Day 1: Arrival to Panama City (PTY) – You will be met at the airport and driven to the Radisson Summit Hotel (45 minutes). The hotel is located atop a hill in the Cruces Trail National Park (Canal Zone), contiguous with Soberania National Park. The hotel has; storage Room, free Wi-Fi, two on-site restaurants, full baths, hot water, laundry service, bar, two outdoor pools, hot breakfast buffet, nature trails and many birds around. Night: Radisson Summit
Day 2 : Pipeline Road – Our first day of birding will be at the famous Pipeline Road and the surrounding areas of the Soberania National Park. We will walk the Pipeline Road, getting our first taste of tropical lowland birds, keeping an eye out in particular for species like Streak-chested Antpitta, Great Jacamar, Black-tailed Trogon, Pheasant Cuckoo, a couple Manakin species, Blue Cotinga and many other forest birds. Some of the birds that are typically easy to photograph include: Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-breasted Puffbird and Broad-billed Motmot. We will admire a set of hummingbird feeders with lowland species such as: Black-throated Mango, White-necked Jacobin, Violet-bellied Hummingbirds, Long-billed Hermit and more. We will keep an eye out for antswarms which often attract Spotted and Ocellated Antbirds as well as, if very lucky, the elusive Rufous-vented Ground-cuckoo. As we depart we will visit the ammo dump ponds near Gamboa, to look for waterbirds such as Rufescent Tiger-Heron and White-throated Crake. In the afternoon, we will have an optional visit to the Panama Canal Miraflores Visitor Center and birding one of the many nearby areas. Night: Radisson Summit
Day 3: Metropolitan Nature Park - With a list of 267 species, the Metropolitan Nature Park is the largest tropical forest park within the limits of a Latin American city, this a good place to find birds of the drier Pacific forest of the Panama Canal. Some of the key birds include Yellow-green Tyrannulet (a scarce Panamanian endemic), Lance-tailed Manakin and the elusive Rosy-thrush Tanager along with commoner species like Black-bellied Wren, White-bellied Antbird and Red-crowned Ant-tanager. Common Potoos can sometimes be found on their roost as well. After lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll continue birding around some other locations of the Canal Zone. Night: Radisson Summit
Day 4: Old Gamboa Road & Plantation Road + PM Drive to El Valle – This morning we will explore the Old Gamboa Road, another hot spot of the Canal corridor, looking for Spectacled Owls, Lesson’s Motmots and mixed flocks. A scan of the Summit Ponds could produce Amazon, Green and Ringed Kingfishers as well as nesting Boat-billed Herons. We will then enjoy the more humid forest of nearby Plantation Road, where there are possibilities of finding army ant-swarms and many of the birds that attend, such as Spotted and Ocellated Antbird. Some other specialties of the Plantation Road include: Golden-crowned Spadebill, Olivaceous Flatbill, White-whiskered Puffbird and more. After lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll be driven 1 ½ hour west to El Valle in the foothills where we will do some late afternoon birding. Night: Anton Valley Hotel
Day 5: El Valle Foothills - This morning we will explore the Cerro Gaital and La Mesa area. This area is at higher elevation than the town itself; here we will look for wet forest species typical of the Western Foothills of Panama such as Tody Motmot, Spectacled Owl, Spot-crowned Barbet, Flame-rumped Tanager and more. There are a couple short trails that we might choose to explore and walking the lightly used road that runs up to Cerro Gaital can be very productive itself. If we are very fortunate we might encounter two scarce hummingbird species, the Snowcap and White-tipped Sicklebill. This area will also give us our first opportunity, though a healthy slice of fortune will be needed, at the spectacular Yellow-eared Toucanet. Night: Anton Valley Hotel
Day 6: El Valle Foothills & Drive to Panama City + Flight to David - Morning birding around El Valle, a picturesque town, located in the crater of an extinct volcano. The town has year-round spring weather thanks to its 700meter altitude. Some other birds regularly found here are; Silvery-throated Tanager, Collared (Orange-bellied) Trogon and Emerald (Blue-throated) Toucanet. Depending on the presence of antswarms in the area, we may have another shot at the elusive Rufous-vented Ground-cuckoo. After lunch an afternoon drive back to Panama City will see us to the airport for the short flight (45minutes) to David. Upon arrival we will be greeted by our excellent driver to be taken to the mountain town of Volcan, where we will stay 3 nights to find highland birds including many regional endemics. Night: Hotel Dos Rios
Day 7: Los Quetzales Trail & Volcán Baru National Park – One of the main goals of today will be to find Resplendent Quetzals. The birds can often be found eating wild avocados and we will spend some time enjoying them and hopefully getting photographic opportunities. The Quetzal was the most sacred symbol of the Aztecs and Mayas and the name “quetzal” is an ancient Indian term for tail feather and the bird itself represented liberty. We will also be on the lookout for typical highland species like Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Black-faced Solitaire, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Black-capped Flycatcher, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Ruddy Treerunner and more. We will spend the full day birding around the area of Cerro Punta looking for more highland birds and endemics. Night: Hotel Dos Rios
