Canopy Tower Tour – The Best of Central Panama
Prices on Request
14-night Comprehensive Birding Package
PM: Arrival, Orientation & Canopy Tower Observation Deck
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by our driver who will transfer you to the Canopy Tower, located at the top of Semaphore Hill in the rainforest of Soberanía National Park. A member of our staff will greet you as you arrive at the Tower, and you will be provided with an orientation on the use of the facilities. At this time we will answer any questions you may have. As your luggage is being ferried 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 of various types, hawks, and dozens of others, as well as 2 species of sloths, monkeys 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 at CANOPY TOWER.
AM: Canopy Tower & Semaphore Hill Road
Your guide will be waiting for you at the Observation Deck for early morning birding. While you look for birds you can enjoy hot coffee, tea and orange juice. Some of the bird species that we are likely to 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, flycatchers of various kinds and raptors, including King Vulture and Ornate Hawk-Eagle! After breakfast, at mid-morning, you’ll start exploring Soberanía National Park 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 & Western Slaty Antshrikes, Slate-colored Grosbeak, Bay-headed & White-shouldered Tanagers, Black-throated Trogon, Broad-billed & Rufous Motmots and Great Jacamar may be found. Great Tinamou is often heard, but is harder to find. This road is also great for raptors. White, Tiny & Great Black Hawks have been seen, and during migration it’s easy to see more than 10 species of warblers and migratory songbirds in one morning. Your morning bird list will be impressive, as we get a much-welcomed ride back, just in time to enjoy a delicious lunch at the CANOPY TOWER. PM: Ammo Dump Ponds & Environs (15 min. from Canopy Tower) The Ammo Dump Ponds are located just past Gamboa on the way to Pipeline Road. It is the best place to see the elusive White-throated Crake, as well as a host of other waterbirds. Purple Gallinules are common, and Least Bittern, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Sora (winter) and American Pygmy-Kingfishers are also resident. Here, we often find Olivaceous Piculet, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Southern Lapwing, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Scrub Greenlet and Panama, Social & Rusty-margined Flycatchers, among others, in the surrounding trees & marshy fields. Hook-billed & Snail Kites, Collared Forest-Falcon, Yellow-headed Caracara, Zone-tailed & Short-tailed Hawks are here sometimes! Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.
World Famous Pipeline Road (20 min. from Canopy Tower) FULL DAY
After breakfast you board the Birdmobile or the Rainfomobile, both open-air vehicles, that take you to Pipeline Road, the best place in Central Panama to find forest birds, and one of the premier birding spots in the world! Eight species of wrens, 5 trogons, 4 puffbirds, 3 motmots, several tanagers, Great Jacamar, Common Potoo, Pheasant Cuckoo; Greater Ani, Gray-necked Wood-Rail and Gray-headed Chachalaca (near the entrance); Forest Elaenia, Panama Flycatcher, Blue Ground-Dove, Little Tinamou and many other birds have been recorded here, including the elusive Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo and the majestic Harpy Eagle! And if its 17 km. are not enough, there’s plenty of side trails, plus 11 creeks and rivers that can be followed into the forest. We will also search for Streak-chested Antpitta and Black-faced Antthrush. Army ant swarms are found frequently, attended by a host of birds including, Bicolored, Ocellated & Spotted Antbirds. Plus, we will look for Golden-collared, Red-capped & Blue-crowned Manakins, always enjoyed by birders. Pipeline Road is also a great place for raptors. Three Forest-Falcons are resident and Tiny Hawk, Semiplumbeous Hawk, Ornate & Black Hawk-Eagles (soaring overhead), as well as Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Black-crowned & Masked Tityras, Cinnamon & Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Red-lored & Brown-hooded Parrots, Collard Araçari, Chestnut-mandibled & Keel-billed Toucans, Black-striped, Northern Barred & Plain Brown Woodcreepers may be found to name a few! We will enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.
