso were living on the isthmus prior to the Spanish arrival. However, the historical tragedy of Panama is that despite its rich cultural history, there are virtually no physical remains of these great civilizations.

Unlike the massive pyramid complexes found throughout Latin America, the ancient towns and cities of Panama vanished in the jungles, never to be seen by the eyes of the modern world. However, tales of lost cities still survive in the oral histories of Panama’s indigenous communities, and there is hope amongst Panamanian archaeologists that a great discovery lies in waiting. Considering that much of Panama consists of inaccessible mountains and rainforests, perhaps these dreams aren’t so fanciful.

What is known about pre-Columbian Panama is that early inhabitants were part of an extensive trading zone that extended as far south as Peru and as far north as Mexico. Archaeologists have uncovered exquisite gold ornaments and unusual life-size stone statues of human figures as well as distinctive types of pottery and metates (stone platforms that were used for grinding corn).

Panama’s first peoples also lived beside both oceans, and fished in mangrove swamps, estuaries and coral reefs. Given the tremendous impact that fishing has had on the lives of Isthmians, it seems only fitting that the country’s name is derived from an indigenous word meaning ‘abundance of fish.’

New World Order

In 1501 the discovery of Panama by Spanish explorer Rodrigo de Bastidas marked the beginning of the age of conquest and colonization in the isthmus. However, it was his first mate, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who was to be immortalized in the history books, following his discovery of the Pacific Ocean 12 years later.

On his fourth and final voyage to the New World in 1502, Christopher Columbus went ashore in present-day Costa Rica and returned from the encounter claiming to have seen ‘more gold in two days than in four years in Spain.’ Although his attempts to establish a colony at the mouth of the Río Belén failed due to fierce local resistance, Columbus petitioned the Spanish Crown to have himself appointed as governor of Veraguas, the stretch of shoreline from Honduras to Panama.

Following Columbus’ death in 1506, King Ferdinand appointed Diego de Nicuesa to settle the newly claimed land. In 1510 Nicuesa followed Columbus’s lead, and once again tried to establish a Spanish colony at Río Belén. However, local resistance was once again enough to beat back Spanish occupation, and Nicuesa was forced to flee the area. Leading a small fleet with 280 starving men aboard, the weary explorer looked upon a protected bay 23km east of present-day Portobelo and exclaimed: ‘¡Paremos aquí, en nombre de Dios!’ (‘Let us stop here, in the name of God!’). Thus was named the town of Nombre de Dios, one of the first Spanish settlements in the continental New World.

Much to the disappointment of Columbus’ conquistador heirs, Panama was not abundant with gold. Add tropical diseases, inhospitable terrain and less than welcoming natives to the mix, and it’s easy to see why Nombre de Dios failed several times during its early years as a Spanish colony. However, a bright moment in Spanish exploration came in 1513 when Balboa heard rumors about a large sea and a wealthy, gold-producing civilization across the mountains of the isthmus – almost certainly referring to the Inca empire of Peru. Driven by equal parts ambition and greed, Balboa scaled the Continental Divide, and on September 26, 1513, he became the first European to set eyes upon the Pacific Ocean. Keeping up with the European fashion of the day, Balboa immediately proceeded to claim the ocean and all the lands it touched for the king of Spain.

The Empire expands

In 1519 a cruel and vindictive Spaniard named Pedro Arias de Ávila (or Pedrarias, as many of his contemporaries called him) founded the city of Panamá on the Pacific side, near where Panama City stands today. The governor is best remembered for such benevolent acts as ordering the beheading of Balboa in 1517 on a trumped-up charge of treason as well as ordering murderous attacks against the indigenous population, whom he roasted alive or fed to dogs when the opportunity permitted.

Despite his less than admirable humanitarian record, Pedrarias established Panamá as an important Spanish settlement, a commercial center and a base for further explorations, including the conquest of Peru. From Panamá, vast riches including Peruvian gold and Oriental spices were transported across the isthmus by foot to the town of Venta de Cruces, and then by boat to Nombre de Dios via the Río Chagres. Vestiges of this famous trade route, which was known as the Sendero Las Cruces (Las Cruces Trail), can still be found today throughout Panama.

