With more bird species than the entire USA in a space the size of Louisiana, Panama is a bird photographers paradise.
Panama is where North America and South America meet and is one of the few places where you can see both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Panama is most famous for the Panama Canal, but the biodiversity is even more remarkable. There are 987 species of birds (7 Endemics) packed into a very compact and accessible location. Panama will provide a whole flock of new birds to satisfy your bird photography itch. On my first scouting trip, I managed to photograph over 100 bird species in 7 days. In addition to my help with your photography, we will also be traveling with a professional bird guide. Our guide will put us on the birds and of course help with bird IDs!
Panama Bird Photography Highlights
- 10 Nights and 11 Days
- Includes Local Transportation and Lodging
- Includes Breakfast and Some Meals
- Includes In Country Airfare
- Classroom and In Field Instruction
- Attendees: Minimum of 4 and Maximum of 6
- Tuition: $4995 single occupancy, $4295 double occupancy
Panama Bird Photography Tour Details
Arrivals and Departures
December 9, 2018
Arrive at Tocumen International Airport Panama City, Panama (PTY)
December 19, 2018
Depart from Tocumen International Airport Panama City, Panama (PTY).
Day 0 – Arrival Day
Arrive at in Panama City and make your way to the Radisson Summit Hotel. Plan to arrive in time for a 5 PM meeting at the Radisson. We will get together for a short meet and greet and to go over the details for the workshop. After the meeting, we will have a group dinner (included).
Day 1 – Old Gamboa Road
Old Gamboa Road runs through an open area with excellent opportunities for photography. We will see and hopefully photograph a wide variety of birds, like Motmots, Tanagers, Kingfishers, Flycatchers, and Herons. Plan on walking about 2 miles (3 KM) on the paved flat ground.
Day 2 – Pipeline Road
The most famous bird photography destinations in Pipeline will give us plenty of photography opportunities. This destination is in rainforest habitat, and we could find great birds such as Golden-hooded Tanager, Green and Red-legged Honey Creepers, White-whiskered Puffbird, and Passerini’s Tanager. Here we will also have our first chance to photograph hummingbirds at feeders. They were buzzing around like flies when I was last there, and it was very productive. The trails are rocky and occasionally steep. We will be walking a bit further today but will have ample time for a rest and water.
Day 3 – Cerro Azul
I’ve planned a big day for hummingbirds! Cerro Azul is a wonderful place for birding, and in particular for hummingbirds, as more than 20 species of hummingbirds can be seen here, including Green Hermit, Brown Violetear, Long-billed Starthroat and Violet-capped Hummingbird. Other possible birds include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Rufous-winged Tanager and Tawny-capped Euphonia.
Day 4 – El Valle
Today we will take to the waterways for our photography. We’ll explore the Chagras River looking for American Pygmy Kingfishers and other shorebirds. We will make our way out to Gatun Lake where we should be able to photograph Snail Kites. After our boat trip, we will make our way to El Valle de Anton via our air condition vehicles. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Panama City; we’ll get settled and then point our cameras at birds!
Day 5 – El Valle
Another day of bird photography in El Valle. Some of the species that are here include Barred Hawk, Tropical Screech-Owl, White-collared Swift, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Orange-bellied Trogon, Tody Motmot, Spot-crowned Barbet, Spotted Woodcreeper and Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Swallow-tailed Kite to name a few.
Day 6 – Boquete
In the morning we will make one more pass through El Valle before making our way to Panama City and our flight (included) to David. We arrive late in the afternoon, so we’ll relax at the lodge and spend some time with a group editing and image critique session.
Day 7 – Finca Lerida
Finca Lerida is a coffee farm in the Chiriqui highlands of western Panama. The Finca owns a large tract of highland cloud forest extending from an elevation of 5000 ft up to 10,000 ft adjacent to the coffee plantation. The family that runs the farm has bird feeders set up for our photographic pleasure!
Day 8 – Paraiso de Boqueron
Another dreary day of getting up close to birds at feeders! In Boqueron we may find Brown Violetear, White-necked Jacobin, Green Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Charming Hummingbird, Snowy-bellied, Blue-throated Golden-tail, etc.
On the grounds surrounding the feeders, possibilities include Fiery-billed Aracari, Scaled Pigeon, Rufous-capped Warbler, Cherrie’s Tanager (at fruit feeder), and much more!
Baru Volcano Option
I decided to make a 4×4 off the road drive up the Volcan Baru trail an option because it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is very bumpy, and it will get cold on the way back from the summit. It is 2 hrs up and 2 hrs back. It’s one of the few places where you can see the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. The view is excellent and worth the bumps! The prize bird on the trip would be the Un-spotted Saw-whet Owl!
Day 9 – Los Quetzales Trail and Park National La Amistad
We will have an opportunity to see the areas rare and specialty birds like the Resplendent Quetzal, Three-wattled Bellbird, Black-faced Solitaire, Volcano Hummingbird, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher and Prong-billed Barbet.
Day 10 – Panama City and Beyond
In the afternoon we will fly back to Panama City. Depending on your schedule we will drop you at a hotel or the airport for your return home.
Included in the Tour
- Lodging throughout the tour
- Transportation throughout the tour
- Airfare Within Panama
- All Breakfasts and some meals as indicated
- Individual and Group Photography Instruction
- Image Reviews and Digital Processing Techniques
- Professional Bird Guide(s)
Not Included in the Tour
- International Airfare
- Hotel on day 0 and day 10
- Transportation to Hotel on Day 0
- Items of a personal nature
- Bird Guide Gratuities
- Optional 4×4 Volcano Summit Excursion ($200)
Equipment and Gear
- You will want your “best” bird glass of at least 400mm. There will be some locations where using a tripod will be nearly impossible, so you need to have at least one lens that you can handhold.
- You will need a sturdy tripod and preferably a gimbal head.
- You will need a camera capable of high ISO shooting and or a flash.
- There will be some opportunities for some landscapes (gasp) especially if you join the 4×4 excursion up the volcano. If shooting scenics are interesting to you, pack your wide angle too.
- A remote shutter release can help at the bird feeders and scenics.
- Binoculars are not required we have a guide to find the birds, but I did enjoy having mine for the times when the birds were just too far for photos.
- Be prepared for rain for you and your gear.
Panama Bird Photography Gallery
Click here to see a few images from my trips to Panama to whet your whistle for what awaits you on this fantastic opportunity to photograph the Neotropical Birds and Wildlife of Panama.
Ready to Go to Panama?
My goal for this photo tour is to help you get some great new birds in your portfolio, help you be a better bird photographer and make sure all goes as smoothly as possible. Not only that, but it will be a lot of fun! I am smiling just thinking about getting back to Panama, it’s that awesome!
So don’t delay register today, click the workshops registration link and you’re on your way!
One More Thing!
The Resplendent Quetzal is one of the exotics that we MIGHT find in the highlands. Full disclosure, I found mine in Costa Rice, but we do have a good chance the last few days of the trip to photograph these crazy cool birds.