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Canopy Tower’s Birds and History (7 nights)

Created with Sketch. Panama
Excellent

Duration

8 days/7 nights

Tour Type

Daily Tour

Group Size

8 people

Languages

___

Overview

PRIVATE ITINERARY WITH SHARED EXCURSIONS

We will tailor make your program according to your preferences.

This is the tour for birders who love history and for history buffs who love birds! Panama is a country rich in both! Panama City was the first city founded by Spaniards on the Pacific shore of the New World, the site of the first transcontinental railroad and the home of the Panama Canal, 8th Wonder of the World — all amidst 970+ species of bird and home to an annual raptor migration second to none in the world! Enjoy seven fun-filled days with tales of legends, pirates, visionaries, conquistadors and with the most beautiful birds you can imagine — many right outside your bedroom window!

This itinerary may change without prior notice due to weather, alterations in habitat or other conditions.

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Itinerary

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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 Tower, located at the top of Semaphore Hill in the rainforest of Soberanía National Park.

Once at the hotel you will be provided with an orientation on the use of the facilities and the guided bird watching excursions. As your luggage is being carried to your room, you may visit the dining/bar area and enjoy a refreshing drink.

We highly recommend that you spend some time on the Observation Deck. The view from the platform is incredible! Here, you get a unique eye-level perspective of the rainforest canopy. Many birds, including toucans, parrots, tanagers, hawks, and dozens of others, as well as monkeys, two species of sloth, and other mammals are commonly seen. From this vantage point you can also see ships transiting the Panama Canal, the majestic Centennial Bridge, and miles of rainforest! You may also want to watch the hummingbird feeders at the base of the Tower for Long-billed Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Violet-bellied & Blue-chested Hummingbirds and White-vented Plumeleteer. Occasionally, a Snowy-bellied Hummingbird is spotted!

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 2
DAY 2

Morning tour: Canopy Tower & Semaphore Hill Road
Your guide will be waiting for you at the Observation Deck for early morning guided bird watching. While you look for birds you can enjoy hot coffee, tea and orange juice.

Some of the bird species that we may see from the observation deck are Green & Red-legged Honeycreepers, Green Shrike-Vireo, Blue Cotinga, Scaled Pigeon, Mealy & Red-lored Parrots, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Araçari, Red-capped & Blue-crowned Manakins, a huge diversity of flycatchers and tanagers, and raptors including King Vulture and Black Hawk-Eagle!

After breakfast, at mid-morning, you’ll begin your bird tour by taking a pleasant walk down Semaphore Hill Road. This winding, shady paved road, festooned on the shoulders by wildflowers of many types, is a little more than a mile long and crosses a large creek about half-way down.

The bird list here is extensive, and includes birds from the forest interior as well as edge-dwellers. Olivaceous Flatbill, Plain Xenops, Lesser Greenlet, Black-breasted & White-whiskered Puffbirds, Fasciated & Black-crowned (formerly Western Slaty) Antshrikes, Slate-colored Grosbeak, Bay-headed & White-shouldered Tanagers, Black-throated Trogon, Broad-billed & Rufous Motmots, and even Great Jacamar may be found. Great Tinamou is often heard, but is harder to find.

This road is also great for raptors, including White, Tiny & Great Black Hawks. During migration it’s easy to see more than 10 species of warbler in one morning.

Lunch at the CANOPY TOWER.
Afternoon tour: Panama’s Biodiversity Museum

This afternoon you will visit the recently opened BioMuseo along the Amador Causeway in Panama City. This spectacular and unique building, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, features several halls focusing on the biodiversity of the isthmus of Panama—from its geological beginnings through to modern day culture, the great faunal interchange over the land bridge and other fascinating exhibits. Don’t forget your binoculars, as you may see Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds flying over the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal!

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 3
DAY 3

Portobello, San Lorenzo & Historic Panamá Railroad Full Day Tour
As you go out of the Soberanía National Park towards the Caribbean coast, you will make a quick stop at Las Cruces Trail, which was used by the Spanish conquistadors during colonial times for sending goods, such as gold and silver, from Peru to Panama.

Once in Portobello, you’ll start your historical tour by visiting several Spanish forts, the Custom House built in 1630 and its museum, which explains the famous “Triangle of Panama”, the three different routes the Spaniards used to transport the gold and silver by ship to Spain.

