Monkey Island, Panama

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Monkey Island, Panama: Our most recommended tours and activities

Panama City: Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour

1. Panama City: Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour

Begin your tour with hotel pickup at 7:00 AM. Travel west of Panama City to start your exploration of the Panama Canal. Embark on a 90-minute boat tour on the Canal and Gatun Lake. Ride along the canal and get an up-close view of the ships passing through as well as the abundant wildlife along the shores. Visit the famous Monkey Islands, where you can see capuchins, howlers, and tamarins. Then, head 45 minutes north to the Caribbean side of Panama to visit the Agua Clara Visitor Center to see the new expansion locks operating up-close. Observe transiting vessels passing through the Agua Clara Locks on the way to the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean from a scenic lookout point. Learn first-hand about the various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its participation in world markets, and the importance of its watershed. Make your way to a scenic and quiet spot beneath the Gatun Dam and have a picnic lunch at the fork of the French West Diversion Channel and the Chagres River. Next, travel to San Lorenzo National Park, where you can visit a remote rainforest full of flora and fauna, followed by a tour of Fort San Lorenzo. Discover a 400-year-old Spanish fort on a scenic cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Hear about the many attacks by pirates and privateers at one of the most historically important places in Panama. Finally, be returned to your hotel in Panama City.

From Panama City: Monkey Islands Tour on Gatun Lake

2. From Panama City: Monkey Islands Tour on Gatun Lake

Travel to the Gamboa Marina in an air-conditioned tour vehicle with a guide and the rest of the tour group, before a transfer to a riverboat for a ride on the Chagres River, one of Panama's largest rivers, and head for Monkey Island. Observe the different species of monkeys that live on the island, from white-face monkeys, howler monkeys, and Geoffrey´s tamarinds, while taking some time to snap photos, and learn interesting facts and information about the different species from a knowledgeable guide. Return to the marina and to Panama City, and end the tour with drop-off at the hotel.

From Panama City: Panama Canal and Monkey Island Tour

3. From Panama City: Panama Canal and Monkey Island Tour

Benefit from pick-up at your hotel or other location in Panama City, and journey to the Panama Canal Visitors Center to get a detailed explanation about how the canal and famous Miraflores Locks work. Visit the museum to learn more about this important water passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Return to the vehicle and pass Miraflores Lake and the Pedro Miguel Locks as you make your way to the town of Gamboa. Upon arrival at the Chagres River, climb aboard for a scenic boat trip across artificial Gatun Lake. Marvel at the surrounding landscape of the biggest and most important lake in the Panama Canal. Watch the large ships passing through the canal to get a sense of the magnitude of this masterpiece of engineering. Arrive at a group of islands to see different species of animals and monkeys. Return to Panama City and get dropped off at your hotel.

Monkey Island and Indian Village Tour

4. Monkey Island and Indian Village Tour

Leave the city behind in the morning and head to the Chagres River where you will board a boat for a 2-hour tour in Lake Gatun (once the largest manmade lake in the world) and the Panama Canal! Explore the ins and outs of the nearby bays, search for wildlife, and visit the famous Monkey Island, home of the amazing white faced monkeys! Also, keep an eye out for turtles, crocodiles, caiman, tons of bird life and all kinds of other surprises. Return towards Gamboa, pass the dock and head upstream to the Indian village. Unlike most Indian village tours, this one is authentic! Learn about the local culture, history and crafts. Then, hike along a short trail to see the plants that grow in this area and how the locals use them (practical, artist or medical uses) and see dance that is part of their custom. After visiting the village, return towards Panama City and stop along the way for lunch and arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon.

From Panama City: Gatun Lake and Monkey Island Tour

5. From Panama City: Gatun Lake and Monkey Island Tour

Following a convenient pickup from your hotel in Panama City, head to the town of Gamboa in the Soberania National Park. Get on board a boat and depart along the Gatun Lake next to the huge ships that cross the Panama Canal. Marvel at the fauna and vegetation of the tropical forest, as well as the residents of Monkey Island where you can admire the white-faced capuchin, Geoffroy’s tamarin, and howler monkeys in their natural habitat. In Gatun Lake you’ll also can find many species of birds like toucans, hawks, herons, snail kites, and other mamals like agoutis, coatis, and capybaras. After the boat trip and Monkey Island experience, return back to your hotel with a drop-off.

From Panama City: Monkey Island and Sloth Sanctuary Tour

6. From Panama City: Monkey Island and Sloth Sanctuary Tour

After a pickup from your hotel, head to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in the Soberania National Park. From here board a boat and sail on Gatun Lake next to the huge ships that cross the Panama Canal. Admire the fauna and vegetation of the tropical forest, as well as Monkey Island where you have the chance to see white-faced capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys in their natural habitat. Continue on to the Sloth Sanctuary to observe three-toed and two-toed sloths that have been rescued. Learn about the life and habits of the sloths, as well as the efforts for the conservation of the species through the volunteers and specialized guides. From the Sloth Sanctuary, move on to the Butterfly House where you can see the butterflies that live in the rainforest such as the colorful Blue Morpho Butterfly. You will also visit the orchid and frog exhibitions to discover more about the species that live in the rainforest.