As the Spaniards grew fat and content on the wealth of plundered civilizations, the world began to notice the prospering colony, especially the English privateers lurking in coastal waters. In 1572 Sir Francis Drake destroyed Nombre de Dios, and set sail for England with a galleon laden with Spanish gold. It was also during this expedition that Drake climbed a high tree in the mountains, thus becoming the first Englishman to ever set eyes on the Pacific Ocean.

Hoping to stave off further ransacking and pillaging, the Spanish built large stone fortresses at Portobelo and Fuerte San Lorenzo. However, these fortifications weren’t enough to stop the Welsh buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan from overpowering Fuerte San Lorenzo and sailing up the Río Chagres in 1671. After crossing the length of the isthmus, Captain Morgan destroyed the city of Panamá, made off with its entire treasure and arrived back on the Caribbean coast with 200 mules loaded with loot.

After Panamá burnt to the ground, the Spanish rebuilt the city a few years later on a cape several kilometers west of its original site. The ruins of the old settlement, now known as Panamá Viejo, as well as the colonial city of Casco Viejo, are both located within the city limits of present-day Panama City.

Of course, British privateering didn’t cease with the destruction of Panamá. In 1739 the final nail in the coffin was hammered in when Admiral Edward Vernon destroyed the fortress of Portobelo. Humiliated by their defeat and robbed of one of their greatest defenses, the Spanish abandoned the Panamanian crossing in favor of sailing the long way around Cape Horn to the western coast of South America.

The Empire ends

On October 27, 1807, the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which defined the occupation of Portugal, was signed between Spain and France. Under the guise of reinforcing the Franco-Spanish army occupying Portugal, Napoleon moved tens of thousands of troops into Spain. In an act of military genius, Napoleon ordered his troops to abandon the ruse and seize key Spanish fortifications. Without firing a single shot, Napoleon’s troops seized Barcelona after convincing the city to open its gates for a convoy of wounded soldiers.

Although Napoleon’s invasion by stealth was successful, the resulting Peninsular War was a horrific campaign of guerrilla warfare that crippled both countries. As a result of the conflict, its subsequent power vacuum and decades of internal turmoil, Spain lost nearly all of its colonial possessions in the first third of the century.

Panama gained independence from Spanish rule in 1821, and immediately joined Gran Colombia, a confederation of ColombiaBoliviaEcuadorPeru and Venezuela, a united Latin American nation that had long been the dream of Simón Bolívar. However, internal disputes lead to the formal abolishment of Gran Colombia in 1831, though fledgling Panama retained its status as a province of Colombia.

Birth of a nation

Panama’s future forever changed from the moment that the world’s major powers learned that the isthmus of Panama was the narrowest point between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In 1846 Colombia signed a treaty permitting the US to construct a railway across the isthmus, though it also granted them free transit and the right to protect the railway with military force. At the height of the California gold rush in 1849, tens of thousands of people traveled from the east coast of the US to the west coast via Panama in order to avoid hostile Native Americans living in the central states. Colombiaand Panama grew wealthy from the railway, and the first talks of an interoceanic canal across Central America began to surface.

The idea of a canal across the isthmus was first raised in 1524 when King Charles V of Spain ordered that a survey be undertaken to determine the feasibility of constructing such a waterway. In 1878, however, it was the French who received a contract from Colombia to build a canal. Still basking in the warm glory of the recently constructed Suez Canal, French builder Ferdinand-Marie de Lesseps brought his crew to Panama in 1881. Much like Napoleon before him, Lesseps severely underestimated the task at hand, and over 22,000 workers died from yellow fever and malaria in less than a decade. By 1889, insurmountable construction problems and financial mismanagement had driven the company bankrupt.

The US, always keen to look after its investments, saw the French failure as a lucrative business opportunity that was ripe for the taking. Although they had previously been scouting locations for a canal in Nicaragua, the US pressured the French to sell them their concessions. In 1903, Lesseps’ chief engineer, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, agreed to the sale, though the Colombian government promptly refused.

In what would be the first of a series of American interventions in Panama, Bunau-Varilla approached the US government to back Panama if it declared its independence from Colombia. On November 3, 1903, a revolutionary junta declared Panama independent, and the US government immediately recognized the sovereignty of the country. Although Colombia sent troops by sea to try to regain control of the province, US battleships prevented them from reaching land. Colombia did not recognize Panama as a legitimately separate nation until 1921, when the US paid Colombia US$25 million in ‘compensation.’

