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Panama, Panama, Panama
Greetings from Panama! My name is Marina Ehrman and I have been a professional tour guide and promoter for Panama Tourism and Travel Company since 2005. I love what I do and am proud to share what my country has to offer. It is filled with endless leisure and commercial attractions, friendly happy people who open their doors to all visitors. Panama is a country of incomparable natural beauty with a variety of tourist attractions, beautiful beaches in the Pacific and Caribbean. The tropical climate year round with its diversified flora, fauna and indigenous groups make it one of the most important of Ecotourism in Latin America. I invite you to know our country’s history, culture and also enjoy the cuisine, folklore and traditions that only a place in the world can provide………Panama! Contact me and I’ll organize your visit and will be happy to welcome you in Panama. For more information on Panama, follow my Facebook page and my blog. Visit
Showing posts with label soberania park panama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soberania park panama. Show all posts

Hiking Camino de Cruces Trail


In 1514 Balboa built a crude road, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by cutting a path through the jungle. This road was about 30 - 40 miles long, and soon after the building of the town of Panamá, was abandoned. There were no permanent villages built along the route, which contributed to it demise.
1515, Captain Antonio Tello de Guzmán used the overland trail between Antigua and the Gulf of San Miguel. At the native village of Panamá, (a Cueva word meaning "Place of Abundant Fish"), the natives told Guzmán of a trail, going north, all the way to Porto Bello, past the site of the abandoned town of Nombre de Diós. This trail had been used by the natives for centuries, and was well laid out.
In 1517 Gaspar de Espinosa built the road that Alvitez had discovered. Espinosa used 4000 natives as slave labor to build the road.
Smooth river stones were laid on the trail. These stones were covered with clay, and packed, to make a smooth surface. The Río Chagres was bridged with very large boulders and large trunks were shaved flat, making a road bed for the bridge.
By August of 1519, cobbled stone road, approximately 3 feet wide ran from Nombre de Diós to Panamá. Nombre de Diós, lacked a good defensible harbor, and a road was later built to connect Nombre de Diós to Puerto Bello in the 1590's. This road, El Camino Real, was about 50 miles long, and was wide enough, to allow two carts to cross one-an-other traveling in opposite directions. The Spanish spared no expense in the construction of this road.
In 1521, a Spaniard wrote the King describing his trip across the Isthmus from Nombre de Diós to Panamá. He related that the first part of the journey was the most difficult because of the rivers, the mountains, and the thick forest. The trip from Panamá to San Lorenzo and then Porto Bello, was easier then the return trip. This was OK, since the purpose of this route was to insure that the treasures reached the Caribbean safely. This road served the Spanish well for more than three centuries.
In 1671, this legendary trail was the route used by Henry Morgan to sack Panama City.
During the 1849 Gold Rush in California, the Las Cruces Trail was used again. 49er's used the Panamá Route, to get to California. The Las Cruces Trail, had not been maintained for a long time, so was very difficult to navigate, even for the sure footed mule. At best, this trip took 4 days; but usually took much longer. Some travelers are known to have taken several weeks, to make the crossing. The trekker had to face Yellow Fever, Malaria, and Chagres Fever, great swarms of mosquitoes, snakes and bugs along the way. Once they finally arrived in Panamá City, they would have to wait for a ship to take them to California.
The only reminder today of the passage of the mule trains along the Camino de Cruces, other than the old mule shoes that can still be found along the trail, are footing points etched by the mules in the soft shale stone that forms the base of stretches of the trail as it climbs and descends the hills through the jungle.
Large portions of the remarkably well preserved old Spanish colonial trail transverse deep ravines. The mules were forced repeatedly to use of the same footing points as they climbed or descended. Mule footing points have been found in several locations on the trail. They are quite prominent and it is easy to see the shape of the mule shoes. The ascending footing points are deep and round. The descending points are longer and more shallow with the mule’s hooves sliding and forming a trough until a catch hold was reached.
The Soberania National Park borders the Panama Canal and contains 9.5 kilometers of the Camino de Cruces. Outside of the park, the Camino de Cruces is under increasing pressure from land development, particularly the closer it gets to Panama City.