Day 8: La Amistad International Park - This park is a World Heritage site and part of the Talamanca Mountain Range, of volcanic origin, that congregates the highest concentration of endemic and threatened species in Panama, such as Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Yellow-thighed Finch, Collared Redstart, Flame-throated Warbler, Prong-billed Barbet, Spangle-cheeked Tanager and Wrenthrush (Zeledonia). In the afternoon we plan to visit Cielito Sur, a private reserve with a trail that winds through hillside forest, passing several streams, providing an opportunity to see some of these highland bird species. We will enjoy several sets of hummingbird feeders around the reserve where you can watch White-throated Mountain-Gem, Violet Sabrewing, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Scintillant Hummingbird, Volcano Hummingbird, Green-crowned Brilliant and more. Night: Hotel Dos Rios
Day 9: Volcán Lakes & Chiriquí Highlands + flight to Panama City - The lakes near Volcán are very good to find species not found on the higher slopes of Cerro Punta. Wetland species include: Masked Duck and Northern Jacanas. Interesting birds of woodland areas such as the migrant Golden-winged Warbler, Olivaceous Piculet, Spotted Wood-quail, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Fiery-billed Aracari and Costa Rican Brushfinch could be found. After lunch, we will make a targeted birding stop for Veraguan Mango (if we haven’t seen it previously) en route to David from where we take a late afternoon flight back to Panama City. Night: Riande Airport Hotel
Day 10: Cerro Azul + drive to Nusagandi – We will depart our hotel for nearby birding at the middle-lower elevations of Cerro Azul. Here we will look for specialties such as the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, White-ruffed Manakin and Yellow-eared Toucanet along with a good variety of stunning Tanagers including Emerald and Black-and-yellow Tanagers. A visit to some fruit and hummingbird feeders will provide us with plenty of eye-candy including Honeycreepers, more tanagers and if we are lucky, the range-restricted Violet-capped Hummingbird. In the afternoon we will transfer to the Nusagandi area where we will spend the remaining daylight birding the environs of our lodge where we may catch up with the scarce Sulphur-rumped Tanager. Night: Burbayar Lodge
Day 11: Nusagandi and Torti areas - We will spend the morning birding the Nusagandi area which might include some fairly steep trails as we search for several very special birds that are found here. The Nusagandi area is famous for being one of the only spots in the world for Speckled Antshrike and also boasts several other special birds such as Sapayoa and Black-crowned Antpitta that we will try to find. The supporting cast of more regular species is plenty impressive as well with Spot-crowned Barbet, Tawny-capped Euphonia and Dusky-faced Tanager often accompanying mixed-species flocks. As thermals build in the late morning we will keep an eye out for soaring raptors including Double-toothed Kite and King Vulture. After lunch we’ll continue east on the Pan American en route to Torti. In the afternoon we will spend time birding near the Torti River, to look for Pacific Antwren and Royal Flycatcher among others. Night: Torti (Hotel Portal Avicar)
Day 12: San Francisco Reserve to Meteti - Only 10 minutes from our hotel, this 500 hectares reserve holds many Eastern Panama and Darien specialties. We will be looking for Black-and White Hawk-Eagle, Bare-crowned Antbird, Barred Puffbird, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Great Jacamar and more. During lunch back at our hotel we will enjoy the regular visitors to hummingbird feeders such as White-vented Plumeleteer and Snowy-bellied Hummingbird. Afterwards, we will be driven deeper into the Darien to Meteti where we will have some time birding in the afternoon for species such as Spectacled Parrotlet (a recent colonizer from NW South America) and White-eared Conebill. Night: basic hotel in Meteti.
Day 13: Darien Lowlands – Harpy or Crested Eagle Day (depending on which species has an active nest in area). We will take a one-hour boat ride from Yaviza to find this majestic bird. We will do some birding as we make our way to/from the nest site, looking for more Darien specialties such as Dusky-backed Jacamar and Rufous-winged Antwren as well as Golden-headed Manakin, Great Antshrike, and more. In the afternoon, we will bird near the end of the Pan-American road looking for: Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Pied Water-tyrant, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Black-capped Donacobius etc. Night: basic Hotel in Meteti.
Day 14: Darien Lowlands – Today we'll explore several spots around Meteti and Yaviza in search of additional Darién specialties, such as Black Oropendolas, Bicolored Wren, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Red-rumped Woodpecker and any others we may not have caught up with yet. Some typical raptors of the area are Red-throated Caracaras and Laughing Falcons. The Darien area is perfect for those looking to find species from South American origins not found in the rest of Central America, including several of the species listed above, many of which are recent colonizers of Panama. Sadly, most of the colonizers have spread as a result of deforestation in the area. Macaws can sometimes be spotted (usually heard before seen!) flying over and we will keep our eyes and ears open for them. Night: Torti (Hotel Portal Avicar).
Day 15: Darien to Panama City – This morning we will clean up on any missing Darien lowland species as well as possibly make a stop in at a finca that regularly plays host to a Great Curassow. En route back to Panama City we will do some birding around the Bayano Lowlands to search for specialties like Rufous-winged Antwren, Black Antshrike, Orange Crowned Oriole, White-eared Conebill and Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher; along the edge of Bayano Lake we will scan for Pied Water-Tyrant and Cocoi Heron. By late afternoon we will be back in Panama City in time for evening International departures from Tocumen International Airport.