This 14-day Panama Birding tour takes you to a birder’s paradise! With over 1000 species you can look forward to exceptional birding in varied habitats. Owed to the tropical climate and geographic position Panama is an important migratory flyway for shorebirds, raptors and songbirds. Top birds include Harpy Eagle, Resplendent Quetzal, Ocellated Antbird, Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Black-crowned Antpitta, Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Tody Motmot, Spectacled Owl, Blue Cotinga and the mysterious Sapayoa.
Tour starts and ends in Panama City
Tour duration: 14 days
Next group departure date: To be confirmed
This birding tour can be booked as a private small group tour.
Itinerary – Day tot day Summary:
Arrival in Panama & transfer to hotel
Welcome to Panama! You will arrive at Tocumen International Airport from where you will transfer to the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel to settle in for the evening. If time permits, you can do some light birding around the grounds of the hotel. This area offers a great chance to find common Neotropical species including Clay-colored Thrush, Blue-gray and Crimson-backed tanagers, Tropical Mockingbird and Red-crowned Woodpecker.
Depart for Darien & birding along Pan-American Highway
After an early breakfast, our birding journey begins towards Darien, one of the most biodiverse areas of Panama. The first stop will be in the Bayano Lake and Rio Mono area of eastern Panama Province. We will look to find Black Antshrike, Jet Antbird, Orange-crowned Oriole, One-colored Becard, Rusty-winged Antwren, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, Barred Puffbird, Pied Water-Tyrant, and other eastern Panama species. We move towards the town of Torti for lunch, where we will watch the hummingbird feeders as we enjoy a local meal. We will continute to Meteti and, after our short break we will head out further along the Pan-America Highway. We will hope to see Striped Cuckoo, Pearl Kite, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Spot-crowned Barbet, and Spectacled Parrotlet, among many others. We will staty overnight at Bellagio Hotel or similar (Meteti).
Harpy Eagle Nest Visit
We will be off to an early start and today’s birding will include driving, riding in a dug-out canoe on one of Darien’s many rivers and a hike through Darien forest to find a Harpy Eagle nest.
Please keep in mind that even though the nest will be active, we cannot guarantee that the eagles will be in sight. Visiting a known nest site of the incredible rainforest raptor will give us good chances to see a young Harpy Eagle. If we are lucky, one of the adults will be nearby.
On the way, we will search for more Darien specialties like Great Green Macaw, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Choco Sirystes, Golden-headed Manakin, Golden-green Woodpecker, Semiplumbeous Hawk and many more. Tayra, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, and Northern Tamandua are possible mammals we might encounter. After our visit to the nest, we will retrace our steps back to our accommodation, while birding in strategic spots along the way. We will spend the night at Bellagio Hotel or similar (Meteti).
Darien lowlands birding & Rio Torti
We will enjoy another full day of birding in Darien. The region is full of range-restricted birds. Spending more time birding along the Pan-American Highway, El Salto and Lajas Blancas will ensure more exciting bird sightings. Hook-billed Kite, Blue Cotinga, Double-banded Graytail, Cinereous Becard, Black Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird, and Royal Flycatcher are just some of the birds we will be looking for. We will begin heading back to Panama City in the afternoon and will spend the night in Tortí. After arriving at our overnight destination, we will head out for more birding along the Torti River. Some of the exciting birds that have been spotted here include, Pacific Antwren, Orange-crowned Oriole, Red-billed Scythebill, Laughing Falcon, and even Little and Gray-capped cuckoos. Overnight stay at Avicar Hotel (Torti).
San Francisco Reserve & return to Panama City
San Francisco Reserve near Torti offers a wide variety of habitats from open savanna to mature rainforest. This is home to a great variety of key species and a great place to find the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet, Royal Flycatcher, Barred Puffbird, Golden-collared Manakin, Sulphur-rumped Tanager, Rusty-winged Antwren, Great Jacamar, Central American Pygmy-Owl, and even the rare Wing-banded Antbird. We will search the skies for soaring raptors: Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle and King Vulture can be spotted soaring overhead. Even Harpy Eagle has been seen here on occasion. This park is particularly great for mammals, and we hope to see a troop of Colombian Spider Monkeys here. While having lunch at a local restaurant, you can enjoy sightings of Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Black-throated Mango, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird and others at the where hummingbird feeders. We will return back to Panama City, and settle in at the Summit Rainforest Resort. If we have time, we will enjoy more birding around the hotel grounds before dinner. Bat Falcon, Collared Aracari, and other common Neotropical birds can be seen right on the property. Overnight at Summit Rainforest Resort.