Achiote Road/Fort San Lorenzo (2 hrs. from Canopy Tower; Panamá Canal Railroad) FULL DAY
Achiote Road provides the best of Caribbean slope birding and is the site of the famous Christmas Bird Count record held by the Panamá Audubon Society. The species total in this area can exceed 340 in a 24-hour period, making it among the top locations worldwide. Habitats are more open, but the birding is nonetheless fantastic! White Hawk, Gray Hawk, Mealy Parrot, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Black-throated & White-tailed Trogons, Black-breasted & Pied Puffbirds, Spot-crowned Barbet, White-winged & Cinnamon Becards, Pacific Antwren, Black-throated Mango, Montezuma & Crested Oropendolas, Fasciated Antshrike, Bare-crowned & Bicolored Antbirds, White-headed & Song Wrens, Red-breasted Blackbird, Yellow-rumped Tanager and Black-headed Saltator are all regularly seen here along with many others. We will also visit and bird around the old Spanish fortress of San Lorenzo, a World Heritage Site, built on a promontory at the entrance of the Chagres River, a perfect defensive position. Fort San Lorenzo was the last bastion of the Spanish Empire on the mainland of the Americas. The fort was captured in 1671 by the infamous Pirate Henry Morgan who later sacked and burned Panama City. Crested Oropendola and Saffron Finch may be found within the vicinity of the fort. We have a picnic lunch at a ranger station and later check out a known Golden-collared Manakin lek. We also stop at a creek where we search for Black-tailed Trogon and both Green & Green-and-rufous Kingfishers. After additional birding, we return by train on the historic Panamá Canal Railroad, the first “transcontinental” railroad in the Western Hemisphere when it opened in 1855. During our 47-mile, 1-hour return, we look for Snail Kites (often 10 or more!), Limpkins & others from our luxury, air-conditioned railway car. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.
AM: Metropolitan Natural Park (25 min. from Canopy Tower)
“Metro Park,” encompassing 265 hectares, has the distinction of being the only large forested park within a metropolitan capital in Latin America. More importantly, it protects 192 hectares of Dry Lowland Pacific Forest, yielding bird species that are difficult to find elsewhere. The beautiful Rosy Thrush-Tanager is here, as is the striking Lance-tailed Manakin. It’s also a good place to find Southern Bentbill, Rufous-and-white, Plain & Rufous-breasted Wrens, Dusky Antbird, Crimson-crested, Lineated & Red-crowned Woodpeckers. Plain, Palm, Blue-gray & Golden-hooded Tanagers are common; Red-legged & Green Honeycreepers, Whooping Motmot (recent split from Blue-crowned), Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Araçari and the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet are resident along with Forest & Greenish Elaenias. [In October & November, the overlook along Mono Titi trail is a good spot to witness the mass migration of thousands of Turkey Vultures, Swainson’s & Broad-winged Hawks as they fly over Panamá City toward their wintering grounds in South America.] Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.
PM: Summit Ponds & Old Gamboa Road (10 minutes from Canopy Tower)
Old Gamboa Road and the associated ponds at Summit are great places to find Canal Zone birds of many types. At Summit Ponds we 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, Lesser & Great Kiskadees, Greater Ani, 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 will find species like White-bellied Antbird, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Yellow-backed Oriole, Boat-billed & Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Yellow-headed Caracara, Crane Hawk, Black-chested Jays and more. Also resident are Gray-headed Chachalaca, with Spectacled Owl a real possibility, too, as the guides know where they often roost. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.
Cerro Azul & Cerro Jefe (1 hr. from Canopy Tower) FULL DAY
After breakfast we depart toward the hills above Tocumen where a completely different climate and, more importantly, a different suite of birds awaits! The weather will be much cooler & breezier as we descend the foothills of the San Blas Mountains toward Cerro Azul (2,500 ft.) and Cerro Jefe (3,300 ft.), named after the two tall peaks in the area. Major targets in these cloud-forested hills with peaks of elfin forest will include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Spot-crowned Barbet, Black-eared Wood-Quail, and a nice mix of tanagers, including Silver-throated, Emerald, Speckled, Rufous-winged, Bay-headed, Black-and-yellow, Golden-hooded and Hepatic. We can also search for the specialty hummers, including Rufous-crested Coquette, White-tipped Sicklebill, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Green Thorntail, as well as Violet-capped, Violet-headed & Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds! We should also find the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, along with Lineated Woodpecker, Black-striped & Spotted Woodcreepers, Red-capped & White-ruffed Manakins, Russet Antshrike, and White-vented & Tawny-capped Euphonias. We have lunch at a picturesque residence overlooking miles of Chagres National Park’s impressive rainforest! Later, while enjoying dinner at the CANOPY TOWER, we all will reminisce on the day’s glorious birds!
