Canopy Family Panama

Special Tour Package: 

Gardens and Natural Wonders of Panama

July 11-22, 2017
Canopy Camp Darien Extension: July 22-26, 2017

Panama Garden El Valle
Bonsai garden in El Valle

Panama is a premiere destination for natural history enthusiasts, as well as those interested in cultural history.  Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and with the backing of the United States, became an independent country in 1903.  On this relaxing and enjoyable 11-night tour, you will relish the marvels for what Panama is, with constant opportunities for natural exploration and cultural enrichment.  Lush private and public garden tours in Panama City and El Valle de Anton, admire the colonial architecture in the historical district, experience the immense feat of the Panama Canal, artisan market visits and daily nature and birding excursions combine to provide the best that Panama has to offer! 

This tour is designed for garden and nature lovers, and Panama’s lush green season at the award winning Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge ecolodges provides the perfect venue for the experience.  This tour features professional garden designer, author and avid naturalist Cole Burrell, who will join us and provide great insights on the landscaping and garden visits.  For birders at heart, the 4-night Canopy Camp extension offers the opportunity to appreciate some of Panama’s exquisite bird life—colorful toucans, dancing manakins and impressive antbirds, while you and your guide explore Darién and its incredible wildlife.  

Cole Burrell

C. Colston Burrell is an acclaimed lecturer, garden designer, award winning author and photographer. Cole is an avid and lifelong plantsman, gardener and naturalist. He is a popular lecturer on topics of design, plants and ecology, and has shared his encyclopedic knowledge of plants and his abiding respect for regional landscapes with professional and amateur audiences for 40 years. He has devoted a lifetime to studying native plants in the wild and in gardens which lead to undergraduate degrees in Botany and Horticulture. He has an M.S. in Horticulture from University of Maryland and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota. He is a lecturer in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he teaches about plants and their ecological connections to natural systems and cultural landscapes. After tending a city lot alive with birds and butterflies in Minneapolis, MN, he now gardens on 10 wild acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia, where he grows natives and the best plants of the global garden.

Rate for this special tour: $2,898.00

or per lodge:
Canopy Tower (6 nights): $1,899.00 
Canopy Lodge (5 nights): $999.00

Canopy Camp extension: $799.00

Rates are US$ per person, double occupancy.  Single supplement (one person staying in a double room) is $45 per day.  Single rooms are available at the Canopy Tower & Canopy Lodge.  

This all-inclusive tour includes lodging and meals at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge, bilingual professional guides, wine with dinner, all taxes, airport transfers to and from Panama City and all tours and presentations as per the itinerary.  Please check with our reservations office for the times of our scheduled airport transfers to coordinate your arrival and departure times.

This tour does not include flights to and from Panama City, private airport transfers, tips and alcoholic beverages.

To book this special, one-time-only nature package, please contact us.  Spaces are limited so book your spot now!

Keel-billed Toucan Canopy Tower Panama
Keel-billed Toucan at the Canopy Tower, photo by Jenn Sinasac

Detailed Itinerary

July 11, 2017
Arrival & orientation

Welcome to Panama!  You will be met at the airport and shuttled to the Canopy Tower north of Panama City along the banks of the world-famous Panama Canal.  Upon arrival at the Canopy Tower, you can get settled into your room and then come upstairs to the canopy-level lounge and observation deck for a cold drink and to enjoy the wildlife in the treetops!  Two species of sloths, tanagers, toucans, honeycreepers and other animals await your arrival.  Once everyone has arrived, we will meet prior to dinner during cocktail hour and go through a short orientation and our plan for the days to come.  A delicious dinner will follow and after dinner, we can enjoy the incredible view Panama City lit up from a distance, and the beautiful starry sky above.  Tonight, fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle right outside your window!  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

July 12, 2017
AM: Birding Canopy Tower & Semaphore Hill Road

We will meet up on the observation deck at dawn with coffee and tea, and the birds!  A spectacular sunrise greets us, and the bird activity in the canopy will be hopping!  Keel-billed Toucan, Scaled Pigeon, Green Honeycreeper, Palm, Plain-colored and Golden-hooded tanagers, Black-breasted Puffbird, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Red-lored and Mealy parrots and raptors such as Short-tailed Hawk, Gray-headed Kite, Crane Hawk and Bat Falcon may be seen from the observation deck this morning. 

