Panama Red-legged Honeycreeper

Panama, a Wildlife and Cultural Walking Tour

Panama: the name is synonymous with the Canal, but there is far more to this Central American country than the century-old link between the Pacific and the Caribbean. A bridge between continents, the isthmus has an exceptionally rich ecological diversity with one third of its territory classified as protected areas of tropical rainforest, mountains, cloud forest, offshore islands and coral reefs. This itinerary is perfect for a gentle on foot exploration to observe monkeys, sloths, anteaters, parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, turtles and exuberant tropical flowers.

We begin our journey concentrating on the wildlife of the Soberania National Park, including a boat trip on the main canal lake, created to divert the brutal force of the Chagres River. We walk through tropical forests in El Valle and in the Boquete highlands; take tours of coffee and chocolate estates; fly to the Bocas del Toro archipelago for a dolphin-watching boat trip and swimming and, of course, discover the engineering wonder of the world that is the Panama Canal with its history of De Lesseps, Eiffel and Theodore Roosevelt.

A beautifully restored 5 star hotel, built over a hundred years ago in the heart of the UNESCO listed ‘Casco Viejo’ of Panama City, makes the ideal base for the conclusion of our visit and we investigate the city’s 17th century Spanish colonial heritage. This renovated maze of lanes, shady plazas, enticing restaurants, Baroque churches and grand mansions, on a headland above the Bay of Panama was built after the original Panama City was looted by Henry Morgan, pirate and later Governor of Jamaica.

HIGHLIGHTS of our Panama walking tour include:  

  • A private boat trip on the Gatun Lake within the Panama Canal and a visit to the excellent Museum of the Canal at Miraflores Locks  
  • 2 days exploring the islands, white sand beaches and coral reefs of the Bocas del Toro archipelago  
  • Guided tours to learn about chocolate and coffee production, piracy and the colonial obsession with gold  
  • Wildlife walks in the cloud forest in search of Resplendent Quetzals, hummingbirds, howler monkeys, coatis, sloths and toucans  
  • Discovering the UNESCO listed architecture and museums of the 17th century Spanish Casco Viejo quarter of Panama City

Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘A super trip, very well researched and thought-out.

‘An enjoyable tour with a varied itinerary which gave an insight into the diverse aspects of Panama.’

'Panama is a fascinating country and we were fortunate to experience all areas of the country and the different climates and vegetation in a lot of locations. Travel arrangements were good and went smoothly.'

DAY 1  
D included
After meeting in the late afternoon at Panama international airport, we have an hour’s road transfer to our 4 star hotel, ideally situated at the edge of the rainforest and the Soberania National Park.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
Accompanied by an expert naturalist guide, we begin our wildlife observations with a visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre in the heart of the National Park. The 100 ft observation tower gives excellent views over the forest canopy, with chances to see mantled howler monkeys with soaring turkey and king vultures above. A walk (5 km) may produce sloths, coatimundis, toucans and red-lored Amazon parrots. After lunch, we visit the excellent Museum of the Canal at Miraflores Locks and observe ships undertaking the complex transit of the Canal.

B, L, D included
An early start is needed to explore another ‘hotspot’ of the central Canal Zone, walking gently in search of Spectacled owls and Blue-crowned motmots while scanning the Summit Ponds for Amazon, Green and Ringed Kingfishers and nesting Boat-billed herons. After lunch, we board a private boat to cross Gatun Lake, part of the Canal, where huge cargo ships are a startling contrast with our sightings of green iguanas, ospreys, spider monkeys and Geoffroy’s tamarins on the small islands.

B, L, D included
The morning is spent walking on the world-famous Pipeline track, with one of the highest bird counts recorded. Mammals and butterflies feature too. After a local lunch, we drive (2.5 hrs) to El Valle de Anton in Coclé Province. Picturesquely located at 600 m above sea level in the crater of an extinct volcano, this small town is surrounded by mountains and cloud forest. An extensive network of hiking trails combined with a slightly cooler climate makes it a great centre for exploring on foot. We spend three nights in a small boutique hotel in the town with dinners including an evening at the villa of one of Panama’s leading chefs.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
We drive a short distance out of El Valle to the Cerro Gaital National Monument on the slopes of the caldera. In the humid montane forest, we walk amongst trees laden with bromeliads and other epiphytes. Returning to town, we have an opportunity to visit the handicraft market where indigenous people from several tribes offer for sale their hardwood trays, baskets and figurines.

B, L, D included
We walk the Orchid trail in the Aprovaca nursery and conservation centre to discover some of the native orchid species, including the Holy Ghost orchid (Peristeria Elata), the national flower of Panama. In the afternoon, we learn how the endemic Panamanian Golden Frog was saved from extinction thanks to the efforts of a local conservation group.

