CANAL ZONE & CHIRIQUI PHOTO TOUR
|Duration:||13 days, 12 nights|
|* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.|
DAY 1 - PANAMA CITY
International flights arrive in afternoon or evening. Participants will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel, about 30-min from the airport. Night at Albrook Inn.
DAY 2 - METROPOLITAN PARK
All day walk trails through dry forest of Metropolitan National Park. Trails are wide and fairly easy but do entail some uphill walking. The park is the best place to find the secretive Rosy Thrush-Tanager and the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet. Also possible are Golden-fronted Greenlet and the quite solitary but striking Lance-tailed Manakin. Night at Albrook Inn.
DAY 3 - BAYANO LOWLANDS & MIRAFLORES LOCKS
Drive east 2 hours along Pan-American Highway to the Bayano lowlands in eastern Panama. The area is the western-most limit of several Darien specialties, including Barred Puffbird, Black Antshrike, White-eared Conebill, and Orange-crowned Oriole. Other interesting species around the reservoir include Cocoi Heron, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, and Pied Water-Tyrant. Lunch at a restaurant on the way back to Panama City. After lunch tour Miraflores Locks on Pacific side of Panama Canal. Night at Albrook Inn.
DAY 4 - OLD GAMBOA ROAD & SIERRA LLORONA
Morning visit Old Gamboa Road or other nearby trails in the southern-most part of Soberania National Park. Old Gamboa Road is closed to vehicular traffic and offers excellent bird photography in deciduous woodland. The forest is drier than that along Pipeline Road so the species mix is somewhat different. Open scrub along the access road is home to Ruddy-breasted Seedeater and Thick-billed Seed-Finch. Summit Ponds near the road entance are good for water birds and sometimes Spectacled Owl. After lunch, drive to Caribbean side of Canal Zone, arriving at Sierra Llorona by late afternoon. After check-in, photograph birds around the grounds and along forest trails and photograph hummingbirds at feeders as time permits. Possibilities around the lodge include Bat Falcon, Blue-headed Parrot, Red-lored Amazon, Short-tailed Nighthawk, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Slate-colored Seedeater, Yellow-faced Grassquit, and Giant Cowbird. Hummingbirds typically visiting feeders include Western Long-tailed Hermit, Little Hermit, Brown Violetear, Crowned Woodnymph, and Blue-chested Hummingbird. Night at Sierra Llorona Lodge.
DAY 5 - ACHIOTE ROAD
Early morning depart for nearby Achiote Road, a famed birding locale featuring several Caribbean slope specialties and a "must" for birders visiting the Canal Zone. Birds of special interest include Spot-crowned Barbet, Blue Cotinga, and Black-chested Jay. Many other birds are also present, including a nice variety of raptors such as Gray-headed Kite, Hook-billed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, White-tailed Kite, Double-toothed Kite, Plumbeous Kite, White Hawk, Great Black-Hawk, and Gray Hawk. After exploring the more open roadside scrub and fields along the road, walk the forested Trogon Trail into Fort Lorenzo National Park. In addition to widely distributed species present on the Pacific side of the Canal Zone, specialties include Pacific Antwren, Jet Antbird, Olivaceous Flatbill, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Bay Wren, Buff-breasted Wren, Dusky-faced Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Lemon-rumped Tanager, and Black-headed Saltator. Night at Sierra Llorona Lodge.
DAY 6 - PIPELINE ROAD & DISCOVERY CENTER
Morning photograph birds along Pipeline Road and at Discovery Center. Pipeline Road offers some of the best birding in Central America. This famed road traverses diverse habitats in Soberania National Park including primary rainforest, secondary forest, swamps, and rivers. Walking is easy and traffic is non-existent as only park service vehicles are allowed on the road. A variety of antbirds are likely including White-flanked Antwren, White-bellied Antbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Bicolored Antbird, and Spotted Antbird. It's possible to find male Blue-crowned Manakin and Red-capped Manakin displaying on leks. Many tanagers are present, some in mixed flocks like White-shouldered Tanager, Tawny-crested Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, and Red-throated Ant-Tanager while some such as Gray-headed Tanager follow army ant swarms along with antbirds. Other commonly seen forest birds are Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-tailed Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Gartered Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Black-breasted Puffbird, Great Jacamar, Keel-billed Toucan, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Forest Elaenia, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, and Golden-crowned Spadebill. An introduced Harpy Eagle can sometimes be photographed while perched over the road.
