Night Tour: $70
Go looking for owls, potoos and nocturnal mammals in the comfort of one of our specialized rainforest observation vehicles, the Birdmobile. This tour is very popular as many mammals and roosting birds otherwise difficult to find have been seen!
Semaphore Hill Road: $90
This is the winding access road to the Canopy Tower. The birding on these tours is excellent, and our guides know exactly where many of the area’s specialties may be found. This one-mile pleasant walk yields plenty of birds to keep you busy for a full morning. The bird list of Semaphore Hill Road is extensive and includes birds from the forest interior, as well as edge dwellers. Olivaceous Flatbill and White-whiskered Puffbird are common, and Slate-colored Grosbeak and Gray-headed Tanager are seen frequently. Great Tinamou is heard often, but to see one takes a little work. This road is also great for raptors: White, Tiny and Semiplumbeous hawks have been seen, and during migration it’s easy to see more than 10 species of warblers and migratory songbirds in one morning. Spring migration is especially striking, as birds will be wearing their breeding plumages.
Summit Gardens: $90
Summit Gardens is a park managed by the Office of the Mayor of Panama City. There is a small zoo where you can get a better look at King Vulture, Harpy Eagle, Great Curassow and four species of macaws, as well as Jaguar, spider monkeys, and a host of other mammals. The botanical gardens are great for migratory warblers and other forest-edge species, and Blue Cotingas are seen occasionally on these nature tours.
Plantation Trail: $90
Another great birding spot that begins right by the entrance to the Canopy Tower! The trail is an old graded dirt road that passes through a mature forest for about four miles. The road follows a small creek, Rio Chico Masambi. In most places the forest is clear of undergrowth, which makes it especially suited for observing shy birds of the forest interior, such as tinamous and leaftossers. Golden-crowned Spadebills are regular around the creek, and White-breasted Wood-Wrens are easy to find. When visiting Plantation Road you also have a good chance to find an army ant swarm and many of the birds that feed opportunistically as they follow the swarm, including Spotted, Bicolored and Ocellated antbirds, Gray-headed Tanagers, and Plain-brown, Northern Barred and (if you’re lucky) Ruddy Woodcreepers. And if you’re really lucky you may even find a Hook-billed Kite. You can spend the whole day birding here and still not reach the end of the trail.
Summit Ponds and Old Gamboa Road South: $90
Boat-billed Herons nest at Summit Ponds and Capped Herons are seen occasionally. Both Great and Lesser Kiskadees and Green & Striated herons are seen regularly, as well as the more common egrets. Amazingly, five species of kingfishers have been recorded here! Going straight through the two ponds you’ll be on Old Gamboa Road South, one of the birdiest spots around. This road passes through a variety of habitats, and has plenty of specialties: Blue Ground-Dove, Great Antshrike, Jet Antbird, Black-tailed & Royal Flycatchers, Lance-tailed & Golden-collared Manakins and Rosy Thrush-Tanager are but a few highlights. Note: This tour may not be available, as permission must be requested from the Canal Authority 2 days prior.
Ammo Dump Ponds: $90
The Ammo Dump Ponds are located just north of Gamboa on the way to Pipeline Road. These nature tours are the best place to see the elusive White-throated Crake, as well as a host of other waterbirds. Least Grebes, Common and Purple Gallinules are common. This is the best spot for Rufescent Tiger-Heron, and American Pygmy-Kingfishers are also resident. Limpkin, Least Bittern, Snail Kite, a number of hawks and even Blue Cotinga have been seen here. The forest bordering the pond is excellent for woodcreepers and woodpeckers, as well as many other forest edge species.
Pipeline Road: 1/2 day $100; full-day adventure $160 (box lunch included)
Considered by many to be one of the top birding spots in the world. We use the Birdmobile to go deep into the forest; this trip will remain high on your list of “birding stories” for a long time. Pipeline Road is the focus of many of our birding and nature tours, as it is the best place in central Panama to find forest birds. Eight species of wren, five trogons, four puffbirds, three motmots, many antbirds and even more flycatchers have been reported from the road. If the main road is not enough, there are plenty of side trails plus eleven creeks and rivers that can be followed into the forest. Army ant swarms are found frequently, attended rarely by Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, and there are many manakin leks right beside the road. Pipeline Road is also a great place for raptors: all three forest-falcons are heard if not seen with ease, Tiny and Semiplumbeous Hawks and Ornate Hawk-Eagles have been reported regularly. Harpy Eagles are even occasionally seen along Pipeline Road! Come experience this one-of-a-kind birding destination!
