PANAMA A FIELD COURSE


LENGTH: 10 Days/9 Nights

FIXED DEPARTURE DATES: Jun 18-27

*Other dates for individuals, families and groups, including WINTER INTERIM BREAK and SPRING BREAK, available upon request.

*Our standard PANAMÁ A FIELD COURSE itinerary can be modified in content and length for SPECIAL INTERESTS and NEEDS.

*An affordable extension to PANAMA'S DARIEN is available before or after our PANAMÁ A FIELD COURSE available upon request.

*Affordable PARTIAL and COMPLETE PANAMA CANAL TRANSITS are available to individuals and groups upon request. Descriptions for both are included below. Please contact Rainforest and Reef for pricing.

*WHITE-WATER RAFTING in Panamá is also available upon request.

*FIELD COURSES for those with SPECIAL INTERESTS, such as BIRDING and GARDEN GROUPS are available upon request. Sample itineraries can be seen at http://www.birdingtours.org (being updated), http://www.gardentours.org (being updated) and also http://www.rainforestandreef.org. Please contact Rainforest and Reef for details and pricing by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

*SPANISH IMMERSION PROGRAMS for individuals/groups are also available in Panamá. A sample itinerary can be seen at http://www.iwanttolearnspanish.org (being updated) and also http://www.rainforestandreef.org. Please contact Rainforest and Reef for details and pricing by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

FIELD COURSE COST: Contact Rainforest and Reef. Based on a minimum of 10 full-paying participants. One Group Leader FREE for the ground portion of our PANAMÁ A FIELD COURSE with 10 full-paying participants. Two Group Leaders FREE with 17 full-paying participants. Cost is based on triple and quadruple occupancy. Double and single occupancy available upon request, usually at an extra cost.

Notes:

Group Leaders, please contact Rainforest and Reef for details about STIPENDS.

For individuals, families or groups of less than 10 full-paying participants, please contact Rainforest and Reef for pricing by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

Includes: All INSTRUCTION and BI-LINGUAL GUIDE SERVICES; all MEALS and LODGING as stated in the itinerary; all GROUND and WATER TRANSPORTATION within; ROUND-TRIP DOMESTIC AIRFARE Panamá City-Bocas del Toro-Panamá City on DAYS 6 and 8; all ENTRANCE FEES to NATIONAL PARKS and OTHER SITES.

Does Not Include: ROUND-TRIP INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE to Panamá; PANAMÁ TOURIST CARD (5.00USD) INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX (20.00USD per person); GRATUITIES and PERSONAL ITEMS.

INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE: Rainforest and Reef uses consolidators/wholesalers for all of our GROUP and INDIVIDUAL airfares. We are therefore able to offer the LOWEST RATES available. Please contact Rainforest and Reef for details and pricing by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

ITINERARY:

MEAL CODES: B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner

Note: On the MEDICAL INFORMATION FORM that you will be receiving shortly after registration, please make us aware of any special meal requests and/or dietary restrictions….vegan, vegetarian, etc., that you or members of your group may have. We will be pleased to fulfill your requests/needs.

DAY 1 ARRIVAL-SOBERANÍA RESEARCH STATION-FIELD COURSE ORIENTATION. Following your arrival at Tocumen International Airport, northeast of Panamá City, you will be met by our Panamá Field Course Staff and transferred to the Soberanía Research Station in Gamboa. After dinner, there will be an orientation session to our Panamá A Field Course. Overnight Soberanía Research Station.

Note: You will be met outside of Immigration and Customs by Rainforest and Reef Staff. They will be holding a sign that says:

Soberanía Research Station

Located in the small town of Gamboa, part of the buffer zone of the Soberanía National Park, the Soberania Research Station offers outstanding opportunities for wildlife observation and research in the adjacent rainforest. It is a preferred location for Biologists from around the world that come to this site to conduct various research projects including bird and mammal ecology, biodiversity, a variety of behavioral and herbivory studies and much more. We normally host scientists working with the Smithsonian Institute coming from all over the United States, as well as Poland, South Korea, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and other parts of the world. They come to this site to learn about our tropical rainforests and the vast array of organisms found here. Our facilities are basic, yet clean and functional, and most importantly they provide easy access to the rainforest and various study projects. Our visitors especially enjoy talking to our resident Biologist to learn about their research work, and most recent findings. Seeing science in the making is a truly enriching experience.

