COVID Protocols

Looking for a true birding vacation? We expanded our January Western Panama trip to include four nights in the highlands at Mt. Totumas.

Our tour starts in Panama City. We fly together on a scenic flight to the Bocas del Toro islands. Imagine yourself immersed in nature on an island, where your home is one of a cluster of six luxury cottages in a forest clearing. Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge is perched on a small hill overlooking the Caribbean Sea; a path through the forest leads down to the dock and turquoise bay. The 100’ observation tower gives you stunning views of the sea and takes you to the top of the forest canopy for a panoramic bird’s-eye view of three distinctly different ecosystems within Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. Finally, we move into the highlands for time at the lovely Mt. Totumas lodge, located along the Continental Divide in the Talamanca Mountains. Nestled on a private reserve at a comfortable 6500 ft., temperatures average 60 – 70 degrees and we have miles of trails to explore. La Amistad National Park, Central America’s largest highland preserved wilderness, sits adjacent to the lodge.

Join us for this great winter trip that makes the most of western Panama’s geography—a dynamic region where lush mountains meet the sea.

Tour Highlights

  • Experience two very different birding regions of Panama: coastal lowlands and the Chiriqui Highlands
  • Sample island cuisine freshly prepared fresh for you each day on the coast, and farm to table globally-inspired cuisine while in the mountains.
  • From Tranquilo Bay’s observation tower, gaze out to a maze of islands and a kaleidoscope of species.
  • Marvel at busy hummingbird feeders at Mt. Totumas.
  • On the coast add to your birding time add the chance to swim, paddleboard, snorkel, or take photographs to your heart’s content.
  • In the mountains, soak in the natural hot springs.
  • Sample species at varied elevations in some of Central America’s finest remaining forest.
  • Boat through a canal looking for five species of kingfisher.
  • Surround yourself among grand trees dressed in epiphytes, bromeliads, and orchids in lush cloud forest.
  • Explore the mangroves—bustling with life and colorful waders
  • Watch for seabirds, dolphins, and sea turtles over the coral reefs of the Caribbean.
  • Observe hummingbird behavior and take time to photograph resident birds at the feeders.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Panama! | Local Birding in Panama City | Welcome Dinner


We encourage you to arrive a day early, or try to arrive by mid-afternoon today to enjoy some birding on the grounds of our hotel on the Amador Causeway in view of the Bridge of the Americas and the start of the Panama Canal. Here, a public walkway follows the waterfront and is lined with large tropical trees that attract a number of species. As we watch huge container ships line up to pass into the Panama Canal we may be greeted by Crimson-backed Tanager among the cast of characters familiar to tropical travelers—Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Clay-colored Thrush, Blue-gray Tanager, and the gaudy Keel-billed Toucan. Yellow-crowned Parrot should flock overhead, and in flowering hedgerows we look for Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and possibly Garden Emerald. Looking out to the ocean, we find Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal Tern, and, quite common here, Brown Pelican.

We taxi to Casco Viejo, the colonial part of the city, for dinner at a favorite local restaurant. After dinner we walk a short way to a viewpoint where the lights of this historic district and across the water to the modern Panama’s many skyscrapers look quite pretty. Those that come in early can readily walk to the Smithsonian’s Biodiversity Museum (Frank Gehry’s Biomuseu) or take in Casco Viejo in more detail to shop and see the Canal Museum and Cathedral.
Then, rest up … tomorrow is an exciting day!
Accommodations at the Radisson Hotel Panama Canal (D)

Day 2: Scenic Flight to Bocas del Toro | Boat to Tranquilo Bay | Sunset Birding from the Observation Tower


Early risers can do some more birding on the hotel grounds. Mid-morning, we board an AirPanama flight from Panama City’s Albrook Airport and head across this isthmus nation to the Caribbean side, landing in Western Panama at Bocas del Toro, a small town with an airstrip on the main island of an archipelago of jewel-like islands prized by fisherman, snorkelers, and birders. It’s a short flight (about 45 minutes) and friendly staff from the lodge greet you. Then it’s five minutes to the dock, about 45 minutes by boat, and you are there—tranquility!

We take the morning flight in order to have much of the day to enjoy the lodge’s trails. There are just six deluxe air conditioned cabanas at Tranquilo Bay, each featuring a spacious tiled interior with French doors opening to a large, covered and elevated porch area. Each has a large bathroom with walk-in shower, water heater, and air conditioner.
We bird, walk the trails, take a rest, and then venture out to the observation tower for the first night of a great ritual, watching sunset from canopy level. From the tower’s vantage, as the sun sets on Tranquilo Bay, surreal hues of indigo, lavender, and orange paint the western sky over the surrounding forest and stunning Talamanca Range.