After a hearty breakfast, we will start our morning walk down Semaphore Hill Road.  This shaded, paved road winds through the understory of Soberania National Park, and is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals and other wildlife.  During our slow walk downhill, we will hope to see White-whiskered Puffbird, Slaty-tailed and Black-throated trogons, Broad-billed and Rufous motmots, Red-capped and Blue-crowned manakins, several species of antbirds including Spotted, Bicolored, Chestnut-backed and Dusky, and other understory forest birds.  Mixed feeding flocks boast Dot-winged, White-flanked and Checker-throated antwrens, Fasciated and Black-crowned antshrikes, Plain Xenops, White-shouldered Tanager, Plain-brown, Cocoa and Olivaceous woodcreepers and many others.  If lucky, we may see a Great Tinamou walking through the leaf litter or across the road.  IN addition to so many great birds we will see this morning, mammals including Northern Tamandua, White-nosed Coati and Central American Agouti may be encountered along the hill, along with Blue Morpho butterflies and so many other animals.  After our morning walk, we will catch a short drive up the hill and arrive back at the Canopy Tower in time for lunch.  Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.

PM: Summit Botanical Gardens

After a delicious lunch, there is time to watch raptors overhead on the observation deck, or enjoy a siesta in a hammock.  We will meet again mid-afternoon and visit Summit Botanical Gardens.  This nature park was established in 1924 as an experimental farm to grow exotic plants from all over the globe.  In 1964, a small zoo was started and now, this park is a great place to see not only some beautiful trees and plants of the tropics, but also abundant birdlife including some open area birds such as Yellow-rumped Cacique, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Crimson-backed Tanager, Blue Cotinga, Thick-billed Euphonia, Panama, Streaked, Boat-billed and Rusty-margined flycatchers, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Masked Tityra, Giant Cowbird and Blue-black Grosbeak.  We’ll check under palm leaves for Common Tent-making Bats, and we can’t leave without saying hello to Panama’s national bird, the Harpy Eagle!  Back at the Canopy Tower, we will meet and review our species checklist for our first full day in Panama, followed by a scrumptious dinner at canopy level after dark.  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

July 13, 2017
AM: Garden Visits in Panama City

This morning we will meet again on the observation deck for some morning birding.  In the nearby trees, we will keep an eye out for Brown-throated Three-toed Sloths and Green Iguanas, and some monkeys—Geoffroy’s Tamarin and Mantled Howlers are often nearby (which you may already be aware of by its loud, bellowing call!).  After breakfast, we board a comfortable van and head to Panama City to visit some exquisite private gardens within the urban area.  This morning we visit the private gardens of Vilma de Roux and Jenny de Riande.  Both gardens are located in the tranquil suburbs of Costa del Este, one of Panama City's most prestigious neighborhoods.  Vilma's lovely home with a central courtyard and swimming pool is surrounded by lush, landscaped greenery.  Zamias, palms and other short trees and plants form corner and wall features.  After admiring the beautiful property, we will take a short drive to the residence of Jenny de Riande.  Her large, impressive home is also surrounded with landscaped gardens, much in the same fashion as Vilma's garden.  Many vines surround the pillars and balconies of her home, and flowering shrubs line the fences at the driveway.  We will also visit the eclectic garden of Cheryl de Obediente’s residence.  Her charming house and even more enticing garden will no doubt impress us—she maintains landscaped flower beds, water features, rock and flower walls and potted orchids combine to create a very welcoming environment.  Each unique in their own way, some show classic appeal and others charismatic charm, all laden with tropical plants.  We will have some time to enjoy the gardens and chat with their owners, and Cole can provide landscaping insights and comments on the gardens.  As the morning comes to an end, we will head back to the CANOPY TOWER for lunch.

