Birding Tour in Bocas del Toro, Panama
This 5-day Birdwatching Tour in Panama's Bocas Del Toro is moderately paced and available on request. Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge is strategically located in the epicentre of national parks and protected reserves, granting you privileged access to the archipelago’s protected waters to reach otherwise inaccessible wildlife areas on the mainland and islands by boat. The well-appointed lodge and its amenities reside in 200 acres of forest, covering three distinct ecosystems, adjacent to Bastimentos Island National Marine Park.
On this birding tour in Panama, the main lodge’s veranda, private cabanas and canopy observation tower provide elevated decks for a bird's eye view of the extraordinary wildlife. Several kilometres of hiking trails, in addition to the lodge’s gardens, often provide encounters with Two- and Three-toed Sloths, White-faced Capuchin and Panamanian Night Monkeys, Nine-banded Armadillos, Spectacled Caiman, Central American Woolly Opossums, Grey Four-eyed Opossums, Northern Tamanduas, Greater White-lined Bats, Three-wattled Bellbirds, and Golden-collard Manakins (there are several leks). You can also visit hummingbird bathing pools and observe kettles of migrating raptors.
During the day, as thermals start rising off the Caribbean, raptors will soar for hours. The canopy observation tower is an excellent place to scan for Black Hawk-Eagles, Mangrove Black-Hawks, Double-toothed Kites, White HawkBats and Laughing and Peregrine Falcons. Other species that can be seen from the tower including large groups of Montezuma Oropendolas, Olive-throated Parakeets, White-crowned and Scaled Pigeons, Blue Dacnis, three species of Honeycreepers, Tropical Gnatcatchers, Ospreys, Lineated and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, Common and Lesser Nighthawks, Tanagers, Euphonias and multiple flycatchers, swifts and swallows.
This birdwatching tour also lets you take advantage of the warm Caribbean waters just off the dock, where vibrant reefs encompass a garden rich in hard and soft corals, as well as a brilliant kaleidoscope of tropical fish and invertebrates. Just in front of the lodge are the Zapatilla Cayes, a pair of beautiful islands that are part of the national park, which host some of the most prolific coral reef sand turtle nesting grounds in the archipelago. Beautiful trails wind around the island highlighting specific flora and fauna of the caye.
Each of the islands visited in the Bocas del Toro archipelago on this Panama tour has interesting wildlife and high levels of endemism. Isla Popa, the second-largest island in the chain, has more species of birds and mammals due to its proximity to the mainland. A leisurely boat ride of about two kilometres will bring us to a dense gallery forest surrounded by rich mangrove lagoons. We will birdwatch in this phenomenal area by boat, peacefully enjoying flights of Keel-billed and Black-mandible Toucans, Crimson-fronted Parakeets, Brown-hooded Parrots, Slaty-tailed Trogons, Golden-hooded Tanagers, Plumbers and Swallow-tailed Kites, Pale-billed and Lineated Woodpeckers, Mangrove Cuckoos, American Pygmy Kingfishers and hopefully see male Snowy Cotingas conspicuously blazing in the sun. The mangrove lagoon has some beautiful Turtle Sea Grass where we can have good looks at sponges, starfish, urchins and Upside-down Jellyfish.
Birdwatching Panama Tour highlights include:
- Exploring Zapatilla Caves in Bastimentos National Marine Park
- Getting a bird's eye view of the forest from the lodge's canopy observation towers
- Trekking the Tranquilo Bay Bird Trails
- A boat trip to Isla Popa, second-largest island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago
- Visiting visit hummingbird bathing pools
If you have a little more time to spend on your holiday, maybe you’d consider a longer trip such as this Western Panama Birding Tour.
Alternative Tour Name: Birding Bocas del Toro
A representative from Tranquilo Bay will meet you at the airport in Bocas Town and assist you with your entry into Bocas del Toro. Upon arrival at Tranquilo Bay, you will leisurely settle into your cabana. Once you are settled in, you have the choice between a guided hike on Tranquilo Bay’s two-mile nature trail, watching for wildlife, or a leisurely afternoon kayak and snorkelling session, searching out water life above and below the surface.
Today we will be exploring the Zapatilla Cays inside the national park. These pristine white sand islands just 15-minutes away are covered in coconut palms, tropical hardwoods, sea grapes, and almond trees draped in a collage of bromeliads, ferns, orchids and other epiphytes. Every year hawksbill sea turtles use these islands as an important nesting ground.
It is possible to walk around these islands while stopping to explore the white sand beaches, forests and reefs covering the entire circumference. Snapper, barracuda and vivid tropical fish abound on the beautiful coral reefs surrounding the area.
