Discover Panama, where the wildlife of North and South America blend and the biodiversity is unmatched. On this Panama birding and nature tour, we explore the dense western jungles of Panama’s Darién region, long coveted, but only recently opened to birders. Canopy Camp Darién boasts modern amenities like large, safari-style tents, full-size beds, private baths and showers, flush toilets, solar electricity, and fans.

Then, live among the birds at Canopy Tower in Soberanía National Park, a repurposed radar tower ideally situated in a pristine portion of Panama’s lush lowland rainforest. The canopy-level dining area offers views of monkeys, toucans, sloths, mixed flocks, and more, right at eye level! There is also an upper deck, where you can take your morning coffee (or afternoon cocktail), for a 360° vista of the forest and a view of the Panama Canal. Early mornings on the top deck boast great views of raptors and parrots taking flight for the day.

Finally, venture off to the mountains, to enjoy one of the nicest eco-lodges in the Neotropics: the Canopy Lodge. Awaken to bird calls in the cool mountain air, with wisps of cloud forest fog creeping over the property’s flowing stream. With coffee in hand, view aracaris, motmots, oropendolas, honeycreepers, and warblers at feeders before breakfast. There are trails above and below the lodge that let us explore El Valle de Antón in detail.

Tour Highlights

  • Bird Canopy Camp’s trails for local specialties like Black Antshrike, Double-banded Graytail, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, and Russet-winged Schiffornis
  • Explore near Yaviza, at the end of the Pan-American Highway and less than 50km from Colombia
  • Search for night birds near camp, including Striped, Crested, Barn, Black-and-white, and Mottled Owls, as well as Common and Great Potoos
  • Visit Fundación Tierra Nueva, a non-profit focused on sustainable development of the Darién’s people
  • Visit the mountain village of Nuevo Vigia, accessible by piragua (locally made dugout canoes)
  • Immerse yourself in wildlife—on a walk, or from your balcony or hammock ...
  • Cross Gatun Lake to explore the Panama Canal by boat
  • Find antbirds, Pheasant Cuckoo, and other secretive species along Panama’s famous Pipeline Road
  • Observe Geoffroy’s Tamarin and Mantled Howler Monkey eye-to-eye
  • Bird in style from Canopy Tower’s open-air “Birdmobile”? Yes!
  • Visit a colorful market for souvenirs and a conservation facility to see rare frogs

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sat., July 6 : Arrival in Panama

Today you arrive in Central America’s southernmost country! While you acclimatize to the tropical heat and have a cold drink, you can birdwatch right on the grounds of the hotel. Great-tailed Grackle, Clay-colored Thrush, Variable Seedeater, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-gray Tanager, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and more await your visit in the gardens.

Those arriving in time can join your tour host for dinner. We meet our expert local guides tomorrow.
Accommodations at Riande Aeropuerto Hotel (D)

Sun., July 7 : Bayano | Canopy Camp Darién

This morning we enjoy breakfast in the hotel restaurant, featuring fresh tropical fruits and juices. Our local guide arrives to answer any questions you may have. Soon after breakfast we head for eastern Panama, where a host of great birds and plenty of exploring await! The journey to the Camp is approximately five hours, and we make stops along the way in exciting birding areas. As we drive east along the Pan-American Highway we scan for roadside birds and open-field raptors, including Savanna Hawk and Crested Caracara. Our first scheduled stop is Lake Bayano. This reservoir supports a variety of water birds, including Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Cocoi Heron, and the rare Bare-throated Tiger-Heron. We scan the water’s edge for Purple Gallinule, Pied Water-Tyrant, Smooth-billed Ani, and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater. A short trail leading from the water’s edge is a good place to search for Black Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird, Rufous-winged Antwren, and Golden-collared Manakin. Just ten minutes down the road at Río Mono Bridge the surrounding forest is home to One-colored Becard, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Blue Cotinga, Pied Puffbird, Orange crowned Oriole, Blue Ground Dove, and more. We also check the river below for Green-and-rufous Kingfisher and the elusive Fasciated Tiger-Heron. Further along the forest edge and scrubby roadside around Rio Tortí offer good opportunities to see Pacific Antwren, Double-banded Graytail and Little Cuckoo. At our lunch restaurant in Tortí the hummingbirds at the feeders capture our attention, as Long-billed Starthroat, Black-throated Mango, Sapphire throated, Scaly-breasted and Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds often share the gardens for lunch as well!.