PM: Gamboa Gardens & Feeders

After some time to rest, we will head up to Gamboa, a historic Canal Zone town.  This sleepy jungle town sits along the Panama Canal and is surrounded by Soberania National Park.  We will start with a stop at the Canopy B&B to enjoy the birds coming to the feeders.  Blue-gray, Palm and Crimson-backed tanagers, Red-legged and Green honeycreepers, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Buff-throated Saltator and even Whooping Motmot come in to dine on the ripe bananas.  It is a great opportunity to see these colorful birds up close!  Variegated Squirrel and Central American Agouti are also common around the backyard of the B&B.  We will then take a stroll around the streets of Gamboa to admire some of the residents’ lush gardens, well maintained by local gardeners.  Inviting streets are lined with Coconut Palms, and there will sure be no shortage of wonderful plants and birds to see this afternoon!  As dusk approaches, Red-lored Parrots come into town to roost and Black-mandibled Toucans can be heard and maybe seen along the edges of town.  Spunky Barred Antshrikes call from the gardens of the quiet neighborhood.  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Panama City Garden
Panama City Garden, photo by Cole Burrell

July 14, 2017
AM: World Famous Pipeline Road

This morning we’ll be up early to head out to the world-famous Pipeline Road!  Well known as one of the best birding and wildlife locations in all of the Americas, this old road once built to service a pipeline across the Isthmus (it was never actually used) is now surrounded by some of the best lowland rainforest in Central America.  Over 500 species of birds have been recorded here.  As we start our walk from the beginning of the road, we hope to encounter White-necked Puffbird, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Blue-headed Parrot, wrens—including Black-bellied Wren and Song Wren, and antbirds—White-bellied, Spotted, Bicolored, Chestnut-backed and even the astounding Ocellated Antbird can be found here!  Raptors, including Black Hawk-Eagle, Semiplumbeous Hawk and Tiny Hawk are occasionally seen, and so much more.  Gartered and White-tailed trogons, Purple-crowned Fairy, Golden-collared Manakin, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Black-striped Woodcreeper are just a few of the birds we may see today.  In addition to the birds, Mantled Howlers and White-faced Capuchins, Spectacled Caiman, Northern Tamandua (anteater) and Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, along with other mammals, butterflies and reptiles, are often seen.  We are sure to have a great morning!  Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.

PM: BioMuseo & Cinta Costera Walk

After lunch we will head back to Panama City to experience one of Panama’s newest attractions, the Biodiversity Museum or “BioMuseo.”  Opened in 2014, this unique, colorful structure designed by renown architect Frank Gehry features Panama’s incredible biodiversity, geology and cultural history.  Surrounding the museum, the BioMuseo’s Biodiversity Garden is worth a walk, filled with tropical plants and flower beds, butterfly gardens and informative signage.  After finishing up at the BioMuseo, we will head over to Avenida Balboa along the waterfront, known as the “Cinta Costera.”  This park and recreation land was restored in 2011 and is very popular among Panamanians, a great place to enjoy the outdoors in the City.  From Casco Viejo, beautiful Bougainvilla-covered archways and flower gardens line the Cinta Costera.  We will spend the remainder of the afternoon enjoying this lovely urban garden.  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

July 15, 2017
Full Day City Tour

Today we have an exciting day ahead of us!  After breakfast we will depart for a tour of the major cultural & historical sights of Panama City.  We begin in the old city, Panama La Vieja, founded in 1519 by Spain and later destroyed by the infamous pirate, Henry Morgan.  We’ll visit the ruins and the museum, which contains exhibits of the pre-Hispanic and Colonial time.  Afterward, we will continue to the designated World Heritage Site, Casco Antiguo, which was originally built and settled in 1671 after the destruction of Panama Viejo by Morgan.  Casco Antiguo, also called San Felipe, was constructed as a walled city on a peninsula near Panama City to protect its settlers against another siege such as that suffered in Panama Viejo.  We also visit beautiful historical churches, the Heron's Palace (Palacio de Las Garzas, the home of the President of Panama), Plaza de Francia, Independence Plaza, National Theater and others.  We’ll take some time to visit the Interoceanic Canal Museum.  This old building was once the Grand Hotel and later the French Canal headquarters.  The museum gives us a good understanding why the isthmus is the center of world trade.  It also explains the effect the isthmus and the canal have on Panamanian identity, as well as information on the construction of the Canal.  For lunch, we will enjoy typical Panamanian fare at a local restaurant.