Growing pains

Following independence, Bunau-Varilla was appointed Panamanian ambassador to the US, though his first act of office paved the way for future American interventions in the region. Hoping to profit from the sale of the canal concessions to the US, Bunau-Varilla arrived in Washington, DC before Panama could assemble a delegation. On November 18, Bunau-Varilla and US Secretary of State, John Hay, signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, which gave the US far more than had been offered in the original treaty. In addition to owning concessions to the canal, the US was also granted ‘sovereign rights in perpetuity over the Canal Zone,’ an area extending 8km on either side of the canal, and a broad right of intervention in Panamanian affairs.

Despite opposition from the tardy Panamanian delegation as well as lingering questions about its legality, the treaty was ratified, ushering in an era of friction between the US and Panama. Construction began again on the canal in 1904, and despite disease, landslides and harsh weather, the world’s greatest engineering marvel was completed in only a decade. The first ship sailed through the canal on August 15, 1914.

In the years following the completion of the canal, the US military repeatedly intervened in the country’s political affairs. In response to growing Panamanian disenchantment with frequent US interventions, the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was replaced in 1936 by the Hull-Alfaro Treaty. The US relinquished its rights to use its troops outside the Canal Zone and to seize land for canal purposes, and the annual sum paid to Panama for use of the Canal Zone was raised. However, increased sovereignty was not enough to stem the growing wave of Panamanian opposition to US occupation. Anti-US sentiments reached a boiling point in 1964 during a student protest that left 27 Panamanians dead and 500 injured. Today, the event is commemorated as Día de Los Mártires (National Martyrs Day).

As US influence waned, the Panamanian army grew more powerful. In 1968, the Guardia Nacional deposed the elected president and took control of the government. Soon after, the constitution was suspended, the national assembly was dissolved and the press were censored, while the Guardia’s General Omar Torrijos emerged as the new leader. Despite plunging the country into debt as a result of a massive public works program, Torrijos was successful in pressuring US President Jimmy Carter into ceding control of the canal to Panama. The Torrijos-Carter Treaty guaranteed full Panamanian control of the canal as of December 31, 1999, as well as a complete withdrawal of US military forces.

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Fast Facts

Panama contains the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic…from the same spot! At the country’s narrowest point, only 80 kilometers separates the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean.

  1. Panama City, the nation’s capital and largest city, is the only capital city in the world that has a rain forest within its city limits.

  2. The total population of Panama is around 3.6 million with 1.5 million of those living in Panama city.

  3. The official language of Panama is Spanish, but English is widely spoken. More so in the urban vs. the rural areas.

  4. Panama celebrates two independence days, the first from Spain in 1821 and the second from Colombia 82 years later in 1903.

  5. Panama was the very first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency.

  6. Major driver’s of Panama’s economy include cargo ships, the exportation of refined petroleum, and tourism.

  7. The Panama Canal was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. It’s considered one of the seven modern World Wonders.

  8. More than 12,000 people died in the construction of the Panama Railroad.

  9. Panama is located south of the hurricane alley, so it is rarely affected by tropical storms or hurricanes.

  10. Panama is home to 10,000 different plants species, including 1,400 varieties of orchids, 678 ferns, and more than 1,500 varieties of trees.

  11. There are two basic seasons in Panama: the dry season from December to April and the rainy season from May to November.

  12. Panama has more than 976 bird species, which is more than the United States and Canada combined.

  13. All vessels going through Panama Canal have to pay a toll. The toll is based on the type of vessel, its size, and its cargo. The highest toll ever paid was $376,000 by the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship in 2010.

  14. Panama grows some of the world’s finest coffee, which can be tasted at Starbucks and other coffee houses worldwide.

  15. At 11,397 feet, the highest elevation in Panama is Volcán Barú, which is located near Boquete.

  16. Panama has the second-largest duty-free zone in the world, the Colon Free Zone, second in size only to Hong Kong.

  17. For a relatively small country, Panama boasts many miles of pristine beaches, with more than 1,500 miles (2,490 kilometers) of shoreline.

  18. The Panamanian constitution gives foreigners and citizens the same right to own property.

  19. The Panama Hat actually originated in Ecuador.

  20. Senator John McCain was born in Panama, in the Canal Zone which was at that time considered U.S. Territory.

  21. Panama has a 100% tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 80-90 degrees.