Panama's Canopy Tower & El Valle: Jan 05—17, 2014

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Departs: Panama City
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Erik Lindqvist
Download Itinerary: PDF (158.7 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Jeri Langham

Jeri M. Langham has a Ph.D. in plant ecology from Washington State University, and afte...

Local Leader

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Panama's Canopy Tower

Panama’s Canopy Tower— Photo: Canopy Tower

WATCH LIVE! Panama Fruit Feeder Cam at Canopy Lodge/Cornell Lab

Species-rich rainforest birding around the incredible Canopy Tower Ecolodge with access to famous Pipeline Road, new Discovery Center observation tower, and the wondrous Panama Canal; followed by the luxurious Canopy Lodge in El Valle de Antón with excellent accommodations and birds, and a chance to experience the four zip lines of the Canopy Adventure.

Our first base of operations will be the exciting Canopy Tower, a former United States radar station elegantly converted into one of the most unique and enjoyable ecotourist lodges anywhere. Perched above Soberania National Park, the tower offers great birding literally right outside your window, including the chance to view gems like Blue Cotinga and Green Shrike-Vireo, both of which can be quite difficult to see from ground level.

There are a number of terrific birding spots nearby, ranging from wetlands with Rufescent Tiger-Heron, White-throated Crake, and a profusion of orioles, tanagers, hummingbirds, and flycatchers, to Parque Metropolitano, an amazingly rich tract of forest on the edge of Panama City that hosts Lance-tailed Manakin, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, and even the unpredictable Pheasant Cuckoo.

World-famous Pipeline Road is also on our itinerary, of course. Here, one can find puffbirds (including the handsome Black-breasted, White-necked, and Pied), trogons, motmots, parrots, and many other flashy tropical species in abundance. This is also among the best places anywhere to locate an army ant swarm, with stunning looks at Bicolored, Spotted, and the spectacular Ocellated antbirds, among others. Finally, the rare and elusive Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo and Pheasant Cuckoo have been spotted on some of VENT’s tours to the Canopy Tower.

Central Panama can also produce an excellent list of tropical mammals with Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, Mantled Howler Monkey, White-faced Capuchin, Panama (Western) Night Monkey, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Lesser Capybara, Kinkajou, White-nosed Coati, and Northern Tamandua among the possibilities.

VIDEO: Panama Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge, by Dick Walton

The fabulous Canopy Lodge is situated approximately 60 miles west of Panama City in the picturesque El Valle de Antón. Nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano and surrounded by jagged ridges and hills, the lodge offers great birding and luxury accommodations. The forested peaks of Cerro Gaital National Monument loom over the valley and impart a deep sense of tranquility. The lodge grounds are teeming with birds. Feeders visible from the balcony of every room play host to a parade of colorful and exciting species such as Rufous Motmot; Red-crowned Woodpecker; Flame-rumped, Crimson-backed, Dusky-faced, Tawny-crested, Blue-gray, and Palm tanagers; Buff-throated Saltator; and Orange-billed and Black-striped sparrows, to name a few. The surrounding gardens have been specifically planted with Verbena to attract hummingbirds and—in addition to such regulars as Stripe-throated and Green hermits, and Snowy-bellied, Violet-headed, and Rufous-tailed hummingbirds—Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer and several uncommon and localized species such as Rufous-crested Coquette, Garden Emerald, and Green Thorntail are also possible. Other special birds around the lodge include Black-chested Jay, White Hawk, and Bay Wren. Forests adjacent to the lodge may yield Tody Motmot, Black-faced Antthrush, and Dull-mantled Antbird. Finally, we think the El Valle area is, arguably, one of the best places in the world to see Tody Motmot.

Good (Tower) and excellent (Lodge) accommodations and delicious food (both places); all nights at two locations, except for hotel on last night; easy to moderate (Tower) to some steep (Lodge) walking on roads and trails; some midday breaks; four long days; warm and humid climate.

View our Panama’s Canopy Tower and El Valle photo galleries:

Panama’s Canopy Tower 2001

Panama’s Canopy Tower 2006

El Valle’s Canopy Lodge 2006

Panama’s Canopy Tower 2008