Discovery Center, located near Pipeline Road, has about a mile of trails through the forest, hummingbird feeders and a 40-meter observation tower. Many of the birds are similar to those expected along Pipeline Road, but the obervation tower offers a good vantage for soaring raptors and canopy birds difficult to see from the ground. New species likely at Discovery Center include Least Grebe, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Black-throated Mango, and White-vented Plumeleteer. Afternoon transfer to El Valle de Anton, arriving before dinner. Night at Park Eden Hotel.
DAY 7 - GAITAL NATIONAL PARK & EL VALLE DE ANTON
The foothills area around El Valle de Anton offers a new mix of species not present in the lowlands around the Canal Zone. The slopes of Cerro Gaital feature birds such as White-tipped Sicklebill, Plain Antvireo, Black-crowned Antpitta, Spotted Barbtail, White-ruffed Manakin, and Common Chlorospingus. Tanagers such as Tawny-crested Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager often appear in mixed flocks. An easy trail through secondary forest may feature Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, Tody Motmot, White-bellied Antbird, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, and Black-headed Saltator. Nights at Park Eden B&B.
DAY 8 - EL VALLE DE ANTON & MACANAS WETLANDS
Morning bird photography around the lodge and vicinity seeking additional photo opportunities. Then transfer to Santiago in central Panama with a stop at the Macanas Wetlands for bird photography there. Possibilities include Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Crested Bobwhite, Purple Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Aplomado Falcon, and Brown-throated Parakeet. Night at Hotel la Hacienda in Santiago.
DAY 9 - CHIRIQUI HIGHLANDS
Morning transfer to the Chiriqui Highlands of western Panama with stops at selected sites en route. Spend much of the day photographing birds at lowland and middle elevation sites hoping for specialties such as Veraguan Mango, Fiery-billed Aracari, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Speckled Tanager, White-naped Brush-Finch, and Elegant Euphonia. Night at Hotel Bambito in the town of Volcan.
DAY 10 - VOLCAN BARU & RESPINGO TRAIL
Morning photograph birds in Dacula Orchid Gardens and along a trail leading from there on the slopes of Volcan Baru. Afternoon photograph birds around the Respingo Ranger Station above the town of Guadalupe. Possibilities include Magenta-throated Woodstar, Volcano Hummingbird, White-throated Mountain-gem, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Mountain Elaenia, Black-faced Solitaire, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Mountain Thrush, Large-footed Finch, Sooty-faced Finch, and Sooty-capped Chlorospingus. Night at Hotel Bambito.
DAY 11 - LA AMISTAD NATIONAL PARK
All day photograph birds in La Amistad National Park. A number of trails provide access to this world heritage site. The beginning of the trail above Cerro Punta is uphill for about 1km before leveling out somewhat. It's generally easy but is about 2000m (6600 ft) elevation at the start and goes up a bit from there. The forest features numerous highland specialties and regional endemics. Of greatest interest is Resplendent Quetzal. Other specialties possible include Black Guan, Chiriqui Quail-Dove, Prong-billed Barbet, Red-headed Barbetb, Buffy Tuftedcheek, White-fronted Tyrannulet, Tufted Flycatcher, Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Black-faced Solitaire, Flame-throated Warbler, Collared Redstart, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Yellow-thighed Finch, and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch. Night at Hotel Bambito.
DAY 12 - VOLCAN LAKES & PANAMA CITY
Morning visit the Volcan Lakes area, a middle elevation site not far from the town of Volcan. Possibilities include Masked Duck, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, White-throated Spadebill, Silvery-throated Jay, and Chiriqui Yellowthroat. The rare and local Black-breasted Wood-Quail is also possible. Mid-day transfer to David for afternoon flight to Panama City. Night at Albrook Inn.
DAY 13 - END OF TOUR
After breakfast, transfer to international airport for flight home.