Panama City: Panama Canal and Gatun Lake Jungle Eco Cruise

7. Panama City: Panama Canal and Gatun Lake Jungle Eco Cruise

Begin your tour with hotel pickup in central Panama City. Travel to Panama Canal north to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the canal. Ride along the waters of the Panama Canal right next to the ships passing through on their way to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Then, head to Gatun Lake, a large artificial lake created in 1907. Cruise around islands created during the canal construction and see the abundant wildlife on its shores. Also visit the famous Monkey Islands where you can see capuchins, howlers, and tamarins up-close in their natural habitat. Once you finish with the canal and Monkey Island boat tour (around 90 minutes), travel to a unique spot with views of the Panama Canal and enjoy a traditional Panamanian breakfast. After breakfast, enjoy a walk in Soberania National Park. Here, experience nature in one of the most biodiverse rain forests in the world. The length of the walk and the type of trail will depend on the physical capabilities of the group.

Panama City: Monkey Island and Indigenous Village Tour

8. Panama City: Monkey Island and Indigenous Village Tour

After being picked up at your hotel or address in Panama City, set off for the town of Gamboa, in the middle of the Panama Canal. There, at the edge of the Chagres River, take a trip by boat to the Gatun Lake begins, the biggest and most important lake in the Panama Canal, where you will share space with large ships during their traffic across the Panama Canal. Later you arrive at a group of islands to meet 2 monkey species living there. Then, travel along the Chagres River to an Embera indigenous village where you will be welcomed by the community. Learn about their culture and listen to a speech by the chief of the village or nocó. Watch a live performance of traditional music and dance. Finally, enjoy the view of the tropical rainforest and the canal on your way back to the hotel.

Panama City: Panama Canal Eco Cruise and Embera Village Tour

9. Panama City: Panama Canal Eco Cruise and Embera Village Tour

Begin your tour with hotel pickup. Follow the Panama Canal north to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the canal. Begin your 90-minute cruise from a boat on the waters of the canal and Gatun Lake, riding along the canal near the ships passing through. Enjoy an up-close view of the abundant wildlife on the shores. Visit the famous Monkey Islands where you can see capuchins, howlers, and tamarins. Once you finish your canal and lake boat ride, head 1-hour northeast to the rugged and remote Chagres National Park. Once you arrive at Puerto Corotu on the banks of Lake Alajuela, the indigenous Embera people will be waiting to take you up the Chagres River aboard their version of a motorized dugout canoe. From the canoe, witness pristine rain forest that is protected as part of the Panama Canal watershed. Discover one of the most biologically diverse national parks in the world, home to jaguars, harpy eagles, tapirs, monkeys, sloths, and hundreds of bird species. Arrive at the indigenous village where the hosts will be waiting. Learn about the local way of life with a cultural presentation and take the opportunity to explore the village. Enjoy a light lunch of fried fish, plantains, and fresh fruit prepared by the locals. Browse for traditional handicrafts and receive traditional temporary tattoos, which will fade away after a few days. Hop back in the canoe and begin your journey back to Panama City.

Frequently asked questions about Monkey Island, Panama

What are other attractions than Monkey Island, Panama that are worth visiting in Panama?

The other must-see attractions in Panama are:

How can I visit Monkey Island, Panama?

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Entrance to Monkey Island, Panama is free, and you do not need a ticket or pre-booking to visit.

Other Sightseeing Options in Monkey Island, Panama

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What people are saying about Monkey Island, Panama

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 241 reviews

Mario did a great tour with us. We saw a lot of monkeys, they sat on the shoulder, climbed around on the boat. We stopped at many different places and had a great boat tour of the Panama Canal. On the way back to the harbor we spontaneously made another stop when the boat driver saw a crocodile on land. We drove very close. In general we had enough time to take photos and videos and be amazed. On the way to the hotel we stopped at the market and were allowed to eat fresh pineapple and watermelon. I recommend the 6:45am tour as it was very quiet and not as hot as midday. Would recommend the tour to anyone who has a morning to spare. Price line TOP!

Great experience! The ride on Canal next to all those giant ships is superb. In addition we saw quite a lot of monkeys and another animals like iguana, birds and bats. The ingenious village is authentic and short walk through the rainforest is interesting too, just be prepared for a lot of mosquitos here.

Absolutely stunning encounters with native flora and fauna. Wonderful connection with the indigenous people. Prompt and smooth guidance through all experiences.

Are guide was excellent and we get to see the different types of monkeys as promised. It was a great experience.

Mario is a great tour guide. We had an amazing time and saw so many monkeys!!