Wildlife watching tours - bird watching holidays -
culture tours for independent travellers and groups
Rothschild's Porcupine in the trees © M O'Dell
Geoffroy's Tamarin © N WatsonSlaty-tailed Trogon © M O'DellBrown-throated three-toed Sloth © D TiplingMantled Howler © D TiplingCanopy Tower, Soberania National Park © Canopy FamilyRothschild's Porcupine © M O'Dell

Tamarin Tour with mammals focus (10 days) P124

Tour ref. no. P124
Duration: 9 nights (10 days taking into account flights which are payable directly)
Panama City – Canopy Lodge – Canopy Tower – Panama City
  • What mammal will you see first – Geoffroy’s Tamarin or Mantled Howler?
  • Search for Night Monkey along Pipeline Road with your skilled guide – Tayra is also possible
  • Brown-throated Three-toed and Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloths usually seen
  • Neotropical Otters can be seen along the Chagres River and Lake Gatun
  • Dawn and dusk drives may produce Rothschild’s Porcupine and other nocturnal species

Introduction

Appreciate the diverse tropical rainforests of Panama and its varied wildlife – you may be in for one or two surprises!

Neotropical mammals are a fascinating faunal group, with many unique members, including sloths, manatees, Neotropical monkeys, armadillos and more, that cannot be found on any other continent on earth.  There are parts of the world, such as Africa, where we are dazzled by the abundance of large mammals like elephants, giraffes and lions, out in the open and easy to see.  Mammal watching in Latin America, however, can be a little more challenging, but no less fun!  The majority of the mammals here are small to medium-sized, and many are predominantly nocturnal.  This tour is tailored to finding the unique and interesting mammals of the Neotropics.  We will strive to find diurnal mammals like monkeys, agoutis, coatis    and tamanduas during the day; at night, we will venture out with our spotlight to search for nocturnal mammals, such as Kinkajous and various opossums and bats.  The forests of Central Panama are full of mammals, and although it may take a little searching, finding Neotropical mammals is memorable and rewarding!  While looking for mammals, we will also take advantage of the forests around us to find birds, frogs, reptiles and insects – there will never be a dull moment!

Itinerary and price

Please note this 10 day tour can easily be extended to include extra nights at the start or end at Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge, Canopy Camp or some relaxation time on the coast.

Day 1: Flight to be organised by you

For help with your flight arrangements and to receive a no obligation quote, you can complete the enquiry form on our website or call 0800 280 8947 to speak to a flight advisor at StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, a leading retailer of airfares and worldwide flights.

Meals: Dinner

If you board a flight from the UK very early morning you may well arrive by the evening into Panama City.

You will be met at Panama City Tocumen International Airport and transferred to Canopy Lodge.

El Valle is located in the crater of a gigantic volcano that erupted 3.5 million years ago.  It’s 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.  Both Canopy Lodge and the town where it is located are just delightful.  When you arrive at the Lodge it may take some time to reach your room as you could be mesmerized by the many colourful tanagers at the feeders which are also frequented by Central American Agouti and Red-tailed Squirrels.   At an altitude of about 700 meters temperatures are very pleasant here.

Canopy Lodge is a great place to see some of the mammals you may also catch up at the Tower and to add some foothill specialties.  Sometimes seen here are Grey, Four-eyed, Virginia and Water Opossum, Western Pygmy Squirrel, Rothschild´s Porcupine, Orange Nectar Bat (they come to the hummingbird feeders at night), Western Night Monkey, Tayra, Neotropical River Otter, Striped Hog-nosed Skunk, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Greater Grison, Collared Peccary and White-tailed Deer.

After settling in, you may wish to take a look (unaccompanied) along the stream by the lodge where occasionally Water  Opossum has been seen.

Night at Canopy Lodge

Day 2: Canopy Lodge area

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: La Mesa & Finca Candelario (15 minutes from Canopy Lodge)

After being awakened by the morning chorus of birds and having breakfast, we will go out in search of mammals.  We will visit two places, the first one is La Mesa, the flatlands up along the rim of the crater, within the protected area of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. We will also visit Finca Candelario, a private and well-maintained property with tranquil trails and a pleasing open area to explore. Both these areas are great places to look for Western Pygmy Squirrel, Greater Grison, Rufous Tree Rat, Rothschild’s Porcupine, Tayra and Jaguarundi. Lunch at CANOPY LODGE.

