Day One: Arrive
A representative will meet you at the airport in Bocas Town and assist you with your entry into Bocas del Toro. Upon arrival at the lodge you will leisurely settle into your cabana. Once you are settled in, you have the choice between a guided hike on a two-mile nature trail, watching for wildlife, or a leisurely afternoon kayak and snorkeling session, searching out water life above and below the surface.
Day Two: Zapatilla Cayes, Bastimentos National Marine Park
Today we will be exploring the Zapatilla Cays inside the national park. These pristine white sand islands just 15-minutes away are covered in coconut palms, tropical hardwoods, sea grapes, and almond trees draped in a collage of bromeliads, ferns, orchids and other epiphytes. Every year hawksbill sea turtles use these islands as an important nesting ground. It is possible to walk around these islands while stopping to explore the white sand beaches, forest and reefs covering the entire circumference. Snapper, barracuda and vivid tropical fish abound on the beautiful coral reefs surrounding the area. The birds are plenty–Common Black-Hawks, Mangrove Warbler, MagnificentFrigate, Brown Boobies, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, kingfishers, Great Kiskadee, Brown Pelicans, osprey, hummingbirds, plovers, and Gray-necked Wood-Rail. Guided activities include your choice of birding, hiking, snorkeling, sea kayaking and hammock surfing. As the sun goes down return to the lodge for an incredible fresh and healthy dinner inspired by local customs, flavors and ingredients.
Day Three: Bird the lodge’s Trails
Today have breakfast at your leisure and then regroup for birding the lodge’s trails.The Lodge grounds include over 200 acres with several kilometers of forested trails covering different habitats. This forest and its edge are home to many of Isla Bastimentos common favorites including multipler aptors, Montezuma Oropendolas, Red-lored Parrots, hummingbirds, 5-species of kingfishers, Green Ibis, tityras, woodpeckers, honeycreepers, tanagers, pigeons, antbirds, manakins, seedeaters, and herons, and, in season Three-wattled Bellbirds. White-faced Capuchins, three and two toed sloths, green iguanas, basilisk lizards, butterflies and poison dart frogs are also common on these trails. After dinner try to spot some of the local nocturnal residents such as the Common Potoo, Owls, Western Night Monkey, Four-eyed opossum, Wooly opossum, Crab-eating raccoon, Speckled Caiman and bats.
Day Four: Changuinola River, Bird Island
This morning will be an early breakfast so we can depart at around 6:30AM for a one-hour journey to the Soropta Canal. Construction began on the 7-mile long canal in 1898 and was financed by a banana plantation owner named Michael T. Snyder. Later purchased by the United Fruit Company(Chiquita Bananas) at the turn of the century, the canal was used to shelter banana barges from the open sea on their way to the shipping port in Almirante. The canal parallels the coastline connecting the mouth of the Changuinola River with the protected Almirante Bay. The Soropta canal, no longer used by the fruit company, is now part of an important wetland reserve called the Humedal de SanSan Pond Sak. A unique collage of fruiting trees and habitats lines the canal making it possible to see 100 species of birds in one day. While birding the canal by boat, we will have chances at Olive-throated Parakeets, Laughing Falcon, toucans, manakins, herons, Northern Jacana, Flycatchers, cuckoos, tanagers, honeycreepers, orioles, woodpeckers, White-throated Crake, hummingbirds and Nicaraguan seed finch. After a refreshing picnic lunch we will bird the mouth of the Changuinola River by foot. This is an excellent area for shorebirds, Roseate Spoonbill, Brown Pelicans, terns, and night hawks. Manatees can be seen here on occasion. After we are done exploring the mouth of the Changuinola River, we will begin our journey back to the lodge. Given favorable conditions, we will stray just offshore to a basalt outcropping called Swans Cay, known locally, as “Bird Island” or “Isla Pájaros”. This surreal island serves as a rookery for Magnificent Frigates, Brown Boobies and is the only known nesting site for the Red-billed Tropicbird in the Caribbean’s southwest region. Return to the lodge for a well-earned evening meal.
Day Five: Mainland forest birding
This morning, we will deploy by boat on a 20-minute passage across Dolphin Bay for the Green AcresCacao Plantation, home ofGreen Acres Chocolate.Guided by Robert and Julie, the owners and operators of this organic farm, we will trek their stunning tropical gardens as Robert presents us with extensive information about shade grown organic cacao production. It is here where one of the rarest strains of cacao plant in the world, the Criollo is grown. Highly prized and noted for its intense richness, this variety of bean in its purest form makes up only 5% of the worlds total crop. Details of his modest but extraordinary chocolate manufacturing techniques will accompany; including growth of the trees, a step-by-step process of how chocolate is made from bean to bar, and a superb sample of the farm’s product.The wildlife viewing here is spectacular. We will easily find Dendrobates auratus, the black and neon green poison dart frog, some incredible tropical insects, and on occasion an ocelot that was re-introduced here. A wide variety of avifauna includes pale-billed woodpecker, keel-billed toucans, black-chested jay, scarlet-rumped tanager, hummingbirds, parakeets, and various raptors.We will move onto another mainland farm for a late picnic lunch followed by a little light hiking in search of raptors, tanagers, manakins, hummingbirds, trogons, toucans, woodcreepers, motmots and tinamou. With a little luck might also see howler monkeys and several species of amphibians as we follow a spring fed creek beneath the forest canopy. After dinner, for those interested in nature’s most incredible oddities, we will take a nighttime kayak in search of the bioluminescence (fire flies of the sea). These marine invertebrates lie on the ocean floor, upon shallow sandy grass flats, and illuminate in the presence of light. A quick on/off of the flashlight activates a chain reaction, which can rapidly spread over 100 feet, lighting up all the marine life in its path. There is no need to worry about finding our way home in the dark, there is another species creating bioluminescence that will leave a glow in the dark trail as we proceed. This species is present throughout the water column and illuminates with every stroke of your paddle.
