Panama Journals

Panama's Rainforest: not just for the birds!

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An August 2003 trip to Panama by wanderluster

Yellow-billed toucan  Photo, Panama, Central America More Photos
Quote: Panama. Other than the Panama Canal and Noriega, I knew nothing about this safe, beautiful country until my friend Donna and I visited. In two weeks, we explored rainforests, wildlife, tropical beaches, coral reefs, Indian villages, and mountains in central Panama. This journal describes our wildlife encounters in the rainforest.

Panama's Rainforest: not just for the birds!

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Overview

Yellow-billed toucan  Photo, Panama, Central America
Quote:
Nature lovers flock here to see the birds. Panama is known for its birds, 960 species to be exact, and this narrow strip thrills birders more than any other region in the country. Located along the eastern bank of the Panama Canal, the tropical rainforest of Soberania National Park is home to 525 birds, 105 mammals, 55 amphibians and 79 reptile species. That's a lot of wildlife! In fact, one of the world's most famous biological reserves is on Barro Colorado Island in Gatun Lake, where Smithsonian researchers have been studying regional wildlife, flora and fauna. The island alone contains more tree species(480) than found in all of Europe. All this nature exists just a 30-minute driv...Read More

Gamboa Rainforest Resort

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Hotel

Gamboa Rainforest Resort Photo, Gamboa, Panama
Quote:
Gamboa Rainforest Resort is a sprawling complex situated within the Soberania National Park near the Panama Canal. The $28 million resort--just an half hour's drive north of Panama City--has all the expected comforts and more. The location is ideal. Surrounded by lush neotropical rainforest on the banks of the Charges River, it is possible to see monkeys, iguanas, birds and sloths as you walk from your villa to the main building for a spa treatment or dinner. Or watch ships transiting the Canal from the marble hotel lobby or your riverside table at Los Lagartos Restaurant. You can even paddle out to the Canal on a guided kayak trip or ride on tour boats ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 3, 2003

Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Boulevard Goethals
Gamboa, Colon, Panama 7338
(507) 314-5000

Canopy Tower

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Hotel

Canopy Tower Photo, Panama City, Panama
Quote:
It was still dark when alarming "Whoop, whoop, whoops" awoke us. Faint thunder echoed the loud calls of the howler monkeys. They had to be close! We threw on our clothes and ran up two flights of stairs to the rooftop viewing platform expecting to see their black furry forms swinging in the trees. But we were fooled by their hollers -- which carry a mile -- because none came. But toucans did. A chestnut mandibled toucan landed on a cercropia branch not far from me, his mate close behind. He grabbed a fruit off the tree, threw his head back and swallowed it whole. A keel-billed toucan flew in next. I stared at the strange zigzag on his rainbow-colored beak wondering if...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 3, 2003

Canopy Tower
Semaphore Hill Road
Panama City, Panama 0832-2701

Los Largatos Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Los Largatos"

Los Largatos Restaurant Photo, Panama, Central America
Quote:
This was my favorite restaurant at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, if for no other reason than the setting. Cantilevered over the Chagres River, a large deck offers outdoor seating with spectacular views of the Panama Canal. Fans of the movie Tailor of Panama may recognize the setting as one of the scenes shot with Pierce Bronson. But movie or not, it was a great place to eat lunch. We sat as close to the river that we could for uninterrupted views of the water and wildlife. A couple of young children amused us with their excited antics throwing bread over the wooden railing to crocodiles below. They squealed with delight when the crocs thrashed in the water to chomp their thrown roll...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 3, 2003

Los Largatos Restaurant
On the Chagres River at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Panama
(507) 314-9000

Canopy Tower Ecology and Nature Observatory

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Attraction | "Canopy Tower Nature Tour"

Canopy Tower Ecology and Nature Observatory Photo, Panama City, Panama
Quote:
Serious birders come here. And no wonder. Nearby Pipeline Road is world famous for bird sightings of over 500 species during one twenty-four hour period. My friend, Donna, and I had booked reservations at Canopy Tower a unique retreat amid treetops bursting with wildlife and birds. Arriving at noon, we were ushered up the stairs to the 4th floor communal room for lunch. Three guys joined our table. Traveling independently, they were here for a week recording sounds and bird sightings, and checking off their lifetime lists. They were serious about their birds. And assumed we were too. I like birds. I do. But am admittedly not a birder. I don''t k...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 3, 2003

Canopy Tower Ecology and Nature Observatory
Apartado 0832-2701 WTC
Panama City, Panama
011-507-264-5720

Monkey Island

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Attraction

Monkey Island Photo, Panama, Central America
Quote:
Our open boat careened across Gatun Lake past a large freight ship transiting the Panama Canal and weaved around bushy islands, pausing along the way to observe wildlife. Our Spanish-speaking driver pointed out sloths, caimans, and black howler monkeys which were a bit hard to see high in the trees. After a thirty minute boat ride we arrived at Monkey Island, a thick jungly island without a dock or clearings. We mistakenly thought we were going on a hike. Chalk it up to a language barrier. The hotel tour desk clerk shook his head at my sandals and–I thought–had gestured that we would be hiking. So I had worn my boots, and securely packed away my camera, two lens, tripod and video recorde...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 3, 2003

Monkey Island
Gatun Lake near Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Gamboa Aerial Tram

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Attraction | "Aerial Tram & Ecological Exhibits Tour"

Gamboa Aerial Tram Photo, Panama, Central America
Quote:
Gamboa's best selling aerial tram tour allows you to glide through the rainforest like a bird. A group of us were met by a jungle-decorated van at the hotel lobby. Donna and I were the only English-speaking guests, so we were assigned our own guide, Carlos, who accompanied us for the three hour tour. We settled into one of the eighteen gondolas (ample room for six), and moved through the shadowy forest to the upper level of the canopy. The tram felt secure and smooth the entire ride, which lasted 72 minutes round trip. As we ascended, Carlos identified trees species that we passed such as cashew, trumpet and balsa trees and pointed out differences among various palms. A few flowers we...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 3, 2003

Gamboa Aerial Tram
Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Panama