PM: Cara Iguana (10 minutes from Canopy Lodge)

After lunch and a siesta (or time for you to explore the grounds on your own), we head to Cara Iguana, a quiet road on the outskirts of El Valle, this area boasts quality dry forest at the roadsides. Here we hope to see any mammals we have not yet encountered, perhaps White-tailed Deer or Jaguarundi, along with the likelihood of Two-toed and Three-toed sloths and Central American Agouti. We will also check for roosting Spectacled Owls on a private property. Lance-tailed Manakin, Tody Motmot and White-winged Becard are possibilities here! Our last afternoon at Canopy Lodge is sure to be an enjoyable one. Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

The Canopy Lodge is a great place to see some of the mammals you may also observe during your stay at the Tower and to get some other foothill specialties. After dinner it may be possible to take a leisurely night walk around the lodge grounds with your guide, but it is also fine to do this on your own if you explain in advance to the Lodge staff.  Some of the nocturnal mammals often seen in this area are Gray Four-eyed, Common and Water opossums, Rothschild’s Porcupine, Western Night Monkeys, Ocelot and Orange Nectar Bats—they come to the hummingbird feeders at night!

Day 3: Canopy Lodge - Canopy Tower

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Canopy Lodge / PM: Transfer to Canopy Tower

Hopefully this morning there should be time to walk some of the trails near the Lodge which may include Chorro El Macho at the Canopy Adventure, a 36-metre high waterfall.

After a relaxed breakfast and a final explore locally you will transfer to Canopy Tower, about 2 hours east of Canopy Lodge.  A visit to the observation deck is a good place to look for Brown-throated three-toed Sloth, munching on Cecropia leaves!

Your guide will use the remaining time today wisely to visit the best locations for mammals local to the Tower.  DINNER WILL BE AT CANOPY TOWER.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 4: Canopy Tower, Semaphore Hill Road, Summit Botanical Garden, Ammo Dump Ponds and Gamboa Marina

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Canopy Tower Observation Deck and Semaphore Hill Road
We will start our day at sunrise on the observation deck at Canopy Tower. The observation deck offers a great opportunity to scan the treetops, where we can often see Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Mantled Howlers, Two- and Three-toed sloths, Red-tailed Squirrel and a variety of colorful birds that come to feed on the Cecropia trees. Keel-billed Toucans, a colorful variety of tanagers, majestic raptors and even Blue Cotingas can be seen from the observation deck. Breakfast will follow. After breakfast, we will start walking down Semaphore Hill Road through the lush lowland rainforest of Soberania National Park to continue our search for mammals and other creatures. 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 and White-nosed Coati. This paved road is a little more than a mile long, and passes through some of the most beautiful forest around! Here we will get a chance to see mammals as well as birds and interesting plants, wildflowers and butterflies. The rare Silky Anteater, as well as the secretive Tayra, have been spotted occasionally along this road. We also have a great chance for understory birds including Slaty-tailed and Gartered trogons, Rufous and Broad-billed motmots, and several species of antbirds. At the end of this walk, we will get picked up by one of our open-air vehicles and driven up to the CANOPY TOWER for lunch.

PM: Ammo Dump Ponds and Gamboa Marina
After lunch and a “siesta,” we will drive north to Ammo Dump Pond, located in the small town of Gamboa. This is a great place to look for the world’s second largest rodent, the Lesser Capybara, which can be found in or near the Chagres river. Also, in Gamboa’s forested neighborhoods, we hunt for Red Squirrels and Central American Agouti, a large diurnal rainforest rodent. Depending on time, we 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, we can find a Neotropical River Otter and Variegated Squirrels. Water birds including Wattled Jacana, Striated Heron and the beautiful Snail Kite can be seen hunting here. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

After dinner we board the Canopy Tower’s open back Rainfomobile for a night drive down Semaphore Hill Road.  Many Neotropical mammals are nocturnal, and night drives are the best way to find them!  We hope this evening to find Panamanian Night Monkey, Paca, Central American Woolly Opossum and if lucky, a Rothschild’s Porcupine!