AM: Plantation Trail (5 min. from Canopy Tower)
After breakfast, we take a short ride to the bottom of Semaphore Hill to Plantation Trail, one of our premier birding areas. This easy trail passes through mature rainforest and follows a small creek (Rio Chico Masambi) and is a reliable place to find Golden-crowned Spadebills. 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, trogons, White-whiskered Puffbird, hummers (Blue-chested, White-necked Jacobin and others); Plain Brown, Northern Barred & Cocoa 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, Western Slaty & Fasciated Antshrikes, Red-capped & Blue-crowned Manakins, Great Tinamou, Ruddy-tailed, Royal & Yellow-margined Flycatchers, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Scaly-throated Leaftosser and occasionally, a Great Jacamar or the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet! Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.
PM: Chagres River/Gamboa Feeders (15 min. from Canopy Tower)
After lunch, we take a short drive to Chagres River and the accompanying fields & forest. First, we must stop at Carmen Martino’s house, in the picturesque village of Gamboa, to look at her bird feeders! Carmen is a great friend of the Canopy Tower. In fact, she used to do some guiding for us. At Carmen’s feeders, we are likely to see Red-legged, Shining & Green Honeycreepers, Lemon-rumped, Crimson-backed & Blue-gray Tanagers, Thick-billed Euphonia, Yellow-bellied & Variable Seedeaters, Whooping Motmot and Gray-headed Chachalaca. Next, we’re off to Chagres River, the main tributary for the Panama Canal. The birding along the river banks and the forest edges of Gamboa Resort can be spectacular! Here, we search for Amazon, Green & American Pygmy Kingfishers, as well as, Whooping Motmot and Cinnamon Woodpecker. We could also see Gray-Necked Wood-Rail, Cocoi, Green & Striated Herons, Wattled Jacana, Pied-billed Grebe, Anhinga, Royal & Sandwich Terns, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Tricolored & Little Blue Herons, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Mangrove Swallow, Black-chested Jay, Lesser Kiskadee, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cacique, Black-bellied & Buff-breasted Wrens, Fasciated & Barred Antshrikes, Cinnamon Becard, Slaty-tailed Trogon, White-bellied Antbird, and even Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon and Blue Cotinga at times! Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.
Canopy Tower/Departure to Canopy Lodge
Canopy Lodge Grounds & Feeders FULL DAY
No need to wake up early today. After a leisurely breakfast and a last look at the birds from the Observation Deck, we’ll board a comfortable air-conditioned van for the 2-hour ride to El Valle de Antón, also known as Crater Valley. We will spend seven nights at this lovely village, nestled in the crater of a long dormant volcano that last erupted 5 million years ago. The resultant scenery is quite unique: a steep valley surrounded by jagged peaks and filled with flowers, streams and verdant forests. We arrive in time for lunch. Our home for the next seven nights will be the Canopy Lodge, sister lodge of the Canopy Tower, a charming eco-lodge built next to a bubbling mountain stream and adjacent to the protected area of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. At 2,400-feet in elevation, you will immediately appreciate the noticeably cooler temperatures here! A member of our staff will greet you as you arrive at the Lodge, and you will be provided with an orientation on the use of the facilities. At this time we will answer any questions you may have. As your luggage is being ferried to your room, or after you get settled in, you may visit the dining area and enjoy a refreshing drink and snack. You will immediately want to scan the bird feeders and grounds! Crimson-backed, Blue-gray, White-lined, Lemon-rumped, Dusky-faced & Plain-colored Tanagers, along with Red-crowned Ant-Tanager are about, as are Thick-billed Euphonia, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Streaked & Buff-throated Saltators, Lineated & Red-crowned Woodpeckers, Red-legged Honeycreepers, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Social Flycatcher, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Barred Antshrike, Clay-colored Robin, Rufous Motmot; Rufous-tailed, Snowy-bellied & Violet-headed Hummingbirds and Garden Emerald! Lunch and Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.