Birdwatching in Canopy Tower at Soberania National Park Tour


Tour Options :
The Awakening of the Rainforest (6:30 am—Noon)

Dawn is the most active period of the day for most wildlife of the forest. You definitely want to be up early on the Observation Deck, 50 feet above the forest floor, to experience the peaceful sunrise over the Pacific, to hear the thundering bellows of the Mantled Howlers proclaiming their territory and to be amazed at the incredible diversity of birds as they begin their never-ending search for food! After a hearty deluxe breakfast, join one of our guides for a 3-4-hour guided walk along Semaphore Hill Road, where you will experience even more of the magnificent wildlife of the tropical rainforest!

Lunch on Top of the Hill (Noon—5:00 pm)

Mid-day is the best time to see birds of prey (raptors) as they ride thermals, soaring effortlessly high in the sky. In the Northern Hemisphere's fall and spring seasons, the Observation Deck offers an extraordinary vantage point to witness hundreds of thousands of hawks and vultures flying en masse on their annual migration. From the Observation Deck you may see Blue Cotingas, Keel-billed Toucans, Green Shrike-Vireos, Mantled Howlers, Geoffroy's Tamarins, Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloths or Brown-throated Three-toed Sloths and Green Iguanas basking on a Cecropia branch! Noon is also the best time to watch ships navigate the Culebra Cut. After a delicious lunch, join one of our guides for a 3-4-hour guided walk down Semaphore Hill Road. This popular nature walk provides a ground-level view of the rainforest. We often spot manakins, antbirds, tinamous, sloths, coatis, agoutis and an amazing abundance of butterflies and other insects. Along the road you will see 46 species of trees identified by scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, many having medicinal value and most producing food for birds and mammals. Time permitting, we may walk for a short distance along Plantation Road. At the end of the walk, the Rainfomobile or the Birdmobile will ferry you back to the Canopy Tower.


* Tours are led by experienced, bilingual, birding/nature guides who carry Leica binoculars and a   Leica 77 mm scope.

* Transportation ( round—trip), Include one delicious meal, entrance fee to Soberanía National Park, and use of the Canopy Tower's Observation Deck where our guides will help you identify wildlife.

About the Tower:

The Canopy Tower is a prime location from which to observe the birds and other wildlife of the forest canopy. Because the birds and mammals are at eye level, it is common to get fantastic views otherwise nearly impossible from the ground.

The Observation Deck

The Observation Deck, 50 feet above the ground, gives guests a grand view of the canopy and beyond. Many of the best photographs are taken from the Observation deck. In the morning, ardent bird watchers and nature lovers assemble here for coffee and crackers while enjoying the abundant action in the treetops just below.
"When I was building the Canopy Tower there were moments of doubts about the eventual success of the enterprise, when those moments appeared I'd go up to the Observation Deck and feel the wind, hear the howlers, see the birds and my fears would vanish".  Raul Arias de Para
Short History of The Canopy Tower:

The structure destined to become the Canopy Tower was built in 1965 by the United States Air Force to house a powerful radar used in the defense of the Panama Canal. By 1969, the site was jointly used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to control air traffic in the area, and by the Panama Canal Commission (PCC) as a communications tower.
In September of 1988, the radar tower received an important new assignment when it was activated as Site One in the Caribbean Basin Radar Network (CBRN). This network of radars was used by the United States government to detect airplanes suspected of carrying drugs from South America. The tower played this role until June of 1995 when it was closed and left vacant waiting for better days.
In November of 1996, the radar tower and the Semaphore Hill site, consisting of approximately 35 acres of rainforest within Soberanía National Park, was transferred to Panama in compliance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties.
In August of 1997, the government of Panama signed a long-term contract with Raul Arias de Para to transform the site into a center for neotropical-rainforest observation and ecotourism.
In January of 1999, the Canopy Tower was inaugurated and the rest, as they say, is history

The Tower Location:
Is located in impressive rainforest atop Semaphore Hill within Soberanía National Park, 35 miles north of Panamá City in the Republic of Panamá right in the center of the New World— and just 2½ hours from Miami!

