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Brilliant Butterflies of Panama (7 nights)

Created with Sketch. Panama
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8 days/7 nights

Tour Type

Specific Tour

Group Size

12 people





Butterflies are some of nature’s most eye-catching creatures, considered by many throughout history as signs of joy and love. The diversity of butterflies is incredibly high in the tropical region of the Americas: an estimated 1,800 species can be found in Panama alone. The Canopy Family butterfly list has nearly 1,000 species!

Butterflies are active year-round; however, they rely heavily on their host plants, and their activity can be quite seasonal, with more flight and visibility in the wetter months (April to December) of the year. Come join the expert Canopy Family butterfly guides while exploring the lowlands of the Canal Area and the mist-laden foothills of central Panama in search of butterflies!

This tour may be combined with Butterflies of Canopy Camp Darien for the ultimate Panama butterfly experience!

This tour is limited to 12 participants. Please note that the itinerary is flexible, and may change without prior notice due to weather, alterations in habitat or other conditions.

2022 tour dates:

May 15 – 22, 2022

August 19-26, 2022

December 8-15, 2022

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  • Stay at unique accommodations specially designed to rest and be in direct contact with nature: CANOPY LODGE and CANOPY TOWER.
  • Find and identify as many butterflies’ species as possible. An average of 250 butterfly species is seen.
  • Amazing photographic opportunities despite it is not a strictly “photographic tour.”
  • While searching for butterflies you will also have the opportunity to see birds, mammals, reptiles and other insects.
  • Professional and expert bilingual guides will be the best added value. They will take you to the butterflies’ hideout!
  • A light and sheet will be used to attract moths, katydids, mantids and other insects to enjoy and photograph.


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DAY 1 – Welcome to Panama
DAY 1 – Welcome to Panama

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by your driver for your transfer to the Canopy Lodge, located in mountains El Valle de Antón, nestled against the cloud forests of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. At 2,400-feet in elevation, you will immediately appreciate the noticeably cooler temperatures here!
After you get settled into your rooms at the Canopy Lodge, nestled against a cloud forest backdrop, you will head to the lodge gardens and check some butterfly-friendly flowers and plants including verbena, lantana, and firebush.

True Cattleheart, Cattleheart White, Mottled Scrub-Hairstreak, Lampeto Metalmark, Common Morpho, Dirce Beauty, Banner Metalmark, One-spotted Prepona, Iphiclus Sister, White Satyr, Malachite, Eligius Flat, Falcate Skipper, Golden-snouted Sootywing and Radiant Skipper can be found around the garden and surrounding areas. We bait for butterflies by placing a fermenting blend of bananas to attract morphos, owl-butterflies, satyrs, preponas and beauties.

You will then take a stroll down the road beside the lodge, as the abundant open area roadside vegetation and forest edge attract a wide variety of species including Thoas Swallowtail, ApricotSulphur, Black-bellied Anteros, Yellow-tufted Prepona, Starry Cracker, Zebra, Erato and Sara Longwings, Rayed Sister, Blue-and-orange Eighty-Eight, Simple Patch, NarvaCheckerspot, Banded Peacock, Orange Daggerwing, Stub-tailed Morpho, Green Flasher and Rita’s Remella. We will return to the lodge before dusk, to freshen up for dinner.

Lunch and Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY LODGE.

DAY 2 – Las Minas & Valle Chiquito
DAY 2 – Las Minas & Valle Chiquito

Morning: Las Minas (15 min. from Canopy Lodge)
Awake as the morning light hits the windows of your room. The morning chorus of birds starts at dawn, and the garden feeders attract colorful tanagers, euphonias and hummingbirds. While you enjoy breakfast in the open-air dining area, the day continues to warm up and the first butterflies become active. You will make a quick check along the creek for the first butterflies of the morning before you head to our morning destination: Las Minas Road. This dirt road, used mainly for foot travel, extends through tropical scrubland and low canopy forest. It is a heaven for butterflies! You will slowly walk the road and scan the roadsides for swallowtails, hairstreaks, brushfoots and skippers, which are particularly abundant here. Simple Sarota, several metalmarks, Tutia and Diasia Clearwings, LycasteTigerwing, East-Mexican Banner, Black-bordered Crescent, IsidoraLeafwing, Sara, Sapho and Fine-lined Longwings, Hermes and Rufous-margined Satyrs, Pasture, Trailside and Pompeius Skippers and many more can be found along this road.