After lunch, we will head to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.  One of the seven wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal is a must-see on any visit to Panama.  The Miraflores Locks visitor center has a 4-floor museum with interesting information regarding the construction, operations and markets of the Panama Canal.  The main attraction, however, is watching the immense ocean liners pass negotiate the tight-fitting locks, operating very much the same way they did when they opened over 100 years ago.  After our visit to the Locks, we will head back to the Canopy Tower for cocktails and dinner.  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

July 16, 2017
Full Day Cerro Azul

After breakfast we depart toward the hills above Tocumen where a completely different climate and, more importantly, a different suite of birds awaits!  The weather will be much cooler & breezier as we descend the foothills of the San Blas Mountains toward Cerro Azul (2,500 ft.) and Cerro Jefe (3,300 ft.), named after the two tall peaks in the area.  Some of the amazing birds in these cloud-forested hills with peaks of elfin forest will include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Ornate and Black-and-white hawk-eagles, Spot-crowned Barbet, Black-eared Wood-Quail, and a nice mix of tanagers, including Silver-throated, Emerald, Speckled, Rufous-winged, Bay-headed, Black-and-yellow, Golden-hooded and Hepatic.  We can also search for the specialty hummers, including Rufous-crested Coquette, White-tipped Sicklebill, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Green Thorntail, as well as Violet-capped, Violet-headed & Snowy-bellied hummingbirds!  We should also find the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, along with Lineated Woodpecker, Black-striped & Spotted woodcreepers, Red-capped & White-ruffed manakins, Russet Antshrike, and White-vented & Tawny-capped euphonias.  We will be sure to visit the residence of Jerry & Linda Harrison, one of the best hummingbird gardens around!  The Harrison’s also keep a pleasing assortment of orchids, hibiscus, bromeliads and other cloud forest plants.  We have lunch at a picturesque residence overlooking miles of Chagres National Park's impressive rainforest!  Later, while enjoying dinner at the CANOPY TOWER, we all will reminisce on the day's glorious birds!

July 17, 2017
AM: Jungle Boat Tour

Our last morning at the Canopy Tower will be a great one!  We will spend the morning on a small motor boat, exploring the edges of the Chagres River, Panama Canal and Gatun Lake.  Waterbirds are abundant here, and we can expect to see Green, Striated, Tricolored and Little Blue herons, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Common and Purple gallinules, Wattled Jacana, Limpkin and kingfishers, including Ringed, Amazon and if lucky, the tiny American Pygmy Kingfisher! Mangrove Swallows, Royal Tern and Magnificent Frigatebird are common.  Gatun Lake is a haven for Snail Kites, and in addition to birds, it is a great place to see American Crocodile, Mantled Howlers, White-faced Capuchins, Geoffroy’s Tamarins, and if we are really lucky, a Neotropical River Otter or West Indian Manatee!  After our morning on the water, we will return to the CANOPY TOWER for lunch.

PM: Transfer to Canopy Lodge

After lunch, we will load our luggage and head two hours west along the Pan-American Highway to the picturesque town of El Valle de Anton, in the cool foothills of western Panama.  Nestled into a corner of an ancient caldera, surrounded by lush cloud forest draped in epiphytes, the Canopy Lodge will be our home for the next 5 nights.  Upon arrival at the Lodge, we will settle into our rooms and then meet on the veranda to enjoy the gardens and the bird feeders.  Well-stocked with bananas, the feeders attract a wide variety of fruit eaters, including Flame-colored and Dusky-faced tanagers, Collared Aracari, Rufous Motmot, Bananaquit and Fulvous-vented Euphonia!  Red-tailed Squirrels are usually hanging around, and hummingbird feeders buzz with activity as Snowy-bellied and Rufous-tailed hummingbirds, White-vented and Bronze-tailed plumeleteers and others visit regularly.  The gardens are full of wildlife – and along the tranquil stream, we will watch for Common Basilisk (also known as the “Jesus Christ Lizard”) and Gray-necked Wood-Rail.  We will meet in the lounge at cocktail hour to review our growing checklist for the day, followed by a delicious dinner.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Garden in Panama City PanamaOrchid El Valle Panama

Garden in Panama City (left); orchid in El Valle de Anton (right), photos by Cole Burrell & Jenn Sinasac 

July 18, 2017
AM: Canopy Lodge Gardens & Chorro El Macho

This morning we will be up with the birds!  There is no better place than on the veranda with a hot drink in hand overlooking the activity at the fruit feeders this morning.  Along the stream, keep an eye out for Buff-rumped Warblers and Sunbittern.  Bay Wrens sing from the nearby shrubs, and a Green Kingfisher may be seen fishing along the stream.  After breakfast, we will explore the gardens of the Canopy Lodge—around the cottage and natural swimming pool, and over to the Arias residence, to view their well-maintained gardens.   A pleasing blend of low-lying shrubbery and tall, canopy trees including Panama Tree and eucalyptus, landscaped pathways and natural undergrowth attract a multitude of wildlife.  Around the lodge, Verbena, Canelito, Poinsettia, and other flowering plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  We will take it easy this morning, and Cole will provide some insight into the landscaping that has taken place on this property. 