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 5: Semaphore Hill Road and Plantation Trail

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Pipeline Road (25 minutes from Canopy Tower)

This morning after an early breakfast, we will board the Canopy Tower’s Birdmobile and spend the morning at the world famous Pipeline Road. Hundreds of species of birds, mammals and countless insects and plants have been recorded here. This 17-km gravel road with eleven creeks has much to be explored, and is a great place for mammals, including White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler, Central American Agouti, White-nosed Coati, Tayra and Collared Peccary. We will keep an eye on the openings of tree cavities for Rufous Tree Rat. There have also been sightings of three species of cats, namely Jaguarundi, Ocelot and even, rarely, the Jaguar. Over 500 species of birds have been recorded here, so there are good chances we will enjoy quality sightings of Crimson-crested Woodpecker, White-tailed Trogon, Spotted Antbird and if lucky, Tiny Hawk! We head back to the CANOPY TOWER for lunch.

PM: Summit Gardens & Old Gamboa Road (10 minutes from Canopy Tower)

After lunch, we head up to the Summit Botanical Garden, just 10 minutes from the tower. Our main target here will be to find a roosting colony of Common Tent-making Bats under the large palm leaves at the entrance to the park. Other mammals are always a possibility. Great Black Hawk, Crane Hawk, Giant Cowbird, Yellow-backed Oriole and Masked Tityra also may be seen! After a short visit to the gardens, we will cross the road to explore the area of Old Gamboa Road and the adjacent Summit Ponds. This site boasts the nearest access to Pacific Dry Forest from the Canopy Tower. The ponds are a great place to look for some secretive herons, namely Boat-billed and Capped herons, and the diminutive American Pygmy Kingfisher, along with Spectacled Caiman and Common Basilisk or “Jesus Christ Lizard”. Carrying on down Old Gamboa Road south, we hope to encounter Tayra, Red-tailed Squirrel, more Two-toed and Three-toed sloths, Jaguarundi, White-nosed Coati and other mammals we have yet to encounter. Back at the Canopy Tower, we will review our checklist and enjoy happy hour prior to dinner. During dinner, Little Mastiff Bats may be seen flying around the dining room as they head out for their evening hunt, and we will watch for the largest bat in the Americas, the False Vampire Bat, hunting around the Cecropia trees out the windows. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

This evening after dinner, we will head out on another night drive, targeting nocturnal mammals. Common Opossum, Northern Tamandua, Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth and Collared Peccary are some hopefuls on our night drives!

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 6: San Lorenzo National Park FULL DAY (1 1/2 hours from Canopy Tower)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today after an early breakfast, we will drive to the Caribbean side of Panama, only 1½ hours from Panama City, over a newly constructed four-lane highway. The purpose of this day’s tour will be to look for mammals at San Lorenzo Forest Preserve and to enjoy a picnic-style lunch. This area was the site of the US Army Jungle Training School, and is also known as Fort Sherman. San Lorenzo National Park is known for the abundance of Mantled Howlers, White-faced Capuchins and sloths. Some other elusive animals, such as Jaguarundi and Western Night Monkeys are often seen. Occasionally, visitors are surprised by a herd of Collared Peccaries crossing the road. Also, a White-tailed Deer may jump out of the woods and across the road. There is also the added benefit of visiting 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 by the Spanish in 1821. In the dark rooms of the fort, we may find Greater White-lined Bats and perhaps some other species inside.  In addition, to get to this area, we have to cross the Panama Canal, which gives us a unique view of the Gatun locks and new Agua Clara locks from below. We return to the Tower via the Panama Canal Railway, a scenic ride from Colon to Panama City. As the sun sets over Gatun Lake, we hope to see some herons and Snail Kites from the historic railway car (return on train optional).  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 7: Gatun Lake and Rainforest Discovery Centre

