Panama Wildlife Discovery
Panama Wildlife Discovery
Panama Wildlife Discovery: Come discover why Panama is considered a biological corridor with over 250 species of mammals and over 950 species of indigenous birds. Panama’s ecological abundance is accredited to its prime geographical position connecting both North and South America with an isthmus that arose millions of years ago, thus allowing land and freshwater species to migrate between the two continents. This two week wildlife and birding package will take you from the mountains of El Valle de Anton to the far reaching, wild Darien jungles in search of as many birds and mammals as you can find! With over two weeks to explore this biodiverse country, you’re likely to spot quite a few hundred species with the help of the best naturalist guides in the country.
Destinations: El Valle de Anton, Casco Viejo, Darien, Panama City
Duration: 14 days
*Price Range: $$$
*Rates inclusive of full vacation experience – hotels, tours, domestic transfers, and tax (excluding international airfare). Actual price based on length of travel, number of travelers/rooms, seasonal rates (high, low, peak), number of tour activities, and mode of domestic transportation.
$$$: At or under $1,200 per person.
$$$: $1,200 – $1,800 per person.
$$$: $1,800+ per person
Fly into Tocumen International Airport (PTY) where one of our local airport representatives will meet you as you exit your plane and guide you through an expedited immigration process. They will show you to the VIP Lounge where you can enjoy snacks and drinks while they collect your luggage for you. Once you are ready, the airport representative will guide you to your private transfer waiting outside the airport. Enjoy a scenic drive just two hours outside the city into the misty mountains of El Valle de Anton. Feel free to stop at any point for photo opportunities, restrooms, snacks, lunch, or to simply stretch your legs. El Valle de Anton is an enchanting mountain town full of natural wonders right in the center of a gigantic, extinct volcano crater. Check into your room at the boutique Canopy Lodge located alongside a refreshing stream, Rio Guayabo. If you’ve arrived to Canopy Lodge by mid-to-late afternoon, enjoy a swim in their “natural pool”. This natural pool is located in their gardens, created by diverting water from Guayabo River and comes complete with a rope-swing for everyone’s inner child! Meet fellow guests and new friends during a family-style dinner this evening.
Enjoy tropical fruit, homemade pastries, and coffee/tea for breakfast while observing hummingbirds and tanagers off nearby tray feeders. Birders and nature enthusiasts will enjoy roaming the foothills and cloud forests of El Valle de Anton. Home to around 350 species of birds, El Valle de Anton one of the best birding destinations in Panama. Whether you’ve woken up early to enjoy some of the bird-rich trails before breakfast or are just starting your day with breakfast, you can spend the rest of the morning exploring the forested grounds leading to Chorro el Macho waterfall, a powerful 110 ft. waterfall. Return to Canopy Lodge for a buffet style, open-air lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing around the hotel’s gardens watching an array of birds or set out on an afternoon birding tour, guided nature walk, or zip-line over Chorro el Macho Waterfall.
Avid birders can venture to new trails today in search of as many species as possible with some of Panama’s best naturalist guides. Spend another part of the day exploring El Valle’s quaint town and market. Rent a bike to explore town and stop in a local cafe for a coffee break with fresh baked bread or pastries. There are also plentiful hikes in the area, including Sleeping Indian Maiden, Sheppard, Holy Cross and Cerro Gaital where you can see the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from its summit on a clear day. Return to Canopy Lodge in the afternoon to cool off with a swim in the natural pool.
After breakfast you’ll return to Panama City for a short stay to see modern marvels, historical neighborhoods, old Spanish ruins, and Canopy Tower in Soberania National Park. Enjoy a guided history tour of Panama Viejo and Casco Viejo, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, before being dropped off at your hotel. Founded on August 15, 1519 by Pedro Arias Dávila, Panama Viejo was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Ocean. As you walk around the crumbled ruins of Panama Viejo, you’ll learn about the old city’s history with earthquakes, fires, and pirates. Continue down the path of history as you walk along cobblestone streets in Casco Viejo, settled in 1673 after the destruction of Panama Viejo by pirate Sir Henry Morgan. In Casco Viejo you’ll visit the famous gold altar in San Jose church, the National Theater, Presidential Palace, and the French Plaza. Check into Los Cuatro Tulipanes in Casco Viejo, a 200-year-old building located within a quieter sector of the trendy neighborhood. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring artisan crafts, small cafes, gourmet restaurants, and rooftop bars.
After breakfast, you’ll embark on a full day tour that’ll take you from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll begin by passing over the Panama Canal at Gatun Locks to reach Fort San Lorenzo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fort (or castle) was once used by the Spanish to protect the river entrance that lead to Panama City. It was later used by the 49ers on their way to California during the California Gold Rush. After exploring old cannons, secret tunnels, and castle chambers, you’ll have lunch at Shelter Bay Marina. Continue onwards to the Panama Canal expansion at Agua Clara Locks to watch large ships pass through the canal while learning about the canal’s history and its recent achievements with the expansion project. Next, you’ll follow a similar route that the 49ers used during the Gold Rush as you aboard the Panama Canal Railroad for a one hour scenic train ride back to Panama City. Enjoy dinner this evening in one of Casco Viejo gourmet restaurants and then search for live jazz at Danilo’s Jazz Club located in American Trade Hotel.