By mid-morning we will take a short walk up the road to the Canopy Adventure, an adjacent property to the Canopy Lodge and home of Chorro El Macho waterfall and zipline.  Taking a short walk through the dark understory of the forest, we will keep our eye out for any activity near the ground, and enjoy the sight of the largest waterfall in the area.  We will return to the Canopy Lodge in time for lunch.  Lunch at CANOPY LODGE.

PM: Cara Iguana

After lunch and some independent time to explore or have a siesta, we will meet again and head over to Cara Iguana Road, an area that boasts reaches of Pacific Dry Forest in the town of El Valle.  This quiet road is a great place to look for wrens—Rufous-breasted, Rufous-and-white and Plain wrens can be seen here, along with some open area birds including White-winged Becard, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Masked Tityra, White-lined Tanager, White Hawk, Whooping Motmot and Boat-billed Flycatcher.  We will also check a known roost site for Spectacled Owls in this area.  A local garden will allow us another chance to see some tropical landscaping techniques.  As the sun starts to set, we will head back to the Canopy Lodge for cocktails, checklist and dinner.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Panama Garden El Valle
El Valle indoor garden, photo by Cole Burrell

July 19, 2017
Lilli Bennett Garden & Santa Clara Beach Full Day

This morning we're in no rush, so we can enjoy breakfast and the first part of the morning at the lodge.  Around mid-morning we will depart for the residence of Lilli Bennett.  Nestled on 1 hectare of land on the outskirts of the town of El Valle de Anton, Lilli has beautifully manicured gardens of various kinds.  Her passion is Bonsai, and has been doing this botanical art for almost 40 years now.  Her Bonsai garden is complimented by low-lying shrubs and flowering plants including impatiens, marigolds and Lantana of various colors.  A natural pool and pond can be found at the back of her property.  Around her property we can find various well-maintained gardens and streams--Cycadeles, ferns, Musa spp., water hyacinth, heliconias, Zamia and many others are displayed in an adorning matrix.  Rosemary, basil, oregano, mint, tomato, anise and lemongrass grow in a colorful herb garden, intermixed in the shadows of other larger flowering plants.  Inside her house, the plant life is just as impressive; completely surrounding the central post in her veranda is a vertical garden, densely packed with bromeliads, ferns, philodendrons and climbers. 

After our visit to Lilli’s beautiful landscaped property, we will head down the hill out of El Valle, to the Pacific coast and in particular, to see the Pacific Ocean!  Santa Clara Beach is a beautiful, white sand beach which touches the warm Pacific waters.  We will enjoy a hot lunch here at a lovely beach house, listening to the sound of the waves.  Bring your swimsuits, the warm water of the Pacific Ocean is irresistibly inviting.  We can scan the beach for waders—Willet and Whimbrel are often around, and Laughing Gulls are common.  Over the water, Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Sandwich Tern and Blue-footed and Brown boobies hunt for fish.  In the dry shrubbery, we will watch for Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird and Mouse-colored Tyrannulet.  Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls are often lurking nearby.  After an enjoyable afternoon at the beach, we will head back to the Canopy Lodge to get freshened up before dinner.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

July 20, 2017
AM: Cerro Gaital & La Mesa

Today after breakfast, we proceed to Cerro Gaital, a steep, forested, mist-shrouded mountain that you see from the lodge!  At 3,500 ft., Cerro Gaital is the namesake of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument, which protects more than 335 hectares of mature cloud forest.  This area offers sightings of Black Guan, Blue-throated Toucanet, Orange-bellied Trogon, Spotted Barbtail, Common Bush-Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Black-headed Antthrush, Slaty Antwren, Spot-crowned & Plain antvireos, Black-faced Grosbeak, Blue Seedeater, Rufous-capped Warbler, Gray-headed Kite, White Hawk, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Pale-vented Thrush, Northern Schiffornis, White-tailed Emerald, Green-crowned Brilliant, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Crowned Woodnymph.  Scaled Antpitta and Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo have been recorded here!  Back for lunch at the CANOPY LODGE.