Gather for tea or cocktails of your choice and a good dinner—the first of many! Those that wish can tally their sightings on the nightly checklist, then tuck into your private casita to listen to tropical night sounds.
Accommodations at Tranquilo Bay (B,L,D)

Day 3: Isla Popa | Tranquilo Bay


Each of the islands in the Bocas del Toro archipelago has interesting wildlife and high levels of endemism, however, Isla Popa, the second largest island in the chain, has more species of birds and mammals due to its close proximity to the mainland. A leisurely boat ride brings us to a dense gallery forest surrounded by rich mangrove lagoons. This is an easy but bird-rich first field day.

We watch birds in this phenomenal area mainly by boat; peacefully enjoying flights of Keel-billed and Yellow-throated Toucans, Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Brown-hooded Parrot, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Golden-hooded Tanager, Plumbeous and Swallow-tailed Kites, Pale-billed and Lineated Woodpeckers, Mangrove Cuckoo, and American Pygmy Kingfisher, and hopefully we see male Snowy Cotinga perched conspicuously out in the open, showing off their shining plumage. This mangrove lagoon has some beautiful Turtle Sea Grass where we have good looks at sponges, starfish, urchins, and Upside-down Jellyfish.

Lunch is at the lodge, followed by some down time for those who want a siesta, a swim, or time to pursue photography and more birding. WIFI and laundry are available throughout the week.

In the afternoon as it cools down and activity increases, we explore one of many forest trails at the lodge. One follows a winding spring-fed creek that creates a favorite bathing locale for resident hummingbirds. The lodge guides have set up viewing stations for us to comfortably observe and photograph this daily high-octane spectacle. Band-tailed Barbthroat, Purple-crowned Fairy, Crowned Woodnymph, and other hummingbirds fight ruthlessly for the best bathing positions. Once they get their turn at the fresh water, each species has its own dance-like preparations before taking its first splash. Red-capped Manakin, Prothonotary Warbler, and Chestnut-backed Antbird might be found along the creek’s shallow edges hoping for a bath as well. There are various levels of activity throughout the day; however, the most consistent action can be observed in the late-afternoon just ahead of evening.

At day’s end, we tally up our daily bird and mammal sightings, meeting in the bar either before or after a delicious dinner.
Accommodations at Tranquilo Bay (B,L,D)

Day 4: San San Pond Sak Wetlands (Soropta Canal)


Today is a tranquil day of “birding by boat” within several lush, coastal wetland habitats. San San Pond Sak Wetlands is a designated Ramsar site, as well as part of La Amistad UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The area is rich with varied habitats including Atlantic wet lowland forest, Raphia palm swamp, freshwater river course, ocean impact beachfront, and mangroves.

Access to this verdant wildlife area is via boat through the historic Snyder Canal, as birds conveniently fly through the gallery forest back and forth across the waterway. After the Snyder Brothers finished construction in the late 1890s, the canal was used to transport bananas from the Changuinola River Valley to the protected wa ters of Almirante Bay at Boca del Drago, where they were loaded onto transport ships. Panama’s first canal was vital to establishing The United Fruit Company and the very beginnings of what would become, “The Banana Republic.”

This is an excellent place to find many lowland bird species, northern and altitudinal migrants, raptors, and shorebirds. All six species of kingfishers known to the Americas can be found here and we watch closely for regional endemics like the diminutively distributed Nicaraguan Seed Finch, White-collard Manakin (Almirante race), Olive-backed Euphonia, Black-cowled Oriole, Canebrake Wren, and Three-wattled Bellbird. Also possible are Masked Duck, Common Gallinule, Least Bittern, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Potoo, Northern Jacana, and Bare-throated Tiger-Heron.

Raptor sightings might include Yellow-headed Caracara; Bat, Laughing and Peregrine Falcons; Osprey; and Pearl Kite. From the high branches of fruiting trees down to the grassy and shrubby edge we might find Passerini’s and Golden-hooded Tanagers, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, Red-breasted Blackbird, Buff-throated Saltator, Groove-billed Ani, Squirrel Cuckoo, chatters of Olive-throated Parakeet, Streaked and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and the minute Common, Black-headed, and Slate-headed Tody-flycatchers.