Gatun Lake Boat Tour & Summit Ponds
This morning we head out to the town of Gamboa, the gateway to Soberania National Park. From there, we will board a canopied boat for a tour on Gatun Lake; a man-made lake formed during the flooding of the Chagres River during the construction of the world-famous Panama Canal. Our journey begins at the Gamboa Marina and we will travel for approximately 10-15 minutes up the Panama Canal waterway, where we have the opportunity to pass large tankers, cruise ships and other vessels in transit through the canal. Once we enter the lake, we will have great opportunities to see many species of water birds including Little Blue and Green herons, Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, Limpkin, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, as well as ibises, kingfishers, and many others. This is also a fantastic way to get close-up views of wildlife including White-faced Capuchin and Mantled Howler monkeys, Green Iguana, and American Crocodile! After our morning on the water we will return to our hotel for lunch and a quick break during the hottest part of the day. In the afternoon, we will visit Summit Ponds and Old Gamboa Road to find Golden-collared Manakin, Jet Antbird, Yellow-billed Cacique, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Boat-billed Herons and much more. Overnight at Summit Rainforest Resort.
Full-day Pipeline Road
Today we will enjoy a full day on Pipeline Road; the world-famous birding site where over 400 species of birds have been recorded. The road is closed to most vehicle traffic (it is open to researchers) allowing a peaceful birding experience along an easily traversable trail. We will make a quick stop at Ammo Dump ponds, just before the entrance. Don’t let the name fool you. This is a great birding site and best visited during the early hours of the morning, as there is little shade cover here.
Rufescent Tiger-Heron, White-throated Crake, Isthmian Wren, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Greater Ani, Blue-black Grassquit, and Striated Heron are readily seen here.
As the day begins to warm up, we will venture into the much cooler lowland rainforest. We will take our time walking and driving up Pipeline Road, searching for some iconic species that include Red-capped Manakin, Yellow-throated Toucan, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Black-breasted Puffbird, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Spotted Antbird, Cinnamon Woodpecker and other less common rainforest species, including Streak-chested Antpitta and Pheasant Cuckoo. If we are really lucky, a good army ant swarm may attract Ocellated Antbird and Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo. We will also keep our eyes out for mammals such as two- and three-toed sloths, Northern Tamandua, White-nosed Coati, and Red-tailed and Variegated squirrels, and some interesting invertebrates like leafcutter ants, the fairy-like helicopter damselflies or giant blue morpho butterflies along the road. Overnight at Summit Rainforest Resort.
Panama Rainforest Discovery Center & Pipeline Road
Our day begins with a visit to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. The center is located adjacent to Soberania National Park, which was established in 1980 and covers 55,000 acres. We will take advantage of the cooler early morning and start with a climb to the top of the observation tower where we will bird from above the rainforest canopy. Here, we hope to find the dazzling Blue Cotinga, as well as other canopy specialists like Yellow-throated Toucan, White-necked Puffbird, Scaled Pigeon, Blue Dacnis and Golden-hooded Tanager.
As the day warms up, we might see (and hear) flocks of parrots, and if we are lucky, some soaring raptors such as Black Hawk-Eagle, Gray-headed Kite and maybe even a King Vulture! Before the sun gets too warm, we will head down a short trail to search for Rufous Motmot, White-whiskered Puffbird and Golden-collared Manakin, among others. Our final stop for the morning will be at the PRDC’s feeder platforms. Here, we will get the chance to see several species of hummingbirds up-close as they land at the feeders or buzz overhead. The species most often seen here include Long-billed Hermit, the ubiquitous White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-chested Hummingbird, and, if we are very lucky a Rufous-crested Coquette. We will enjoy a picnic lunch in the field whereafter we will continue our birding along Pipeline Road. We will leave our vehicle at the Juan Grande bridge and take a walk to search for Song Wren, Velvety Manakin, White-tailed Trogon, and many others. Overnight at Summit Rainforest Resort.
Metropolitan Natural Park & El Valle de Anton
We will take a short drive to Metropolitan Natural Park after breakfast. This protected dry forest is a great area to find a nice variety of birds including Yellow-backed Oriole, Bright-rumped Attila, Lance-tailed Manakin, Rufous-and-white Wren, Common Potoo, Orange-billed Sparrow, Rosy Thrush-Tanager and Collared Forest-Falcon. The park is an excellent place to observe many species of flycatchers and is home to the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet. We will spend the morning exploring the park’s well-maintained trails and open areas. After our morning of birding, we will continue to El Valle to arrive at our hotel by early afternoon. We will head out in search of some more foothills specialties. We will visit Sendero Las Minas and the La Mesa area, a trail on a small plateau of the rim of the crater. This is a great area to look for Northern Emerald-Toucanet, Spot-crowned Antvireo, White-tipped Sicklebill, Green Hermit, Black-faced Grosbeak, Bay-headed, Golden-hooded and Silver-throated tanagers. Spotted Woodcreeper, Dull-mantled Antbird, and even Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo can also be found in this area. Overnight at Hotel Campestre.