PM: Jacquie Pascual Garden & Hydroponic Farm

After a delicious lunch and some rest, we will head to Jacquie Pascual’s mountain residence in El Valle.  A huge property with a large, central pond, there are many flower beds and gardens to enjoy here.  We can take our time to walk around the well-maintained yard, showcasing native and exotic flowering plants and shrubs, with a spectacular mixed Caribbean pine forest backdrop!  Over by the house, more beds filled with colorful Lantanas, Heliconias, Hydrangeas, Costus and ornamental palms entice our eyes.  In a small courtyard behind the house, a raised-bed vegetable and herb garden may inspire us to do something similar in our own homes.  Before heading back to the Lodge, we will make a stop at the local hydroponic farm in El Valle.  Here, various varieties of lettuce are grown primarily using water, producing a very fresh supply for the local area and beyond to Panama City.  Back at the Lodge, we will meet to review our checklist for the day and enjoy cocktails and appetizers prior to dinner.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

July 21, 2017
AM: El Valle Tour

We have an interesting and fun day ahead of us for our last day in El Valle!  In addition to the spectacular birding and gardens, El Valle de Anton itself has many attractions and today we will spend the day learning more about the area’s natural and cultural history on a morning tour of the town.  Our first stop will be a visit to one of the world’s tiniest museums, but despite its small size there are many interesting things to find here.  It was founded and managed by Padre Noto, a retired Italian priest who was the head of the village parish for many years.  He has collected beautiful samples of pre-Columbian artifacts found around El Valle and are now on display here.  Then, we will head to APROVACA, the local Orchid Nursery and Conservation Center.  Financed by the Government of Japan, this organization is formed by the “campesinos” of the surrounding hamlets to grow and sell orchids.  In addition to providing much needed income to its members, the sale of these orchids discourages the taking of wild orchids from the forest, and the organization propagates orchids to replenish the declining wild population in western Panama.  Finally, the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (located on the El Nispero Zoo property) is a joint venture of the Houston Zoo and Panamanian biologists, a “must see” for anybody interested in the beautiful and colorful frogs of the Neotropics.  The purpose of the Center is to rescue as many species of frogs as possible in order to avoid their demise due to a detrimental fungus, which is exterminating frogs all over Central America.  The idea is to breed them in a controlled environment and reintroduce them to the wild once a cure for the fungus is discovered.  We will spend some time exploring their visitor center and learning about the important work done here.  The El Nispero Zoo has a nursery and orchid house that we will be sure to check out before heading back to the CANOPY LODGE for lunch.

PM: El Valle Market

A visit to El Valle and the Canopy Lodge is not complete without a stop at the local market, located in the very center of town.  Popular for tourists and locals alike, the bustling El Valle market features local Indigenous vendors selling beautiful molas, paintings, jewelry, baskets and other handicrafts.  Also, be sure to browse through the fruits and vegetables for sale for a look at some of the fresh locally grown produce.  Back at the Lodge, we will meet to reminisce our favorite moments from the trip over a farewell dinner.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

July 22, 2017

This morning we will have another opportunity to watch the busy bird feeders and activity around the lodge, go for a little walk on our own and enjoy a delicious breakfast before saying our goodbyes and catching our transfers back to Panama City.  Those carrying on to the Canopy Camp extension will be off early, as they have a full day ahead of travel and birding in eastern Panama.

Canopy Lodge Panama
Canopy Lodge garden



Pale-bellied Hermit Rafael Lau Canopy Camp Panama
Pale-bellied Hermit, photo by Rafael Lau

Canopy Camp Darien Extension

Darién, as this entire eastern-most region of Panama is called, is perhaps the most diverse and species-rich region of Central America.  Long coveted by avid birders as an impenetrable haven for rare species, this region is now readily accessible by a highway extending through the spine of Panama right into the heart of this bird-rich land.  During this extension, we will spend all our nights at the new Canopy Camp Darien, where we will enjoy comfortable, large, safari-style tent accommodations, each with full-size beds, private bathroom facilities with refreshing showers, flush toilets, electricity from solar panels, and fans, and focus on the spectacular birding this region has to offer.  Darien is Panama’s most underdeveloped province, and the residents of the area do not tend to keep manicured gardens like in other areas of Panama; however, the incredible diversity will more than make up for its lack of landscaping and will allow us to focus on the natural beauty of the area.  The protected forests of the Filo del Tallo Hydrological Reserve surround the camp.  In the vicinity of the camp itself we will enjoy such regional specialties as Gray-cheeked Nunlet, White-headed Wren, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Pale-bellied Hermit and much more right in the gardens!

