Operators slate Panama city, nature plans

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NEW YORK -- Panama offers a wide variety of attractions. They include coral reefs for divers and snorkelers, highland cloud forests and lowland rain forests that are home to a variety of flora and fauna and opportunities to play golf and enjoy deep-sea fishing.

Waterside guest lodgings Following is a sampling tour operators' programs in Panama. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy:

  • Sunny Land Tours of Hackensack, N.J., is offering Friday departures on its nine-night Panamanian Treasures program, as well as one group departure a month (with the exception of February) escorted by a naturalist guide.
  • The itinerary starts with two nights in Panama City, a day trip to the Soberania National Park, the Panama Canal and the Canopy Tower observatory. The trip also takes in Barro Colorado Island, the mountain town of Boquete and the San Blas Islands for a two-night stay among the Kuna Indians. The last day is spent in Panama City, with a farewell dinner and an overnight stay.

    The tour cost starts at $2,265, based on departure from Miami, and includes international air and domestic air to Panamonte and the San Blas Islands.

    Sunny Land also offers a two-night extension with hotel and meals to the island of Bocas del Toro on the northwest Caribbean coast; the town, with its gingerbread buildings, has a population predominantly of West Indian origin. Attractions here include Bastimentos National Park, a sea- turtle refuge. The price is $365, including air.

    Phone: (201) 487-2150 or (800) 783-7839, Web: www.sunnylandtours.com.

  • Bahia Tours in Dania, Fla., has scheduled departures on Feb. 6, March 13, May 15 and July 17 of its nine-night Panama Native Trail Tour. The itinerary includes Panama City; the colonial town of Nato de los Caballeros; Indian villages in the Chiriqui highlands; a flight to Darien, and a two-night stay on Dolphin Island. The land price is $1,925.
  • Phone: (954) 929-0090 or (800) 443-0717, Web: www.aventuras.com.

  • Field Guides in Austin, Texas, operates birding tours worldwide, including one to the lowland forest of the Darien. Winter departures are Jan. 16 and Feb. 20. Birding and wildlife areas include the heights of Cerro Pirre and the forests on the lower slopes around Cana, site of one of the world's most productive gold mines. Company cofounder John Rowlett accompanies this 10-day tour, which is priced at $2,550.
  • Phone: (512) 327-4953 or (800) 728-4953, Web: www.fieldguides.com.

  • Mountain Travel-Sobek in El Cerrito, Calif., introduced a trip called Kayaking with the Kuna Indians. Traveling about four hours a day from island to island by sea kayak, adventurers will call at villages and learn about the Kunas' traditions. Travelers will see frigate birds and various birds of prey, and, underwater, snorkelers will be treated to views of coral reefs.
  • Some sea-kayaking experience is required on this 14-night trip, which begins and ends with a day in Panama City.

    Departures are Jan. 11 and 27 and Feb. 12 and 28. For eight to 10 people, the land cost is $2,590; for five to seven people, $2,790.

    Phone: (888) 687-6235, Web: www.mtsobek.com.

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