How I’m planning our Panama birding adventure

Just ask my husband. One of my favorite things to do on this planet is planning a trip. Secretly, I’d love to be a travel writer and maybe someday I might. But for now, I find great joy in making our travel arrangements. Whether it’s sleuthing airfares (you know the best day to book the lowest fares are on Tuesday, right?), checking out accommodations online to get the best bang for our buck without sacrificing too many stars, or scouring TripAdvisor, I must confess: making travel plans gives me a little bit of a buzz.

So, of course, planning birding adventures makes it even more of a challenge, thus increasing the buzz. We’re talking Red Bull-sized buzz here. Thank goodness for the Internet. I always start with It’s the most reliable source of real information on birding guides and lodges. I then start Googling for bird tours. There didn’t seem to be one that coordinated with our schedule this year–either it was the wrong date or they were 14 days and since we generally tag on diving with our vacations we just couldn’t make it work, being as I only get 3 weeks paid vacation and we already have another trip planned this year. Birding tours are good resources because their itineraries give me a good idea of the lodges they visit–lodges that cater to birders.

So far, the most complicated part of going to Panama is narrowing down the possibilities for birding. I’m the one who is insistent on having a few days of beach time with diving and it doesn’t take much arm twisting to get my husband to agree. Marriage is all about compromises, no? Ergo, we won’t be going to the Darian region because it’s in the opposite direction, much to Steve’s chagrin. (Also, I’m not so much into camping right now.) And then there’s the coordination of accommodations. It seems as though some lodges post their availability dates but many don’t. That’s caused a bit of back and forth on email with the lodges on the top of my list, crossing my fingers in hopes that they have availability that matches our schedule. For those who know the area, we did consider the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge, but holy cow, they are extraordinarily expensive–and you have to add your bird guides/tours on top of their costs. We are, however, planning on staying at their new B&B (aptly named the Canopy B&B) in Gamboa where we can tagalong with the Canopy Tower tours. The B&B fits our tastes and pocketbooks nicely. The other complication was getting from Point A to Point B to Point C. Turns out, we’ll be flying around a lot. Long story, but taking a rental car one way costs so much it ended up being the same to just fly around. Crazy. In fact, there’s still one area–getting from Bocas del Toro (where we’ll be diving) and getting to the lodge in Guadalupe, which is just outside of David. Don’t know how we’re getting there yet, but I’ll be looking for advice from our hosts at accommodations at both places–I’m sure they’ll have some recommendations.

Anyhoo, we’re going to be hopping around a bit–primarily on the western part of the country. And this is where we’ll be going in Panama (click to enlarge picture):

If all goes as planned, this is where we'll be traveling in Panama

Look forward to my trip reports during and after our trip, but until then I’ll still be posting my other birding reports and musings.

Meanwhile, we’ve got that ol’ 1980’s David Lee Roth song, Panama going through our heads right now.