Canopy Family Panama

Special Tour Package: 

Rainforest Ecology and Conservation 
with Terry Dunn

July 18-25, 2017

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, photo by David Tipling


Connected in an intricate web, all parts of a tropical ecosystem depend on each other for life.  Birds, mammals, trees, insects, plants, frogs and fungi live and interact in these unique habitats, which offer interesting challenges to life and thus, fascinating behaviors develop among the wildlife in these environments.  This tour will focus on biodiversity, ecology and conservation of tropical ecosystems.  Terry Dunn, environmental specialist and author, brings her years of experience working in tropical environments on this tour, and will supplement our days in the field with interesting evening presentations regarding tropical ecology and conservation issues.  Join Canopy Family and Terry Dunn as we explore the lowland rainforests of Central Panama, and the foothills cloud forest of El Valle de Anton, on this exciting 7-night tour where you will gain knowledge, understanding of and compassion for these fascinating ecosystems.    

Terry Lawson Dunn holds a master’s degree in environmental communications, a bachelor’s degree in wildlife science, has worked for World Wildlife Fund, Smithsonian National Zoo, National Audubon Society, and World Resources Institute, developing and writing educational materials on a range of biological and conservation subjects. She authored the publication Guide to Global Environmental Issues and recently published the award winning book, Art of the National Parks. She has also participated in wildlife field research projects ranging from wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rocky Mountains to bird research on Pipeline Road in Panama. Her connection to Panama and other tropical areas has continued with travel to the Amazon basin and with organizing group trips to Panama since 2008. Her true joy lies in enabling others to experience and understand the natural world.

Rate for this special tour:  $1,899.00

Rate is US$ per person, double occupancy.  This all-inclusive tour includes lodging and meals at the Canopy Camp and Canopy Lodge, bilingual professional guides, WiFi, 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!   

Western Night Monkey
Western Night Monkeys by Carlos Bethancourt

Detailed Itinerary

July 18, 2017  

Welcome to Panama!  Upon arrival at the Canopy Tower, you will meet Terry and your Canopy Family guide for the tour, who will show you to your room.  While enjoying a cold drink, we invite you to head upstairs to the observation deck, overlooking the vast tropical lowland rainforest of Soberanía National Park.  Green Honeycreeper, Scaled Pigeon, Keel-billed Toucan, Squirrel Cuckoo, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-headed Parrot, Short-tailed Hawk, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Green Iguana, Mantled Howler and Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth await your arrival in the treetops next to the tower.  At ground level, the hummingbird feeders are always busy as White-necked Jacobin, Long-billed Hermit, Crowned Woodnymph, White-vented Plumeleteer, Blue-chested and Violet-bellied hummingbirds visit frequently, and the photography opportunities are great!  This evening, we will enjoy a delicious dinner together.  The forest is alive at night, so be sure to keep an eye out the window, even after dark, for Black-and-white Owl, Kinkajou, Central American Woolly Opossum, Western Night Monkey and Common Potoo.

July 19, 2017
AM: Semaphore Hill Road

This morning you may find yourself awakening to the natural alarm clock of the howler monkeys at dawn.  We will start our morning with a hot cup of coffee or tea on the observation deck of the Canopy Tower.  Mealy and Red-lored parrots, Pale-vented and Scaled pigeons, Blue Dacnis, Palm, Golden-hooded and Plain-colored tanagers, Band-rumped, Short-tailed and Lesser Swallow-tailed swifts, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Green Shrike-Vireo, Black-breasted Puffbird, Fulvous-vented Euphonia and Cocoa Woodcreeper, and two species of sloths are commonly seen.  After a delicious breakfast, we will take a slow walk down Semaphore Hill Road, searching for tropical wildlife, including Red-capped and Blue-crowned manakins, Broad-billed Motmot, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Black Hawk-Eagle, Dot-winged and White-flanked antwrens, Olivaceous Flycatcher, Black-crowned Antshrike, Black-faced Antthrush, White-faced Capuchin, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, White-nosed Coati and Central American Whiptail Lizard. 

PM: Ammo Ponds

After a hearty lunch and some time to relax, we will head out again mid-afternoon to the Ammo Ponds in Gamboa.  This marshy wetland is great habitat to search for some water and marsh birds, as well as open grassland species around the edges of the pond, including Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Green Heron, Purple Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, White-throated Crake, Green, Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers, Greater and Smooth-billed anis, Black-striped Sparrow, Variable and Yellow-bellied Seedeaters, Social Flycatcher, Gray-breasted Martin, Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth, Green Iguana and maybe even a Lesser Capybara lurking around the water’s edge. 

We will return back to the Canopy Tower in time to clean up before dinner.  During cocktail hour, we will gather to review our checklist for the day, and Terry will share her knowledge with a presentation about Tropical Rainforest Ecosystems, a general overview of the characteristics, function and biodiversity of tropical humid forests, a great introduction to these complex environments.  Dinner at Canopy Tower. 

