Bird-Watching in Panama City

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Bird-Watching

Panama City has world-class bird-watching as close as the Parque Natural Metropolitano, which is home to more than 200 avian species and is 20 minutes from most hotels. There are several spots in nearby Parque Nacional Soberanía, which has more than 400 bird species, within 40 minutes of downtown, including Pipeline Road, where the Panama Audubon Society has held several world-record Christmas bird counts. Unless you're an expert, you're best off going with an experienced birding guide. Several local tour companies can set you up with a private guide or can book you onto an existing trip, which is less expensive. You may need to call several companies to find a trip for your dates, though.

Advantage Panama. This small nature tourism company offers early-morning tours of Parque Natural Metropolitano and day trips to Parque Nacional Soberanía. The company can also arrange custom trips to other protected areas. Llanos de Curundú No. 2006, Curundú, Panama City. 507/6676–2466. www.advantagepanama.com.

Ancon Expeditions. This company has excellent guides and offers day tours to protected areas near the capital, including exploration of the forest canopy of Parque Natural Metropolitano using a modified construction crane, bird watching in Parque Nacional Soberanía, and a popular boat trip on Gatún Lake that is great for families. Calle Elvira Mendez, Edificio El Dorado No. 3, Area Bancária, Panama City. 507/269–9415. www.anconexpeditions.com.

Eco Circuitos Panama. Since 1999, this ecotourism company has been offering birding tours to Parque Nacional Soberanía, near the city, and the San Lorenzo area, on the Caribbean coast, and spots in between. Albrook Plaza, No. 31, Urbanización Albrook, Albrook, Panama City. 507/315–1305. www.ecocircuitos.com.

Panama Audubon Society. The society runs one or two inexpensive bird walks, or overnight excursions per month. They require a bit of self-sufficiency, but can be a great way to meet local birders. Casa #2006-B, Altos de Curundú, Panama City. 507/232–5977. www.panamaaudubon.org.

Panoramic Panama. This small company offers birding tours to areas in nearby Soberanía National Park, and can set up customized trips. Quarry Heights, Casa #35, Cerro Ancón, Panama City. 507/314–1417. www.panoramicpanama.com.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). This research institute offers full-day trips to Barro Colorado Island that combine bird-watching with general information on tropical ecology. Tours should be booked a couple weeks ahead of time, either through the STRI office, or one of the other tour operators, which charge more, but will pick you up at your hotel. Tupper Center, Av. Roosevelt, Cerro Ancón, Panama City. 507/228–8000. www.stri.org.

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