With any luck, mammal sightings might produce Mantled Howler Monkey, Crab-eating Racoon, White-nosed Coati, Neotropical River Otter, West Indian Manatee and Bottlenose Dolphin. Soropta Beach, important for migrating and resident shorebirds, is also a nesting ground for Leatherback and Hawksbill sea turtles, in addition to Green Iguana, Basilisk Lizard, Common Boa Constrictor, Spectacled Caiman, and American Crocodile.

Lunch is a picnic on the beach, where you can walk and look for shell treasures or keep an eye out for shorebirds, including possible Collared Plover. This vibrant river mouth and beachfront might produce views of Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers; Wilson’s and Semipalmated Plovers; Ruddy Turnstone; Sanderling; Least, Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers; Common and Lesser Nighthawks; Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs; four species of tern; and Roseate Spoonbill.

If sea conditions permit, rather than retrace our route up the canal, we return on the oceanside and pass in view of a very active seabird rookery at Swan’s Caye, where Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Booby, and the elegant Red-billed Tropicbird reside. As they return to nests from feeding, it can be a cacophony!
We return by late afternoon and you can enjoy a swim or a chance to watch the sunset.

Dinner entrees vary nightly—one night we may be serve seafood and the next night it may be South American beef, vegetarian options always available.
Accommodations at Tranquilo Bay (B,L,D)

Day 5: Finca de Cacao—The Chocolate Farm | Tranquilo Bay


After birding from the lodge’s terrace with Panamanian coffee and a casual breakfast (a little later than usual after our full day yesterday), we enjoy a calm 20-minute boat ride through Dolphin Bay to Buena Esperanza. The collection of tropical flora found at this location represents the best plants and therefore, butterflies in the archipelago.

A superb water garden and natural creek running through the property also attract many species of mammals, reptiles, and multicolored amphibians. The psychedelic green and black poison dart frogs, Dendrobates auratus, can be prolific with sufficient moisture.

The landowners, who live onsite, protect this beautiful piece of mainland forest, by using the property to operate an artisanal chocolate farm. Cacao trees, grown to produce organic chocolate, thrive under the shade of the forest canopy. Under this stunning canopy we search for three species of trogon: Slaty-tailed, White-tailed, and Gartered; Purple-throated Fruitcrow; Black-chested Jay; Pale-billed Woodpecker; Pied Puffbird; Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant; both Montezuma and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas; Keel-billed and Yellow-throated Toucans; Cocoa Woodcreeper; and many more species. Mammal sightings might include Mantled Howler Monkey, Kinkajou, Three and Two-toed Sloths, squirrels, and Greater White-lined Bats.

After returning to Tranquilo Bay for lunch and a hammock siesta, birding excursions to the canopy observation tower, forest trail system, and hummingbird bathing station are available options. For anyone wanting water activities, guided sea kayaking or snorkeling amidst the alluring coral reefs can also easily fill your afternoon.

Dinners vary based upon the local ingredients available; however, by now it’s no surprise that you should expect three or four delicious courses each night. Tonight, in honor of the day’s activities, we end with a little something chocolate to close the day.
Accommodations at Tranquilo Bay (B,L,D)

Day 6: Tranquilo Bay | Forest Trails | Pineapple Hill


Today, after enjoying some early morning birds from the canopy observation tower or the lodge’s veranda, we delight in a breakfast that includes highland coffee and fresh tropical fruit juices.

Following breakfast, we enter a forest trail in search of Chestnut-backed Antbird, White-flanked and Dot-winged Antwrens, Black-crowned Antshrike, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Tawny-crested Tanager, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, and the geographically misplaced Stub-tailed Spadebill.

After a short hike we arrive at Pineapple Hill, a small elevated clearing at the forest’s edge, which is an important forage area for a multitude of Neotropical and migratory species. This is an excellent place to get good looks at feeding birds like Golden-collared and Red-Capped Manakins; three species of honeycreepers; Passerini’s, Scarlet, White-lined, and Summer Tanagers; Baltimore Oriole; Band-tailed Barbthroat, Green-breasted Mango, White-necked Jacobin, and Purple-crowned Fairy hummingbirds; Scaled Pigeon; Double-toothed Kite; Roadside Hawk; and the often hard to see but noisy White-throated Crake.

Once we are ready to move on, another forest trail takes us to a Golden-collared Manakin lek. During the mating season, from about December to August, active courts in each lek should have displaying males. Further along this trail, walking brings us to an area of high forest canopy where Three-wattled Bellbird like to spend midday. When the sun is a little strong, this canopy specialist likes to perch underneath the leaves in the cooler shade, presenting a nice opportunity with less backlighting for the photo enthusiast.

