Ultimate Panama


May 22 to June 8, 2018      

Note: A valid passport is required for this tour.  Passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond tour travel dates.

General Information:  Join CMBO Director David La Puma and excellent local guides on a Neotropical adventure across Panama, from the Canal Zone to the Chiriquí Highlands and finally the Caribbean Lowlands of Bocas del Toro. The ecological zones of Panama are full of breathtaking birds and wildlife, set on a backdrop of diverse landscapes and mingling with wonderful people from the indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé, to the multicultural mix of settlers that continues to grow even today. This tour will be a dive into tropical ecology, biodiversity, and the great conservation work being done throughout the region to maintain both culture and nature into the future.

We will begin our adventure at the Canopy Family, staying at the Canopy Tower near the Panama Canal. Set deep in the lowland pacific rainforest and rising four stories high, the Canopy Tower is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with a diverse array of wildlife.  We will take several day trips from here to famous Pipeline Road for A plethora of lowland specialties, including obligate ant birds (Bicolored,  Ocellated and Spotted Antbird) as well as Song Wren, Great Jacamar, Streak-chested Antpitta and several species of trogons.  Day trips will also include an excursion to some tropical dry forest for birds such as Lance-tailed Manakin, Rosy-thrush Tanager, Rufous-and-white Wren, White-bellied Antbird and Whooping Motmots. No trip to the Canopy Tower is complete without an excursion to Cerro Azul, where we will seek Violet-capped Hummingbird, Rufous-crested Coquette, and the endemic Striped-cheeked Woodpecker.
Leaving the canal zone behind us, we will fly from Panama City to the city of David, where we will transfer to the mountain town of Volcan, named for the nearby Baru volcano. We will bird Volcan in the evening and the following morning, before taking the adventurous trip up to Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Lodge, at 1,900 meters (6,300 feet) above sea level and in the buffer zone of the La Amistad International Park, the largest nature reserve in Central America. Here we will seek out high elevation species such as Wrenthrush and Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Resplendent Quetzals and Three-wattled Bellbirds, while being serenaded by Spotted Wood-quail and Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrush.  

After a few days hiking around the Totumas area, we will make our way back down the hill to Volcan and spend a day birding the transition zone at mid-elevations, for specialties like Costa Rican Brushfinch, Costa Rican Pygmy Owl, and others. We will make our way to the Caribbean slope in the late afternoon and spend a night in the Fortuna area. 

No morning on the Continental Divide is complete without a trip to Antenna Road, in Fortuna Forest Reserve, where we will search for specialties including Thicket and Scaled Antpitta, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Zeldon's Antbird, Blue-and-gold Tanager, and others.  We will make our way down to Punta Robalo (Snook Point) to Bastimentos Island, Bocas del Toro.  Day trips will also include a visit to the Chocolate Farm, a trip up the Changuinola Canal and Changuinola river mouth, and a visit to Bird Island which hosts breeding colonies of Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Booby and Red-billed Tropicbird. 

All of this coupled with five-star treatment, fantastic food, wonderful people, and sustainable practices, will make for a Panama experience you won't soon forget.



This tour has been given an activity level of Moderate. It is considered a more active tour with daily intermediate to long-distance walking, usually on flat, smooth terrain. Those with physical limitations should take these factors into consideration, or contact the tour leader for details.

PACE, WEATHER, AND TRAVEL CONDITIONS: Panama’s weather in May is normally very pleasant (60-80 degrees F) with clear skies, but of course it is possible to have rain so being prepared with both sun protection and rain gear will be necessary. 

TOUR SIZE: This tour is limited to 9 participants.

Additional information about the tour, with specific meeting times, a list of participants, addresses of motels, lists of things to bring, a reading list, a list of probable/possible birds, further information about weather, dress, etc., will be mailed to all participants well in advance of the tour.

DATES: Tuesday May 22, 2018 to Friday, June 8, 2018 

Cost for this tour is $5,299 per person based on double occupancy. Note there is no single occupancy available on this tour.  We are staying in some of the best lodges in Panama for wildlife encounters, some of which have very limited space.  All participants must be comfortable with a roommate for some if not all of the trip.   A deposit of $500 will hold your place until January 16, 2018 when full payment becomes due.

PRICE INCLUDES: Price includes guide fees, airport transfers, ground and air transportation throughout the tour, accommodations, all meals, entrance fees to private or protected areas, and all gratuities.

Price does not include airfare to/from Panama City, alcoholic beverages, phone calls, laundry, gratuities to guides/drivers, or items of a personal nature.

Download Tour Registration Form in PDF format
Download Tour Registration Form in fillable Word document


NJ Audubon Eco-Travel
c/o Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Phone: (609) 400-3852
Please make checks payable to New Jersey Audubon


by email to travel@njaudubon.org



David La Puma is the director of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May, New Jersey.  David began birding while attending Ithaca College where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies in 1997. In 1998 David traveled to Costa Rica with A. Carl Leopold, son of Aldo Leopold, and his wife Lynn, to work on a tropical forestry reforestation project. Those late-night conversations with Carl and Lynn on the back porch of the remote cabin they lived in provided the foundation for what would become David’s life-long pursuit of conservation-based research. In 2010 David received his Doctorate from Rutgers University where he studied the conservation and management of the Federally Endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow in Everglades National Park. Since then David has held two postdoctoral positions with New Jersey Audubon and the University of Delaware, respectively, during which he used weather radar to map stopover habitat used by nocturnally migrating songbirds across the US. During that time David spent two years as a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he fell in love with the Upper Midwest and especially enjoyed walking in the footsteps of John Muir and Aldo Leopold as well as the many current leaders in conservation and wildlife management. Prior to joining the Cape May Bird Observatory David worked for Leica Sport Optics where he traveled the country giving presentations and leading field trips for thousands of birders and nature enthusiasts. Of all the places David has visited, the sites hand-picked for this tour are some of his absolute favorites.

Local Leaders:  Local guides for this tour are the Panama All-Star team!  They include Carlos Bethancourt (Canopy Family), Jeff Dietrich and Ito Santamaria (Mount Totumas), Jim Kimnball, Natalia & Ramon Decastro (Tranquilo Bay).

For tour itineraries, to register, or for more information contact:

NJ Audubon Eco-Travel at: (609)-400-3852
c/o NJ Audubon Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
or email