During our ornitherapy tours, our goal is to practice birding in a mindful way – thus this 8-day tour Panama Birding and Yoga tour is designed to be quite different from a typical birding trip. Everything will run at a much slower pace – we will take our time to truly enjoy the beauty and wonder of the birds we do see, while also learning about their natural history. We will also have time to visit local markets, walk nature trails, enjoy time at the beach, take a Stand-up Paddle Board lesson or partake in a vegetarian cooking class. We have also scheduled some important free time for you to explore on your own, take a hammock siesta, practice walking meditation on a small labyrinth, relax with a good book, or swim in the ocean – only a 5-min walk from our hotel.
Additionally, a certified Yoga instructor will be present throughout the tour to provide optional group classes each afternoon when birds and other wildlife are less active. Whether you have a long-standing yoga practice, or are interested in experiencing yoga for the first time, we will offer gentle, back-to-the-basics yoga classes that fit everyone’s needs.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL
We start off our Panama Birding & Yoga tour by meeting you at Tocumen International Airport (PTY), in Panama City, Panama. Once everyone has arrived, we will travel about 1.5 hrs in a comfortable vehicle to the Istmo Yoga and Adventure Retreat in Playa Grande. The serene grounds here are full of birds! We will enjoy some afternoon birding and/or a restorative yoga class before dinner.
DAY 2: EL VALLE DE ANTON
Birds are early risers, so we will also enjoy some early mornings to make the most of our nature experience. After breakfast, we will travel by vehicle about to the town of Ell Valle de Anton. El Valle is a picturesque mountain town located in the caldera of an extinct volcano. Here we will explore the beautiful gardens and trails that wind through cloud forests of the region. Some of the species that can be seen here are Barred Hawk, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Collared (Orange-bellied) Trogon, Tody Motmot, Spot-crowned Barbet, Spotted Woodcreeper and Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch.
In the afternoon we will enjoy a yoga class in the forested yoga studio before dinner.
DAY 3: PLAYA GRANDE
This morning we will begin our day with a gentle yoga class before breakfast. We will spend the rest of the morning birding on the grounds of our retreat and its beautiful surroundings. As we explore the lowland forest habitat of Playa Grande we will search for Lance-tailed Manakin, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Bat Falcon and Gray-headed Chachalaca, among other species.
After lunch, feel free to participate in an optional Stand-up Paddle Board class through the mangroves, or enjoy some free time.
Stand-up paddleboarding in the calm waters of the Pacific
DAYS 4: JUAN HOMBRON & El CHIRU
After breakfast we will explore more of the Pacific Lowlands region. The areas of El Chiru and Juan Hombron encompass dry coastal scrub habitats which provide homes to a large number of birds. They are particularly good places to observe some of Panama's beautiful raptors. Yellow-headed Caracara are common, and if lucky, we may see a Pearl Kite. Other raptors found in the area include Roadside, Savannah, Grey-lined and Short-tailed hawks and Crested Caracara. Apart from the numerous raptor species, we will search for Veraguan Mango – a near-endemic hummingbird, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, and Pale-breasted Spinetail.
We will return to our retreat for some relaxation. In the afternoon we will continue our yoga practice and enjoy an optional vegetarian cooking class.
DAY 5: CERRO GAITAL
Today we return back up to El Valle to explore Cerro Gaital National Park and nearby areas. Here we hope to see Black-chested Jay, Northern Emerald-Toucanet, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Green Hermit, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant,Tawny-capped Euphonia and other foothill delights. In a private garden, we search for the incredible Spectacled Owl and the elusive Tody Motmot. We will also keep our eyes open for two and three-toed sloths.
Before returning to our retreat, we can make a stop at the local market to browse artisan crafts, fresh fruit and vegetables and native plants. This is a great place to purchase souvenirs and gifts as a great reminder of your time in Panama. Back at our retreat, we can enjoy a yoga class and some time to relax before dinner.
DAY 6: METROPOLITAN NATURAL PARK
After our final group yoga class this morning and a hearty breakfast, we will pack up and return to Panama City. After checking in to our hotel, feel free to explore the grounds or take a dip in the pool before lunch. This afternoon we make a visit to Metropolitan Natural Park. This is the only tropical forest park located within a major metropolitan area in Latin America. Encompassing 190 hectares of semi-deciduous lowland tropical forest, it is an excellent place to see some lovely birds. Yellow-crowned Parrot, White-bellied Antbird, the Panama endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet, Lance-tailed Manakin, Bay Wren and Rosy Thrush-Tanager are highlights of this park.
DAY 7: GAMBOA and PIPELINE ROAD
We will wake up with the birds this morning for a visit to Pipeline Road in Soberania National Park. The famous Pipeline Road is one of the best places to bird in all of Central America! The forest here is alive with several species of trogons, manakins, and toucans. It is a great place to see White-whiskered Puffbird and Great Jacamar, and to listen for the unique calls of the Purple-throated Fruitcrow. At our feet, we might see a line of leaf-cutter ants traveling in formation carrying bright green leaves they have harvested from a nearby tree. Blue Morpho butterflies flash their brilliant blue wings as they flutter along the trail.
Creating art in a natural setting is a wonderful way to relax, focus the mind on the present, and relieve stress. After a morning of birding, we will enjoy sketching and/or coloring birds while in nature. At the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, as we observe several different hummingbird species as they come to feeders and perch on nearby branches. They make excellent subjects for drawing. We will spend time coloring beautifully crafted outlines of several bird species. If you are an artist, you may choose to sketch your own unique images. Some art supplies will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own! Today will be a highlight of our Panama Birding and Yoga Tour!
DAY 8: PANAMA CANAL BOAT TOUR & DEPARTURE
This morning we embark on a boat ride on Gatun Lake and the Panama Canal. A boat ride on this world famous waterway is an unforgettable experience and a unique way to enjoy birding in Panama. Being on a boat allows us to get much closer to otherwise shy wildlife, therefore it is a great opportunity for photography and observing animal behavior. Mantled Howlers, White-face Capuchins, and Geoffroy's Tamarins are three species of monkeys often seen in the area. We will also search for crocodiles, iguanas, and a number of waterbirds. The spectacular Snail Kite, Little Blue Heron, Wattled Jacana, kingfishers, egrets and Purple Gallinule are abundant here.
After lunch we will transfer you to Tocumen International Airport for your departure flight home. Our Panama Birding and Yoga Ornitherapy tour concludes in Panama City.