DAY 2 SOBERANÍA NATIONAL PARK-PIPELINE ROAD-SUMMIT GARDENS-ZOO and HARPY EAGLE AVIARY. Early this morning, we will depart for Soberanía National Park. At 54,600 acres in total area, it offers one of the most accessible tropical rainforests in Panamá. The Park has numerous hiking trails and also included within its boundaries are part of the Chagres River, Lake Gatún, as well as a spectacular variety of flora and fauna. Here, participants will hike along Pipeline Road, considered one of the top birding sites in the world. Biologists have recorded 525 species of birds and 105 different types of mammals here, including the jaguar. Our group will then visit Summit Botanical Gardens and Zoo. The Botanical Gardens were founded in 1923, with the goal of culturing tropical plants from around the world. Today, more than 15,000 plant species can be seen here. At the Zoo, we will get to see animals that are, for the most part, native to Central America. The biggest attraction is the enormous harpy eagle aviary and education center. It opened in 1998 and there are hopes that a captive-breeding program will be established at some point. The harpy eagle, aside from being the National Bird of Panamá, is considered by many to be the most powerful bird-of-prey on Earth. In the late afternoon, we will return to Soberanía Research Station for dinner and overnight. B L D

DAY 3 RAINFOREST RESEARCH-PANAMA CANAL-NIGHT HIKE. Today, we will visit another rainforest trail in Soberanía National Park where we will have excellent opportunities to observe antbirds, manakins, trogons and motmots, as well as mammals like howler and capuchin monkeys. Our group will also have time to work on your personal research projects. We will also get together with visiting scientists to learn about their research in tropical ecology. You will learn first hand what it is like to be a Tropical Biologist. Later we will visit the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World, the Panamá Canal. At the Miraflores Locks we will learn about the monumental task of building this incredible feat of engineering, as well as interesting details of the operation of this important waterway. This evening participants will explore the water's edge around Gamboa in search of frogs, caimans and even the elusive Capybara, the largest rodent in the world. Dinner and overnight Soberanía Research Station. B L D

DAY 4 RAINFOREST RESEARCH-VOLUNTEER WORK-CITY TOUR. Early this morning, we will return to the field to learn more about tropical rainforest ecology and continue with our "research projects". This data will be analyzed and discussed during a group session. Participants will then meet with Panamanian students to work on a conservation project in the buffer zone of the National Park. We will plant some native trees in an area, in hopes of eradicating anwhere an invasive grass and restoring the natural forest. Following lunch, we will depart for a tour of Panama City. Our group will first visit "Panamá Viejo", Old Panama City, founded August 15, 1519. It was the first city established by the Spaniards on the Pacific coast. Historically, it is very important because the Camino Real and Las Cruces trails originated here. Panama Viejo was burned and destroyed by British pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. Here, we will see a topographical model of the original city, visit the ruins and shop at a local handicrafts market. Next, we will drive through modern-day Panama City to the colonial city, Casco Viejo, which was constructed in 1673. In the colonial section of Panama City, our first stop will be at the San José Church where the famed golden altar is located. We will then visit the French, Simón Bolívar and Independence Plazas. Dinner and overnight Soberanía Research Station. B L D

DAY 5 CERRO CAMPANA CLOUDFOREST-MARINE EXHIBIT CENTER. Today, our group will travel will travel to Altos de Campana National Park, Panama's first National Park. It is a region of great contrasts….the Pacific side has been deforested, whereas on the Atlantic side, our group will experience lush tropical rainforest. Here, we will also notice large differences between the lowland rainforests bordering the Panama Canal and what we experience at Altos de Campana, which extends to an altitude of 3000 feet. Temperatures are much cooler, there is a good deal more yearly precipitation and we will see major contrasts in flora and fauna. This will be especially evident in plant-life, as we experience a much higher abundance of epiphytes and mosses. Altos de Campana will also provide an opportunity to observe and discuss numerous other conservation issues….including the effects of human settlements within a "protected" area; local hunting pressures; inadequate farming practices and soil erosion. Endemic animals found here include Panama's golden frog, the common vampire bat and colored rabbit. Later today we will visit the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Punta Culebra Marine Exhibit. Here, participants will get an introduction to Panama's varied marine ecosystems as we prepare ourselves for our trip to the islands. Dinner and overnight Soberanía Research Station. B L D

DAY 6 FLIGHT to BOCAS del TORO-SNORKEL CARIBBEAN. Early this morning, we will take a one-hour flight from Panama City to the village of Bocas del Toro. Here, our group will take a brief walking tour and learn about the local history, especially the impact of the banana industry. We will then be transferred to the Bocas del Toro Biological Station at the Northwestern end of the island. After our snorkeling briefing we will begin exploring the coral reef formations off the island where we will start identifying some of the common species of brightly colored reef fishes found here. Dinner and Overnight at the Bocas Biological Station. B L D

Note(s): The Bocas del Toro archipelago is located off the nortwestern coast of Panama. It consists of six larger, mostly forested islands and numerous smaller ones. The village of Bocas del Toro is located on Colón Island and the capitol of the Province of Bocas del Toro.