On the way back to the lodge for lunch, we search the forest floor for the famous Isla Bastimentos Red Poison Dart Frog. This morph of Oophaga pumilio, is studied onsite by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute who are researching its evolutionary traits.

After a short siesta, we can focus our efforts in the mangrove forest looking for several species of herons, Green Ibis, Mangrove Black Hawk, kingfishers, Mangrove Cuckoo, Wimbrel, Willet, Prothonotary Warbler, and the resident Yellow Warbler or “Mangrove Warbler” whose males exhibit a stunning red hood.

In the evening we climb the canopy tower to watch the pandemonium of Red-lored and Mealy Parrots paired up and returning home, as groups of chattering Blue-headed Parrot join in the chorus. Previous guests have dubbed these daily flights “The Invasion of Tranquilo Bay.” We also have a good chance of up-close looks at White-crowned and Scaled Pigeons; Black-crowned and Masked Tityras; Lineated and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers; Blue-grey, Palm, and Plain-colored Tanagers; White-vented Euphonia; and scores of flycatchers.

Once we watch the beautiful tropical sun set over the Talamanca Range, we can walk back to the lodge for hard earned drinks, appetizers, and a delicious meal.
Accommodations at Tranquilo Bay (B,L,D)

Day 7: Palo Seco Protection Forest | Mt. Totumas


Today we do a lower section of the scenic Talamanca range, this time exploring lowlands to foothill elevations. Fueled with a delicious Panamanian breakfast, we leave the dock at 6:00 AM and travel by boat to the town of Punta Robalo on the mainland.

Today we bird the Palo Seco Protection Forest, 167,000 hectares, which is one of the most vital areas of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve. This incredible area consisting of wet Atlantic forest, foothills, and watersheds, is part of BirdLife International Endemic Bird Area Central American Caribbean Slope. It is a hotbed for restricted range species and altitudinal migrants, like the Three-wattled Bellbird, and is one of the most important protected areas in the Neotropics. Snowy Cotinga; Chestnut-colored and Cinnamon Woodpecker; Rufous-tailed Jacamar; Crimson-colored, Speckled, Emerald, and Silver-throated Tanagers; Lattice-tailed Trogon; Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer; Green Hermit; Slaty Spinetail; Dull-mantled Antbird; and Band-backed and Black-throated Wrens are all possibilities on the outing.

Mammal sightings in the area might include sloths, Mantled Howler Monkeys, Red brocket deer, squirrels, and several species of bats. We also make every effort to see the elusive Lanceolated Monklet. Other lowland specialties on our long list of species might include: Brown Jay, White-crowned Parrot, White-collared Seedeater, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, Cinnamon and White-winged Becards, Long-billed Gnatwren, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Black-and-Yellow Tanager, Buff-rumped Warbler, Torrent Tyranulet, Crimson-fronted Parakeet, and Red-fronted Parrotlet.

Lunch is in the field. We bird much of the day with our guides from Tranquilo Bay and then say a fond good-bye as the next part of our adventure begins and we meet the guides and four-wheel drive vehicles from Mt. Totumas to continue into our mountain lodge.

After immersion in the coastal sun and heat, we remind you for this part of our trip to bring a fleece! You’ve arrived to the cloud forest, a wonderful, sometimes wet, verdant realm replete with fantastic vegetation and birds. Your new home is a 400-acre cloud forest private reserve that lists over 250 species of birds, three species of monkeys, and more. The Continental Divide of the Talamanca Range, between the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui, is one of Panama’s premier birding and wilderness areas. It holds some of the best remaining contiguous forest cover in Central America.

Settle into your new digs, cozy mountain cottages, and enjoy dinner and then night sounds of the forest.
Accommodations at Mt. Totumas (B,L,D)

Days 8 – 10: Talamanca Mountains, Continental Divide


We have three days to explore this mountain realm with our expert local guides. We are situated on a private reserve adjacent to La Amistad National Park, Central America’s largest highland preserved wilderness. This species-rich area is an important part of BirdLife International Endemic Bird Area Costa Rica and Panama Highlands. The distinct avifauna in this globally important area include many regional endemics and restricted range species. Our visit here is sure to produce some outstanding birds with opportunities to see Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Red-faced Spinetail, Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, both Black and Crested Guans, possible Blue-and-gold Tanager, Black-thighed and Black-faced Grosbeaks, and Golden-winged Warbler.

