Birding Tour Panama: Central and Eastern Panama and the Darien May 2020

Tour Details

Duration: 12 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Date Start: May 17, 2020
Date End: May 28, 2020
Tour Start: Panama City
Tour End: Panama City

Tour information
We consider this an easy trip. Most of the birding is along roads and near the vehicle. However, we will walk up 3 km (2 miles) per day at birding pace. Around Canopy Tower we will be spend most of the time along paved roads and also at the lodge observation deck. During our visit to the Canopy Lodge almost all birding is along roads, except for the visit to the Canopy Adventure Center, where there is some steep terrain.

The Canopy Tower lodge does not have elevators, and the rooms are located in the second and third floors, the dining room on the fourth floor, and the observation deck at the top. The participants should be able to walk up and down every day.

Canopy Camp is a comfortable African safari style setting with private bathrooms with sink, showers, and flush toilets and electricity. We will bird around forest clearings and explore some forest trails, including birding along roads.

Tour Costs

Price: US$5,286 / £3,983 / €4,488 per person sharing, assuming 4 – 8 participants

Single Supplement: US$718 / £541 / €610

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

Price includes:
Transfer from the Panama City airport to the Canopy Tower and back to the airport on the last day
Accommodation
All meals (except as indicated)
Bottled water and complementary soft drinks
All transportation
English-speaking tour leader
Admission fees

Price excludes:
All flights
Hotel in Panama (before or after the tour if needed)
Alcoholic drinks
Personal expenses such as laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.
Gratuities
Dinner in Panama on the last day
Any activity and meals in Panama City on the first day if arrival is early in the morning

Eduardo's BioEduardo's Bio

Central and Eastern Panama: Canopy Tower and Lodge and the Darién

Welcome to our Birding Tour Central and Eastern Panama 2020! Panama is perhaps one of the best birding countries in the Neotropics. With easy access, an excellent logistics infrastructure, and a huge bird list of 1012 species it is an obligatory birding destination. Panama is excellent for beginners in the Neotropics who would certainly fall in love with the natural history and the overwhelming amount of birds such as colorful tanagers, sparkling hummingbirds, noisy parrots, lovely motmots and trogons, and for those who are quite experienced Panama offers an exquisite set of seldom-seen and sought-after species, such as Bare-crowned and Ocellated AntbirdsBlack-crowned AntpittaRufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, and the strange Sapayoa.

During this 12-day tour you will have the chance to visit the Gamboa area near the Panama Canal, where we will be based at the world-famous Canopy Tower Lodge. This tower, a former US military center that was built to house powerful radar used in the defense of the canal, today is one of the most magnificent birding lodges in Latin America, allowing the guest a magnificent 360° view of the forest of the Soberanía National Park. We will stay a total of four nights, exploring the great surroundings, including places like the Pipeline Road, Summits Ponds, Semaphore Hill Road, and the Gamboa Marina Resort while looking for species such as Brown-hooded ParrotNorthern Mealy and Red-lored AmazonsKeel-billed and Yellow-throated ToucanRufous and Broad-billed MotmotsAmerican Pygmy KingfisherBoat-billed HeronCrimson-backed and Golden-hooded TanagersPurple-throated FruitcrowSpotted AntbirdDot-winged AntwrenLong-billed GnatwrenSong WrenSlaty-tailedGartered, and White-tailed Trogons, and if we are lucky Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo and Ocellated Antbird. The lodge’s surroundings are also good for wildlife, including brown-throated sloth, nine-banded armadillo, Central American agouti, and lesser capybara.

Then we will visit the Canopy Lodge in the Valle del Antón (Anton Valley), surrounded by lush forested hills and ridges and home to several special species, such as Yellow-eared ToucanetSnowcapOchraceus WrenWhite-tipped SicklebillBlack-and-yellow TanagerTiny HawkTody MotmotRosy Thrush-TanagerGrey-headed Chachalaca, and Collared Trogon, and we’ll have another chance for Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo. The Canopy Lodge is a very comfortable, beautiful lodge, situated in a peaceful location and surrounded by gardens, where we will try for Tropical Screech Owl and, with luck, Uniform Crake, as well for several tanagers like Bay-headed and Dusky-faced Tanagers.