Also, you’ll stop at the Church of Portobello where you will hear the fascinating tale of the “Black Christ”, the patron of the people of Portobello. Every October 21, Portobello relives a day of its glorious past in a celebration in honor of the Black Christ, with the city filled with people in a candlelight procession. You’ll enjoy a delicious Caribbean lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch you will explore more of the culturally-rich Caribbean coast of Panama! Once at Fort San Lorenzo you immediately realize why the fort was built by the Spanish: it sits high on a cliff overlooking both the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Chagres River, a perfect defensive position.

The fort was captured in 1671 by Privateers man Henry Morgan for access to Panama City. As the sun lowers in the sky, you depart to the Railroad Station in the City of Colon. In 1855 the Panamá Canal Railroad became the first transcontinental railroad, built by the United States to accommodate the increase in traffic between the eastern US and California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Additionally, the Canal would have been impossible to build without the railroad. The railroad was even instrumental in helping Panama gain independence from Colombia. You will embark on the historic Panama Canal Railroad, and during the 47-mile, 1-hour return, you can look for Snail Kites (often 10 or more!), Limpkins & others from our luxury, air-conditioned railway car.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 4
DAY 4

World famous Pipeline Road
After breakfast you will continue your guided bird watching tour by boarding the Birdmobile or El Tinamu, both open-air vehicles, to take you to the Pipeline Road (20 MIN. FROM CANOPY TOWER), the best place in Central Panama to find forest birds and one of the premier birding spots in the world! Eight species of wren, 5 trogons, 4 puffbirds, 3 motmots, several tanagers, Great Jacamar, Common Potoo, Pheasant Cuckoo, Great Tinamou and many other species have been recorded here, even including the elusive Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo and the majestic Harpy Eagle!

Pipeline Road is also a great place for raptors. Three forest-falcons are resident as well as Tiny & Semiplumbeous Hawks and Ornate & Black Hawk-Eagles.

There are also plenty of side trails, plus 11 creeks and rivers that can be followed into the forest that you can explore.

Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.
Afternoon: Summit Gardens/Harpy Exhibit (10 min. from Canopy Tower)

Summit Gardens is a center for recreation, education and conservation, dedicated to reflecting and enhancing Panama’s tropical and cultural diversity. The botanical gardens are great for migratory warblers and other forest-edge species, including a colony of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas, Yellow-margined Flycatcher, Laughing Falcon, Gray-lined, Crane & Great Black Hawks, Collared Forest-Falcon, Tropical Pewee, Masked Tityra, Golden-fronted & Scrub Greenlets, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Giant, Shiny & Bronzed Cowbirds, and Blue Cotinga.

This park is the best place to find Streak-headed Woodcreeper, a difficult species to get elsewhere on this tour. The Harpy Eagle is Panama’s national bird, and this park has an exhibit, including a life-size nest and interpretive panels, tracing the importance of the Harpy in Panamanian history and culture dating back to Pre-Columbian times.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 5
DAY 5

Historic City Tour Full Day
After breakfast you will depart for a historical tour of the major cultural & historical sights of Panama City. You begin your historical tour in the old city, Panama La Vieja, founded in 1519 by Spain and later destroyed by the infamous pirate Henry Morgan.

You’ll visit the ruins and the museum, which contains exhibits focusing on pre-Hispanic and Colonial times. Afterward, you continue to the World Heritage Site Casco Antiguo, which was originally built and settled in 1671 after the destruction of Panama Viejo by Morgan.

You will enjoy lunch at a restaurant on the Amador Peninsula, where a beautiful tree-lined causeway leads to hotels, fishing vessels and popular night spots. From the causeway, you can take in a view of both the old colonial city and the modern city of Panama—with its impressive skyline as a backdrop!

During the afternoon you will continue the historical tour by visiting the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal, one of the wonders of the modern world, and a must-see for any visitor to Panama! The Visitors’ Center features a fully equipped theater, three observation terraces and four exhibition halls. The exhibits include historic pieces, video presentations, models of plants, animals and fossils, models of the Panama Canal, and objects used in Canal operations. Most importantly, you will be able to see huge ocean liners passing through the century-old locks!

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 6
DAY 6

Morning tour to Panama Rainforest Discovery Center
After breakfast you will continue your guided bird watching tour at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, an ecotourism and environmental education facility created and administered by Fundacion Avifauna Eugene Eisenmann.