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Boat Trip in the Gatun Lake
This morning after breakfast we board a motorboat for a spectacular tour on the Panama Canal. Most of the Panama Canal is actually an artificial lake, Gatun Lake, and this tour will depart from Gamboa, just 15 minutes from the Canopy Tower. We start in the Chagres River, enjoying the abundance of water birds, and keep an eye out for Lesser Capybara. Then we pass under the historic one-way Gamboa bridge into the Panama Canal! Along the way we will pass huge cargo ships and ocean liners and will also visit hidden coves and beautiful inlets of Gatun Lake with fascinating fauna and flora. From the boat, we will explore the small islands throughout the lake to look for primates including Mantled Howlers, White-faced Capuchins and the tiny Geoffroy’s Tamarins. There is also a chance to see some interesting reptiles, including American Crocodile (some reach 14 or more feet in length) and its smaller relative, the Spectacled Caiman, Basilisk Lizards (Jesus Lizard) and Black River Turtle. A little scarcer, but not impossible, is the Neotropical River Otter and, if we are really lucky, a West Indian Manatee. This species was introduced to the Panama Canal in the 1960s to control the growth of water weeds, and they have adjusted very well to this habitat. We also hope to see the tiny Proboscis Bat; they roost along these quiet banks. We are sure to have a fantastic morning! Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.

PM: Panama Rain Forest Discovery Center

This afternoon after a little rest, we leave for the Discovery Center. The Panama Rainforest Discovery Center is an ecotourism and environmental education facility created and administrated by Fundación Avifauna Eugene Eisenmann on Pipeline Road. It is located in the tropical forests surrounding the Panama Canal, adjacent to Soberania National Park. Seventy percent of the materials used in the construction of this facility were recycled from old Canal Zone houses. We will climb their tower up to the top of the canopy, overlooking vast Soberania National Park. From this vantage, we scan the tree tops for mammals and raptors! Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Yellow-throated Toucan and White-necked Puffbird are commonly seen from the top of the tower The platform and its hummingbird feeders offers us an opportunity to see several species prior to dusk. Two-toed and Three-toed sloths, White-nosed Coati and Northern Tamandua may be found here! Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Tonight after dinner we will head out on our last night drive to continue our search for nocturnal mammals in hopes to find Ocelot, Collared Peccary, Paca, Western Night Monkey, Silky Anteater and Lesser Capybara.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 8: Metropolitan Natural Park, Punta Culebra and Miraflores Lock

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Metropolitan Natural Park and Punta Culebra (30 mins from Canopy Tower)
After breakfast, we head to Metropolitan Natural Park, located right next to Panama City, and only 30 minutes from the Canopy Tower. The forests of the Metro Park are much drier than those around the Tower. This park is also a great place for bird migration (September through October). There is a wonderful over-look at the summit of a hill, which will give us an incredible perspective of Panama City, the scenic bay and some of the closer islands. One of the most common residents are Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Variegated and Red-tailed Squirrels. Northern Tamandua, White-nosed Coati and Panamanian Night Monkey are also a possibility for us this morning. Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Black-throated Trogon, Green Shrike-Vireo and the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet can also be found here!

Later this morning we will head into Panama City to the Amador Causeway to visit Punta Culebra Nature Center, a public nature facility run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloths are abundant here, and our main target for this site is the Crab-eating Raccoon, a shy mammal that lives in the Pacific Dry Forest and mangroves. Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.

PM: Panama Canal Miraflores Locks Museum
After lunch on your last afternoon at Canopy tower, visit the eighth wonder of engineering history, the world famous Panama Canal.  There are four exhibition halls at this ultra-modern museum including historic artefacts used in construction of the Canal, interactive modules, video presentations, models of the Canal, and objects used in Canal operations.  Models of the plants, animals and fossils unearthed during construction are on display.  You could see huge cargo ships negotiating the tight-fitting locks.  At 5:00 pm head back to CANOPY TOWER for dinner.

Note: If you would prefer to explore down Semaphore Hill road on your own please just discuss this with your guide.  A visit to Miraflores Locks is well worth it, but some may wish to continue to explore locally to the Tower.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 9: Pipeline Road, Chargres River and Gamboa Wildlife Centre

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Pipeline Road (25 minutes from Canopy Tower)

This morning, we take a well-deserved trip back to Pipeline Road, an area so biodiverse that one morning is not enough!  Toiday we will walk a little further into the park, reaching wetter Caribbean slope forest and hope to see some different mammals and birds. Tayra, Collared Peccary and Jaguarundi occur, but they are difficult to see and we will look for signs as we head further up Pipeline Road. We will keep an eye out for Rufous Tree Rat and the rare Silky Anteater as well. Streak-chested Antpitta, Great Tinamou, Tiny Hawk and Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon are just some of the birds we hope to encounter this morning. After a full morning on Pipeline Road, we head back to the CANOPY TOWER for lunch