Wake up early today to reach Canopy Tower before sunrise. Canopy Tower is located atop Semaphore Hill within Soberania National Park’s 55,000 acres of rainforest, where over 100 species of mammals and over 500 species of birds reside. Make your way up to the Observation Deck situated 50 feet above ground and offering the best sunrise canopy views for bird watching. Have a hearty breakfast before a 3-4 hour guided walk along Semaphore Hill Road to see even more wildlife of this tropical rainforest. Return to Canopy Tower around midday for lunch and enjoy another afternoon wildlife in search of toucans, howler monkeys, tamarins, sloths, and iguanas. Alternatively, if the morning hike was enjoy or the weather isn’t favorable, head to the Biodiversity Museum to learn how the Isthmus of Panama came to be and how its creation changed the biodiversity of the world as we know it today. Enjoy your final dinner this evening in Casco Viejo.
After breakfast you’ll embark on a 5-hour drive from Panama City deep into the Darien jungles (lunch in route) for your week long stay at Canopy Camp. Canopy Camp sits alongside the protected Filo del Tallo Hydrological Reserve (65,000 acres). The Darien is the most diverse and least-explored region of Central America and is, therefore, a playground for birder and wildlife enthusiasts. The camp has everything you need to stay comfortable during your week long, rainforest adventure. Each tent has solar powered electricity, fan, and private bathroom with flushing toilet and hot water shower. You even have a variable Wi-Fi connection and a communal laptop with internet to check-in with the outside world. Check into camp and enjoy a candlelit dinner under a sky full of stars as you mingle with other camp guests.
Avid birders will start a daily routine of waking-up before sunrise for coffee and tea. Breakfast is served at 7:30am followed by a morning birdwatching hike (today) along Nando’s Trail. Return to Canopy Camp for lunch followed by an afternoon hike to nearby forests and swampy meadows for more birding. Return to camp to freshen up for dinner followed by a night walk to look for various species of owls and other nocturnal mammals.
Another full day of birding today! Hike along El Salto Road to the Chucunaque River just north of the Pan-American Highway. Search for numerous bird species in the surrounding dry forest and into low canopy forest. Around mid-morning visit Tierra Nueva Foundation, a non-profit organization working towards the sustainable development of people of the Darien. Return to Canopy Tower in time for lunch followed by a birding walk along the road to Las Lagunas. Return to Canopy Camp for dinner this evening.
After an early breakfast at Canopy Camp you will bird at Quebrada Felix, a newly discovered site that is becoming a favorite of local guides and guests. Quebrada Felix is located at the base of Filo del Tallo Hydrological Reserve and is surrounded by tall trees and mature lowland forest. You’ll walk along a rocky stream in search of the most wanted bird species. After lunch back at Canopy Camp, you’ll explore Lajas Blancas, the closest Embera Indigenous community to Canopy Camp. There are just over 1,000 residents in this village. You’ll have an opportunity to see day-to-day life of the Embera people while birding around pasture, farmland, and secondary rainforest. Return to Canopy Camp for dinner and to compare checklists.
After breakfast you’ll visit another Embera village, Nuevo Vigia, surrounded by secondary dry forest and two small lakes, all of which attract a variety of birds. The only way to access the village is via a locally made dugout canoe. Coast along the river in your dugout canoe and spend the majority of the morning birding at the lakes. Afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to meet community members and admire the beautiful artisan products they make – decorative masks, plates out of palm fronds, and carved animals out of local woods. Enjoy a local lunch in the village followed by more birding in the area this afternoon.
After breakfast you’ll venture again toward Yaviza to the Ailigandi property, a large area with unique scrub forest to bird. After lunch back at Canopy Camp, the afternoon is yours to explore nearby trails from the lodge. You can even hike up the slops to see two giant, impressive Cuipo trees. Review your checklists over cocktails as the sun sets on your final dinner together at Canopy Camp.
Today you will start your journey back to Panama City. Make a stop at San Francisco Nature Reserve in route, a private forest reserve covering 1,300 acres. The reserve is a wildlife refuge to protect the main rivers of the area and consists of many habitats including primary forest, secondary forest, riparian forests, forest edge, ponds, farmland, and wetlands. After lunch, return to Panama City and check into the Hilton Panama. Enjoy a celebratory dinner at their onsite restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
Take a private transfer to Tocumen International Airport (PTY) for your international flight home.
- Enjoy birding in El Valle de Anton, home to 350 species of birds
- Hike and bird at Chorro el Macho waterfall, a 110-foot waterfall in El Valle de Anton
- Learn about Panama City’s history and engineering feats during a full day city tour
- Watch the sunrise 50-ft. above ground from Canopy Tower in Soberania National Park
- Explore the most diverse and least-explored region of Central America, the Darien
- Check off hundreds of bird species of the over 900 (nearly 1,000) that have been seen in Panama, including Panama’s national bird, the Harpy Eagle
- Watch for various mammal species, including Geoffrey’s Tamarin, Two-toed and Three-toed Sloths, Olingos, Kinkajous, Howler Monkey, White-faced Capuchin, and Night Monkeys
Best for: Family (teenagers and older), Couple, Small Group
Bucket list experiences: birding, wildlife, El Valle de Anton, Darien, Filo del Tallo, Soberania National Park Hydrological Reserve, San Francisco Nature Reserve, cloud forest, rainforest, waterfalls, horseback riding, zip-line, Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo, Panama Canal, UNESCO sites, Castle of San Lorenzo, Gatun Locks, Agua Clara Locks, Panama Canal expansion, Trans-Isthmian Route, Panama Canal Railroad, jazz music, Embera Indians
Accommodations & Location:
- Canopy Lodge, El Valle de Anton
- Los Cuatro Tulipanes, Casco Viejo
- Canopy Camp, Darien
- Hilton Panama, Panama City
Every Central America Vacation itinerary includes 24/7 in-country support. We’re here with you every step of the way to insure the best experience possible, from the initial planning stages to the moment you’re on your flight home!