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 Tower – Canopy Lodge – 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!  The roaring calls of Mantled Howler Monkeys are the perfect alarm call at Canopy Tower.  As ever, no wildlife sightings can be guaranteed, but there are many likely species – White-fronted Capuchin, White-nosed Coati and Nine-banded Armadillo are resident along the wooded slopes of Semaphore Hill. A night drive might reveal one or two species of Opossum and, if you are lucky, an arboreal Rothschild’s Porcupine – the most bizarre thing to see staring down at you from the branch of a tree.  A walk along Pipeline Road, most famous for its 400+ bird species, is also a great place for mammals.  As well as many already mentioned you may see Collared Peccary and Central American Agouti.  Three species of cats occur, Jaguarundi, Ocelot and, rarely, Jaguar but the chance of seeing them are slim.

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 Tower.  After settling in, visit the observation deck where you will most likely spot your first mammal, a Brown-throated three-toed Sloth, munching on Cecropia leaves!

Day 2: Canopy Tower, Semaphore Hill Road, Summit Botanical Garden and Ammo Dump Ponds

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Canopy Tower Observation Deck.
You will start early today, 6am, on the observation deck of Canopy Tower to scan the treetops.  Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Mantled Howler, Three-toed and Two-toed Sloths, Red-tailed Squirrel and a variety of colourful birds can often be seen feeding on the Cecropia trees.  Leave the observation deck to enjoy breakfast at about 7:30 am before a walk down the Semaphore Hill Road, continuing the search for tamarins, other monkeys and squirrels.  There is a chance of finding Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth and Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth and Northern Tamandua (anteater).  This paved road is a little over a mile long, passing through some of Soberanía National Park’s protected forest. As well as mammals you can see a variety of birds, interesting plants, wildflowers and butterflies.  The rare Silky Anteater and secretive Tayra have been seen occasionally.  An open-topped vehicle will meet you at the end of the walk for the drive back to CANOPY TOWER for lunch.

PM: Summit Botanical Garden and Ammo Dump Ponds.
After lunch and a siesta, head up to the Summit Botanical Garden where the main target will be to find a roosting colony of Common Tent-making Bats.  Other mammals are always a possibility, including Crab-eating Racoon. After a short visit to the gardens, drive about 5 miles north to Ammo Dump Ponds in the small town of Gamboa. It’s a great place to look for the world’s largest rodent, the Capybara, which can be found in or near the river.  In Gamboa’s forested neighbourhoods you can search for Red Squirrel and Central American Agouti, a large diurnal rainforest rodent.  If time permits you can stop for a while at the marina on Chagres River, the main source of water for the Panama Canal, and with a bit of luck you might find a Neotropical River Otter and Variegated Squirrel.  Dinner at the CANOPY TOWER.

Day 3: Semaphore Hill Road and Plantation Trail

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Pre-Dawn Drive Down Semaphore Hill and Pipeline Rd.
Nocturnal creatures are more active just before dawn and after dusk, so today you’ll need to wake early, take a cup of coffee or tea and slowly ride down Semaphore Hill Road at 5:30 am in an open, modified vehicle, to look for some of Panama’s most interesting nocturnal creatures.  Sightings of 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 both species of Sloth as well as bats and nocturnal birds such as owls and potoos are possible.  Breakfast will then be at 6:30 am before a visit to the world famous Pipeline Road.  This 17-km gravel road with eleven creeks is most famous for its 400+ bird species and is also a great place for 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 cat, namely Jaguarundi, Ocelot and, although rarely, Jaguar.  You will head back to CANOPY TOWER for lunch at 12:30pm.

PM: Plantation Trail
At about 3:00 pm, you’ll drive down Semaphore Hill to the entrance of Plantation Road.  It is a good, easy graded dirt road, passing through a mature forest for about four miles following a small creek, the Chico Masambi River.  This trail, once a black-topped road, has some incredible forest with gigantic Wild Cashew, Ceibas and Cuipo Trees reaching heights of more than 100 feet.  During this walk there is the chance to find more Mantled Howlers, Geoffroy’s Tamarins and White-faced Capuchins with the probability of encountering a Northern Tamandua.  Return to the Tower to enjoy the sunset and wait until nightfall to see the Great False Vampire Bat, the largest bat in the New World, foraging around the Tower. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 4: Barro Colorado Island (BCI)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Barro Colorado Island (BCI): ALL DAY or you may prefer another day exploring Pipeline Road, Plantation Road or the area around the Rainforest Discovery Centre
After a 6:00 am breakfast, drive to the town of Gamboa about 7 miles from Canopy Tower to board a boat that will ferry us to Barro Colorado Island (BCI).  The island is 1,500-hectares and together with five adjacent peninsulas it forms a very biodiverse 5400-hectare Natural Monument.  Located in the middle of the Panama Canal it is home to more than 200 Researchers from all around the world.  It has been administrated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1923 and is considered the most studied area in the Neotropics.  It houses a field station and modern labs open to researchers and tourists (with a reservation).  A good trail system is available where it is possible to see a few species of mammal including semi-tame Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Tayra, Central American Agouti, Northern Tamandua, Mantled Howler, both species of Sloth, Geoffroy’s Tamarin and White-nosed Coati. However, this is sometimes a noise and over-visited area and some may prefer to spend their time elsewhere.  If you choose to visit Barro Colorado Island you would depart around 3:00 pm to be back at Canopy Tower by 4:00 pm where you can relax before a delightful BBQ at 6:30 pm.  Taking an early dinner allows time for another ride down Semaphore Hill in search of any nocturnal animals you may have missed yesterday morning.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 5: Gatun Lake & Rainforest Discovery Centre