The Bocas del Toro Biological Station will be our home in these islands of the Caribbean. The station is located on the beach between tropical rain forest and coral reefs. Nearby terrestrial habitats include primary and secondary forests, marshes, swamps, streams, pastures and low impact beaches. Marine habitats include mangrove forests, turtle grass beds, coral reefs and estuaries. The station offers a library, lab, lecture areas and much more.

DAY 7 MANGROVE ECOLOGY-SNORKEL MANGROVES-RED FROG TRAIL. Following an early breakfast, the marine portion of our Panama Field Course continues, as we travel to and snorkel a number of mangrove habitats. Not only will we observe a wide variety of colorful tropical fish, but also have an opportunity to take a close look at the fascinating marine life that inhabit mangrove roots. Mangroves are extremely important, in that they form a rich and vital breeding habitat for lobsters, fish, birds, manatees and numerous other forms of marine life. This afternoon, our group will visit the "Red Frog Trail", as we look for local diversity of strawberry poison frogs (Dendrobates pumilio). Late this afternoon, participants will return to Bocas del Toro for dinner. This evening (depending on the season), we will do a beach patrol, looking for sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. Four of the world's eight species breed and nest in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Dinner and Overnight at the Bocas Biological Station. B L D

DAY 8 BOCA del DRAGO-FLIGHT to PANAMÁ CITY. Following breakfast we will go visit the area known as Sea Star Beach where echinoderms are common. In the same area we may also spot mollusks like Queen Conch and schools of squid. Late in the afternoon we will board our flight back to Panama City. Overnight at the Soberanía Research Station. B L D

DAY 9 EMBERA INDIAN VILLAGE-FAREWELL DINNER. Today we will travel into the Chagres National Park for a journey back in time. Participants will visit an Embera Indian village that has managed to preserve many of their traditional ways, even today. Comprised of over 315,000 acres, Chagres National Park is the largest protected area in the Panama Canal Watershed. The park provides nearly half of all the water needed for the operation of the Panama Canal, as well as most of the drinking water used in the cities of Panamá and Colón. In the morning, while our boat cruises up the Chagres River, we will appreciate the forests along the way searching for birds like herons, toucans and kingfishers. We will also learn about the local flora, not to mention the spectacular scenery. Once at the village, our hosts will tell us about the history of the Embera people and how they go about their daily lives. At noon we will have lunch atop a native "tambo" hut. There we will taste the same type of meal that the natives normally have: fresh fish and plantains. Later you will have an opportunity to buy some hand crafts created by the Embera, including wood and nut carvings, as well as gorgeous baskets with bright colors. In the evening we will go into Panamá City for a our "Farewell Dinner". Overnight at the Soberanía Research Station. B L D

DAY 10 DEPARTURE. After an early breakfast and farewells to our Panamá Field Course Staff, you will be transferred to Tocumen International Airport for your return flight home. B

Note: Due to weather conditions and circumstances beyond the control of Field Course Staff, certain activities may be changed or done on different days in the best interest of the group.

EXTENSION: PARTIAL PANAMÁ CANAL TRANSIT

Note: PARTIAL CANAL TRANSITS following one of our PANAMÁ FIELD COURSES typically require two additional overnights in Panamá City, one on the Friday following the FIELD COURSE and one on the Saturday following the CANAL TRANSIT. On Saturdays when a COMPLETE CANAL TRANSIT is scheduled there are no PARTIAL TRANSITS.

COST: Please contact Rainforest and Reef by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

AVAILABLE DATES: Before or after any of our Field Courses in Panamá or Costa Rica.

DESCRIPTION: Your vessel will depart from Pier 17 at Balboa on the Pacific at 7:30 am. The trip includes locking up and down through Miraflores Lock's two chambers, proceeding through Miraflores Lake up to Pedro Miguel locks, which we will not enter. We will then turn around and travel down the Pacific breakwater to view the Pacific Anchorage, taking in the best view of Panamá City's skyline before returning to Balboa at approximately 12:00 noon.

EXTENSION: COMPLETE PANAMÁ CANAL TRANSIT (Pacific to Atlantic)

COST: Please contact Rainforest and Reef by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

AVAILABLE DATES: Before or after any of our Field Courses in Panamá or Costa Rica.

DESCRIPTION: Our vessel will depart from Pier 17 at Balboa on the Pacific at 7:30 am and travel through Miraflores Locks, Pedro Miguel Locks, Galliard Cut, Gatun Lake and Gatun Locks. At approximately 5:30 pm we will arrive in Cristóbal on the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean). Chartered buses will then transport us back to Balboa on the Pacific again.


 
 


Rainforest and Reef

"Outstanding-Affordable Field Courses in Rainforest & Marine Ecology"

P.O. Box 141543
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49514-1543 USA
Local/International Phone: 001.616.604.0546
Toll Free: 1.877.255.3721
Skype: travelwithrandr
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E-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org


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