Metropolitan Natural Park: $115
Located right next to Panama City, only 25 minutes from the Canopy Tower, the forests of the Metropolitan Natural Park are much drier than those around Pipeline or Plantation roads. Here, you should expect to see species of birds that are normally rare or absent in those areas. The beautiful Rosy Thrush-Tanager is common, as is the striking Lance-tailed Manakin. It’s also a good place to look for Sepia-capped Flycatcher and the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet! And if the resident birds are not enough, each September the birdlist of the park grows substantially with the arrival of two dozen species of warblers and other migratory birds. Finally, the lookout at the end of Mono Titi Road is one of the best places to witness the rivers of migrating Turkey Vultures, Swainson’s & Broad-winged Hawks that fly en masse right over downtown Panama City in October/November and again in April/May!
Panama Rainforest Discovery Center: $115
This is an ecotourism and environmental education facility created and administered by Fundacion Avifauna Eugene Eisenmann. Located off Pipeline Road within Soberanía National Park, the center contains several attractions, the best of which is a 100-foot-tall observation tower, with 4 rest platforms—each stopping at a different layer of the rainforest. The view from the top is incredible! Here, we scan for raptors like Double-toothed Kite and Semiplumbeous Hawk. Also, we explore the 1.1 kilometer circuit of well-maintained forest trails, one ending at a pond, which is excellent for Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, and Little Blue Heron. Along the well-maintained trails we look for White-necked Puffbird, motmots, trogons, manakins, antbirds, wrens, tanagers, flycatchers and many others. The covered visitor center has several hummingbird feeders (attracting species that may be photographed easily), bathrooms, lunch tables and a small gift shop with drinks and snacks. Come spend part of your stay with us at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center!
Barro Colorado Island (BCI): $100
BCI is a 1,500-hectare island, and together with five adjacent peninsulas, forms a very biodiverse 5400-hectare Natural Monument. BCI has been administrated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1923. This Natural Monument located in the middle of the Panama Canal is home to more than 200 researchers from all around the world. The island is considered the most studied area in the Neotropics. It houses a field station and modern labs, only open to researchers and tourists with a reservation. A great trail system is also available. BCI offers a great opportunity to see many mammals in a short period of time, including Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Tayra, Central American Agouti, Northern Tamandua, Mantled Howler, both species of sloths, Geoffroy’s Tamarins & White nosed Coatis. We leave the island around 3 pm, and we will be back to Canopy Tower by 4 pm. Note: due to its popularity and limited space, this tour must be booked well in advance.
Boat Trip in the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake: $160
On this exciting wildlife tour, we board a 20 ft. boat with a 75 hp outboard motor, for a spectacular tour on the Panama Canal. Most of the Panama Canal is actually an artificial lake, Lake Gatun, and this tour will depart from Gamboa, just 15 minutes from the Canopy Tower. Along the way we will pass huge cargo ships and ocean liners and will also visit hidden coves and beautiful inlets with fascinating fauna and flora. From the boat, we will explore the small islands throughout the lake to look for primates including Mantled Howlers, White-faced Capuchins and the tiny Geoffroy’s Tamarins. There is also a chance to see some interesting reptiles, including American Crocodile (some reach 14 or more feet in length) and its smaller relative, the Spectacled Caiman, Green Iguana, Basilisk Lizard (Jesus Lizard) and Black River Turtle. A little scarcer, but not impossible, is the Neotropical River Otter and, if we are really lucky, the West Indian Manatee. There is also a Proboscis Bat roost here which we will probably see! Birds we will look for include Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Muscovy Duck, Great Black Hawk, Snail Kite, Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Limpkin and 3 species of kingfishers – Amazon, Green & Ringed. Make this very enjoyable tour a part of your upcoming stay at the Canopy Tower!
The following full-day tours require a minimum of four persons:
Achiote Road and San Lorenzo: $195
This is the site of the famous Atlantic Christmas Bird Count held by the Panama Audubon Society every year. The number of species in this area consistently exceeds 340 in a 24-hour period, the No. 1 or 2 spot worldwide. Habitats are a bit more open, but the birding nonetheless can be wonderful. White Hawk, Mealy Parrot, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Black-throated Trogon, Black-breasted & Pied Puffbirds, Spot-crowned Barbet, Montezuma Oropendola, Fasciated Antshrike, Bare-crowned & Bicolored Antbirds, White-headed Wren, Red-breasted Blackbird, Sulphur-rumped Tanager and Black-headed Saltator are all regularly seen here. There is also the added benefit of visiting the old Spanish fortress of San Lorenzo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built on a promontory at the entrance of the Chagres River. In addition, to get to this area we have to cross the Panama Canal which gives us a unique view of the locks from below. Our return to Panama City is by train (optional $25 fee) on the historic Panama Railroad, the first intercontinental railroad on the American Continent. Come experience this unique birding site on your ecotourism holiday!
Cerro Azul & Cerro Jefe: $195
Located in the hills above Tocumen International Airport where a completely different climate and, more importantly, a different suite of birds awaits you! The weather will be much cooler & breezier as we ascend 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. Major targets in these cloud-forested hills with peaks of elfin forest will include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, 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 have lunch at a picturesque residence overlooking miles of Chagres National Park’s impressive rainforest!