Panama birdwatching tour

Travel Team

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19 Nov 2021
including UK flights
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

On this tour, we will be based in just three wonderful lodges, all of which are dedicated to protecting the environment. Two of them are Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge, which are part of the Canopy Family of eco-lodges created by its owners because of their love of nature. They are very aware that they must do all they can to protect the global ecosystem and ensure that they provide sustainable tourism. They do this by examining all aspects of the Canopy Family business and determining which areas can be done in a more sustainable fashion.

Just a few examples of this are -
• energy efficient appliances and bulbs installed
• buying food and supplies in bulk to reduce packaging materials, especially plastic
• a major initiative is the reduction of plastics; they offer plentiful drinking water for guests to re-fill water bottles without having to take a new plastic bottle every day
• soap and shampoo in guest rooms are served by dispensers, not from throw-away plastic bottles
• all organic waste is composted and reused in the gardens
• aluminium cans, plastic bottles and tetra packs are collected and sold to a recycler
• water from showers and washbasins (grey water) is reused in the gardens

Other examples can be found in the construction of the properties:
• the Canopy Tower itself is a perfect example of reuse, a sustainable tourism destination was created by finding an innovative use for a surplus defence installation
• the wooden floor of the Canopy Lodge’s library is Manilkara zapota (known as Nispero or Sapodilla), salvaged from the old Panama Railroad ties
• the administrator’s desk and reception counter at the Canopy Tower were salvaged from old Panama Canal Zone houses
• the iron structure on the outdoor deck at the Canopy Tower was recycled from the old Panama Railroad rails
• the marble floors in the Canopy Tower’s bathrooms were salvaged from a refurbishing project in Panama City
• wood in the bedrooms of the Canopy Tower is from a sustainably-managed teak plantation

Similarly the owners of Tranquilo Bay, the third lodge on this tour, have painstakingly developed their secluded get-away for five years. During that time, they lived primitively in the jungle at the future site of the lodge, as they conducted research that would help them create an eco-friendly destination that protects and preserves the environment, while offering guests unparalleled access to nature at its natural best.
They have various sustainable practices in place, including not purchasing bottled water but instead rainwater is collected and purified on site and refillable water bottles are used.

We employ local naturalist guides in this tour from the local community who have, with the help of our guidance and educational resources, learned the local bird species (and now learning butterflies, too!). They know the area and the birds and will ensure your bird watching experience is a responsibly operated one.

The Impacts of this Trip

We would not be able to offer you the high quality of this tour without the dedication and passion of our wonderful local teams at the Canopy Family and Tranquilo Bay. These are the people who will make your Panama experience unforgettable and will provide the best possible guided birding and wildlife tours available.

As well as looking after you, they also look after their local communities and donate a portion of their profits to support birding clubs, conservation organisations and other environmental initiatives. For example, the Canopy Family has been working directly with local Embera communities. They have become particularly involved with the community of Nuevo Vigia Embera, located on the banks of the Tuquesa River. Nuevo Vigia, with a population of 600 made up of 90 families, has embraced our presence in Darién and since 2014, with our assistance and guidance, have become involved in local ecotourism. The relationship was initiated by maintaining clean trails on their land that we use on our tours, to building a large rancho (roofed hut) where they display their artisan crafts made by the community members for our guests to browse and purchase.

They appointed four naturalist guides in the community who have since, with our guidance and educational resources provided, learned the local bird species (and now learning butterflies, too!). Likewise, a young man, Felipe Aji, was appointed as tourism director within the community and manages our visits efficiently and passionately.

When our guests visit, they support the community financially by paying an entrance fee, using their motorized dugout canoes (called “piraguas”) and boat drivers to travel to and from the community via the Chucunaque and Tuquesa rivers, and pay a fee to the local guide. Our guests and guides also purchase their beautiful, hand-made woven baskets, plates and masks, further supporting the community and promoting responsible tourism.

Tranquilo Bay also supports the Panamanian economy by employing local personnel and purchasing locally made goods. They are working to educate all their employees, to help them grow into positions of greater responsibility.


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