It is located off Pipeline Road adjacent to 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 and canopy birds like Scaled Pigeon, Pied Puffbird, and Blue Cotinga. You will also take a quick bird tour through the 1.1 kilometer circuit of well-maintained forest trails, one ending at a pond, which is excellent for birds! Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, Little Blue Heron, Least Bittern, and Sungrebe are often resident at the pond, and along the trails we look for White-necked & White-whiskered Puffbirds, motmots, trogons, manakins, antbirds, wrens, tanagers, flycatchers, and many others.

The covered Visitor Center has several hummingbird feeders (attracting many species that may be photographed easily), bathrooms, eating tables and a small gift shop with drinks and snacks.

Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.
Afternoon: Plantation Trail

After lunch, you will take a short ride to the bottom of Semaphore Hill to Plantation Trail, one of our premier birding areas, often said to rival the Pipeline Road itself! This easy trail passes through mature rainforest and follows a small creek (Rio Chico Masambi) and is a reliable place to find Golden-crowned Spadebill. Oftentimes at the parking area near the entrance we find Black-chested Jays. Other birds to look for along the trail include Ocellated, Bicolored, Chestnut-backed, White-bellied & Spotted Antbirds; Broad-billed & Whooping Motmots, five species of trogon; White-whiskered Puffbird; hummingbirds (Blue-chested, White-necked Jacobin and others); Plain-brown, Northern Barred, Cocoa, and Ruddy Woodcreepers; Cinnamon, Crimson-crested & Black-cheeked Woodpeckers; White-breasted Wood-Wren; Song Wren; Dot-winged, Checker-throated & White-flanked Antwrens; Purple-throated Fruitcrow; Bright-rumped Attila; Gray-headed Tanager; Long-billed Gnatwren; Black-crowned & Fasciated Antshrikes; Red-capped & Blue-crowned Manakins; Great Tinamou; Ruddy-tailed, Royal & Yellow-margined flycatchers; Yellow-rumped Cacique; Scaly-throated Leaftosser; and, occasionally, Great Jacamar or the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet!

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 7
DAY 7

Morning: Jungle Boat Tour & Indian Village
After breakfast this morning, you will board a small boat for a spectacular nature expedition on the Panama Canal. Most of the Canal is actually an artificial lake, Gatun Lake. This tour will take you from Gamboa—just 15 minutes from the Canopy Tower—to the interior of the large lake! Along the way you will pass huge cargo ships and ocean liners.

You will also visit hidden caves and beautiful inlets with fascinating fauna and flora. You will stop at the “monkey island” for a closer look at White-faced Capuchins. On the way back you will visit a village of the indigenous Embera community. This unique opportunity allows you to learn about Embera culture, their ways of living and their knowledge of rainforest plants, a science known as ethnobotany. They’ll serve you a traditional Embera meal, hot fish and green plantains. You are also welcome to enjoy and purchase a variety of handicrafts.

Afternoon: Old Gamboa Road & Summit Ponds
Old Gamboa Road and the associated ponds at Summit are great places to find Canal Zone birds. At Summit Ponds you will scan for Green, Striated, Capped & Boat-billed Herons as well as Green, Ringed, Amazon, Green-and-rufous (rare) & American Pygmy Kingfishers, which are all resident here!

Also we seek out Rusty-margined & Streaked Flycatchers, Mangrove Swallow, Bat Falcon, Cocoa Woodcreeper and Lineated Woodpecker. Going straight past the two ponds you’ll be on Old Gamboa Road, one of the birdiest spots around. This road passes through a variety of habitats and has plenty of specialties, including Blue Ground Dove, Great Antshrike, Jet Antbird, Black-tailed, Bran-colored & Royal Flycatchers, Lance-tailed & Golden-collared Manakins and the delightful Rosy Thrush-Tanager! We also search for White-bellied Antbird, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Yellow-backed Oriole, Boat-billed & Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Yellow-headed Caracara and more. Also resident are Gray-headed Chachalaca, with Spectacled Owl a real possibility, as the guides know where they often roost.

Dinner on property.
Accommodation at CANOPY TOWER.

DAY 8
DAY 8

Departure to Airport
After breakfast you will be driven to Tocumen International Airport on time for your return flights home.

Included/Excluded

  • 6 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

Tour's Location

Created with Sketch. Panama

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Travel to Latin America and the Caribbean by CORE

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