This area can be so active with butterflies that we often barely make it a few hundred meters down the road! If time permits, you will also visit the area of La Mesa and Finca Macarena. Forest, field, scrubby pastures and gravel roads provide excellent habitat for a great diversity of butterflies. Here we will look for the tiny yet stunning metalmarks, including Panamanian and Godman’s Sarotas and Deep-blue Eyed-Metalmark.


Afternoon: Valle Chiquito (20 min from Canopy Lodge)

After lunch and a short rest (which most of us will use to look for butterflies around the Canopy Lodge gardens!), you will continue to Valle Chiquito. You will head out of El Valle and start your way down the slope of the ancient volcano and descend a steep road into a valley, surrounded by ferns and broadleaf trees. As this area sits at a slightly lower elevation, we hope to see some different species. The roadside vegetation is perfect butterfly habitat. Aquamarine and Phaleros Hairstreaks, Zebra Longwing, Thamyra Satyr and Panna Skipper are common here.

You should check under broad leaves for the stunning Pixie! As the heat of the day passes and the butterflies settle in to their forest roosts for the night, you will head back to the lodge where there will be plenty of time to freshen up before dinner. As dusk approaches, we will watch for the crepuscular species: Pale and Scalloped Owl-Butterflies,which may be active around the gardens.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY LODGE.

DAY 3 Cerro Gaital & Cara Iguana
DAY 3 Cerro Gaital & Cara Iguana

Morning: Cerro Gaital (20 min. from Canopy Lodge)

After an energizing breakfast, you will make your way uphill to Cerro Gaital: the steep, forested, mist-shrouded mountain that you can see from the lodge. Cerro Gaital (3,500’) is the namesake of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument, which protects more than 335 hectares of mature cloud forest in the foothills of central Panama.

After disembarking from the van, you will slowly explore the first short forest trail, where even in the morning mist, we may see Dark and Banded Owl-Butterflies as they seek out their daytime roosts. Mimosa Yellow, Clearwinged Mimic-White, Blue-patched Eyed-Metalmark, Tiger Mimic-Queen and Blue-gray Satyr can be seen flying low in the cloud forest understory. You will reach a clearing and a small wetland, where a great variety of butterflies can sometimes be found, particularly hairstreaks, metalmarks and skippers: Cattleheart White, Togarna and Fine-lined Hairstreaks, Golden and Bright-centered Euselasias, Azure-winged Eurybia, Lasus Metalmark, Westwood’s and Thamyra Satyrs, Red-headed Firetip and Trailside Skipper can be found here. As mid-day approaches, you will return to the lodge for lunch.


Afternoon: Cara Iguana

In early afternoon, you will head to Cara Iguana. Here, a seldom-travelled paved road provides a perfect means to butterfly the weedy, forest edges. You should scan the edges searching for skippers, metalmarks, and hairstreaks among others, always keeping a watchful eye out for crackers and daggerwings! You will head back to the Lodge while the sun goes downand the butterfly activity becomes quitter.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY LODGE.

DAY 4 - Full day Tour: Santa Clara or Altos del Maria
DAY 4 - Full day Tour: Santa Clara or Altos del Maria

Full day Tour: Santa Clara or Altos del Maria

Your guides will decide which location (Altos del Maria or Santa Clara) is best for the day according to the weather conditions.

