Panama: Ultimate Wildlife Adventure

Take a journey into pristine forests in search of the weird and the wonderful world of Panamanian wildlife...

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10 days from £1,950 pp sharing

Other dates available on request

  • Includes accommodation, activities, meals, and transfers
  • Deposit £475 pp. Single supplement £400 pp
  • Maximum group size 6 people
  • Excludes international flights

Download our 2013/14 Tours Guide for information on booking your flights and FAQs about our tours

The view from the observation deck at the Canopy Tower.

Our 10 day tour has been expertly tailored to showcase a region of Panama world famous for its bio-diversity, with a focus on the unusual creatures that inhabit the lush and untouched forests.

From the diminutive Geoffroy’s Tamarin to the boisterous Mantled Howler, the remarkable Three-toed Sloths to tongue-slurping Orange Nectar bats, our tour will give you a unique perspective on Panama’s manifold wildlife.

We will strive to find diurnal mammals such as monkeys, Agouti, Coati and Tamandua during the day, whilst at night we will venture out with our spotlights to search for nocturnal mammals, such as Kinkajou, Opossum and various species of Bat.  The forests are also full of other fascinating creatures, unique to this part of the world. Brightly coloured poison dart frogs, vibrantly coloured snakes, and weird and wonderful insects.

  • Go bird watching along the legendary Pipeline Road and Old Gamboa Road, the best bird watching areas in Mesoamerica and possibly the world.
  • Enjoy a guided walk in the lush forests in search of rare and unusual mammals, snakes, spiders, and amphibians. The night walks from your lodge are also a great way to spot nocturnal species.
  • Benefit from the specialist knowledge and enthusiasm of the resident bird and mammal experts and wildlife guides, as they lead you through dramatic landscapes.
  • Enjoy an early morning breakfast on the world famous observation deck at the Canopy Tower – canopy birding at its finest!
  • Spot Manatees, Neotropical River Otter, Mantled Howler, Spectacled Caiman, and Proboscis Bat on a boat journey on the Gatun Lake.
  • Take advantage of the observation deck around the Canopy Tower. Here you are a few feet from the canopy itself and virtually at eye-level with such avian treats as toucans, tanagers, honeycreepers and hawks, as well as two and three-toed sloths and Geoffroy’s tamarins.
  • Explore the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. The road leading to the center is well known for sightings of Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Collared Pecari, Gray Fox, Paca, Western Night Monkey, White-tailed Deer, Silky Anteater and Capybara.

Day 1
Today you will be welcomed at Tocumen International Airport and then transferred to the Canopy Tower. After settling in, you can visit the observation deck where you will most likely spot your first mammal.

Day 2
You start early today at 6am on the observation deck on the Canopy Tower. The deck offers the perfect vantage point from which to scan the treetops, where we can often see Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Mantled Howlers, Three-and Two-toed Sloths, Red-tailed Squirrel and a variety of colourful birds that come to feed on the Cecropia trees. After breakfast, you will start walking down the Semaphore Hill Rd, to continue your search for tamarins, monkeys, sloths, and squirrels. On this road there is a chance to find Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth and Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth, as well as a Northern Tamandua. The rare Silky Anteater, as well as the secretive Tayra, have been spotted occasionally along this road.

After lunch, you will head up to the Summit Botanical Garden. Your main target here will be to find a roosting colony of Common Tent-making Bats. After a short visit to the gardens, you will drive about 5 miles north to Ammo Dump Pond, located in the small town of Gamboa. This is an ideal place to look for the world’s largest rodent, the Capybara, which can be found in or near the river. Also, in Gamboa’s forested neighbourhoods, you will search for Red Squirrel and Central American Agouti, a large diurnal rainforest rodent. Depending on time, you will make a quick stop at the marina on the Chagres River, the main source of water for the Panama Canal. With a bit of luck, you might find a Neotropical River Otter and Variegated Squirrel.

Day 3
Today you will wake up early, enjoy a cup of coffee, and slowly drive down Semaphore Hill Rd to look for some of Panama’s most fascinating nocturnal creatures. Allen’s Olingo, Kinkajou, Western Night Monkey, Common and Central American Woolly Opossum, Nine-banded and Northern Naked-tailed Armadillo, the endemic Rothschild´s Porcupine and two species of Sloth are among the special creatures you may discover. At 6:30 am you will have a full breakfast to prepare for the visit to the world famous Pipeline Road. This 17-km gravel road with eleven creeks is most famous for its four hundred plus bird species, and is also an optimal location for spotting mammals, including White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler, Central American Agouti, White-nosed Coati, Tayra and Collared Peccary. There have also been sightings of three species of cats, namely Jaguarundi, Ocelot and rarely, the Jaguar.

Later in the day, you will drive down to Plantation Road. This trail, once a black topped road, has some awe-inspiring forest, which are home to gigantic Wild Cashew, Ceibas, and Cuipo Trees that reach heights of more than 100 feet. You may see Mantled Howlers, Geoffroy’s Tamarins and White-faced Capuchins in the tree line. There is also the likelihood of encountering a Northern Tamandua (Anteater). On your return to the tower, you will enjoy the sunset and wait until nightfall to see the Greater false vampire bat, the largest bat in the New World, foraging around the Tower.