Finally, we will spend four nights and days at the recently-built Canopy Camp in the Darién Province, looking for a whole set of range-restricted species shared only with Colombia, some of them quite hard to get in other Neotropical countries. The amenities at the Canopy Camp are very comfortable; each camping unit provides an African safari tent with wooden floor, beds, electricity, fans (however, no AC), a second room to place the luggage inside the tent, and a private bathroom outside the tent. The birds in the Darién include White-eared ConebillDouble-banded GreytailDusky-backed JacamarBlack OropendolaSpectacled ParrotletBlack-crowned AntpittaBare-crowned AntbirdBlack AntshrikeGrey-cheeked NunletSpot-crowned Barbet, and Orange-crowned Oriole. We will also try for Blue CotingaGreen Shrike-VireoStripe-cheeked Woodpecker, and the most-wanted Sapayoa.

This tour can be combined with our Birding Tour Panama: Wild Western Panama – the Caribbean and the Cloudforest Slope 2020.

 

Itinerary (12 days/11 nights)

Day 1. Arrival

Arrival in Panama City and transfer to Canopy Tower Lodge.

Overnight: Canopy Tower

Day 2. Birding the Canopy Tower, Semaphore Hill, and Summit Ponds

We will meet at the observation deck before dawn to enjoy the forest canopy with the early calls of Barred and Slaty-backed Forest Falcons. While enjoying some coffee we will try to detect the secretive Green Shrike-Vireo and the beautiful Blue Cotinga. Other birds include Northern Mealy and Red-lored AmazonsBrown-capped Tyrannulet, Collared Aracari, and the striking Keel-billed Toucan.

After breakfast we will bird the famous Semaphore Hill, looking for Rufous and Broad-billed Motmots, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Semiplumbeous Hawk, Plain-colored and White-shouldered TanagersFulvous-vented Euphonia, and Green Honeycreeper. Before lunch we will check the hummingbird feeders around the lodge entrance, enjoying views of Blue-chested Hummingbird,Violet-bellied Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, and Snowy-bellied Hummingbird.

In the afternoon we will explore the Summit Ponds area, where we will try for the elusive White-throated Crake, Boat-billed Heron, Wattled Jacana, Rufescent Tiger Heron, and Purple Gallinule. Other birds include Lemon-rumped Tanager, Palm Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Black-striped Sparrow,Plain Wren, and many others.

We might also have our first mammal encounters here with lesser capybara and brown-throated sloth.

Overnight: Canopy Tower

Day 3. Birding the Pipeline Road

We will have a full day at the famous Pipeline Road, trying to see as many birds as possible and enjoying all of them. The list includes species like Black-breasted Puffbird, White-tailed, Gartered, and Black-throated Trogons,Song Wren, Golden-collared Manakin, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Great Jacamar, and Fasciated and Black-crowned Antshrikes. If we are lucky to find any army ant swarms we might see the striking Ocellated Antbird and also Spotted and Bicolored Antbirds and Northern Barred and Plain-brown Woodcreepers. We will visit some hummingbird feeders with species such as Long-billed and Stripe-throated Hermits, Crowned Woodnymph, and if we are lucky Rufous-crested Coquette.

Overnight: Canopy Tower

Day 4. Transfer to and birding at Canopy Lodge

Today we will transfer to El Valle de Antón, with time to explore the surroundings. En route we’ll pay a visit to the Canopy Adventure Center, where we have seen the mythical Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo in the past.

After lunch we will explore the lodge surroundings, enjoying Gray-headed Chachalaca, White-tipped Dove, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Black-chested Jay, Black-striped Sparrow, Buff-throated Saltator, and Chestnut-headed Oropendola.

Overnight: Canopy Lodge

Day 5. Birding the La Mesa and Cerro Valle Chiquito areas

Today we will explore the La Mesa and Cerro Valle Chiquito areas, looking for species such as White-tipped Sicklebill, Dusky-faced Tanager, Red-crowned Ant Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Silver-throated Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Black-faced Antthrush, and if we are lucky White Hawk. We will also try for Tody Motmot and Rosy Thrush-Tanager. Other birds include Grey-necked Wood Rail and if we are lucky Uniform Crake. At night we will search for Tropical Screech Owl.

