On this 9-day tour we will explore the highland region of western Panama as well as the natural wonders of the Panama Canal Basin.
Arrival at Tocumen International Airport (PTY) and transfer to Radisson Summit Hotel (1 hour). Pick-up and ground transfer to Radisson Summit Hotel – only a 15-minute drive from Soberania National Park. An afternoon arrival will give us time to unpack, freshen up and enjoy some light birding on the grounds before dinner. Some species we might see here include Bat Falcon, Fasciated Antshrike, Golden-hooded Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager and Whooping Motmot.
Pipeline Road traverses Soberania National Park – one of the best places to bird in all of Panama. Over 400 species have been recorded within the boundaries of this 55,000 acre park. An early start will afford us time to visit the Rainforest Discovery Center soon after sunrise. We will begin our birding adventure with a climb to the top of the observation tower to search for some high-canopy species including Blue Cotinga, toucans and puffbirds. We may even spot a few soaring raptors – perhaps a Black Hawk-Eagle – later in the morning.
We will then continue our exploration of the Discovery Center with a short walk to the lagoon. Here, we hope to see Wattled Jacana, Snail Kite, Little Blue Heron, Osprey, Lesser Kiskadee, and 5 species of trogons can be found here. We will take a small snack break at the center’s hummingbird feeders, observing several species including White-necked Jacobin, Long-billed Hermit, Violet-bellied Hummingbird and others. We will then make our way back to Pipeline Road looking in the understory for White-whiskered Puffbird, Golden-collared Manakin, Streak-chested Antpitta, Ocellated Antbird and the Pheasant Cuckoo, who makes its presence known by the rattling sounds it makes while foraging in the leaf litter.
We will return to the hotel for lunch and a short rest. We will depart again at around 3 p.m. for birding in Gamboa and Summit Ponds where we hope to add Boat-billed Heron, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Lance-tailed Manakin, and Rosy Thrush-Tanager among others.
In the morning, we will enjoy a boat ride on Gatun Lake, exploring the small jungle islands and inlets formed during the flooding of the Chagres River for the making of the Panama Canal. During the 3-4 hour boat ride we hope to get close-up views of several species of monkeys including Mantled Howlers, White-faced Capuchins and the tiny Geoffroy’s Tamarin. We will also look for sloths, crocodiles, and a number of waterbirds including Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Snail Kite, Mangrove Swallow, Greater Ani, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin and many others.
After lunch and a rest at our hotel, we will travel to Albrook Airport for our flight to David and land transfer to Boquete. We will enjoy our first dinner in the Panama Highlands.
After an early breakfast, we will visit begin our birding adventure along a few beautiful trails, such as Sendero La Culebra for Black Guan, Band-tailed Pigeon, White-throated Mountain-Gem, Red-faced Spinetail, Black-faced Solitaire, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, and Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher; and Sendero Los Quetzales for Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Three-wattled Bellbird, Prong-billed Barbet and Dark Pewee.
We will bring a packed breakfast and lunch with us today as we head to the Continental Divide. This has been described as one of the best birding areas in the entire country. Fortuna Road, which peaks at 3,500 ft, offers a number of birding locations and some very interesting species: Lattice-tailed Trogon, Azure-hooded Jay, Blue-and-gold Tanager, Golden-bellied Flycatcher and many others. Since we are one step away from the Caribbean slope, why not explore it as we seek out Green Thorntail, Montezuma Oropendola, Crimson-collared Tanager, and Barred Hawk.
After an early breakfast, we will drive approximately 45 minutes to Paraiso de Boqueron. Here, a plethora of hummingbird feeders attract a number of different species including Charming Hummingbird, Long-billed Starthroat, Brown Violetear, Green Hermit, and Blue-throated Goldentail. We want to get there early enough to catch the Fiery-billed Aracaris coming in to the fruit feeders. We will also look for Blue-headed Parrots, Black-hooded Antshrike, Orange-collared Manakin and Spot-crowned Euphonia. We will enjoy a nice lunch with a view here before heading to Cerro Punta and the Los Quetzales trail. One fantastic bird we hope to see is the Resplendent Quetzal, known as one of the most beautiful birds on Earth.
This morning, we will enjoy garden birding at the famous Finca Lerida. Short trails lined with colorful flowers attract a number of different species including: Scintillant Hummingbird, Orange-bellied Nightingale-Thrush, White-naped Brushfinch, Flame-colored Tanager, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis and Slaty Flowerpiercer.
After lunch, we will make a 3 p.m. departure to the top of Volcan Baru. This drive is done in specially-equipped 4×4 vehicles with extra-large tires. The 2-hour drive can be bumpy! On the drive up the volcano we will look for Volcano Hummingbird, Mountain Thrush, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus and Timberline Wren. We will arrive at the top with enough time to search for Volcano Junco. It can be quite cold at the peak of the volcano, so bring a warm jacket, hat, scarf and gloves to comfortably enjoy the spectacular sunset. After a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and a light dinner, we will head down the mountain in the dark, searching for some nocturnal species including Bare-shanked Screech-Owl, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Unspotted Saw-whet Owl and Dusky Nightjar. We can expect a late night, returning to our hotel sometime between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
During our final morning in the highlands we will make another visit to the Volcan Baru – this time only traveling the first 3-4 km. We hope to see Resplendent Quetzal, Yellow-bellied Siskin, Black Guan, Sulphur-winged Parakeet and Golden-browed Chlorophonia.
After lunch we will head to the airport in David for our flight back to Panama City. We will check into our hotel and have our final dinner together.
After breakfast we will transfer you to Tocumen International Airport for your departure.
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