Our days are filled with birding and nature with trail walks and four-wheel drive vehicle excursions, and time at waterfalls, fruiting trees, and places with incredibly scenic vistas. We have fun too, learning about local foods, taking a visit to a coffee farm, and enjoying a chance to soak at Los Pozos Hot Springs. The lodge’s hummingbird feeders are busy and give our photographers a chance to capture images on natural perches as species come in to feed.

Resplendent Quetzal move about seasonally but start their return by late January. Colorful birds vie with quetzals for attention. Mixed flocks here include Elegant Euphonia and Golden-browed Chlorophonias—both a treat to find. They are often joined by wintering species we know from home, such as Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireos, Golden-winged, Wilson’s and Blackburnian Warblers, and Baltimore Oriole. At times this lush dense forest can seem quiet … then it explodes with activity. Speckled and Silver-throated Tanagers, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, and Common Chlorospingus, may highlight one flock, then around the corner we catch up with Plain Xenops, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Streak-breasted Treehunter, and Spotted Barbtail.

In addition to the ever-present Rufous-collared Sparrow that sing by the lodge, we look for Large-footed Finch and the possible trio of Chestnut-capped, White-naped and Yellow-thighed Brushfinches. We hope that the elusive Wrenthrush and Silvery-fronted Tapaculo alert us to their presence by song. Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Flame-colored Warbler, and Flame-colored Tanager are often on the trip-end favorites list for many.

Listen to the music of Black-faced Solitaire, Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrush, and Mantled Howler Monkeys. Along streams and pathways we watch for Slate-throated and Collared Redstarts and Torrent Tyrannulet. Slaty Flowerpiercer is a nectar robber often seen alongside feeding hummingbirds. Legitimate pollinators in these highlands are several and include Violet Sabrewing, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, White-bellied Mountain-gem, Green-crowned Brilliant, Long-billed Starthroat, Scintillant and Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds, and both Brown and Lesser Violetear. Woodpeckers we hope to spy include Smoky-brown and Hairy feeding in the same area and Spotted, Streak-headed and sometimes Spot-crowned Woodcreepers.

Learn more about the ecology and geology of the fascinating Chiriqui Highlands, shared with Costa Rica and home to endemic species such as Black Guan, Chiriqui Quail-Dove, Magenta-throated Woodstar, Prong-billed Barbet, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Yellow-winged Vireo, and more. Here and in the montane foothills adjacent we look for Azure-hooded Jay; Sulphur-winged and Barred Parakeets; tanagers galore: Bay-headed, Rufous-winged, Flame-colored, White-winged, Carmiol’s, Cherrie’s, Hepatic, and Spangled-cheeked; Slate-throated Redstart; Tropical Parula; Blue-and-white Swallow; Tawny-capped Euphonia; Golden-bellied Flycatcher; and the gorgeous Collared Trogon. Wow!

Other lasting memories come from sightings of Squirrel Cuckoo, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Northern Emerald-Toucanet; and the impressive Red-headed and Prong-billed Barbets.
The lodge prides itself in its farm to table restaurant where local chef, Alma, brings her expertise in Asian and European cuisine.
Accommodations all three nights at Mt. Totumas (B,L,D)

Day 11: Departures from David


No one wants to go, but it’s time! We set the departure for this tour from the Pacific-side lowland town of David so that you can best match onward flights to your outbound international flight. (B)

  • Buff-throated Saltator, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Clay-colored Thrush, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Common Moorhen, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Crimson-backed Tanager, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Dusky-faced Tanager, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Flame-rumped Tanager, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Green Honeycreeper, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Red-billed Tropicbird, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Canoe, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Shining Honeycreeper, Panama, Tranquilo Bay Birding, Panama Birding Tour, Panama Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys

Cost of the Journey

The cost of this is $3990 DBL / $4990 SGL, from Panama City, departing David. This cost is based on double occupancy and includes 10 nights’ accommodations; all meals as specified in the itinerary, in-country domestic flight from Panama City to Bocas del Toro professional guide services, local park and other area entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses.

Cost of the journey does not include airfare to and from your home to Panama, or items of a personal nature, such as drinks from the bar, telephone, and local guide gratuities (at your discretion, we will give some guidelines).

Travel Details

Please arrive by mid-afternoon on January 24 to Tocumen International (PTY). Please plan departures at your leisure on February 3 out of Enrique Malek International (DAV) to match up with your international flight out of Panama.