The birds are plenty – Common Black-Hawks, Mangrove Warbler, Magnificent Frigate, Brown Boobies, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, kingfishers, Great Kiskadee, Brown Pelicans, osprey, hummingbirds, plovers, and Gray-necked Wood-Rail. Guided activities include your choice of birding, hiking, snorkelling, sea kayaking and hammock surfing. As the sun goes down return to Tranquilo Bay for an incredibly fresh and healthy dinner inspired by local customs, flavours and ingredients.
Today have to breakfast at your leisure and then regroup for birding the lodge’s trails. The Lodge grounds include over 200 acres with several kilometres of forested trails covering different habitats.
This forest and its edge are home to many of Isla Bastimento's common favourites including multiple raptors, Montezuma Oropendolas, Red-lored Parrots, hummingbirds, 5-species of kingfishers, Green Ibis, tityras, woodpeckers, honeycreepers, tanagers, pigeons, antbirds, manakins, seedeaters, and herons, and, in season Three-wattled Bellbirds. White-faced Capuchins, three and two-toed sloths, green iguanas, basilisk lizards, butterflies and poison dart frogs are also common on these trails.
After dinner tries to spot some of the local nocturnal residents such as the Common Potoo, Owls, Western Night Monkey, Four-eyed opossum, Wooly opossum, Crab-eating raccoon, Speckled Caiman and bats.
Each of the islands in the Bocas del Toro archipelago has interesting wildlife and high levels of endemism, however, Isla Popa the second largest island in the chain, has more species of birds and mammals due to its proximity to the mainland. A leisurely boat ride of about two kilometres will bring us to a dense gallery forest surrounded by the rich mangrove lagoons of nearby Isla Popa.
We will bird watch in this phenomenal area by boat; peacefully enjoying flights of Keel-billed and Blackmandibled toucans, Crimson-fronted Parakeets, Brown-hooded Parrots, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Golden-hooded Tanager, Plumbers and Swallow-tailed kites, Pale-billed, and Lineated woodpeckers, Mangrove Cuckoo, American-pygmy Kingfisher, and hopefully see male Snowy Cotingas conspicuously blazing in the sun.
This mangrove lagoon has some beautiful Turtle Sea Grass where we can have good looks at sponges, starfish, urchins and Upside-down Jellyfish. Upon return to Tranquilo Bay, we will have the rest of the afternoon free to bird and explore the beautiful trails, kayak courses, or coral reefs surrounding the facility.
Depart Tranquilo Bay.
Wildlife species expected to see:
Birds: Common Black-Hawks, Mangrove Warbler, Magnificent Frigate, Brown Boobies, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Kingfishers, Great Kiskadee, Brown Pelicans, Osprey. Hummingbirds. Plovers. Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Raptors, Montezuma Oropendolas, Red-lored Parrots
Green Ibis, Tityras, Woodpeckers, Honeycreepers, Tanagers, Pigeons, Antbirds, Manakins, Seedeaters, Herons, Three-wattled Bellbird
Keel-billed Toucans, Black-mandible Toucans, Crimson-fronted Parakeets, Brown-hooded Parrots, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Golden-hooded Tanager, Plumbeous Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpeckers, Mangrove Cuckoo, American-pygmy, Kingfisher, Snowy Cotingas
Mammals: Bats, Crab-eating raccoon, Four-eyed opossum, howler monkeys, Manatees, Three and two-toed sloths, Western Night Monkey, White-faced Capuchins, Wooly opossum
Amphibians & Reptiles: Basilisk lizard, Dendrobates auratus, the black and neon green poison dart frog, Green iguanas, Poison dart frogs, Speckled Caiman
Underwater: Barracuda, Coral reefs, Snapper, Tropical fish, Sponges, Starfish, Urchins, Upside-down Jellyfish
What is included?
- Transfers between Bocas Town and Tranquilo Bay
- Meals and Beverages at Tranquilo Bay
- Dinner - 3-5 course meal
- Snacks available all the time
- Beverages – Non-blended, non alcoholic fruit juices, soda and water
- Deluxe Air Conditioned Cabanas
- Access to water and land activities directly from Tranquilo Bay
- Activities daily as designated in the itinerary
- Taxes are in addition to package price.
What is not included?