Day Six: Chiriquí Grande to the Continental Divide
After an early morning breakfast, we will depart around 6:00AM for the scenic 50-minute boat ride to Chiriquí Grande. We will weave our way through a labyrinth of mangrove islets as we watch Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelicans, Brown Boobies, terns and kingfishers feeding at first light.After passing through Split Hill, the closest point of the mainland in the entire archipelago, we will enter Chiriquí Lagoon. Across the lagoon sits the town of Chiriquí Grande, established as a port town on the doorstep of the highest mountain range in the country. Here we find the road that crosses the isthmus to the Continental Divide. Depending on conditions, we normally start at the top of theWestern Caribbean Slope and bird our way down through the Palo Seco Forest Reserve. Altitude changes rapidly in this area contributing to a great diversity of species. This area hosts some of the most rare and spectacular species in the country such as Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Three-wattled Bellbird, Azure-hooded Jay, Lattice-tailed Trogan, White tailed Trogan, snowy and blue cotinga, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Yellow-throated bush tanager, Ashy-throat Bush-Tanager, Yellow-earedToucanet, Brown Jay, White-crowned Parrot and many more. While birding at the highest altitudes, the vistas are incredible as large steep forested valleys fall away to the Caribbean Sea. Several creeks and rivers provide great vantage points for hummingbirds such as Long-billed Starthroat, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Bronzy Hermit, Green-breasted Mango, White-tailed Emerald and Violet Sabrewing. After descending from the cloud forest of the Talamanca Mountains, and passing through the low humid forest and wetlands, we will board the boat for a sunset cruise back to the lodge.
Day Seven: Bastimentos National Marine Park – Primary Humid Lowland Rainforest
The terrestrial section of Bastimentos National Marine Park consists of 4100 acres forming a corridor across the island connecting the windward and leeward coasts. Isla Bastimentos is an important reserve for an array of terrestrial flora and fauna species. The interior of the park supports spectacular stands of primary and secondary tropical rainforest. Due to the archipelago’s geological seclusion, wildlife in the lowlands of Bocas del Toro includes many species endemic to the region. Following an early breakfast, we will leave by boat in route to one of the several trailheads entering the Park. First, we will be crossing through huge stands of old growth mangrove forest; red, white and black mangrove rise 80 feet to form a canopy over the shallow brackish water. Here we will find speckled caiman, three-toed sloth, green-breasted mango, common black hawks, American pygmy kingfisher, green ibis, and herons. When the mangrove forest succumbs to firm ground, we will begin our hike under the lowland canopy. The terrain is varied, with winding foot trails climbing and descending the hills of the forest, at times both hands and feet may be necessary. Thousands of plant species exist in the park, including tropical hardwoods, forest palms, vines, bryophytes, ferns, bromeliads, orchids, and other epiphytes.White-faced capuchins, sloths, agouti paca, armadillos, bats, turtles, fresh water prawns and crabs, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, rare tropical insects and exotic birds, are but some of the animals living beneath this canopy.Some of the avifauna within the park includes red-capped manakin, golden-collared manakin (cerritus), masked-tityra, three-wattled-bellbird, indigo bunting, tawny-crested tanager, double-toothed kite, blue-headed parrot, green shrike vireo (verticalis), crimson-backed tanager, woodpeckers, and antbirds (Formicariidae). Upon return to the lodge, we will have the rest of the afternoon free to bird, explore the beautiful trails, kayak courses, or coral reef surrounding the facility.
Day Eight: Depart
4 Night Package
- From USD $950 per person / double occupancy
- 2 days offsite excursions included
Day One: Arrive
Day Two: Zapatilla Cayes, Bastimentos National Marine Park
Day Three: Lodge Trails & Canopy Observation Tower
Day Four: Changuinola River
Day Five: Depart
- Transfers between Bocas Town and the Lodge
- Meals and Beverages at the Lodge
- Dinner – 3-5 course meal
- Snacks available all the time
- Beverages – Non alcoholic, Panamanian beer, House South American Wine, Panamanian Rum
- Deluxe Air Conditioned Cabanas
- Access to water and land activities directly from the Lodge
- Activities daily as designated in the itinerary
- Taxes in addition to package price