July 22, 2017
AM: Bayano Lake

This morning after an early breakfast we will grab our gear and head for eastern Panama and our final destination, the Canopy Camp in Darién!  We have a full day of driving ahead of us, but we will be sure to stop at some of the great birding areas along the way!  With the sunrise greeting us to our east, we make our way and after passing through Panama City, we will take a rest stop at Bayano Lake, Panama’s second largest lake, and check out the birds in the area.  This reservoir supports great amounts of water birds, including a large colony of Neotropic Cormorants, as well as Anhinga, Cocoi Heron and the rare Bare-throated Tiger-Heron.  We will scan the water’s edge for Purple Gallinule, Pied Water-Tyrant, Smooth-billed Ani and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater.  A short trail leading from the water’s edge is a great place to search for Black Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird, Rufous-winged Antwren and Golden-collared Manakin.  Carrying on down the road, we can make a stop at the Río Mono Bridge, where the surrounding forest is home to One-colored Becard, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Blue Cotinga, Pied Puffbird, Orange-crowned Oriole, Blue Ground-Dove and more.  We will also scan the river below for Green-and-rufous Kingfisher and the elusive Fasciated Tiger-Heron.  We will stop at a local restaurant for a delicious Panamanian lunch—here, the restaurant’s busy hummingbird feeders will keep us entertained as Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, Black-throated Mango, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Long-billed Starthroat and Sapphire-throated Hummingbird frequent the feeders.  Lunch in TORTI.

PM: Arrival at Canopy Camp

After lunch we will cross the border into Panama’s Darien province and continue east, arriving at the Canopy Camp before dusk.  We will be able to catch the day’s last light and perhaps find Black-mandibled Toucan, Black-tailed Trogon, Pale-bellied Hermit, Spot-crowned Barbet, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Mealy Parrot, Cinnamon Becard and Black-crowned Tityra around the Camp.  We will meet for an orientation and get settled into our tents before dark.  Dinner will follow in the outdoor dining room, and perhaps we will hear Common Pauraque calling nearby.  Dinner at CANOPY CAMP.

July 23, 2017
AM: Nando’s Trail & Canopy Camp

We will meet before sunrise for a hot drink and to enjoy the sounds of the birds.  Black-mandibled and Keel-billed toucans call from the towering Cuipo trees; Red-lored and Mealy parrots fly overhead; White-bellied Antbird, Bright-rumped Attila, White-headed Wren and Golden-headed Manakin sing from the surrounding forests; while Pale-bellied Hermit and Sapphire-throated Hummingbird visit the flowers around camp.  Rufous-tailed Jacamar and Barred Puffbird are also seen frequently around the campsite.  We will be served a hearty breakfast at 7:30 am.  After breakfast we will work our way into the forest on “Nando’s Trail,” in hopes of finding Double-banded Graytail, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Royal Flycatcher and Russet-winged Schiffornis.  Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Plumbeous and Zone-tailed hawks are also possible.  Lunch at CANOPY CAMP.

PM: Road to Yaviza

After lunch, we will head southeast and will bird the forests and swampy meadows along the road toward Yaviza, to the end of the Pan-American Highway!  Black-billed Flycatcher, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Jet Antbird, Black Oropendola, Pied Water-Tyrant, Bicolored Hawk, Black-collared Hawk, Pearl Kite, White-tailed Kite, Limpkin, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Black-capped Donacobius and Red-breasted Blackbird can all be found as we head farther into Darién today.  Dinner at CANOPY CAMP.

July 24, 2017
AM: El Salto Road

We will meet for an early breakfast, then head to El Salto Road for the morning.  El Salto Road extends 6 km north from the Pan-American Highway and ends at the mighty Río Chucunaque.  This open road and surrounding dry forest is a great place to search for regional specialties including Golden-green Woodpecker, Double-banded Graytail, Blue-and-gold and Chestnut-fronted macaws, Black and Crested oropendolas, Blue Cotinga, White-eared Conebill, Black-breasted Puffbird, Orange-crowned Oriole and the majestic King Vulture.  A trail at the end of the road will take us into low-canopy forest, where we hope to find Bare-crowned Antbird, Pale-bellied Hermit, Olivaceous Piculet, Streak-headed Woodcreeper and Forest Elaenia.  Lunch at CANOPY CAMP.