Continuing east on the Pan-American Highway the passport check at the Darién provincial border reminds us that we are entering a more remote part of Panama. We continue on to Canopy Camp Darién, settle into our spacious tents then gather for an overview of the camp and the days to come. Relaxing over sundowners is a tradition here, and we take this opportunity to do our first checklist. After a delicious dinner of fresh American and Panamanian fare we return to our tents for the night, listening to the frogs, insects and perhaps an owl calling.
Accommodations at Canopy Camp (B,L,D)

Mon., July 8 – Wed., July 10 : Three Full Days at Canopy Camp

Most mornings start with a sunrise (or before!) coffee or tea and the dawn chorus of unfamiliar bird songs, including the mellow “wolf-whistle” of the handsome Barred Puffbird. Yellow-throated and Keel-billed Toucans call from the towering Cuipo trees; Red-lored and Mealy Parrots fly overhead; and White-bellied Antbird, Bright-rumped Attila, White-headed Wren, Golden-headed Manakin, and Rufous-tailed Jacamar sing from the surrounding forests, while Pale-bellied Hermit and Sapphire-throated Hummingbird visit the flowers around camp. By the 7:30am breakfast call we are ready to refuel! We explore many locations during our days here. The following are some of the areas we plan to visit during our time at camp. Please note that the itinerary is flexible, and may change without prior notice due to weather, alterations in habitat, or other conditions.
Accommodations at Canopy Camp (B,L,D)

Canopy Camp Grounds & Nando’s Trail
In the open areas the verbenas are full of hummingbird and butterfly activity, where we hope to see Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Long-billed Starthroat, Blue-throated Goldentail, and if lucky the stunning Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird. We work our way into the forest on “Nando’s Trail” in hopes of finding Tiny Hawk, Black Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Cinnamon Becard, Black-tailed Trogon, Double-banded Graytail, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, and Russet-winged Schiffornis. We look for groups of noisy Red-throated Caracara in the trees and King Vulture and Short-tailed Hawk flying overhead. Some nights we search of nocturnal birds and mammals, including Black-and-white and Mottled Owls, Great and Common Potoos, Kinkajous, Central American Woolly Opossum, and more!

Birding the Pan-American Highway
We head southeast and bird the forests and swampy meadows along the road toward Yaviza, the end of the Pan-American Highway in North America. Black-billed Flycatcher, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Jet Antbird, Black Oropendola, Bicolored and Black-collared Hawks, Pearl and White-tailed Kites, Limpkin, Spot-breasted Woodpecker and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater may all be found as we head further into Darién.

El Salto Road
El Salto Road extends 6 km north from the Pan-American Highway and ends at the mighty Río Chucunaque, the largest river in Panama. This open road and surrounding dry forest is a great place to search for regional specialties including Golden-green Woodpecker, Double-banded Graytail, Blue-and-yellow and Chestnut-fronted Macaws, Black and Crested Oropendolas, Blue Cotinga, White-eared Conebill, Black-breasted Puffbird, Orange-crowned Oriole, and the majestic King Vulture. A trail at the end of the road takes us into low-canopy forest, where we hope to find Bare-crowned Antbird, Pale-bellied Hermit, Olivaceous Piculet, and Forest Elaenia.

Tierra Nueva Foundation
Adjacent to El Salto Road is the property of the Tierra Nueva Foundation. Fundación Tierra Nueva is a non-profit organization whose main mission is working towards the sustainable development of people of the Darién Rainforest. We explore the trails of this large, forested property, in hopes of finding Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Yellow-breasted and Black-billed Flycatchers, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon, Cinnamon, Cinereous and One-colored Becards, White-eared Conebill, White-headed Wren, and the magnificent Great Curassow. We also search for the eastern Short-tailed subspecies of the widespread Chestnut-backed Antbird, which shows white spots on the wings and is shared with adjacent Colombia.

Las Lagunas Road (Aguas Calientes) & Aruza Lagoons
This road extends 12 km south off the Pan-American Highway through open farmland, dry scrub, and roadside habitat ending at some small ponds. Along the roadside we hope to find Red-breasted Meadowlark, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, White-headed Wren, Smooth-billed and Greater Anis, Muscovy Duck, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Southern Lapwing, Blue-headed Parrot, Striped Cuckoo, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers, Buff-breasted Wren, Bananaquit, Giant and Shiny Cowbirds, Crested Oropendola and Laughing and Aplomado Falcons. If we’re lucky we may see Chestnut-fronted Macaw or a shy Little Cuckoo as both have been seen along this road. At the lagoons we look for Pied Water-Tyrant, Capped Heron, the beautiful Yellow-hooded Blackbird and the extraordinary Black-capped Donacobius—this is great habitat for all these wonderful species.

Quebrada Felix
Quebrada Felix is nestled at the base of the Filo del Tallo Hydrological Reserve, just a short drive from the Canopy Camp. Surrounded by tall trees and mature lowland forest, we walk the rocky stream in search of some of Panama’s most wanted species, including Black-crowned Antpitta, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Speckled Mourner, Ocellated Antbird, Rufous-winged and Moustached Antwrens, White-fronted Nunbird, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Royal Flycatcher, and the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker. It is also a good spot to find Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, Bicolored Antbird, Golden-crowned Spadebill and Double-banded Graytail. Crested and Solitary Eagles have even been spotted here, a testament to the mature forest of the area.

Lajas Blancas
We explore the open areas and mixed forests of the area of Lajas Blancas, the closest Embera community to the Canopy Camp, a large town with a population of over 1000 residents. The area around the community boasts great birding and the opportunity to find many Darien specialties. After turning off the Pan-American Highway we drive through pasture and open farmland—looking for One-colored Becard, Great Potoo, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Black Antshrike, and Black Oropendola. During the dry season, a bridge across the Chucunaque River provides us easy access to some mature secondary forest where Double-banded Graytail, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-winged and Cinnamon Becards, Cinnamon and Golden-green Woodpeckers, manakins, and others can be found. In the high water wet season we look for these and other species along the river by piragua, a locally-made dugout canoe.