Overnight: Canopy Lodge

Day 6. Birding the Altos del Maria road

We will have a full day at the Altos del Maria road, focusing on special targets such as Yellow-eared Toucanet, Collared Trogon, Snowcap, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, Ochraceus and Rufous-and-white Wrens, Barred Hawk, and with luck the secretive Black-crowned Antpitta.

Overnight: Canopy Lodge

Day 7. Transfer to the Canopy Tower

Today we will transfer back to the Canopy Tower, focusing on any species we might have missed on previous days.

Overnight: Canopy Tower

Day 8. Transfer to Canopy Camp, birding on the way

A predawn start will take us to Nusagandi, where we will look for the most-wanted Sapayoa and also for Checker-throated Antwren, Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-stripedCinnamon, and Stripe-cheeked Woodpeckers,White-ruffed and Red-capped Manakins, Speckled Mourner, Spot-crowned Antvireo, and if we are lucky Scarlet-thighed Dacnis.

We will have lunch in the village of Torti, enjoying some nice hummingbird feeders with species such as Scaly-breasted and Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Black-throated Mango, and Long-billed Starthroat. We will continue to the Canopy Camp in the Darién Province, where we will spend the afternoon birding around the camp grounds, looking for Olivaceous Piculet and Spot-crowned Barbet.

Overnight: Canopy Camp

Day 9. Birding the Quebrada Felix trail and El Salto

We will explore the forest along the Quebrada Felix trail, looking for the sought-after Black-crowned Antpitta. Other birds here may include Rufous Piha,Speckled Mourner, Black Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird, Northern Barred Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Yellow-throated Toucan, Double-banded Greytail, Rufous-winged Antwren, and, as always, many others.

In the afternoon we will explore the secondary growth and open fields near El Salto to look for Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Pied Puffbird, White Hawk, and with luck Great Potoo in a day-roosting tree.

Overnight: Canopy Camp

Day 10. Birding the Nuevo Vigia area

Today we will have a boat trip in the morning to the Nuevo Vigia site to look specifically for the range-restricted Dusky-backed Jacamar among many other birds.

In the afternoon we will bird not far from Canopy Camp, looking for other Darien specialists such as White-eared Conebill and Western Sirystes, and if we are lucky Great Green Macaw.

Overnight: Canopy Camp

Day 11. Darién clean-up day  

We will have this extra day to maximize our chances of finding all our targets and most-wanted species in the area, including the range-restricted Black Oropendola near Yaviza (the southeastern end of the northern half of the Pan-American Highway).

Overnight: Canopy Camp

Day 12. Birding the San Francisco Reserve and departure

This is our last morning in the Darién with a visit to the San Francisco Reserve, near Torti, where we will have one more chance for Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker as well as Blue Cotinga, Great Jacamar, Orange-crowned Oriole, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, and the endemic Panamanian (Yellow-green) Tyrannulet.

After lunch we will transfer back to the Panama City airport to connect with our international flights.

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.

Download Itinerary

Hello Chris, and I hope your New Year is off to a good start.
I’ve just returned from our custom tour with Eduardo and I want to tell you – he is a jewel! Very knowledgeable, approachable, friendly and seems to enjoy birding and helping other birders find and appreciate the birds.
I have graded this tour with an “A-“. The minus is because the food was not really very good nor tasty — with the exception of the last meal which was a delightful experience. But none of that is Eduardo’s fault. His guiding, listening and decorum were beyond reproach. He could many times describe where the target bird was, rather than just pointing and scaring it away. A true gentleman and very helpful when I needed help or clarification.
It would be a pleasure to go again with him. He was able to find 26 lifers for me when I expected at the most 19. Now my world list total is 7466 and counting!
He is trying to work something out for me in Peru, but that’s not until May – If we can come up with a feasible itinerary.
Meanwhile, know that you’re welcome to use any or all of this letter to encourage others to join your tours with Eduardo.
Stay well, keep birding. I plan to, too.

Kay Goodhue — Washington, USA

PANAMA TRIP REPORT JANUARY 2016

This is a sample trip report. Please email us (info@birdingecotours.com) for more trip reports from this destination.