B, L, D included
We drive to Panama City to catch an afternoon flight out to the Bocas del Toro archipelago. These idyllic islands, in a remote bay near Panama’s northwest border with Costa Rica, were first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502. Transferring to a private water taxi, a 35-minute ride takes us to Popa Island and our elegant beachfront hotel for 3 nights.

B, L, D included
Following an early start, we travel by boat to a quiet bay frequented by dolphins and royal terns. After watching and photographing them, we go ashore for an informative walking tour of an organic cocoa estate and indulge in an informal chocolate tasting. We return by boat to our hotel for lunch and a free afternoon to enjoy the pool, gardens and beach.

B, L, D included
A short boat trip takes us to the Cayo Zapatilla in the Bastimentos Marine National Park. We walk on the short trail traversing the island, beach comb or swim from the beach while watching magnificent frigate birds and brown pelicans patrolling the shore. The afternoon is again left free for relaxing on our own island.

DAY 10
B, L, D included
Departing by boat, we disembark at Chiriqui Grande and continue by road to the highlands of western Panama, crossing the Talamanca Continental Divide en route. Our destination is Boquete, an agricultural town on the river Caldera. In the afternoon we explore the surrounding hillsides on foot before continuing to a nearby historic finca and our hotel for 2 nights.

DAY 11
B, L, D included
We explore the cloud forest on foot this morning, following graded trails in search of the Resplendent Quetzal, a stunningly beautiful bird whose diet consists mainly of wild avocados. Ferns, epiphytic orchids and mosses festoon the huge ancient trees of the Vulcan Baru National Park and we may also encounter the brightly coloured, tiny, poison dart (not poisonous to us!) frogs. In the afternoon, we have a comprehensive coffee tour, walking amongst the coffee trees, learning about the harvesting, watching the processing and then tasting the award-winning results in one of the oldest traditional coffee producers in Panama.

DAY 12
B, L, D included
Leaving the highlands, we drive south to David to catch a morning flight to Panama City. Private transport takes us to the startlingly new Museum of Biodiversity, designed by architect Frank Gehry, for a tour of the ‘Panama - Bridge of Life’ exhibition. After a seafood lunch on the causeway, we transfer into the city and settle into our beautifully restored 5 star historic hotel in the centre of the old quarter, ‘Casco Viejo’.

DAY 13
B, L included
Setting off on foot from our hotel, a guided walking tour of Casco Viejo introduces the highlights of the district, built in 1673 after the pirate Henry Morgan destroyed the first settlement: the Independence Square; the Metropolitan Cathedral and several other fine churches; the Teatro Nacional which opened in 1908 with a performance of Verdi’s Aida and where Dame Margot Fonteyn danced after its 1974 restoration and the old sea wall with views across the bay. We have a leisurely lunch before transferring to the airport for flights home.

Trip Price, per person sharing:
£5,910.75 until 1st May 2024
£6,070.50 until 1st August 2024
£6,230.25 until 1st November 2024
£6,390 after 1st November 2024
£1,000 deposit per person
£1,180 double for single room supplement

Please note that the double room for single use supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation for Days 1 through 13, on a twin shared basis
  • Meals with local beer/soft drinks at lunch and wine at dinner

  • Land transportation in private airconditioned vehicles, except during free periods

  • 2 internal flights as described

  • Trips on various watercraft as described

  • Chocolate and coffee tours as described

  • Entrance, National Park and sightseeing fees except during free periods

  • Tips for porters, restaurant staff & drivers (appreciation for your Kudu tour leader is discretionary)

  • Services of English-speaking local naturalist guides and drivers throughout, plus our Kudu Travel tour leader

Price does not Include

  • Flights to and from Panama City

  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance

  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements

  • Passport, visa and health documentation

  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides beer & wine with group meals, free time activities, etc.)

  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation

  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage

  • Panama departure tax, if any


On Kudu trips, you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 3 nights in a 4-star hotel, ideally situated at the edge of rainforest and the Soberania National Park

  • 3 nights in El Valle de Anton, in a hotel blending colonial style elegance and modern comforts

  • 3 nights on Isla Popa, in an elegant beachfront hotel

  • 2 nights in Boquete, in an historic Finca set on a private coffee estate

  • 1 night in Panama City, in a 5-star historic hotel in the old quarter, Casco Viejo

Off the Beaten Track

Please be aware that electricity and water supplies may occasionally be erratic and travel arrangements (e.g. water taxis, domestic flights) can be disrupted. Kudu Travel will endeavour to do everything possible to ensure a smooth-running tour, but please be ready with your sense of humour and tolerance when travelling in the tropics.

Visa and Health Requirements

Visitors from the EU, USA, Canada and New Zealand currently require a valid passport, but no visa, for entry to Panama. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Panama.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is not required when arriving from Europe or the USA. Immunisation/boosters against Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio are usually recommended. Please consult your doctor in good time (at least 6 weeks before departure) about this and anything else they recommend. A dental check-up is a good idea. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO

It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents. 

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party 
This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14 guests.