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Boat Trip in the Gatun Lake
This morning after breakfast board a 20 ft. boat with a 75 hp outboard motor for a spectacular tour of the Panama Canal.  Most of the Canal is actually an artificial lake, Lake Gatun, and this trip will depart from Gamboa, just 15 minutes from Canopy Tower.  You will visit hidden bays and beautiful inlets with fascinating fauna and flora and stop at one of the islands that was used by the now defunct Primate Research Center; look for Spider Monkey, Mantled Howler and White-faced Capuchin which remained on the island after the centre closed.  There is a chance of seeing some interesting reptiles including American Crocodile (some reach 14 or more feet in length) and its smaller relative, Spectacled Caiman, Basilisk Lizard (Jesus Christ Lizard) and Black River Turtle.  A little scarcer, but not impossible, is the Neotropical River Otter and, if you are really lucky, Manatee which were introduced to the Panama Canal in the 1960s to control the growth of water weeds, and they have now adjusted very well to this habitat.  There is a roost of Tiny Proboscis Bats here which you will most probably see.   You are scheduled to be back at Canopy Tower by noon for lunch.

PM: Panama Rain Forest Discovery Center
This afternoon there will be a longer break after lunch for you to relax and enjoy your surroundings.  You will leave for the Discovery Center at about 4 pm taking a picnic dinner so you can stay out until nightfall to look for nocturnal creatures as you work your way back to Canopy Tower.  The Panama Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline Road is an ecotourism and environmental education facility located in the tropical forests surrounding the Panama Canal, adjacent to Soberania National Park.  It was created and is administrated by Fundacion Avifauna Eugene Eisenmann.  70% of the materials used in the construction of the facility were recycled from old Canal Zone houses.  Only 200 yards from the main building there is an observation tower reaching a height of 100 feet from the forest floor.  From this vantage point you can scan the tree tops for mammals and birds.  The habitats around road leading to the centre are frequented by Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Collared Peccaries, Grey Fox, Paca, Western Night Monkey, White-tailed Deer, Silky Anteater and Capybara; but many of these species are very difficult to see.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 6: Metropolitan Natural Park & Miraflores Lock

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Metropolitan Natural Park
After breakfast head to Metropolitan Natural Park, located right next to Panama City and only 25 minutes from Canopy Tower.  The forests here are much drier than those around Pipeline or Plantation Roads.  Wonderful views at the summit of a hill will give you an incredible perspective of Panama City, the scenic bay and some of the closer islands.  Common residents are Geoffroy´s Tamarin and Variegated and Red-tailed Squirrels.  Northern Tamandua is a possibility and it’s a great place for bird migration (September through October).  In April it is possible to see thousands of Mississippi Kites and other raptor species.

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.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 7: Fort San Lorenzo, Caribbean Coast

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Fort San Lorenzo, Caribbean Coast ALL DAY
Today after an early breakfast drive to the Caribbean side of Panama, only 1 ½ hours from Panama City, over a newly constructed four-lane highway.  Today’s plan is to look for mammals at San Lorenzo Forest Preserve and enjoy a picnic-style lunch.  The area, also known as Fort Sherman, was the site of the US Army Jungle Training School and has an abundance of Mantled Howlers, White-faced Capuchins and Sloths.  Other elusive mammals, such as Jaguarundi and Western Night Monkey are occasionally seen and sometimes visitors are surprised by a herd of Collared Peccaries or a White-tailed Deer crossing the road.  There is the added benefit of a 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 by the Spanish in 1821.  To reach this area you must cross the Panama Canal, giving unique views of the locks below.  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Night at Canopy Tower

Day 8: Canopy Tower - Canopy Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

AM: Canopy Tower / PM: Transfer to Canopy Lodge
This morning, after a relaxed breakfast and a final watch from the Observation Deck, you will transfer to Canopy Lodge at El Valle de Anton, in the foothills of Central Panama, about 2 hours west of Canopy Tower.  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!   At an altitude of about 700 meters temperatures are very pleasant here.
After lunch have a siesta or watch the bird feeders, also frequented by Central American Agouti and Red-tailed Squirrels, before taking a walk along trails near the Lodge and visiting the 120 ft high waterfall.  Canopy Lodge is a great place to catch up with some of the mammals you may have missed at the Tower and to add some other 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.

Night at Canopy Lodge

Day 9: El Valle area

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

El Valle’s foothills mammals
Waking to the morning bird chorus, have breakfast then seek out any animal still missing from your list by visiting two sites.  The first is Cerro Gaital within the protected area of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument, about 5 miles from the Lodge.  From the top of this mountain you can appreciate the extent of the caldera and, on a clear day, see the Pacific Ocean beyond the crater’s rim.  Lunch will be at Canopy Lodge and afterwards you’ll visit La Zamia Trail at the base of the Cerro Gaital Natural Monument.  It’s an easy, level trail where the rare Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo has occasionally been seen.  We will also visit the El Valle Amphibian Rescue Centre which is an effort by Houston Zoo and local conservationists to quarantine and treat ailing frogs; there is also a captive breeding project for the most endangered species.  The central exhibit showcases the Golden Frog, a cultural icon and a national symbol for wildlife conservation in Panama.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Night at Canopy Lodge

Day 10: Canopy Lodge - Panama City

After breakfast depart for the International Airport, taking with you a wealth of memories of all the wildlife you have seen and photographed!

Tour ends

Tour extensions available so please contact us for details.

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

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 wine served with dinner which is included) from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8.
Services of an experienced bird guide for two outings 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
Extra excursions (available for supplement)
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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