Mark Pretti Nature Tours, L.L.C.

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Panama: The Land Between the Seas

March 5 - 15, 2019

Panama has been blessed with three of the most important ingredients for high biodiversity location, location, and location.  In addition to being a physical and ecological link between North and South America, it is biogeographically rich with cool cloud forest, tropical deciduous forest, lowland rainforest, mangroves, beaches, and an abundance of rivers and streams, all of which contribute to a tremendous diversity of flora and fauna.

From the spoiled comfort of some of Panamas finest accommodations Gamboa Rainforest Resort and the Canopy Lodge well explore some of these habitats and their rich wildlife.  Well start with a visit to the surprisingly rich Metropolitan Nature Park followed by a visit to the Miraflores Locks where we'll visit the museum and watch the locks in action.  

We spend four nights at Gamboa which has good birds and wildlife on the grounds, including right off your balcony.  Variegated squirrels and orange-chinned parakeets are often seen at eye-level as they forage for Guacima seeds, and many tanagers, flycatchers, swifts, swallows, and others are common.  A patch of good forest on the property is good for golden-collared manakin, broad-billed motmot, song wren, golden-hooded tanager, and, though rare, maybe pygmy kingfisher.  From Gamboa we'll visit the nearby Panama Rainforest Discovery Center and it's 100-foot tall canopy tower where we'll look for blue cotinga, green shrike-vireo, keel-billed and chestnut-mandibled toucans, mealy parrot, blue dacnis, green shrike-vireo, purple-throated fruitcrow, black-chested pufbird, raptors such as crane hawk, semiplumbeous hawk, and gray-headed kite, and more.  Their hummingbird feeders attract white-necked jacobin, long-billed hermit, white-vented plumeleteer, violet-bellied hummingbird, and blue-chested hummingbird.  Along two of the most well known birding areas, Pipeline Rd. and Old Gamboa Road, we'll have chances to see antbirds (ocellated, bicolored, spotted, and jet), wrens (rufous-and-white, buff-breasted, black-bellied, and bay), lance-tailed manakin, cinnamon woodpecker, puffbirds (pied, white-necked, white-whiskered and black-breasted), and several trogons (slaty-tailed, black-throated, white-tailed, and gartered).  We'll also enjoy a boat trip along the Chagres River and the canal where we'll have another chance for pygmy kingfisher as well as snail kite, limpkin, purple gallinule, masked duck, and others.

At the Canopy Lodge in El Valle de Anton, the higher and cooler habitats are home to orange-bellied trogon, black-chested jay, dusky-faced, silver-throated, and tawny-crested tanagers, black guan, tawny-capped euphonia, rufous motmot, white-ruffed manakin, tody motmot, barred hawk, spot-crowned barbet, and emerald toucanet.  In addition to the diverse eye-candy at the lodge's incredible fruit feeders, we'll also have good chances to see spectacled, mottled, and tropical screech-owls on their day roosts.  Local hummers include band-tailed barbthroat, white-tipped sicklebill, bronze-tailed plumeleteer, snowy-bellied hummingbird, and stripe-throated hermit.

We'll also explore the general ecology of these areas as we learn about towering wild cashews and figs, many species of palms, colorful heliconias, many butterflies and other insects, and several mammals and reptiles.  On past trips we've encountered white-nosed coatis, four species of monkeys (mantled howler, white-throated capuchin, lemurine night monkey, and Geoffrey's tamarin), Central American agouti, capybara, three species of squirrel (variegated, red-tailed, and Central American dwarf), and both two and three-toed sloths.  Spectacled caiman, American crocodile, green iguana, common and striped basilisk lizards, geckos, and many anole lizards are also frequently seen.

We conclude our trip with a visit to the new Frank Gehry designed Biomuseo on the waterfront of Panama City.

Panama provides a rich, colorful, comfortable, and memorable introduction to the neotropics.


Led by naturalist and bird guide Mark Pretti, the cost will be about $3700 per person, double occupancy, from Panama City, and includes all lodging, meals, guides, entrance fees, and ground transportation.  Limited to 10. 

Detailed itinerary and references available upon request.

 Ocellated antbird and Hoffman's two-toed sloth by Misty Vaughn

Last updated: January 31, 2018.