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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Panama: Darién Lowlands

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING PANAMA: Panama requires of U.S. citizens a passport valid for at least three months after entry. Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Panamanian embassy.

Anyone coming directly from countries where Yellow Fever is endemic must show proof of a current vaccination.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/panama.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Panama at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pm.html.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Please contacting your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.

Malaria: It is the opinion of the Centers for Disease Control that travelers to eastern Panama including the Darien are at risk for malaria. Please consult your physician.

Zika:  This virus is expanding north into the northern Caribbean and southern United States and health authorities are still trying to gage its full impact.  Couples who expect/hope to become pregnant should consult their physician.

Elevation: Maximum elevation reached on the tour is about 1000 feet.

Water: Bottled water is available throughout the tour.

Insects: Biting insects and arachnids are seldom a major nuisance although chiggers and biting gnats, and occasionally mosquitoes can be locally numerous around the Camp. Careful application of repellent provides good protection and the leader will advise you when it will be necessary.

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

Sun: Sun in Panama can be very intense. Please bring adequate protection, including a sun hat and a strong sun screen of at least 15 rating.

PACE OF THE TOUR: We will try to be in the field at dawn. Most days will involve departures close to 6:15 a.m. Many of the birding sites that we visit on the tour are within an hour of the camp. We’ll have full mornings in the field and some days will also involve picnic lunches and full afternoons. On others we’ll return to the camp for lunch and a siesta. On two of the days we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant with active hummingbird feeders.

There will be some narrow and slightly uneven trails on the first day and some slightly longer treks later on with some up and down and sometimes muddy trails.  It should be emphasized that these trails can, on occasion, be quite muddy if there has been a lot of recent rain.  Comfortable and fully waterproof/mud boots are highly recommended.  We will also be birding from small boats on several days. 

CLIMATE: The days will likely be between the mid 70s and high 80s and humid, with afternoon showers. Rarely do these showers reach the intensity or duration that would impact on a birding excursion, but be prepared for some birding in rain.  High-quality rain gear and a small umbrella will go a long way toward making any rainy periods more enjoyable. Bring at least one heavier shirt or light jacket to prepare for rainy or unseasonably cool weather.  

ACCOMMODATIONS: We use a single hotel during most of the tour: the Canopy Camp near the end of the Pan-American Highway. This brand new camp was built using the model of African-style luxury tented camps. We will be using large, walk-in tents that are positioned on individual platforms set around a clearing.  Each tent is apportioned with comfortable beds, electricity, fans, and other amenities.  A private bathroom with a shower and flush toilet is located adjacent to each tent on the platform. Hot water in the cabins is currently not available. The tents have internal wood flooring, screened windows, bedside tables and some shelving for personal effects and are remarkably comfortable.

The first and last nights of the tour will be at modern, comfortable hotels either near the Panama City Airport or on the Amador Causeway.

FOOD: Breakfasts will be at the Canopy Camp before our morning departures and will include fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, eggs, bread and a meat dish. Some of our lunches will be field picnics; others will be at the camp or at a local restaurant. All dinners will be at the camp, save for the final dinner at the hotel in Panama City. The food is of excellent quality and features local produce and seasonings.

Please contact the WINGS office well in advance if you have any important food allergies.

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation during the tour is by specially modified rainforest trucks, or by vans or comfortable buses. Transfers to/from the airport to the Panama City hotel will be by courtesy shuttle. Transport to the Canopy Camp will be by 15- or 22-passenger vans.

Updated: 06 May 2016