Only 800 miles long, Panama is a small country, but one rich in natural resources and biodiversity. Nestled between Costa Rica and Colombia and bordered by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, the country's strategic location has favored the existence of a large number of animal and plant species.
Scientists have cataloged about 1,000 different species of birds - roughly 10% of the species on the planet - and many of them can be seen within the limits of Panama City. This great diversity of species coupled with their relative proximity to the capital, makes any visit to this area a real treat for amateur and professional ornithologists.
If you don’t have much time, or are only looking for a short introduction to tropical forests, birds and wildlife, a half-day trip is the best option for you. There are many wonderful birding destinations around Panama City to choose from, all of which are home to some of the most colorful birds and interesting wildlife found in the neotropics. Depending on your interests and the species you hope to see, we will help you choose the best destination for your tour.
For those wishing to delve deeper into the forests of Panama, for the more serious birder, or simply if you have more time to spend, we recommend spending a full day with us. Full day excursions will give you a chance to look for some harder to see species or to spend more time observing bird behavior or simply learning about Panama’s tropical forests and wildlife. Depending on your interests, and, depending on the level of bird activity, we may spend the day in one location or make shorter visits to several strategic destinations.
For the more serious birders, for those looking for target species, or for those who simply wish to get to know a bit more of Panama, we offer 12 hour trips to El Valle de Anton and Cerro Azul. The forests here are wetter and lusher than those found around Panama City and provide the chance to see a number of different avian species that aren’t found in Panama’s lowland forests.
If you have the desire to spend more time in one location and immerse yourself in the bird life and culture of an area, and especially if you would like time to search for harder to see species or regional specialties, we recommend joining us for a 3 day mini-tour to some of the best birding areas in Panama, including El Valle and Cerro Azul.
* TBA = To Be Arranged.
** All prices are in US Dollars
These rates include a fully personalized itinerary according to your preferences, a specialized local bird guide, a tour leader, a private vehicle, transportation within Panama City, National Park entrance fees, a complete list of birds and wildlife seen on the tour, and snacks (usually tropical fruits). Long-distance pick-ups outside of Panama City proper and other service are not included and can be arranged upon request. Tips for the guide and driver are not included.
World-famous Pipeline Road runs much of the length of Soberania National Park. Over 20 miles long, it is, without a doubt, one of the best places to see birds in the country. Great Curassow, Tiny Hawk, Pheasant Cuckoo, Rufous-vented Ground-cuckoo, Rufous-crested Coquette, Black-throated Trogon, Black-breasted Puffbird, Great Jacamar, Blue Cotinga and Ocellated Antbird are just a few of the species found here. Other wildlife can be seen in abundance here, like the Howler Monkey, Capuchin Monkey and Tamandua, to name some of the most charismatic mammals.
Bordering Soberania National Park, Gamboa is a sleepy town with a number of open areas that are good for birding and photography. Set along the Chagres River, it is a good place to look for King Vulture, Rosy-thrush Tanager, Black-tailed Trogon, Flame-rumped Tanager, and a few species of euphonias. The largest rodent in the world, the water-loving Capybara, can also be found here. Across from the Summit Zoo and Botanical Gardens are the Summit Ponds. Here, there is a chance to see Boat-billed Heron, Capped Heron, Amazon Kingfisher, and if lucky, a pair of Spectacled Owls, among many other species.
This is the only tropical forest park located within a major metropolitan area in Latin America. It includes approximately 190 hectares of semi-deciduous lowland tropical forest about 70 years old, as well as areas of grass and younger second growth. This is an excellent place to find birds of dry tropical forest, as well as the more widespread forest species of the Canal Area. Some of the most interesting species of the park include: Yellow-crowned Parrot, White-bellied Antbird, the Panama endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet, Lance-tailed Manakin, Bay Wren and Rosy Thrush-Tanager.
This old U.S. Army base in Panama City has a surprising number of bird species and makes for a nice stopping point to or from your main birding destination. A seasonal pond is the perfect habitat for Wood Storks, Gray-necked Wood Rails, and Capped and Cocoi Herons, as well as Gray-headed Chachalaca, Crane Hawk, Southern Lapwing, Black-throated Mango, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Whooping Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Crimson-backed and Blue-Grey Tanager.
Located about two hours from Panama City, Cerro Azul is a wonderful place for birding, and in particular for hummingbirds, as more than 20 species of hummingbirds can be seen here, including Green Hermit, Brown Violetear, Long-billed Starthroat and Violet-capped Hummingbird. Other species of interest are Yellow-eared Toucanet, Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Rufous-winged Tanager and Tawny-capped Euphonia.
El Valle is a picturesque mountain town, located at the bottom of an extinct volcano. Approximately two hours from Panama City, it is a great place to observe birds of second growth, Pacific-slope forest as well as Cloud Forest, and it makes for a great destination to combine with the Canal area. Some of the species that can be seen here are Barred Hawk, Tropical Screech-Owl, White-collared Swift, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Orange-bellied Trogon, Tody Motmot, Spot-crowned Barbet, Spotted Woodcreeper and Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, to name a few.