July 20, 2017
AM: Pipeline Road 

After an early breakfast, we will depart for Panama’s world famous Pipeline Road!  Built as a precautionary measure during World War II, the road that serviced this never-used pipeline has now been engulfed by the surrounding forest, and is one of the most popular birding destinations in the Americas, attracting birders from all over the world.  Over 500 species of birds have been recorded in this area of the national park, as well as a great diversity of mammals, reptiles, frogs and insects.  We will spend our morning exploring the first few kilometers of the road, where we hope to find Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Purple-crowned Fairy, Fasciated Antshrike, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Spotted Antbird, Northern Barred and Black-striped woodcreepers, Golden-collared Manakin, Rufous and Whooping motmots, Brown-hooded Parrot, Black-mandibled Toucan, Slaty-tailed and Gartered trogons, Great Jacamar, Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Northern Tamandua, Spectacled Caiman and much more.  Lunch at Canopy Tower. 

PM: Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal

This afternoon, we will visit the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal, one of the world’s great engineering accomplishments!  Here we will have the opportunity to see a short 3D video about the Panama Canal, walk through the 4-floor museum and watch a large ship pass through the historic locks.  Bring your binoculars, as the birding can be good here too!  Dinner at Canopy Tower.

After dinner, we will grab our large spotlight and head out on Semaphore Hill Road in the Rainfomobile in search of nocturnal wildlife.  Black-and-white, Mottled and Spectacled owls, Common and Great potoos, Central American Woolly Opossum, Kinkajou, Rothschild’s Porcupine, Western Night Monkey are possible.    

July 21, 2017
AM: Jungle Boat Tour

This morning we will watch for wildlife from the water!  After breakfast, we will meet our boat at the Gamboa dock, then head out into the Chagres River, Panama Canal and explore the tranquil waters of Gatun Lake.  The wildlife viewing opportunities are endless from the boat, and sightings of Mantled Howler, White-faced Capuchin, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Proboscis Bat, American Crocodile, Green Iguana, Common Basilisk, Black River Turtle, Common and Purple gallinules, Pied-billed Grebe, Snail Kite, Osprey, Yellow-headed Caracara, Keel-billed Toucan and Collared Aracari are common.  Lunch at Canopy Tower.

PM: Chagres River & Gamboa Feeders

After lunch, we will head back to Gamboa and spend the afternoon exploring the banks of the Chagres River and the grounds of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.  The water’s edge attracts a great diversity of birds, including Wattled Jacana, Little Blue Heron, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Lesser Kiskadee, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Black-throated Mango, White-bellied Antbird, Buff-breasted Wren, Blue-headed Parrot, Black-headed Saltator, Streaked Flycatcher, Crimson-backed and Flame-rumped tanagers, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Lesser Capybara are often present, and an abundance of butterflies take flight during the sunny afternoon hours.  If we’re lucky, we may catch a glimpse of an American Pygmy Kingfisher along the shady banks, or a sungrebe passing quietly under the tangles of aquatic vegetation.  If time permits, we can make a stop at the Canopy Bed & Breakfast, and shortly after placing some bananas on the fruit feeders, we will enjoy the up-close sights of Blue-gray, Crimson-backed and Golden-hooded Tanagers, Whooping Motmot, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Buff-throated Saltator, Red-legged Honeycreeper and Clay-colored Thrush.  Snowy-bellied Hummingbird is frequently seen at the nectar feeders.  Central American Agouti and Variegated Squirrel are often seen in the backyard as well.  We will plan to be back at the tower to freshen up before cocktail hour.  During cocktail hour, Terry will talk to us about the gems of the Neotropics, those charismatic hummingbirds!  Dinner at Canopy Tower.

July 22, 2017
AM: Old Gamboa Road

After breakfast, we will head over to Old Gamboa Road, once the main access to the town of Gamboa.  This road is now overgrown and cuts through the start of dry forest on the Pacific slope.  We will scan the open roadsides for Variable, Yellow-bellied and Ruddy-breasted seedeaters, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Striped Cuckoo, Streaked Saltator, Great Kiskadee, Rusty-margined Flycatcher and Rufous-breasted Wren.  The Summit Ponds, located along this road, are an excellent place to see Boat-billed Herons, which breed here, as well as Amazon, Green and Ringed kingfishers, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Great Black-Hawk, Muscovy Duck and if lucky, an elusive Capped Heron.  Common Basilisk and Black River Turtle bask on rocks and snags on sunny afternoons at the ponds.  Carrying on down the road, we will keep our eyes open for Lance-tailed Manakin, Black Hawk-Eagle, Zone-tailed Hawk, Blue Cotinga, White-winged Becard, Rufous-and-white and Black-bellied wrens, Rufous-capped Warbler, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet and we will check a known spot for Spectacled Owl! 

