A 6-day birding tour to the region of the country that supports the highest biodiversity. Lodging will be in the town of Gamboa, which sits adjacent to the Panama Canal and is nestled within the boundaries of Soberania National Park. Birding trips to local birding hotspots will be supplemented with a day trip to an extinct volcano to experience the avifauna at higher elevations. This is the perfect introduction to Panama and its birds.
A small town nestled in the middle of the lowland rainforest. Arrive early enough to check-in to the lodge and bird around town before dinner. We will find some of the "easier" species and forest edge species as we walk through the sleepy town and along the Panama Canal. Dinner and to bed early at our very comfortable rainforest lodge.
Arriving by daybreak. During the predawn walk we will look and listen for owls and nightjars. We will experience the dawn chorus from the canopy where we will see the most charismatic of rainforest bird species...toucans, parrots, Purple-throated Fruitcrows and tanagers....expect about 60 species. After about 2-3 leisurely hours on the canopy tower, we will descend and watch for hummingbirds at the Rainforest Discovery Center. There are about 10 species of hummers we will see without any effort on our part. From here, we will walk the trails at the Discover Center and make our way slowly to the beginning of Pipeline Road. Transportation will arrive by 11am to take those of you interested back to the lodge for a siesta and some relaxation. The rest of us will continue on Pipeline Road for the rest of the day. We will plan to be exiting the rainforest and arriving at the Ammo Dump Ponds between 4-5pm and transportation will be available to bring those of you at the lodge back out to meet the group at the ponds for some easy pre-dinner birding. We will spend the waning daylight birding the extremely productive pond and surrounding marshes. Dinner and to bed early.
This morning we will experience the dawn chorus from the understory and will spend the entire day birding as far as we can on Pipeline Road. With the highest number of bird species recorded in a 24-hr period anywhere on earth, we could honestly just bird Pipeline everyday in Panama and not see everything we could. It is truly a mecca of neotropical birding. Once you have birded Pipeline you will compare everywhere you bird to this gem of avian diversity. Again, transportation will be arranged at 11am for those wishing to return to the lodge for a break. The rest of us will bird on foot until late afternoon at which point we will once again reunite as a group at the Ammo Dump Ponds and witness the multitude of marsh species come in to roost for the evening. We will reminisce about our day over a lovely dinner and we will retire to bed early and dream about one of the best birding days we have ever experienced.
El Valle is a town that sits on the continental divide and has a great diversity of birds from the West and East. A number of species can be found at El Valle that we simply won't see in the lowlands at Pipeline Road. We will start the day by walking slowly along gravel roads in the Northwest of the town. These roads serve as a border between the rainforest and agricultural zones. Birding here is excellent in the early morning and our chances of seeing El Valle specialties are very high. From here we will travel a short distance to Cerro Gaital, an amazing hiking trail that follows the rim of an extinct volcano and provides great looks at both oceans from the top. Although the hike is strenuous and rocky, it starts with a gradual grassy incline for 500m before heading into the rainforest. Here you will find two benches, so those of you incapable or simply not interested in hiking the rest of the way can sit and relax while the birds come to you. The rest of us will spend the next few hours hiking the mountain cloud forest trail looking for more specialties...which we are bound to see. After Cerro Gaital, we will head to the famed El Valle market so you can do some quick shopping for Panamanian goods and then we will go to a restaurant for lunch. After lunch we will head to the Cara Iguana trail, another gravel road cutting into the side of a mountain that is spectacular for birds. The road is fairly easy to walk and we will do so very slowly. Hopefully everyone will join in on this late-afternoon walk. A quick stop at a fantastic coffee shop on the way out of El Valle and it's back to the lodge we go for dinner and sleep.
Today we will depart just before sunrise and head to Old Gamboa Road, a nice and easy, paved road in drier scrub forest just 15-minutes from Gamboa. We will spend 2-hours walking the road looking for dry habitat specialists not found anywhere else on the trip thus far. After, we will spend some time at a nearby pond looking for boat-billed and capped herons. From here we will head to Plantation trail. This trail is very similar to Pipeline except it parallels a river that is always flowing. And, during the dry season, it will be a great spot to see species tied to wetter forest environments. We will spend the rest of the day on this trail. Transportation has been arranged for 11am once again for those wishing to return to the lodge early for a siesta. We will reconvene at the lodge for our last Panamanian dinner, before compiling the trip list.We will celebrate our amazing trip before heading to bed in preparation for our flight home the following morning.
What is included?
- All airport transfers
- Transportation within the country
- Breakfast and dinners
- Bagged lunches each day and guiding services
What is not included?