Day 4
On your fourth day you will be driven to the town of Gamboa. From there, you will board a boat that will ferry you to Barro Colorado Island. This Island offers a great opportunity to see many mammals in a short period of time, including Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Tayra, Central American Agouti, Northern Tamandua, Mantled Howler, both species of Sloth, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, and White-nosed Coati.

Day 5
After breakfast you will board a 20 ft. boat for a spectacular tour on the Panama Canal. We will stop at one of the islands that was used by the now defunct Primate Research Centre to look for Spider Monkey, Mantled Howler, and White-faced Capuchin that remained on the island after the centre closed. There is also a chance to see some interesting reptiles, including American Crocodile, the Spectacled Caiman, Basilisk Lizard (Jesus Lizard) and Black River Turtle. A little scarcer, but not impossible to spot, is the Neotropical River Otter and, if you are really lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a Manatee.

In the afternoon there will be a longer break after lunch, and you will depart to the research centre at about 4 PM. Our plan for this evening is to bring a picnic dinner, so you can stay until nightfall to have another opportunity to look for nocturnal creatures as you work your way back to the Canopy Tower. Only 200 yards from the main Centre building, there is an observation tower reaching a height of 100 feet from the forest floor. From this vantage point, you will scan the tree tops for mammals and hawks! The road leading to the centre is well known for sightings of Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Collared Peccaries, Grey Fox, Paca, Western Night Monkey, White-tailed Deer, Silky Anteater and Capybara.

Day 6
After breakfast, you head to Metro Park, located right next to Panama City. The forests of the Metropolitan Natural Park are much drier than those around Pipeline or Plantation Road. This park is a perfect place to experience the bird migration (September through October).

Day 7
Today you will drive to the Caribbean side of Panama. The purpose of this day’s tour will be to look for mammals at San Lorenzo Forest Preserve. The park is known for its abundance of Mantled Howlers, White-faced Capuchins and Sloths. Some other elusive animals, such as Jaguarundi and Western Night Monkey are often seen. Occasionally, visitors are surprised by a herd of Collared Peccary or White-tailed deer darting across the path. Another of the day’s highlights is the visit to the old Spanish fortress of San Lorenzo, a World Heritage Site, built on a promontory at the entrance of the Chagres River. This fort was the last bastion of the Spanish Empire on mainland America and was abandoned in 1821. In addition, to get to this area, you have to cross the Panama Canal, which gives you a unique view of the locks from below.

Day 8
This morning we will be transferred to the Canopy Lodge, in El Valle de Anton. Situated in the foothills of Central Panama, about 2 hours west of the Canopy Tower. El Valle lies in the crater of a gigantic volcano that erupted 3.5 million years ago, and is the largest inhabited caldera in the world. The volcano has been dormant for many, many years, but there are mud baths and thermal pools in certain areas of the caldera.

After having lunch and looking at the bird feeders, or after taking our recommended siesta, you will take a walk on some of the trails near the Lodge. Some of the animals often seen in this area are Grey, Four-eyed, Virginia and Water Opossum, Pygmy Squirrel, Rothschild´s Porcupine, Orange Nectar Bat (They come to the hummingbird feeders at night!), Western Night Monkeys, Tayra, Neotropical River Otter, Striped Hog-nosed Skunk, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Greater Grison, Collared Peccary and White-tailed Deer.

Day 9
After being awakened by the morning chorus of birds, you will go out again in search of other animals. You will visit La Zamia Trail at the base of the Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. This is an easy, level trail in which the rare Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo has been seen occasionally. You will also visit the El Valle Amphibian Rescue Centre. This installation is a collaboration between the Houston Zoo and local conservationists, to quarantine and treat ailing frogs. They also undertake a project of captive breeding of the most endangered species. The central exhibit showcases the golden frog, a cultural icon and a national symbol for wildlife conservation in Panama.

Day 10
After breakfast you will depart to the International Airport, with enduring memories of the many species of mammals seen and photographed.

Just some of the wild Panama you may encounter:

  • Over 600 bird species!
  • Kinkajou
  • Olingo
  • Central American Agouti
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Paca
  • Geoffroy’s Tamarin
  • Howler Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin
  • Western Night Monkey
  • Rothschild’s Porcupine
  • Collared Peccary
  • Ocelot
  • Jaguarundi
  • Two-toed and Three-toed Sloth
  • Central American Woolly Opossum
  • Common Opossum
  • Northern Tamandua (Anteater)
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Crab-eating Raccoon
  • Lesser Capybara
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Eyelash Viper

Many of the photos you see on this site were taken by amateur photographers on our tours.

 

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Encounter the wild are privileged to work with and support CREA, an environmentally focused charity in Panama

We are privileged to work with and support CREA, an environmentally focused charity in Panama whose aim is to promote holistic conservation practices, and the balance of community prosperity with species conservation. Please read our tour brochure for more information on how your participation can make a difference.