AM: La Mesa Road (15 min. from Canopy Lodge)
After breakfast, we continue our quest for more lifers with a trip to La Mesa Road. This area, which is a visually pleasing blend of secondary forest, scrubby pastures, overgrown fincas and grassy borders, is home to many of the area’s specialties. Here is where we look for such great birds as Spot-crowned Barbet, Cinnamon Becard, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Silver-throated, Golden-hooded, Tawny-crested & Bay-headed Tanagers, Spot-crowned Antvireo and Spotted Woodcreeper; hummers, such as, White-tipped Sicklebill, Rufous-crested Coquette, Violet-crowned Woodnymph and Black-throated Mango. Also resident are Blue-throated Toucanet, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and Orange-bellied Trogon. Lunch at CANOPY LODGE.
PM: Cariguana (15 min. from Canopy Lodge)
With a full stomach and some rest, we head to Cara Iguana Trail, where we enjoy outstanding foothill birding in some of the last remaining examples of quality Dry Pacific Forest. Specialties we hope to find in this bird-rich habitat are Lesser Elaenia, Yellow-olive & Panama Flycatchers, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, , Lance-tailed Manakin, Rufous-breasted & Rufous-and-white Wrens, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Tody & Whooping Motmots and Long-billed Gnatwren. Also resident are Striped Cuckoo, Little Tinamou, Common Potoo, Dusky & White-bellied Antbirds, Barred Antshrike, White-winged Becard, Tropical Screech-Owl and Bat Falcon. Hummers to watch for are Garden Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat and White-vented Plumeleteer. During migration we look for Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green & Worm-eating Warblers. Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.
El Chiru/Juan Hombron Beach /Lunch Playa Santa Clara (45 min. from Canopy Lodge) FULL DAY
After breakfast we are off for a full day of birding in more Dry Pacific Forest and its wonderful suite of birds! Among the birds we will be seeking out today are Yellow-headed Caracara, Roadside, Gray & Short-tailed Hawks, Peregrine & Aplomado (rare) Falcons, White-tailed Kite and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. We will also search for Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Brown-throated Parakeet, Blue Ground-Dove, Crested Bobwhite, Red-breasted Blackbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and Crested Oropendola. We stop at a spot where we sometimes find Common Potoo. Hummers to be on the watch for in this unique scrubby area are Veraguan Mango (endemic!) and Garden Emerald. We enjoy a picnic lunch at a popular beach at Santa Clara where we hope to spot Sapphire-throated Hummingbird working the coastal shrubbery. You may want to bring your bathing suits to take a dip in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean (80F/27C). On the beach or flying by we look for Least, Western & Spotted Sandpipers, Sanderling, Blue-footed & Brown Boobies, Sandwich, Royal & Elegant Terns and Franklin’s & Laughing Gulls. At Juan Hombron rice fields we hope to find Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Crested Caracara, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Pale-eyed-Pygmy-Tyrant, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Southern Lapwing, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Glossy Ibis, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, Savanna & Common Black Hawks and Pearl Kite. Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.