Nuevo Vigia
Nuevo Vigia, an Embera community nestled north of the Pan-American Highway, is surrounded by
secondary growth dry forest and two small lakes, all of which attracts an enticing variety of birds. We access the community by piragua. As we coast along the Chucunaque and Tuquesa Rivers we keep our eyes and ears open for Chestnut-backed, Crested and Black Oropendolas, Common Black Hawk, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Red-billed Scythebill, Capped and Cocoi Herons, Greater Ani and other water-associated birds. After arrival we bird a trail from the community toward a small lagoon, a great place to see Black-collared Hawk, Bare-crowned and White-bellied Antbirds, Green Ibis, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Black-tailed Trogon, Striped Cuckoo, Black-bellied Wren, Little Tinamou, Golden-green Woodpecker and Green-and-rufous Kingfisher. Black-capped Donacobious has recently colonized this area as well. Local artisans weave colorful decorative masks and plates out of palm fronds and carve cocobolo wood and tagua nuts into animals and plants; we have the opportunity to meet some of the community members and admire and purchase some of their beautiful products. We enjoy a picnic lunch in the village, then head back to Camp, birding along the way.

Aligandi is a huge area with unique scrub forest not far from Yaviza. Along the road we scan for Red-breasted Meadowlark, Striped Cuckoo, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, resident supspecies American Kestrel and other open area birds. Great Green Macaw regularly nest in Cuipo trees here; we may see them flying over as we explore the area. At Finca Doncella we continue on foot along the road through the scrub forest, seeking out Bat Falcon, Giant Cowbird, Orange-crowned Oriole, Red-billed Scythebill, White-eared Conebill and mixed feeding flocks.

San Francisco Reserve
San Francisco Nature Reserve is a private forest reserve owned and managed by the St. Francis Foundation, covering 1,300 acres in eastern Panama Province. The Reserve and Foundation were established in 2001 by Father Pablo Kasuboski, an American priest from Wisconsin who came to Panama in 1988. The reserve serves as a wildlife refuge and protects the headwaters of the main rivers of the area. The St. Francis Foundation also works on infrastructure development in the area by building and maintaining aqueducts, roads, schools, and churches; the Foundation built and maintains the largest private rural aqueduct in all of Panama and Central America. The reserve has a variety of habitats including primary, secondary, and riparian forests, forest edge, fields, farmland, ponds, and wetlands. During our morning here we explore some of the different habitats along the short road that enters the reserve. We hope to find Great Jacamar, Broad-billed Motmot, Collared Aracari, Sulphur-rumped Tanager, Russet-winged Schiffornis, White-fronted Nunbird, Brownish Twistwing, endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet, Central American Pygmy-Owl, Blue and Plain-breasted Ground Doves. If we’re very lucky a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle may soar overhead or a Wing-banded Antbird appear along the trail.

Thurs., July 11 : Morning Birding | Travel to Canopy Tower

We enjoy breakfast and the birds at Canopy Camp as the sun rises, and if time allows, chose one more birding site to explore before birding our way back to Panama City and onward to Canopy Tower.

Over the next few days, the Canal is ever present, providing a great opportunity to understand its operations (past and contemporary), recent expansion, and role in Panama’s economy.

On arrival, we walk down the hill for our first bird sightings. Lush forests line the road to the Tower—we never know what we may find! Black-breasted Puffbird, Double-toothed Kite, Black-tailed or other trogons, secretive antbirds or wrens, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, and more are possible. This is a leisurely walk downhill, and the lodge’s open-air vehicle awaits us at the bottom to take us back to the Tower. If you wish, opt out and simply enjoy watching hummingbirds vie for nectar at the feeders near the lodge.

We then settle into one of the most unusual eco-lodges, and before a delicious dinner we may gather on the observation deck to watch the sunset and ships passing through the Panama Canal—spectacular!
Accommodations at Canopy Tower (B,L,D)

Fri., July 12 : Soberanía National Park | Pipeline Road | Ammo Dump Pond

Soberanía National Park is considered one of Central America’s most spectacular and accessible areas for bird watching and wildlife observation. Only 45 minutes from Panama City, Soberanía's 55,000 acres boast some 525 species of birds, 105 species of mammals (including large cats), Tamandua (a type of anteater), both Two and Three-toed Sloths, four species of monkeys, Central American Agouti, and 59 endemic plant species that inhabit four life zones. We depart early to get out on Pipeline Road when bird activity is most lively.

A walk along the world-renowned Pipeline Road is unforgettable, a prized destination among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. During World War II, a pipeline was built along the Panama Canal to transport fuel from one ocean to the other in the event the waterway was attacked. Fortunately, it was never used. The road, not open to traffic, provides a lush, easy pathway for us to explore. This is the site where the Audubon Society held its world record Christmas Bird Count for 19 years straight, identifying 357 species of birds in a 24 hour period. This morning we look for secretive antbirds such as White-flanked and Pygmy Antwrens, and other rainforest birds such as Great Jacamar, Broad-billed Motmot, Blue-crowned and Golden-collared Manakins, Pheasant Cuckoo, Brown Twistwing, and some of the rarer forest raptors. We likely encounter the tropical phenomenon of the mixed flock—a veritable explosion of birds that work and feed together, exhibiting complex social structure that scientists are only beginning to understand. Insect watchers may find iridescent beetles, beautiful clearwing butterflies, colorful grasshoppers, or even the world’s largest damselfly.