After an early breakfast, you will head to Juan Hombron and Santa Clara in the ecologically distinct Pacific lowlands. You will drive to the west of El Valle and down towards the coast, stopping at any spots along the way that look promising for butterflies. The first “planned” stop will be the road to Juan Hombron where you should check the forest and pasture edges for skippers, metalmarks, hairstreaks and tigerwings. Then you will head to Santa Clara and a beach house where we will enjoy our picnic lunch while watching the waves come ashore. The road in front of the beach house is bordered by forest and fields and offers excellent habitat for butterflies. After your day of butterflying in the lowlands we had back to El Valle.


After breakfast you will get in 4×4 vehicles andbe driven to Altos del Maria, a private gated community just to the east of El Valle. This higher elevation (over 3000′) cloud forest offers great scenery and some different butterfly species to search out. Butterflying here will be along hilly, gravel and paved roads. You will enjoy a picnic lunch at a lake and explore a trail along a creek, if weather permits.

This afternoon is a good opportunity to visit the ever-popular El Valle artisan market in the center of town. It is a great place to find hand-made Panamanian products and souvenirs.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY LODGE.

DAY 5 – Canopy Tower
DAY 5 – Canopy Tower

Morning: Transfer to Canopy Tower (2 Hrs from Canopy Lodge)

This morning you will have some time to explore the gardens of the Canopy Lodge one more time for butterflies, as there is always something interesting to see! At mid-morning you will say goodbye to the foothills of El Valle de Anton, as you head towards the lowlands of central Panama, to the unique Canopy Tower, located in Soberania National Park.

The Canopy Tower was a US Air Force radar station built in 1965, now fully renovated and repurposed as a nature observatory and Eco lodge in the heart of the rainforest! The 50-foot high observation deck gives you the opportunity to see many of the Canopy butterfly species at eye level, often very difficult to see from the ground.

Upon arrival at the Canopy Tower, after a brief orientation you will be shown to your room and have lunch. Make sure you bring your binoculars and camera to lunch. Often there are monkeys, sloths, iguanas and toucans right outside the dining room windows, not to mention butterflies!


Afternoon: Canopy Tower

This afternoon you will take advantage of the great observation deck and take your first glances at some incredible canopy butterfly species! Possibilities include Thoas and Androgeus Swallowtails, kite-swallowtails, Malachite, Dusky-blue Groundstreak, AmyntorGreenstreak, Spying Hairstreak, the eye-catching Mexican and Imperial Arcas, Tricolored Metalmark, Blue-based and Curve-lined Theopes, White-spotted, Three-toned and Two-spotted Preponas, DiaLeafwing, Molpe and White-posted Metalmarks, Two-eyed Eighty-Eight, Red-striped Leafwing, Orion Cecropian, Double-banded Banner, Banded Orange, Julia, Spot-celled and Iphicleola Sisters, Many-banded Daggerwing, Cramer’s Satyr, the spectacular Regal Hairstreak, Costa-spotted Metalmark and White-tipped Cycadian!

Many species of skippers can be seen from the tower, both up in the canopy and down at ground level, feeding at the verbena. We will hope to see Dot-collared Firetip, White-tailed Longtail, Gilbert’s Flasher, Corbulo Skipper, Broteas and Canal Scarlet-eyes, Dyson’s Silverpatch and White-trailed Skipper.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 6 – Pipeline Road
DAY 6 – Pipeline Road

Morning: Pipeline Road Full Day (20 min. from Canopy Tower)

After breakfast at the Tower, you will board one of hotel’s open-air vehicles and head to the world-famous Pipeline Road! There will be a stop on route at the Ammo Ponds to scan the grassy roadsides for Tropical Buckeye, Queen, Glassy-winged Skipper, Cassius Blue, Golden White, White Yellow, Bordered Patch, Pompeius Skipper, Banded Longwing, Mimosa and Yellow-rimmed Skippers. Not far from Ammo Ponds, Pipeline Road extends 17 kilometers through Soberania National Park on the Caribbean slope.

