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CANAL ZONE & CHIRIQUI PHOTO TOUR

Travel Information

PANAMA
PHOTO TOUR
ANY TIME*

Duration:13 days, 12 nights
Group Size:2-8
Anytime Price:$3625
Group Price:$3275
Single Suppl:$510
Est #Species:320-360
Pace:Easy/Moderate
Difficulty:Easy
* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.

The below information is provided to inform people of what to expect if they participate in this tour and to advise participants on how to prepare for the tour. We try to provide accurate information but conditions and travel requirements can change over time.

Entering Panama

Persons entering Panama require a valid passport with an expiration date more than 6 months after their planned departure from the country. Immigration officials may deny a person entry if their passport is not in good condition. US citizens do not require a visa to enter Panama. They must fill out a tourist card provided by the airline en route to the the country. Non-US citizens should check with the Panama embassy to find out about entry requirements.

Leaving Panama

A departure tax of $40 is assessed when leaving Panama. This tax is not included in the tour price but is sometimes included in the airline ticket price.

Time Zone

Panama is on Eastern Standard Time.

Immunizations & Health

Please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding health issues and immunization requirements when traveling in Panama. See your travel doctor for specific recommendations at least 4-6 weeks prior to departure. Malaria does not pose a risk in Panama, except possibly in remote areas of the Darien Province, due to extensive mosquito control efforts. There are venomous insects and spiders as well as poisonous plants. The best prevention is to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers instead of shorts, avoid touching vegetation with bare skin, and staying on established trails. Days can be hot and humid even in dry season, so sun block should be used and participants should drink lots of fluids. It's also advisable to wear a hat to help prevent over-heating.

Medical Facilities

Good medical care is available in major cities but not necessarily in smaller towns. Pharmacies are available in most towns as well as cities.

Insurance

We recommend purchasing trip cancellation insurance, which will reimburse you for any non-refundable payments you would otherwise lose if you must cancel your participation in the tour for some unforeseen reason. Trip cancellation insurance must normally be purchased within a short time after you register for the tour. Travel medical insurance is advisable, especially for those with chronic or known medical conditions.

Altitude

We're birding near sea level at most sites in the Canal Zone. Western Panama is at higher elevation, where some sites are near 9000 ft but most sites are at lower elevations.

Climate

Dry season is December-April on the Pacific side and January-March on the Caribbean side. Rainy season is the remaining months, though July tends averages less rain than other months. Rain is possible during dry season, and when it occurs it tends to be for short periods in the afternoon. Temperature varies more with altitude and time of day than with season. It can be quite hot and sunny in the Canal Zone during dry season, with temperatures reaching the low 90's. The sun is more overhead in the tropics, so it can beat down on a person and feel hotter than at temperate latitudes. Temperatures in western Panama are generally from low 60's to high 80's at middle elevation sites, hotter in the lowlands, and cooler at higher elevations. Many bird species begin breeding in January or February. July-December is non-breeding season for many species.

Pace

Birding tours are conducted at an easy to moderate pace. Photo tours are conducted at a slower pace than birding tours to allow ample time for photography. Birding and photography are best in early morning and late afternoon, so days begin shortly after first light around 6:00 am. Breakfasts may be earlier around 5:00-5:30 am or after morning birding ends around 9:30 am depending on locale. We often take a break during mid-day to rest, except on travel days when we are using that time to drive to the next destination instead. Because we awake early, participants typically retire to their rooms immediately after we complete dinner and checklists for the day.

The trails we walk in the Canal Zone are for the most part level, wide, and easy walking. Some "trails" are actually roads that have been closed to traffic. Some trails in the highlands of western Panama are steeper but only moderately strenuous. We walk these at a slow birding pace.

Accommodations

We stay in B&B's during most nights in the Canal Zone. Rooms are air-conditioned and comfortable. We eat lunches while out birding in area restaurants and we take taxis in the evening to restaurants not far from the accommodations. In western Panama we stay in comfortable eco-lodges or hotels with restaurants in the facilities. These are at sufficient altitude that air-conditioning is not needed. Electricity for re-charging batteries is always available. Further details can be found on the Accommodations link on the sidebar.

Food

Food in Panama is generally very good. While in the Canal Zone, we eat in restaurants where a variety of dishes are available. Meals are also excellent and varied in the lodges where we stay in western Panama.

Transportation

We travel by comfortable, air-conditioned coaster with ample room for participants and gear on our Panama tours. Bottled water will always be available. Bathroom stops will be made as soon as possible upon request during transfers.

Registration & Payment

Please refer to the REGISTRATION menu for registration procedure. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended as payments may be partially or wholly non-refundable. See the GENERAL -> Policies menu for our refund policy.

Additional Information

General information about the tour, including where to meet the group and contact information, will be sent by email or US mail prior to departure. Checklists will be provided at the beginning of the tour. Additional information about our policies can be found on the REGISTRATION menu above. Please feel free to call us at 206-650-3425 or email us with any questions you may have.

Information last updated February, 2015.