Fall in Central Panama: Nov 08—15, 2006

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Price: $2,345
Departs: Panama City
Tour Limit: 14
Download Itinerary: PDF (185.1 KB)

Tour Leaders

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Barry Zimmer

Barry Zimmer has been birding since the age of eight. His main areas of expertise lie in Nor...


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Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Crimson-crested Woodpeckers

Crimson-crested Woodpeckers — Photo: Brennan Mulrooney

Panama is without doubt one of the premier birding destinations in the Neotropics. It is famed for its rare combination of easy access to extensive, high-quality habitat, good food and water, comfortable accommodations, and high diversity of birds—all within a compact geographic area. While ideal for those new to the Neotropics, VENT's Panama tours also offer plenty of challenges and local specialties for those who have birded elsewhere in the region. Our focus will be on finding, identifying, and observing a wealth of wonderful tropical birds, including trogons, toucans, motmots, puffbirds, manakins, antbirds, and tanagers. We'll take time to sort out the look-alikes, learn a bit about the plant associations and habitats, and call up many of the more skulking species.

Panama has emerged as a rising star in ecotourism and as a world-class destination for birders. The area around the Canal Zone, in particular, has garnered much attention for the recent development of first-rate facilities from which to operate. One such place is the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Situated on the periphery of Chagres National Park, Gamboa offers an immaculate facility featuring excellent accommodations, good food, and a superior location from which to view the Chagres River. The grounds, additionally, are literally teeming with a big diversity of birds. It is here, where the forest meets the river, that a multitude of habitats interface, providing a marvelous setting for finding birds. Flycatchers, wrens, and tanagers are among the most obvious and abundant types we will encounter, but time in the field will surely yield so much more. The hotel grounds are an excellent place to find capybaras and Southern Lapwings while the surrounding forest edge may reveal a profusion of hawks, trogons, hummingbirds, honeycreepers, saltators, and orioles.

While the area around Gamboa provides great birding entertainment, a whole world of birding awaits in other nearby areas we will want to explore. The Canal Zone is home to several important wetlands where such gems as Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Wattled Jacana, American Pygmy-Kingfisher, Lesser Kiskadee, and Greater Ani can be found. Nearby Summit Gardens offers more open country and edge birding. The scope of this trip, however, enables you to experience a broad cross section of central Panama, and on at least two days we will venture further afield. Cerro Azul and Achiote are important destinations as both locations hold numerous species that simply do not occur around Gamboa. The highlands of Cerro Azul host a fascinating diversity of hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and woodcreepers for starters. Several species of glittery tanagers and dacnis highlight any morning spent here. A day-trip to Achiote Road in the Caribbean lowlands will see us in yet another part of this remarkable area where such specialties as White-headed Wren, Spot-crowned Barbet, Pied and Black-breasted puffbirds, and a variety of raptors, trogons, and woodpeckers are possible.