|PANAMA CANAL CRUISE|
|As the land bridge connecting North and South America, Panama is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. Almost 1,000 birds are known to reside, or migrate through, Panama. At the famed Pipeline Road, a Mecca for birders, records are routinely set in the Audubon Society's Christmas bird count. Panama is home to 220 species of mammals (including six species of wild cats), 354 reptiles and amphibians, 1,500 species of diurnal butterflies and a thousand species of orchids. In the warm waters of both oceans, the snorkeling and diving are unexcelled. Naturally, many visitors come to take advantage of Panama's abundant ecotourism opportunities.
Panama is also the place of abundant beaches, which are found along the country's thousand miles of coastline, and on the hundreds of islands just off-shore. Many of these beaches are totally undeveloped and are ideal for those seeking solitude on their own private strip of sand. At others, there are excellent hotels, restaurants and facilities for enjoying your favorite water sports and even golf .
You'll be fascinated by the Panama Canal, the eighth wonder of the world, where shore-based visitors watch cruise ships and freighters pass through the locks. Panama has a fine collection of museums, dedicated to the building of the Canal, to the colonial Spanish era and entire span of the country's history, to archaeology and to marine and terrestrial ecology. There are a number of historic areas, such as the ruins of the colonial capitol, the charming, French-style sector of Panama City called Casco Viejo, and the Spanish fortresses and custom house in Portobelo, all of which have been declared World Cultural Patrimony by the United Nations.
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