- All international or domestic airfares
- Visa Fees (if applicable)
- Travel & medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
- Airport departure taxes or visa fees
- Items of personal nature (incl. binoculars and telescopes)
- If providing binoculars and telescopes then add within above
- Excess baggage charges
- Laundry & telephone Charges
- Tips & gratuities
- Alcoholic beverages or bottled drinks
- Anything else not mentioned in the itinerary and “What is included”
In Bocas del Toro, Panama, you'll find the all-inclusive resort known as the Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge. When it comes time to book their accommodations, we are aware that many of our guests have difficulty locating a genuine holiday experience and are anxious about what "all-inclusive" actually entails. We understand this difficulty. As a result, we respect the stay of our guests by being transparent about what is and is not included. Our team uses the information you provide to customize your stay. You spend your time getting away from the stresses of everyday life, engaging in novel experiences, gaining knowledge about the natural world, and unwinding with the other members of your party.
Most guests travel by air between Panama City and Isla Colon (Bocas Town). Air Panama has at least two flights each day departing Panama City and returning from Bocas. The flights are usually early in the morning (6:30 am PAC to BOC and 7:40 am BOC to PAC) and late afternoon (4:00 pm PAC to BOC and 5:10 pm BOC to PAC). During high season Air Panama schedules additional flights throughout the day. Tranquilo Bay will meet you at the airport and transfer you out to Isla Bastimentos. Some guests will travel from Boquete to Bocas by land. In this instance there are several options for transfers to and from Tranquilo Bay. We can arrange to meet you at an eco-lodge on the mainland and make the transfer direct to Tranquilo Bay or we can schedule a time and location to pick you up on Isla Colon. To get to Isla Colon from the mainland you will take a water taxi from Almirante. A few guests are traveling from Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro. Some of these guests travel by plane in which case we will pick them up at the airport the same as anyone traveling from Panama City. Others will travel by land and either meet us on the mainland at the designated eco-lodge or at a specified location on Isla Colon.
We suggest the following items in addition to your regular hot weather vacation clothes, etc.: • Rain jacket • Sunscreen • After sun lotion • Bug repellant • Water shoes or tennis shoes which can get wet (for hiking) • Long pants & lightweight long sleeve shirt for jungle hiking • Lightweight long sleeve shirt for water activities • Hat • Sunglasses
Yes, we can help you with a variety of additional services. Please see our Rates page for more information.
ALL PACKAGES INCLUDE: • Round trip transfers from Isla Colon to Tranquilo Bay on Wednesdays and Saturdays • Deluxe air-conditioned cabana with view • Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of your stay • Non-alcoholic, non-blended beverages • Use of our expansive facilities and grounds • Use of our equipment • Access to naturalist guides for activities on our grounds or off of our dock • Panamanian Sales and Hotel Taxes Your expenses once you arrive at Tranquilo Bay are limited. You might have a small bar tab. You may have excursions that you elect to add on during your stay. Other than these items you will have any gratuities you choose to give to your guides and or the other staff. Tranquilo Bay is a small eco-lodge in a secluded location. You have access to the ocean and the jungle. We are next to a marine national park, thus we have no neighbors and our grounds are completely private. We have two full-time biologist guides on staff for your tours. Our tours are conducted solely for our guests in a completely secure manner. Due to our location, which puts you in the middle of the jungle, we must catch or own water, supply our own power and bring all materials in by boat.
Other companies a la carte vacations: You will manage all of the following items for your party during your vacation: • Transfers between the airport and your accommodations • Accommodations • Meals • Beverages • Access to jungle and ocean activities – generally group tours • Rental of equipment for said jungle and ocean activities • Gratuities • Sales and Hotel Taxes We cater to parties interested in nature and the activities within the jungle and ocean. There are other accommodations in the archipelago that will cost much less, but they do not provide you the value we do with the entire package we have. Any other accommodations you consider in the archipelago will be missing something from this package. Location and privacy change, comfort in your accommodations, and quality of equipment, facilities and guides is vastly different. No other business in the archipelago provides biologist trained guides or the activities that are all available on or from our facilities.
Our rates are based upon two people per cabana. If there are two people staying in the cabana they both pay the amount stated. If there is one person staying in the cabana then that person pays the regular rate plus the single person occupancy fee. Children fifteen and under staying in the cabana with their parents are one-half of the adult price unless a specific package or itinerary states otherwise.
Yes, we can accommodate you. Our reservation system guest information form has a few sections that ask you to provide us with information about anyone in your party's food allergies or health requirements as well as for what everyone in your party does eat.