Pipeline Road is renowned as a bird-watcher’s paradise, but the mature secondary forest also houses an incredible array of other wildlife. We will search for forest and understory butterflies in this lowland rainforest habitat. Common and Menelaus Morphos patrol the wide gravel road, while Ruby-spotted Swallowtail, Apricot Sulphur, Pale-clubbed and Sky-blue Hairstreaks, Periander, Barne’s, Shaus’, and Irenea Metalmarks, GuyananSarota, Straight-lined Theope, IdaeTigerwing, Pale-banded and Eunice Crescents, Iphiclus Sister, East-Mexican Banner, Two-eyed Eighty-Eight, Whitened Bluewing, Red and Variable Crackers, Many-banded Daggerwing, Terrestrial Satyr, Long-tailed Flasher, Broad Banded-Skipper and the stunning Glorious Blue-Skipper will be targets.

Longwing (Heliconius spp.) butterflies are well represented here, and we will hope to find Doris, Sara, Erato and CydnoLongwings. If you are lucky, you will spot a Pale Owl-Butterfly roosting low on a vertical tree trunk in the understory. You will have a picnic lunch in this beautiful forest and continue searching for butterflies in the afternoon!

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 7 - Metropolitan Natural Park, Old Gamboa Road & Summit Ponds
DAY 7 - Metropolitan Natural Park, Old Gamboa Road & Summit Ponds

Morning: Metropolitan Natural Park (30 min. from Canopy Tower)

Before heading out for Metropolitan Natural Park in Panama City this morning, it is a good idea to see what butterflies can be found in the windows of the Canopy Tower, as some of the crepuscular butterflies enter the tower during dawn and dusk and sit on the windows around the dining room. Common Phanus, Split-banded and Narrow-banded Owl-Butterflies, Tricolored Metalmark, White-patched Emesis, White-posted Metalmark and Cramer’s Satyr often find themselves inside the Tower, providing great opportunities to see these butterflies up close!

The drier forests and open areas of Metro Park offer species like Tiger Mimic-Queen, Hermes Satyr, Tropical Buckeye, EratoLongwing, Emerald-patched Cattleheart, Great White Longtail, Stigma Skipper, Uzza and Thamyra Satyrs, Polydamas Swallowtail, Blue-gray Satyr, Lasus Metalmark, StatiraSulphur, Panna Skipper, Tropical Checkered-Skipper, Whitened Crescent and Brown, Plain and Great White Longtails, among others. The park offers a variety of habitats to explore, so your list here could be extensive! You will head back to the Tower for lunch.


Afternoon: Old Gamboa Road & Summit Ponds (5 min. from Canopy Tower)

Old Gamboa Road is the original road that extended to Gamboa; once a passageway for traffic, now it is a wide footpath, grown over by tall grasses bordering open areas and surrounded by patches of forest and wetlands. It is a great place to search for Dimorphic Skipper, Golden White, Togarna Hairstreak, Molina and Lucianus Metalmarks, Green, Hecale and MelpomeneLongwings, Whitened and Orange-patched Crescents, Banded and White Peacocks, Stub-tailed Morpho, Golden-snouted Sootywing, Two-eyed Eighty-Eight, Dusky Owl-Butterfly, PolymniaTigerwing, Hermes and Plain Satyrs, Great White Longtail, Trailside Skipper and much more.

After a grand afternoon of butterflying, we will return to the tower in time to freshen up for dinner.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 8 - Departure
DAY 8 - Departure

After breakfast at the Canopy Tower, you can scan the canopy one final time for any butterflies before saying “adios” and heading to the airport to catch your return flights home. The tour officially ends after breakfast.


  • 4 nights of accommodation in CANOPY LODGE
  • 3 nights of accommodation in CANOPY TOWER
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner every day.
  • Natural fruit juices, sodas, wine at dinner time.
  • Bilingual expert guide for all the tours.
  • Snacks and beverages during all the excursions.
  • Transportation and excursions as described on the itinerary.
  • Local Taxes
  • Tips and personal expenses
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • International Flights
  • Any other services not specified

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