Altos del Maria (1 hr. from Canopy Lodge) FULL DAY
Departing early in the morning after breakfast, we drive from El Valle in air conditioned 4×4 SUVs back along the Pan-American Highway and then up into the mountains. As the sun rises over the highlands ahead of us, spectacular mountains, vast valleys and towering cliffs come into view! Set in the mountains on the continental divide east of El Valle, Altos del Maria provides a spectacular addition to the Best of Central Panama Birding Package. Ascending an excellent paved road, we will climb a ridge to our destination, an expansive area of cloud forest at 3,600 ft. This area harbors an exciting variety of highland forest birds. Some of the characteristic species of this cloud forest include Black-crowned Antpitta, Black-headed Saltator, White Hawk, Barred Forest-Falcon, Orange-bellied Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted Barbtail, Russet & Great Antshrikes, Tufted & Sulphur-rumped Flycatchers, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, White-ruffed Manakin, Ochraceous Wren, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Pale-vented Thrush, Green Shrike-Vireo, Yellow-billed Cacique; Black-and-yellow, Bay-headed, Dusky-faced & Tawny-crested Tanagers; White-vented Euphonia, Slate-colored Grosbeak and Yellow-eared Toucanet. Even the bizarre Brown-billed Scythebill is seen here regularly. Hummers we may spot include Band-tailed Barbthroat, the exquisite Snowcap, Garden & White-tailed Emeralds, Purple-throated Mountain-Gem, White-tipped Sicklebill and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer. After a picnic lunch in the field, we will drop down into a valley and climb to the ridge on the opposite side. Reaching some large swaths of mature humid forest along this ridge, we will explore some trails and roadside spots in search of even more forest birds. Around mid-afternoon, we will head back into El Valle for some relaxation time prior to dinner at CANOPY LODGE.
AM: Cerro Gaital (20 min. from Canopy Lodge)
Today after breakfast, we proceed to Cerro Gaital, a steep, forested, mist-shrouded mountain that you see from the lodge! Cerro Gaital (3,500’) is the namesake of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument, which protects more than 335 hectares of mature cloud forest. This area offers sightings of Black Guan, Blue-throated Toucanet, Orange-bellied Trogon, Spotted Barbtail, Common Bush-Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Black-headed Antthrush, Slaty Antwren, Spot-crowned & Plain Antvireos, Black-faced Grosbeak, Blue Seedeater, Rufous-capped Warbler, Gray-headed Kite, White Hawk, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Pale-vented Thrush, Thrush-like Schiffornis, White-tailed Emerald, Green-crowned Brilliant, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Violet-crowned Woodnymph. Scaled Antpitta and Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo have been recorded here! Back for lunch at the CANOPY LODGE.
PM: Las Minas Trail (20 min. from Canopy Lodge)
After lunch, we head to Las Minas, an excellent place to get a wide variety of birds. The road follows the ridge line, with sweeping vistas of forested mountains, speckled with grasslands and small fincas. The views from here are fantastic, as on a clear day near the summit, both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can be seen! Specialties of the region include Black-and-yellow, Bay-headed & Emerald Tanagers, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Spot-crowned Antvireo, Gray-headed Kite, Barred Hawk, Bat Falcon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, White-tipped Sicklebill, Green Thorntail, Orange-bellied & Black-throated Trogons, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Plain Antvireo, the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Spotted Woodcreeper, Red-capped & White-ruffed Manakins, Band-rumped Swift and Black Guan have all been recorded here! A forested slope here is also our best chance for Black-headed Antthrush! We get back in time to enjoy appetizers before dinner at the lodge.
Rio Indio & Jordanal (40 min. from Canopy Lodge) FULL DAY
After breakfast we depart for a fun-filled day of Caribbean Slope birding! These fine, forested, new areas are not well-birded—by anybody—so who knows what might turn up! First stop is at Rio Indio, a great spot to try for the area’s specialties, the Sulphur-rumped Tanager, Spot-crowned Barbet and Barred Puffbird! We also strive to find Crested Oropendola, White-vented Euphonia, Buff-rumped Warbler, Long-tailed Tyrant and raptors, such as White & Gray Hawks and Black Hawk-Eagle, as well as White-collared & Band-rumped Swifts. Hummers to look for are Green, Long-billed & Rufous-breasted Hermits and White-necked Jacobin. We search for Lineated & Red-crowned Woodpeckers, Jet & Dusky Antbirds, Lesser & Yellow-bellied Elaenias, Tropical Pewee; Dusky, Piratic & Gray-capped Flycatchers, Cinnamon & White-winged Becards, Black-chested Jay, Bay Wren, along with Tawny-capped Euphonia, Emerald, Bay-headed & Golden-hooded Tanagers! If that is not enough, we hope to see Shining Honeycreeper, finches, such as Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Black-striped Sparrow, as well as Streaked & Buff-breasted Saltators! After a pleasant picnic lunch at a thatched-roof shelter on the Jordanal River, we bird our way back to the Canopy Lodge where a relaxing afternoon awaits us—but not until we check the feeders one last time! Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.