We return to the Tower for lunch and a mid-day break, then venture out to the very productive Ammo Dump Pond, where we hope to find Northern Jacana, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Lesser Kiskadee, possibly Pygmy Kingfisher, and other interesting species.
Accommodations at Canopy Tower (B,L,D)

Sat., July 13 : Panama Canal Rainforest Boat Adventure | Gamboa History | Summit Ponds

This morning you can sleep in a bit … if you are able to over the sounds of the forest just outside your door! Others may want to watch the sunrise with a good cup of Panamanian coffee from the observation deck.

After breakfast, we explore the waters of the Panama Canal on small boats, quietly moving through coves and inlets in search of wildlife, including Greater Ani, Snail Kite, other raptors, and possibly whistling-ducks, reptiles such as Spectacled Caiman and Green Iguana, and both Mantled Howler and White-faced Capuchin Monkeys. We find this to be the most comfortable and accessible way to discover the natural attributes of the Panama Canal watershed. We have the freedom to explore Gatun Lake in detail, passing by gigantic cargo ships transiting the waterway. Along the way, we should spot Three-toed Sloth resting on tree branches, while Osprey are vocal and on the prowl for Peacock Bass. Limpkin, Anhinga, and Keel-billed Toucan are some of the birds we may encounter.

This is also a great place to focus on some history. At the time of its creation, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world. The flow of all the rivers within the Panama Canal Watershed is contained in Gatun Lake to provide water for the operation of the lock system. More than 52-million gallons of fresh water are used for every ship that transits through the Panama Canal from one ocean to another.

In 1902 (33 years after the Suez Canal was opened), after years of negotiation and a disastrous attempt by the French to build the canal, the U.S. Congress authorized construction of the Panama Canal. The project was put on hold, however, when Colombia, which controlled Panama at the time, rejected the authorizing treaty. It was only in 1904, after Panama’s independence, that construction began. Ten years later, ahead of time and under budget, the Canal was opened to bridge the world. Imagine that first historic passage!

The year 2000 marked the end of the U.S. treaty (which had actually been revised several times) and Panama now assumes responsibility for operation of the Canal. In 2016, a third lock opened to accommodate increased traffic and larger ships. From our boats on Gatun Lake you can see the Titan Crane and learn more about the history of the town of Gamboa, which is still the Canal’s dredging operations center.

Mid-afternoon we visit Summit Ponds, a wonderful, leisurely birding area where even in the quiet time of afternoon we may find trogons, motmots, and a host of interesting species. Here, we are at the edge of open and forested areas, and good numbers of migrant warblers join resident Neotropical species, making it a very rewarding stop. The ponds themselves often provide us with nesting Boat-billed Heron, a nocturnal species that can be otherwise difficult to find.

We return to enjoy happy hour, dinner, and evening at the Tower.
Accommodations at Canopy Tower (B,L,D)

Sun., July 14 : Discovery Tower | Pipeline Road

Today we return to nearby Pipeline Road, but this time we go very early to ascend the Discovery Tower for a special sunrise-viewing of birds high in the canopy. The views are incredible, and of note are parrots, raptors, and other species flying by as they leave their night roosts. Hummingbirds are busy in the canopy flowers, and we may find elusive puffbirds, woodpeckers, tanagers, and, with luck, the dazzling Blue Cotinga.

We come back to the Discovery Center display area for coffee and a chance to watch the hummingbird feeders. One year we found Night Monkeys peering out of their roost tree here, such a delight! We can walk another trail or part of the road after our coffee; the Pipeline area is so rich that there are always new species to observe. Black-tailed Trogon can be seen here, as well as the secretive Streak-chested Antpitta, Black-faced Antthrush, noisy Bright-rumped Attila, Red-capped Manakin, and Northern Schiffornis. We don’t want to miss any of them!

We return for lunch and a siesta, then in the afternoon we do some leisurely birding along the Chagres River and in the residential area of Gamboa, below Gamboa Rainforest Lodge, where lush plantings attract many species, from toucans to agoutis to colorful tanagers and more. Golden-fronted Greenlet, Cinnamon Becard, Golden-collared Manakin, Buff-breasted Wren, and Gray-headed Tanager are all possible in this area.

One of our evenings at the Tower we enjoy an outdoor barbecue and a night drive on which we look for Spectacled Owl and mammals like Allen’s Olingo, Woolly Opossum, and Kinkajou, which are often feeding on fruits and flowers. It’s a lot of fun to be under the immense canopy of rainforest trees as the night shift of wildlife gets active. Our skilled Tower guides are specialists in finding these mysterious jungle residents!