PM: Tierra Nueva

After lunch and a siesta, we will visit the property of the Tierra Nueva Foundation.  Fundación Tierra Nueva is a non-profit organization whose main mission is “working towards the sustainable development of people of the Darién Rainforest”.  The property is the home of a technical school focusing on applications in agriculture.  We will explore the trails of this large property, in hopes of finding Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Yellow-breasted and Black-billed flycatchers, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon, Cinnamon, Cinereous and One-colored becards, White-eared Conebill, White-headed Wren and the magnificent Great Curassow.  We will also search for the eastern race of the Chestnut-backed Antbird, which shows white spots on the wings.  Lunch at CANOPY CAMP.

Spectacled Parrotlet Panama Lee Dalton
Spectacled Parrotlet, photo by Lee Dalton

July 25, 2017
Full Day Nuevo Vigia

We will awake once again to the energetic dawn chorus of oropendolas, wrens, antbirds, manakins, parrots and toucans, as the sun rises over eastern Panama.  After a satisfying breakfast, we will once again leave the Canopy Camp for a day filled with great birds!  This morning we are off to Nuevo Vigia, an Embera village nestled north of the Panamerican Highway along the Turquesa River, surrounded by great secondary growth dry forest and two small lakes, all of which attract an enticing variety of birds.  The village is accessed by dugout canoes called “piraguas” along the Chucunaque and Turquesa rivers.  We will spend the majority of the morning birding along the riverside and in the village’s well-maintained trails, great places to see Black-collared Hawk, Bare-crowned and White-bellied antbirds, Green Ibis, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Red-billed Scythebill, Black-tailed Trogon, Striped Cuckoo, Black-bellied Wren, Little Tinamou, Golden-green Woodpecker and Green-and-rufous Kingfisher!  In the village of Nuevo Vigia, local artisans weave colorful decorative masks and plates out of palm fronds and carve cocobolo wood and tagua nuts into animals and plants, and we will have the opportunity to meet some of the community members and admire (and purchase) some of the beautiful products they make by hand.  We will enjoy a picnic lunch at the village.  After lunch, we will continue birding a riverside trail and eventually, make our way back to the Camp by mid-afternoon.  Dinner at CANOPY CAMP.

July 26, 2017
AM: San Francisco Reserve

We will wake before dawn to pack and have an early breakfast, say our goodbyes to the Canopy Camp, and start our journey back to Panama City.  We will stop at San Francisco Nature Reserve, a private forest reserve owned and managed by the St. Francis Foundation, covering 1,300 acres in eastern Panama Province, and we will spend the morning birding at this fantastic site.  The San Francisco Reserve was established in 2001 by Father Pablo Kasuboski, an American priest from Wisconsin who came to Panama in 1988. The reserve serves as a wildlife refuge and protects the headwaters of the main rivers of the area.  The foundation created by Padre Pablo, as Father Kasuboski is called, also works on infrastructure development in the area by building and maintaining aqueducts, roads, schools and churches.  In fact, the St. Francis Foundation built and maintains the largest private rural aqueduct in all of Panama and Central America.  The reserve has a variety of habitats including primary, secondary and riparian forests, forest edge, fields, farmland, ponds and wetlands.  During our morning here, we will explore the some of the different habitats along the short road that enters the reserve.  We will hope to find Great Jacamar, Broad-billed Motmot, Collared Aracari, Russet-winged Schiffornis, Royal Flycatcher, White-fronted Nunbird, Brownish Twistwing, Yellow-green Tyrannulet, Syristes, Rufous Piha, Central American Pygmy-Owl, Blue and Plain-breasted ground-doves, and if we’re very lucky, a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle soaring overhead or a Wing-banded Antbird along the trails!  Lunch in TORTI.

PM: Return to Panama City

After lunch we will continue to Panama City and our arrival will mark the end of the tour.  We are sure to have many great memories of Panama’s exquisite gardens and great natural wonders for many years to come!

Please note that this itinerary may change without prior notice due to weather, alterations in habitat or other conditions.

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