AM: Watercress Trail (15 min. from Canopy Lodge)
After breakfast we are off to watercress trail, named after the herb (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) which is commercially grown in the terraced creek near the entrance. This easy trail traverses through good secondary forest, which is framed by picturesque forested mountains of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. Good birds here are Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Black-headed Saltator, Great Antshrike, White-ruffed Manakin, White-thighed Swallow, White-bellied Antbird and Tody Motmot; hummers, such as Long-billed Starthroat, Rufous-crested Coquette and, when the Inga is in bloom, we scan for Snowcap! We will also listen for Purplish-backed Quail-Dove.
PM: Valle Chiquito (20 min. from Canopy Lodge)
After lunch we are off to Valle Chiquito! This valley is accessible by a newly paved road and passes through nicely forested woodlands crossed by two rivers. At Rio de Jesus we search for Green Kingfisher and listen for Sepia-capped Flycatcher. We also see a nice colony of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas in a Cecropia tree. We also try for Tody Motmot, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-backed Oriole, White-bellied Antbird, Gray-chested Dove, Yellow-billed Cacique, Zone-tailed & Gray Hawks, Black Hawk-Eagle, Lance-tailed Manakin, Panama Flycatcher, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Little Tinamou, Long-billed Starthroat and Garden Emerald. Wrens are abundant here, with Black-bellied, Rufous-and-white, Bay, and Rufous-breasted Wrens all lurking about in the thickets! Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.
Departure to Airport (about 3 hrs. from Canopy Lodge)
After a leisurely breakfast and some last minute birding in the gardens surrounding the lodge, we will drive back to Panamá City and catch our return flights home.
The day after I opened the Canopy Tower on January 2, 1999, I started thinking of building another lodge. I looked around the Caribbean Coast and in the shores of Gatun Lake for a couple of years and almost closed a deal on a concession with the Panama Canal Authority. I had worked very hard for this location; the approval process had cleared every hurdle and every department of the Canal Authority had approved it, the only remaining approval being that of the Board of Directors. Normally, this final step was a sure thing since only projects which had been cleared by the Administration reached the Board of Directors. However, a lawyer member of the Board threw in a monkey wrench the size of a cargo ship and the project was turned down. Needless to say, I was very disappointed and extremely frustrated. However, it was a blessing in disguise.
In view of this setback, I started considering El Valle de Anton for my second lodge. After all I owned the land, having inherited it from my father, and did not need to submit myself to the rigors of a concession process. So I did and the rest is history. The Canopy Lodge was completed in October of 2005. Being in the foothills of Central Panama, it complements perfectly the lowlands around the Canopy Tower, and the travel time between the two lodges is only 1 3/4 hours.
“Maracas” by Daniel Arias Barakat
The Canopy Lodge is a full service lodge specialized in nature tourism, particularly birds. It is about 60 miles west of Panama City in the picturesque village of El Valle de Anton, right in the center of a gigantic crater of an extinct volcano. The largest inhabited crater in the Western Hemisphere and second only to the Nrongoro crater in Tanzania. It is surrounded by the Cerro Gaital Natural Monument.
The lodge consists of 12 bedrooms, an open living room/dining room (with WiFi Internet), and a well stocked library with natural history books and bird guides from several countries of Latin America.
The Tower of Canopy Tower
Canopy Tower by Ramon Lepage
The Canopy Tower is a prime location from which to observe the birds and other wildlife of the forest canopy. Because the birds and mammals are at eye level, it is common to get fantastic views otherwise nearly impossible from the ground.
You don’t have to leave the Tower to find birds, you don’t even have to leave your bedroom! Tanagers and Tityras can be seen right from your window, and you don’t have to worry about the rain. The dining area and the roof of the tower are better for finding elusive canopy birds, as well as Mantled Howlers, Geoffroy’s Tamarins and other mammals and birds, as you can scan in all directions.
And all this without having to venture away from the Tower!