This is our last evening at the Tower and we gather on the observation deck for sunset and the sight of birds returning to roosts ahead of dinner.
Accommodations at the Canopy Tower (B,L,D)

Mon., July 15 : Plantation Road | Canopy Lodge

This morning we enjoy an early walk on Plantation Road in a bit more open forest than we experienced on Pipeline Road. This is another good area to encounter mammals and we often find confiding trogons and motmots here, too, as well as some mixed flocks. Orange-billed Sparrow inhabit this more open forest floor, as do Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Song Wren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, and many flycatchers.

Plantation Road is close to our lodge, so those who prefer a leisurely morning can stay back and relax. By mid-morning we pack up and drive north to the other fabulous property operated by the Canopy Family—the Canopy Lodge near El Valle in the central mountains.

On arrival at Canopy Lodge, we find ourselves immersed in the beauty of mountain terrain where nature is active all around us. We quickly find a host of hummingbirds, tanagers, and oropendolas at feeders adjacent to the open-air dining area. We have close up views of tanagers: Flame-rumped, Crimson-backed, White-lined, and Blue-gray, as well as electric Red-legged Honeycreeper. Clay-colored Thrush, Streaked Saltator, and Yellow-faced Grassquit provide us with activity throughout our stay. Sometimes more secretive species such as Rufous Motmot or Orange-billed Sparrow emerge from the vegetation near the lodge!

We meet our local guides who are eager to share bird specialties on the forest trails leading from the Lodge. Occasionally, two often-difficult to see Neotropical species can be found here: Tody Motmot and Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo. Basilisk Lizard sun themselves on rocks along the stream, while Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, Chestnut-backed Antbird, and the less common Dull-mantled Antbird are often present along the trail, and occasionally, we see the bizarre White-tipped Sicklebill. This area is good for seeing Neotropical wintering migrants, such as Prothonotary and Canada Warblers. We hope in time to get views of the elusive Sunbittern that feeds along the stream that flows by the Lodge, too.

We relax and settle in. The food here is wonderful, as is the atmosphere for tonight’s meal. Enjoy!
Accommodations at the Canopy Lodge (B,L,D)

Tues., July 16 : Cara Iguana | Rare Frog Conservation Facility | Canopy Lodge

There are so many wonderful places to bird right near the Canopy Lodge. Today we choose according to what species the guides are finding, and where. The secretive Tody Motmot is one option, often found on a road we like to walk along above a lovely residential district near town.

We do want to visit a facility for endangered frog research and propagation, housed at El Nispero, a small zoo in El Valle with a wide selection of native animals and birds, mostly in good-sized cages. Some of you may already be familiar with the frog facility as it has been featured in a documentary on Public Television. In addition to learning about the many forms of frogs and the challenges they face, we spend some time birding here, too. The grounds are landscaped with artificial streams and the backdrop is the most dramatic of El Valle's hills. It's a pleasant place to spend an hour wandering around. The secretive Rosy Thrush-Tanager is one bird we look for here, a lovely songster with black and raspberry-colored plumage! We also take time to visit the charming local farmers’ market in El Valle where colorful vegetables and artisan crafts are found. This is a great chance to purchase any local souvenirs or gifts to take home.
Accommodations at Canopy Lodge (B,L,D)

Wed., July 17 : Exploring the Mountains at La Mesa & Las Minas Road

This morning we venture to higher elevation to watch birds near what might be the world’s most beautiful chicken farm. Walking into the forest, we have a chance to see some of the more secretive species, including mixed flocks of antwrens, Black-crowned Antpitta, and another chance for White-tipped Sicklebill.

Our plan is to walk atop La Mesa on Las Minas Road where we search for foothill species and hope to see one of our favorites: the comical Northern Emerald-Toucanet. In lush clusters of bromeliads that festoon the trees, we encounter Ochraceous Wren and Gray-breasted Wood-Wren; on tree trunks we search for both Plain-brown and Spotted Woodcreepers, and we listen for Red-faced Spinetail, which may sing out from roadside trees. Both White-throated and Pale-vented Thrushes can be found along our route, as well as mixed groups of beautiful tanagers like Silver-throated. Masked Tityra often call from treetops at the road’s edge and Black-headed Saltator, Tawny-capped and White-vented Euphonias, and Spot-crowned Barbet have been seen at local feeders! Those who prefer hiking to birding can simply walk farther along this scenic mountain road, returning to join us at a specified time.

We return to the lodge for lunch and a break. Relax on your porch, browse books in the open-air library, or wander the grounds where Stripe-throated Hermit, and Violet-headed and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds visit purple verbena flowers. You may even glimpse the rare Rufous-crested Coquette! We may hear the beautiful cascading notes of an Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush or watch a mixed flock come through, perhaps with a beautiful Bay-headed Tanager. Along a stream that runs through the property we watch for Green Kingfisher, possible Sunbittern, Buff-rumped Warbler, and a host of colorful butterflies, including the brilliant Blue Morpho. A Three-toed Sloth may be seen draped lazily across an open branch or peeking out from behind the large leaves of a Cecropia tree.