PM: Chagres River wrap up / Gamboa Wildlife Center visit (20 minutes from Canopy Tower)

For our last afternoon at the Canopy Tower, we can revisit the Chagres River around Gamboa or tailor our quest for Neotropical mammals in search of any that we have yet to see. Perhaps a Neotropical River Otter or Northern Tamandua are still waiting to be seen! We will also pay a visit to the Gamboa Wildlife Center, a newly-opened public facility owned and operated by the APPC, Panamerican Association for Conservation. Passionately run by a team of wildlife rehabilitators and educators, this center takes in injured and orphaned wildlife from across the country. Their ambassador animal is the sloth, and they receive dozens of orphaned and injured sloths every year, along with many other species. Their goal is to rehabilitate every animal that comes through their facility in hopes that it can be released back into the wild, and educate locals and visitors to Panama about conservation. This afternoon we will meet their staff, hear about the work they do and their conservation message, and meet the animals currently in their care. A visit to the Gamboa Wildlife Center is an enjoyable and meaningful experience! Donations are welcome to support their work. This evening, we will meet prior to dinner to review our growing checklist and enjoy dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 10: Canopy Tower - Panama City

After breakfast or later in the day, depending on your flight times, you’ll be transferred to the International Airport, taking with you a wealth of memories of all the wildlife you have seen and photographed!  Note: If your flight is an evening flight you may have to pay for an extra lunch.

On this last morning at the Canopy Tower, it will be possible to enjoy the observation deck at dawn followed by breakfast.  Hopefully you’ll be able to join in with a morning activity local to the Tower today or explore on your own down to the bottom of Semaphore Hill to Plantation Road to take a last look at  Mantled Howlers, Geoffroy’s Tamarins and White-faced Capuchins. There is also the probability of encountering a Northern Tamandua (Anteater) and occasionally, a spider monkey is seen!

Tour ends

Tour extensions available so please contact us for details.

Price per person:
Green Season (16 April – 15 Dec 2017) $2399
High Season (16 Dec 2016- 15 April 2017) $3540
Green Season (16 April – 15 Dec 2018) $2519

Supplement surcharge for stays from 20 Dec – 5 Jan inclusive – please enquire

No single room supplement, but single rooms at Canopy Tower have a shared bathroom

Price includes:
Pre-travel information
All land transport
Accommodation in single/twin/double room
All meals and non-alcoholic beverages, except complimentary wine served with dinner,  from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 10.
Services of an experienced bird guide for two half day or one full day outing each day (max. group size of 8)
Entrance fee to National Park
Taxes and internet service

Price excludes:
Fights and travel insurance
Alcoholic drinks (except for wine served with meals which is included)
Entrance fee to Miraflores Exhibition
Tips, laundry, phone calls and anything else not listed in the inclusions
Extra supplement if you wish to have a private bird guide of $150 per day

How to book

The booking of this itinerary is with Wild About Travel Limited and our booking terms and conditions apply. In order to protect your payments we operate a trust account in accordance with the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

Please contact Jo Thomas at Wild About Travel (jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk) / 01480-370593 to register your interest and request a booking form.

To confirm your booking please complete the booking form and send a 25% deposit by £ sterling cheque * payable to Wild About Travel Trust to the Wild About Travel Office, 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambs PE29 1YG. The balance payment would be due 40 - 60 days (to be confirmed at the time of booking) prior to your travel dates.

* Note: Where a price is given in another currency you can pay in £ sterling. We will use the Lloyds Bank exchange rate at the time of making the deposit payment and the balance payment to convert the figure to £. If you would prefer to make a payment by internet banking please let us know and we can supply you with the bank details.

Flights

We can advise on appropriate flights and timings that you may wish to book, but we do not organise or arrange flights on our customers’ behalf. You will need to make your own flight arrangements directly with a flight retailer or the airline concerned; we recommend StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of Flight Centre Travel Group. They can be contacted by completing the online enquiry form or you can call 0800 280 8947 to speak to one of their flight advisors.

For any help or advice please call or email Wild About Travel and we would be happy to assist.
Tel: +44 (0)1480 370593 Mobile: +44 (0)7817 574235
Email: jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk
Wild About Travel Limited is a company registered in England and Wales.
Reg. no. 5522066. Registered Office: 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 1YG, UK

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