El Valle de Anton
Today we continue to explore the surrounding areas of El Valle. We will start off by heading back up to the La Mesa area and visit Cerro Gaital National Monument. We will scan the open fields and skies for Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Barred Hawk, Swallow-tailed Kite, Crested Oropendola, Lineated Woodpecker, and Southern Lapwing. Along the trail at Gaital Hill, a plethora of birds await us – Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Green-crowned Brilliant, Stripe-throated Hermit, Song Wren, Tawny-crested Tanager, White-ruffed Manakin and Slaty Antwren, just to name a few. We will return to our hotel for lunch and an afternoon break. Cara Iguana Road, a quiet area located on the edge of the town, is a great place to encounter the dry forest species of the region. This is a good place to seek out the unique Tody Motmot. We will visit a private garden where a pair of Spectacled Owls roost regularly and raise a family every year. We will also keep an eye out for Lesson’s Motmot, Rufous-breasted Wren, White-winged Becard, White Hawk, Garden Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat, Barred Antshrike, Yellow-crowned Euphonia, Yellow Tyrannulet, Boat-billed Flycatcher and many others that can be found in this birding hotspot. Overnight at Hotel Campestre.
Back road to Altos del Maria
Today, we will be traveling in 4×4 trucks as we climb in elevation toward Altos del Maria. The back road to this beautiful highland region on the eastern rim of the caldera is a great area to find Barred Hawk, Dull-mantled Antbird, White-tipped Sicklebill, Russet Antshrike, Black-and-yellow Tanager, Snowcap, Ochraceous Wren, Common Chlorospingus, Dusky-faced Tanager, Red-faced Spinetail, and Black-crowned Antpitta. As we bird along the road, we will enjoy sweeping vistas of the vast surrounding forest where Ornate Hawk-Eagle is occasionally seen soaring overhead! This afternoon we will be sure to stop at the local market in El Valle and browse the artisan handicrafts and local products. Overnight at Hotel Campestre.
Pacific Lowlands & return to Panama City
Today we will have an early start as we leave the lovely El Valle area to travel to the open fields and dry scrubby areas of Juan Hombron and El Chiru in the lowlands bordering the Pacific Ocean. These are great spots to find a nice variety of raptors, including Crested Caracara, Pearl Kite, and Great Black and Savanna hawks, and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture. We will visit several areas, from wetlands to rice fields, open scrubby lands and farm fields in search of Pacific lowland specialties such as Veraguan Mango (near-endemic), Crested Bobwhite, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Lance-tailed Manakin, Plain-breasted Spinetail, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, and Straight-billed Woodcreeper. Water birds including Wood Stork, herons, ibises, waders and more can also be seen here! If time permits, we will visit the mangroves of Anton or Punta Chame for even more birds! It is possible to find American Oystercatcher, Willet, Reddish Egret and Black-crowned Night-Heron. After a late lunch we will make our drive back to Panama City and check in to our hotel, relax and enjoy dinner. Overnight at Riande Aeropuerto Hotel.
The final day of our tour will bring us to the cooler foothills of Cerro Azul, east of Panama City. The expansive Chagres National Park provides exceptional vistas and unique habitats. Here we will get the chance to find a number of foothills specialties different from those in western Panama. These include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Sulphur-rumped, Emerald, Speckled and Rufous-winged tanagers, Black-eared Wood-Quail, White-ruffed Manakin, White-vented Euphonia, Tawny-crowned Greenlet and the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker. We will spend our day exploring the quiet roads and trails. This is definately one of the best areas of Panama to see hummingbirds, and is a great place to look for Rufous-crested Coquette, Crowned Woodnymph, White-vented and Bronze-tailed plumeleteers, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Green Hermit, and the Violet-capped Hummingbird, a very range-restricted species and specialty here. After a full day of birding, we will return to the hotel and enjoy a final dinner together. Overnight at Riande Aeropuerto Hotel.
Our wonderful tour has come to an end and we will we will check out after breakfast and head to the airport in Panama City for our departure flights.
Get in touch with one of our team members for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org