On our last afternoon, we take a leisurely walk up the road or on trails right from the lodge. Our local guides know where to find the best and most current sightings. Trees surrounding the lodge serve as perches for a good diversity of flycatchers, including Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Lesser and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, and Boat-billed, Social, and Piratic Flycatchers. During the dry season, raucous Chestnut-headed Oropendola nest in a colony in the tall Eucalyptus trees in the yard, while Giant Cowbird sometime show up looking for an unguarded nest in which to deposit an egg.

Birding along the road near the lodge, we have a good chance of hearing and seeing many species typical of the dry Pacific slope: Blue-crowned Motmot, Lance-tailed Manakin (difficult to see), Rosy Thrush-Tanager, and Red-throated Ant-Tanager. Humid foothill species are also present, including Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, and Dusky-faced and Tawny-crested Tanagers. Watch for larger species like the noisy Gray-headed Chachalaca, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, and Black-chested Jay. It is also worthwhile to keep an eye on the sky, in case a White Hawk or Black Hawk-Eagle passes overhead.

This evening we have a wrap-up over happy hour to list our trip highlights, tally the species we’ve seen, and enjoy a celebratory dinner at the lodge.
Accommodations at Canopy Lodge (B,L,D)

Thurs., July 18 : Departures from Panama City

We enjoy one last morning with nature as our alarm clock before heading off to the airport. Important! We have a three-hour return trip to the airport, so we ask that you book flights out after NOON. Those electing to leave earlier need to pay for a special transfer, with your start time set so that you have at least two hours at the airport. If you just can’t bear to leave yet, you can book additional days here and enjoy a field trip up to Altos Las Marias by 4WD, or simply relax. (B)

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Cost of the Journey

The cost of this 12-night journey is $5590 DBL / $5890 SGL, from Panama City. This cost is based on double occupancy and includes 12 nights’ accommodations; meals as specified in the itinerary, group departure airport transfers, professional guide services, local park and other area entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Singles are limited, so please inquire promptly if interested. The cost does not include transportation to or from your home to Panama, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone charges, porterage, maid gratuities or beverages from the bar.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City

Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive July 6, 2024 at your leisure. Please plan on taking the free Riande Airport Hotel airport shuttle when you arrive.

Departure Details: Plan flights to depart July 18, after 12:00 PM. We have a 2.5-3 hour drive to the airport on our last day so please make sure flights departures are no earlier than 12:00 PM

Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, you can book an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Riande Airport Hotel. If you want to explore a bit, there are a few things to see that aren’t far from the hotel. The Panama Canal Museum has exhibits on the history of the construction of the Panama Canal. The Archeology Site of Panama Viejo, including the museum, is fascinating to visit. Panama Viejo was the first European settlement along the Pacific and founded in 1519. It was later destroyed by Captain Morgan in 1671. Ruins remain from buildings constructed in the 1600s. Both of these sites are 20-25 minutes from the hotel and can be reached by taxi or Uber.

Visa Requirements: US residents do not require a visa for tourist visits of this length.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.


Birds & Mammals


Green Season

Intro to Biodiversity

Tranquilo Bay

Map for Panama: Three Great Lodges

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of your tour:

  • Make sure your passport will be valid at least three months after the date of your scheduled return to the U.S. No Visas are required for U.S. citizens for stays of this duration. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Panama’s website for guidelines.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Panama and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your international flight reservations to arrive at and depart from Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City. Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Panama City, Panama (PTY)

Please plan your flights to arrive at your leisure. Your emergency contact sheet will be helpful at Immigration when they ask where you are going.

We will coordinate your pick-ups close to your departure with operators and guides once we have all travelers completed travel information. Please make sure we have both your ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE information, so they can plan this. It is imperative that we have your correct TRAVEL information; we appreciate if you email us a copy of your flight reservation. They will check internet for your updated flight information.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Panama City, Panama (PTY)

Plan your flights to leave after 1 PM. We have a 2.5-hour drive to get back to the airport and you should check in 2.5-3 hours ahead of the flight. The departure fee is now typically built into your airline fare.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for three months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Panama embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:

It is recommended to check for changes 60-90 days before your tour departs but, at the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required of US citizens for stays of this length.  You will need proof of a return ticket. The necessary documents will be distributed by your airline while in flight or provided for you upon arrival. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. Do bring any prescription medications with you and its best if you have a copy of the prescription in case of loss. A supply of standard over the counter medications for common ailments is recommended.

Anti-malarial drugs are not required for any area that you visit. There are occasional reports of Dengue Fever in lower elevation areas, for which there is no vaccine. Dengue fever, Zika, and other diseases are contacted by mosquito bites so be sure to use mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picaridin. Travelers can reduce their risk of disease by protecting themselves from mosquito bites in lower elevation areas by using protective clothing.

At the time of writing, there are no required vaccinations to enter Panama. We do recommend that all travelers should be up to date with routine vaccinations before traveling to any destination. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio and your yearly flu shot. The CDC recommends current vaccines for Hepatitis A and Typhoid. The Center for Disease Control (CDC)'s website is helpful or you may reach them by phone at (800) CDC-INFO.

We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and medications for common ailments, as well as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. You should bring an adequate supply of any prescription drugs you use, and in addition, a list of generic names of your medicine as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. When traveling with medication, it is a good idea to pack any drugs you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. It is also a good idea to carry with you and up-to-date record of known allergies or chronic medical problems so that emergency treatment, if necessary, can be carried out without endangering your health.

