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Monkey Island, Panama

Monkey Island, Panama: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Panama City: Panama Canal and Monkey Island Tour

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

Spend half a day exploring the Panama Canal while learning about its history and creation. See the famed Miraflores Locks in action and take a scenic boat ride on the Chagres River. Get picked up at your hotel or other location in Panama City, and journey to the Panama Canal Visitors Center for 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. Drive by Miraflores Lake and the Pedro Miguel Locks as you make your way to 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 as large ships pass 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.

From Panama City: Monkey Island and Sloth Sanctuary Tour

2. 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.

From Panama City: Monkey Islands Tour on Gatun Lake

3. 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.

Private Panama Canal Boat Eco Tour and Monkey Island

4. Private Panama Canal Boat Eco Tour and Monkey Island

Enjoy the unique opportunity to be inside the Panama Canal Watershed as you travel to Gatun Lake eco cruise and visit the Monkey Island where you can see several species of monkeys and lush natural landscapes. Start with an early pickup in the morning at 6:30 AM to avoid the traffic and get to see more species of animals. Hop aboard a high-speed motorboat and marvel at the breathtaking flora and fauna surrounding Gatun Lake.  The lake is one of the sets of locks in the Panama Canal, on the side of the Atlantic Ocean. There you will have an ecological experience in the region, where you can sail by the lake, see animals and the surrounding forest. Enjoy stops at Monkey Island, home to several species of monkeys that are native of Central America. Monkey Island boasts an incredible amount of wildlife. Stay on the lookout for capuchin monkeys, Geoffroy's tamarin and howler, and other species.  Also, see the Sounds of Silence Island, and if you are lucky, come close to some large ships that transit the canal daily.

Monkey Island and Indian Village Tour

5. 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 of 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 to 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

6. 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.

Private Tour to Monkey Island and Embera Village

7. Private Tour to Monkey Island and Embera Village

After being picked up at your hotel or address in Panama City, set off for the Chagres National Park and travel along the Chagres River by canoe to an Embera indigenous village where you will be welcomed by the community and learn about their culture during a conversation with one of the leaders of this community. Watch a live performance of traditional music and dances, followed by the opportunity to walk around the village and shop the handcrafts they make. Then go by car 45 minutes down in the Chagres river to the middle of the Panama Canal. There, at the shore of the Chagres River, take a tour by boat to the Gatun Lake, the biggest and most important lake in the Panama Canal, where you will share space with large ships during their transit through the Canal. Later, you will arrive at a group of islands to find 3 species of monkeys and wildlife living there. After this unique experience, enjoy the view of the tropical rainforest and the canal on your way back to your accommodations.

Top sights near Monkey Island, Panama

Other Sightseeing Options in Monkey Island, Panama

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What people are saying about Monkey Island, Panama

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 292 reviews

our guide was very good. he was prepared with food for the monkeys which helped us see them much better than other tour companies on the water and he even provided us with water for the day. very informative and thoughtful guide. safe and smooth driver. very good experience

Great trip to the locks and the monkey island was surprisingly fun too. I think this trip is a bit overpriced but all excursions in Panama air expensive… would still recommend going to this one!

Gonzo was an excellent guide and this is a great trip. Rainforest, canal, Indian village and lots of interesting information from Gonzo.

Exceptional! Very pleasant trip, excellent tour guide and drivers. Totally respectful for the animals and nature. Speaking English

Guides were great. Saw a lot of monkeys and even toucan. Sloths and reserve were interesting too