PM: Transfer to Canopy Lodge

After lunch, there will be time to get in some final bird-watching from the observation deck and at the hummingbird feeders.  We will say our goodbyes to the Canopy Tower, and travel 2 hours west of Panama City to the Canopy Lodge, in the picturesque town of El Valle de Anton.  El Valle is settled in the crater of an extinct volcano, at an elevation of 650 meters, and is surrounded by towering mountains in the foothills of western Panama.  After settling into our spacious rooms at the lodge, we will spend the remaining daylight hours at the fruit feeders—Thick-billed Euphonia, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Collared Aracari, Dusky-faced, Flame-rumped, Blue-gray and Crimson-backed tanagers, Bananaquit, Rufous Motmot and Red-tailed Squirrel are frequent visitors.  Long-billed Starthroat, Garden Emerald, Rufous-tailed and Violet-headed hummingbirds are commonly seen in the gardens, among many other species.  Common Basilisks bask in the sun on the rocks in the river. 

As we sit and enjoy some appetizers and drinks in the lounge, Terry will speak to us about the study of the forest canopy – past and present.  Dinner to follow at the Canopy Lodge.  After dark, frogs sing a glorious chorus from the river and pond just outside your room, creating a peaceful cloud forest ambiance.      

July 23, 2017
AM: La Mesa

This morning we will enjoy a delicious breakfast together on the veranda of the Canopy Lodge.  Shortly after breakfast, we will head up the hill, increasing in elevation, to La Mesa, which offers a pleasing blend of secondary forest, scrubby pastures and grassy border.  It is a great place to find some of the regional specialties of the western foothills, including Orange-bellied Trogon, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Black-faced Grosbeak, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Tawny-crested, Silver-throated and Bay-headed tanagers, Spotted Woodcreeper, Yellow-faced Grassquit, White-tipped Sicklebill, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Black-chested Jay, Plain Antvireo and Spot-crowned Barbet.  We will keep our eyes open for any mammals, and this area is particularly excellent for dozens of species of butterflies, including Blue Morpho, Yellow-bordered Owl-Butterfly, Cattleheart White and Blue-patched Eyemark.  Lunch at Canopy Lodge.

PM:  Canopy Adventure Trails

After a refreshing siesta or time spent enjoying the feeders in the garden, we will walk the trails of the Canopy Adventure, only 2 minutes from the lodge.  The dark understory of this forest is home to Tody Motmot, Mottled Owl, Buff-rumped and Rufous-capped warblers, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-chested Jay, Barred Forest-Falcon, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Scaly-breasted and Bay wrens.  The elusive Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo roams these quiet forests, and are spotted occasionally.  The trail winds around a quiet stream where Sunbittern is occasionally seen.  Dinner at Canopy Lodge.

July 24, 2017
AM: Cerro Gaital

Today we will explore the highest elevation we will reach on this trip!  Dripping with orchids and epiphytes, these rocky, cloud forest-covered mountains make up the Cerro Gaital National Monument.  A narrow trail follows a ridge to a peak, and this morning we will learn about the elements of a cloud forest and see some of its spectacular inhabitants!  Blue-throated Toucanet, White-ruffed Manakin, White-tipped Sicklebill, Plain Antvireo, and even Black Guan has been seen here!  We will keep our eyes open for Dunn’s Spiny-tailed Lizard and Eyelash Pit Viper.  It is a great spot for butterflies—Moon Satyr and Rusted Clearwing-Satyr are often seen in the understory of the forest!  We are sure to have a great morning.  Lunch at Canopy Lodge.

PM: Cara Iguana

After some time for a siesta, we will take a short drive to explore some tropical Dry Forest in the area of Cara Iguana.  As we walk along the paved road, we will look for some dry forest species such as Lance-tailed Manakin, Rufous-and-white Wren, Rufous-breasted Wren, Garden Emerald, White-winged Becard, along with Whopping and Tody momots, several species of flycatchers and tanagers.  Spectacled Owl is frequently seen in this area!  Central American Whiptails and other reptiles may be basking along the roadsides, and an open patch at the end of the road is great for butterflies too!

Back at the lodge, Terry will give us an interesting talk entitled “Tropical Conservation”, focusing on deforestation and its consequences, and conservation strategies for these fragile ecosystems to preserve biodiversity for many years to come.  We will enjoy dinner together at the lodge, sharing our favorite memories of the tour, and settle in for the night.  If inclined, feel free to explore the gardens after dark, as many frogs and insects are active at this time of day.

July 25, 2017

This morning we will meet for a farewell breakfast at the Canopy Lodge, and if time permits, take in some of the wildlife in the gardens of the lodge – Crimson-backed, Flame-rumped and Blue-gray Tanagers come in for breakfast at the fruit feeders, while Garden Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat, Snowy-bellied and Violet-headed Hummingbirds visit the flowers in the garden.  Central American Agoutis clean up fallen food under the feeders, offering great photo opportunities!  We will say our goodbyes and depart for Panama City to catch our return flights home.

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

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