No concerns at Tranquilo Bay with food or water. You can eat the fruits, salads and vegetables at our location. We do not have problems with our water, thus no traveler's illnesses. All of our water is rainwater. It goes through 5 micron filtration and UV light prior to entering any of our buildings. All of our water inside the buildings goes through this same treatment. Our water is safe to drink. We wash and/or peel fruits and vegetables so that you are free to eat whatever you would like to eat when you are staying with us.
If we can make a high quality product on-site we do. We prefer to carry bulk items out to Tranquilo Bay and prepare food from those items instead of purchasing things in small packages, etc. Thus our breads, chips, desserts and ice creams are all made on site. They are delicious!
The owners live on-site with their families. As such, we are familiar with providing support to families with babies or grandparents traveling with them. We believe it is important for each member of the family to be comfortable and happy. We have a variety of staff members to meet your needs at Tranquilo Bay. The staff to guest ratio varies between 1:1 and 1:3 depending upon the season. Our full-time biologists, Ramon, Natalia and Stacey, provide you with lots of information about all of the nature and wildlife found within Bocas del Toro. We also have our resident canine, Chola, who does what she can to improve your stay with us.
Couples traveling to Tranquilo Bay will find a great mix of “alone” time and more social times. Each party has its own cabana to relax in and spend time on the porch or otherwise enjoying our tropical location. Your excursions may be with other guests or on your own depending upon the other guests on site for your trip. Most meals are communal where you can share your adventures with the other guests.
We are happy to host groups either on their own or as a part of the rest of the guests we have on site in any given week. For groups of eight or more we can make special arrangements for you. Please contact us to give us the specifics for your group and we will get back to you with a variety of options.
Tranquilo Bay is in a secluded location. Individual travelers looking to get away from it all find Tranquilo Bay to be just what they needed. We eat meals communally each night so individual guest mingle with any of our other guests that are onsite at that time. This may include families, couples or other individual travelers.
We do not have a bug problem. We do run into small no-see-ums or chitras at dusk and dawn. If you will be out during these times on your porch or doing an activity we suggest that you wear long pants and a long-sleeve shirt or use insect-repellant. Otherwise, if you are hiking in the jungle we suggest the same attire. On most other excursions these types of precautions are not necessary. Since our cabanas were built for air-conditioning they are airtight and insects are not an issue within the cabanas themselves.
The weight limit in the small planes is somewhat small and you are likely to get dirty on some of your excursions so, we are happy to do some laundry for you. We do not charge for this service, but we do ask that you remember the domestic staff provided this service to you when you determine the gratuity you leave for the staff. During the rare dry spells in the jungle, we may need to limit the amount of laundry we do for each guest.
We haven't had any security issues to date. Each of the cabanas has a lock on the door. If you have any valuable items that you would like stored we can store them for you in the main building. Most guests do not lock the door on their cabanas. Our location is secluded. There are only a limited number of people with access to our facilities. As such, we do not have security issues that other locations may have.
Our guest's activities and excursions are available only to people staying onsite. We do have a day tour that we offer several days a week where people come onsite to experience Tranquilo Bay, however, our lodge guests and these people are not mixed for activity purposes.
We are flexible. Excursions can be full-day or partial-day depending upon what you choose to do. Unfortunately, the price does not change much if you only take a partial-day excursion as most of the expense of the excursion is in the transportation to and from the excursion not in the length of the excursion itself. Certain excursions are full day, but we will explain this to you as you are reviewing your options at the beginning of your stay and as we make a plan for the following days.
Tranquilo Bay has three boats, multiple captains and guides available to you during your stay with us. Generally we would consider our tours to be semi-private. We do try to manage excursions so that we do not make those specific excursions that are fuel and time intensive on a daily basis. We also manage the load between our guides and guests to maximize our guests’ enjoyment. If a particular excursion is best limited to six people we are not going to take ten people on that excursion we will break it up into two groups. We frequently include more than one party on excursions if it is appropriate. However, if one party includes a more mature group we will not include young children in that party’s outings unless the party specifically requests that we do so. If you want to book private tours then you should book it in advance so we may dedicate a boat and a guide to your party specifically.
Tranquilo Bay is centrally located in the archipelago and only a short boat ride away from a variety of depths and currents to accommodate all snorkeling skill levels. All snorkeling excursions depart directly from our facility where our staff will handle the preparation, maintenance and portage of the equipment. If you want to dive we can arrange this with one of the dive shops on Isla Colon. Diving requires a different set of equipment and staff than we have for Tranquilo Bay. As such, we outsource this particular activity to the professionals. With up to a few divers we transport the divers to Isla Colon for dives directly with a dive shop. If there is a larger group of divers, we can arrange in advance with a dive shop to have dives leave from our facility.