We suggest you use COPA Airlines out of David, allowing you to go directly to the international airport (PTY), they partner with United and the Star Alliance. There are also typically two flights out to Albrook Airport close to the Canal and from here you can transfer to the International Airport or choose to spend your final night in Panama City before heading home.

As an added value to your travel, Naturalist Journeys pays your ticket fee to book with our travel agent, Pam Davis. Ask us to connect you!

Items of Note

Weather
The tropical climate in Western Panama can vary tremendously depending upon altitude and geography. Temperatures at Tranquilo Bay in lowland rainforest habitat average 86 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 73 degrees Fahrenheit at night with a consistent humidity around 82%—the island location with sea breezes is very pleasant. The cloud forest in the highlands can be much cooler.

Pace of the Journey
The pace of this journey is that of many of our tours, with a focus on finding birds and mammals on walks, boat trips and outings. Those that wish to relax more can take some free time at lodges; other than a mid-day siesta in the heat of the day you can expect full field days. Just out your door at Tranquilo Bay you can swim, snorkel, paddleboard, watch hummingbird feeders, or walk the lodge trails.

  • James P. Smith

    James brings some twenty five years of guiding experience to Naturalist Journeys. Originally from Sheffield in the United Kingdom, he discovered a love for guiding in Israel in 1995 where he helped establish the Kibbutz Lotan Center for Birdwatching in the Southern Arava Valley. Since then, he’s led hundreds of tours throughout the Northern Hemisphere for a number of UK-based tour companies. His trips to Israel and North America are especially close to his heart but he’s also led or co-led tours to Mexico (Veracruz), The Gambia, Kenya, Iceland, Scottish Highlands, Spanish Pyrenees, Central/Southern France, Greece (Lesvos), and India (Goa). An accomplished illustrator, James placed runner-up in the British Birds “Bird Illustrator of the Year” competition in 1992 and went on to have his work published in numerous birding magazines and journals. He also co-authored the two volume set A Guide to the Birding Hotspots of Israel (Published in 2000 by the Israel Ornithological Center and the S.P.N.I.). He returns to Israel every year to lead trips and remains an active member of the Israel Rarities and Distribution Committee. When not leading tours he can be found at home in Western Massachusetts with his wife Susannah and their young son Matan.

    Other trips with James P. Smith

Map for Panama: Mangroves to Mountains

Photo credits: Canopy Tower view, Joe Tieger; Tranquilo Bay, Maggie Tieger; Mount Totumas Vista with Feeders, courtesy mounttotumas.com; Osprey, Joe Tieger; Cloud Forest with Rainbow, courtesy mounttotumas.com; Green Honeycreeper, Maggie Tieger; Howler Monkey, Joe Tieger; Orange-chinned Parakeet, Joe Tieger; Squirrel Cuckoo, Joe Tieger; American Pygmy Kingfisher, Maggie Tieger; Anteater, Joe Tieger; Blue-chested Hummingbird, Joe Tieger; Canal, Joe Tieger; Yellow-throated Toucan, Joe Tieger; Cabana, courtesy of Tranquilo Bay; Striated Heron, Joe Tieger; View from tower, courtesy of Tranquilo Bay; Blue Dacnis, Joe Tieger; Tranquilo bay dock aerial view, courtesy of Tranquilo Bay; Poison Dart Frog, Joe Tieger; Lovely Cotinga, James Adams; Tranquilo Bay, Maggie Tieger; Keel-billed Toucan, Maggie Tieger; Crowned Woodnymph, Joe Tieger; Tranquilo Bay, Maggie Tieger; Lesser Kiskadee, Maggie Tieger; Slaty-tailed Trogon, Maggie Tieger; Brown Booby, Cristina Heins; Broad-billed Motmot, Maggie Tieger; Orange-bellied Trogon, Joe Tieger; Blue-gray Tanager, Joe Tieger; Osprey, Joe Tieger; Masked Tityra, Joe Tieger; Boat-billed Heron, Maggie Tieger; Sunset, Joe Tieger; Buff-throated Saltator, Joe Tieger; Clay-colored Thrush, Joe Tieger; Common Moorhen, Joe Tieger; Crimson-backed Tanager, Joe Tieger; Dusky-faced Tanager, Maggie Tieger; Flame-rumped Tanager, Joe Tieger; Green Honeycreeper, Joe Tieger; Red-billed Tropicbird, Maggie Tieger; Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Maggie Tieger; Panama local on a canoe, Joe Tieger; Shining Honeycreeper, Maggie Tieger.

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