Weather & Climate

Expect the weather in July to be wet and warm with highs in the upper 70s and 80s, lows in the 70s, and the possibility of rain every day. The humidity is often very high, so remember to drink plenty of water and in general just pace yourself not to get overheated. There is much variation in the weather patterns these days, so count on some rain as well as brilliant sunny days and you’ll be well prepared. You may want to bring one of those gel-filled bandanas that cool your neck–a great new invention. Do plan to protect yourself from the Equatorial sun.

Annoyances & Hazards

Mosquitoes can occur in the forests; therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. At grassland or farm locations you may encounter chiggers, if so, spray your shoes with repellent, and tuck your pants into your socks, this helps a lot. When back, be sure to shower and air out your clothing. Chiggers are a part of lowland and mid-elevation habitats throughout Central and South America. Your guide should have a good read on if it has been wet enough that they are active. There can also be poisonous snakes and insects, though encountering them is rare. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember the sun is strong and be prepared with proper protection.

Food & Drinks

Menus at lodges and restaurants are varied, sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available, and delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment. As with any case when traveling we urge you to consider what your body is used to before you eat something. Trust your common sense when consuming food and beverages. This is the best way to avoid any unwanted problems. Ask for referrals from your hotel or a guidebook such as Frommers. Meals reflect the contributions of American, European, Spanish, and local cuisines.

Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal and laundry services are available for a fee at our lodges. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. Again, the climate is warm to hot, so you will be comfortable in lightweight clothing.

Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with tropical life! Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down please! And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field, have one day’s clothing change, and a change of underwear!

Spending Money

We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. U.S. currency is legal tender in Panama. This makes it quite easy for you as you can readily spend U.S. dollars. The Panamanian balboa (B) or 1 USD = 100 centesimos. Coin denominations are: B1 and B10; 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 centesimos. Coins are of identical size, denomination, and metal as U.S. coins, and the coins of both nations are used throughout Panama interchangeably.

If you have U.S. dollars, then there is no need to exchange currency since it is legal tender. If you do want to change currencies, try to take only crisp and new notes, as wrinkled and soiled notes are likely to be refused. Panama’s ATMs are widely available in large cities. Smaller towns may not have any international ATMs that accept American cards. When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.

We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.


Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! Lodges normally have a box for tips that the staff share, and hotels you would just tip the maids as you do at home. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.

Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:

  • Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
    Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
  • Tour driver if different from guide: US $5.00 - $7.00 per person/day
  • Lodge staff: US $6.00 - $10.00 per day per guest
  • Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person
  • Hotel & international airport bellmen: US $1.00 per suitcase

You may wish to bring small gifts for local people that you meet and enjoy (this is totally optional!). T-shirts, school supplies like pens and small notebooks, inexpensive watches and baseball caps are always popular. Your guides can pass along school supplies to a local school if you bring them. They also love any nature books/coloring books.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be turn on your phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one). Renting an international phone may also be an option.

If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.

Wi-Fi is provided at Canopy Family facilities but is sometimes unreliable in remote locations. It is of slow capacity, so large files and sending or receiving them are discouraged. There is a computer available at all Canopy Family lodges for guest use.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.


Panama uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2-pronged flat type so US travelers will not need a converter or adapter. It is recommended you to pack a 3 to 2 prong adapter in case type B sockets are not available. Additional information can be found at


Panama is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone, which is one hour behind New York (Eastern Daylight Time). Panama does not observe Summertime (or Daylight Savings Time). Check before leaving home for you conversion.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!


Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.


As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.


Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage.  Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle.  It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Expect the weather in July to be wet and warm with highs in the upper 70s and 80s, lows in the 70s, and the possibility of rain every day. The humidity is often very high, so remember to drink plenty of water and in general just pace yourself not to get overheated. There is much variation in the weather patterns these days, so count on some rain as well as brilliant sunny days and you’ll be well prepared. You may want to bring one of those gel-filled bandanas that cool your neck–a great new invention. Do plan to protect yourself from the Equatorial sun.

Dress is very informal. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun, insects and vegetation. But if you like to wear them by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty and that is comfortable and easy to wear. A light jacket should be enough in the cooler evenings and on boat rides.

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended, and in some countries, not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
  • Lightweight long sleeve shirts
  • Shorts (optional)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (1 per day recommended – remember you may be buying some there)
  • Personal underclothing
  • Socks – lightweight, long enough to tuck your pants into, and easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Bandana, gel bandanas work well to keep cool
  • Comfortable walking shoes and lightweight hiking boots – (good tread and support is essential!)
  • Sandals for evenings, travel days (optional)
  • Lightweight raincoat, poncho, or small umbrella
  • Lightweight jacket, fleece fabric is ideal
  • Bathing suit (optional, hotel in Panama City)
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • Airline tickets or e-ticket confirmation
  • Passport, health card with current vaccinations, and a photocopy of your passport i.d. page to keep in a separate location
  • Money pouch, or someplace to carry your money and passport with you at all times
  • Small daypack/tote bag to carry gear while in vehicles
  • Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
  • Camera and extra batteries, film, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Phone – smartphones with good cameras are great for digiscoping
  • Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
  • Walking stick (optional, but recommended if you have one)
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock
  • Sunscreen/lip balm 30+ SPF
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect Repellent (something containing DEET, and sulphur powder or other for chiggers if you can find it)
  • Toiletry articles: shampoo and conditioner, dental supplies, razor, emery boards, hairbrush/comb, tweezers, hand lotion, feminine hygiene, deodorant, pain reliever
  • Chargers for cameras and/or phones
  • Three prong adapters, if needed (most outlets will have standard three prong outlets (same as in the USA & Canada)
  • Small power strip if you will be charging multiple devices (optional)
    Rechargeable power bank (optional)
  • Water bottle
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Spanish phrase dictionary (optional); Spanish dictionary phone apps are also helpful
  • Field guides (optional) or phone app field guide
  • Washcloth
  • Small bottle of antibacterial hand soap
  • Waterproof bags to keep things dry, preferably reusable
  • Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)


WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antacids, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
  • Insurance information
  • Vaccination records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Hand sanitizer


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Panama; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Panama; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Merlin App – Panama Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Panama.

The Birds of Panama: A Field Guide

Field Guides

A Guide to the Birds of Panama: with Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras

Field Book of Birds of the Panama Canal Zone: A Description of the Habits, Call Notes and Songs of the Birds of the Panama Canal Zone

Birds of Mexico and Central America

Birds of Central America

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico

A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico and Central America

The Butterflies of Central America is no longer in print, but the PDFs can be purchased from the Neotropical Butterflies website:

Collin’s Guide to Tropical Plants

Panama Adventure Map by National Geographic

Costa Rica: the Traveller’s Wildlife Guide

The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide

Natural History

Birds of Tropical America

The New Neotropical Companion

Life Above the Jungle Floor

Tropical Nature

The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rainforest Canopy

The Monkey's Bridge: Mysteries of Evolution in Central America

History & Culture

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914

Portrait of the Panama Canal: Celebrating Its History and Expansion

Chilies to Chocolate: Foods the Americas Gave the World

National Geographic Traveler: Panama


The Darien Gap: Travels in the Rainforest of Panama

The Tapir’s Morning Bath, Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rainforest

There is a good selection of books available for sale at visitors’ centers, and your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more


About Panama

Panama City, Panama

Canopy Family – Camp, Lodge & Tower

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Audubon of Panama

A Birding Field Guide to The Birds of Panama’s Rainforest –

“Jungle Eagle” – Episode (About the Harpy Eagle, Panama’s National Bird)

Species of Panama –

An Overview of Panama’s Rainforest

Endemics of Panama

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Darien National Park - A World Heritage Site

Soberanía National Park

Panama Rainforest Discovery Center

Audubon Society’s Work in Panama

Panama Wildlife Conservation

Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Project of Panama

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama

Association for the Conservation of Nature (ANCON) - a private non-profit

Birdlife International

Geology & Geography

“New Dating of Panama Formation Throws Cold Water on Ice Age Origin Ideas” - A Scientific American Article

“Geology and Paleontology of Canal Zone and Adjoining Parts of Panama” - A US Dept. of Interior Geological Survey

“The Isthmus of Panama: Out of the Deep Earth” – A Columbia Climate School Article

“Panama: Isthmus that Changed the World”

Geography of Panama

History & Culture

Brief Histories of Panama

History of the Panama Canal

A Cultural Overview

Indigenous Peoples

Panamanian Cuisine

Helpful Travel Websites

Tocumen International Airport (PTY)

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

National Passport Information Center

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Panama

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Panama

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Panama

Travel Health Pro (UK) - Panama

Electricity and Plugs - Panama

Date, Time, and Holidays - Panama

Photo credits: Banners: Black Howler Monkey by Peg Abbott; Yellow-throated Toucan by Greg Smith; Ocelot by Xavier Muñoz; Birding at Canopy Tower by Pat Lueders; Juvenile Harpy Eagle by Pat Lueders; Capped Heron by Peg Abbott; Geoffroy's Tamarin by Howard Topoff; Barred Antshrike, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Orange-collared Manakin by Bud Ferguson; Three-toes Sloth by Peg Abbott; Coati, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Boat-billed Herons by Tom Dove; Golden-hooded Tanager by Peg Abbott; Collared Aracari, James Adams; Broad-billed Motmot, Carla Bregman; Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Tom Dove; Night Monkeys, Carla Bregman; Yellow-throated Toucan, Greg Smith; Tayra, Mukesh Ramdass; Tamandua, Howard Topoff; Panama Canal, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Three-toed Sloth, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Snail Kite, Peg Abbott; View from Canopy Tower, Carol Simon; Black-breasted Puffbird, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Green Thorntail, Willy Alfaro; Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Feeders at Canopy Lodge, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Altos del Maria scenics, Robert Gallardo; Bicolored Antbird, James P. Smith; Black Vulture, Peg Abbott; Black-breasted Puffbird, Peg Abbott; Blue-gray Tanager, Peg Abbott; Fasciated Antshrike, Peg Abbott; Great Jacamar, James P. Smith; Green Kingfisher, Tom Dove.


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