Panamá's shape creates a natural funnel, concentrating migratory birds on a narrow isthmus— land that the birds desperately need for rest and to refuel before continuing their long journey. At peak times of the year, this migration is a spectacle rivaled by none in the World! An incredible 970+ species of birds have been recorded from this country that is not even the size of South Carolina!


What is the best time of the year to visit the Tower?

The best time for your visit depends on your interests, as there's always something interesting going on in the forest.

For example, if you visit us from early December to mid-January you will see the forest still lush and green as the rainy season has just ended. Some northern migrants are present as well as the resident species. The days are sunny and balmy. January, February and March is our "high season", there is a lot of sun and practically no rain (bring sun block), the birding is continuous from sunrise to sunset and, occasionally, into the evenings to look for owls and pottoos.

In mid-March to early May you'll find yourself in the middle of spring migration, a great time to see many different warblers and other neotropical migratory birds in fresh breeding plumage, as well as hundreds of thousands of raptors on their way north.

In May and June it is the start of the rainy season, and many resident birds will be starting to nest and vocalize more often. From June to August you will see the forest at its lushest, there is plenty of food out there and you will see immature birds being fed by their parents. There is usually a tropical shower in the early afternoon, "siesta" time anyway. After the shower the sun comes out, birding is restarted and life continues on. The nights are clear and cool. Migrants are gone, but you'll find plenty of resident species to keep you distracted. Our prices are heavily discounted at this time of the year because many of our customers prefer to come to the tropics during the winter months to escape the cold, so demand is slower. Click here to see birding reports at this time of the year.

In September we start getting the first fall migrants, and this number climbs and reaches its climax around the middle of October and extending until the first week of November. This is the fall migration, a fantastic natural phenomenon when hundreds of thousands of raptors fly over the Tower on the way to their southern wintering grounds. This is one of the most impressive natural spectacles of neotropical birding

What should I bring for my visit?

If you come during the period of May to early January, bring rain gear; an umbrella might also come in handy. Rubber boots are not necessary since we will not be crossing any streams, but an extra pair of sneakers or hiking shoes/boots is advised since some trails have plenty of mud. Insect repellent is also recommended for your walks in the forest. Hair dryers are provided.

A good pair of binoculars is a must, even if you are not a birdwatcher. There are plenty of other critters to look for. We recommend Leica equipment. Our guides use this brand and it is excelente. If you come during the rest of the year, a good hat to shade you from the near equatorial sun is a good idea as well as a pair of sandals to lounge around the Tower. In any case, bring earplugs (we also provide them at no additional cost). Sounds in the Tower travel easily and they might also come in handy: if your neighbor's snoring rivals the howls of the Howler Monkeys, you'll be glad you did! Finally, we have a Leica 77mm scope available on the top floor, but if you have one bring it anyway -- having an extra scope never hurt anybody.

Outdoor clothing, preferably made of cotton, of neutral colors to blend with the surroundings and facilitate wildlife observation. You may ask, what are neutral colors? Well, think of a Hawaiian shirt, the opposite of that is attire of neutral colors. For dinner, we like to dress up a bit, nothing fancy, very informal.

Will I be able to recharge my camera batteries? Do I need a special adapter?

There are plenty of electric outlets in your room. No adapters are needed; our electricity is the same as in the good-old-USA. This was, after all, a USAF military installation

I am not all that interested in birdwatching. What else is there to do?

The abundant bird life around The Canopy Tower may change your mind!

In any event, the rainforest surrounding the Tower offers endless interest. Many of the trees along Semaphore Hill Road have numbered tags that identify them to species level on a booklet prepared by botanists and biologists of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Mammals are also abundant around the tower: coatis, agoutis, and anteaters are commonly seen from the road, and howler and tamarin monkeys are sighted frequently from the tower. Due to "good seeing" resulting from few nearby lights at night, stargazing from the roof on a clear night can be delightful. At night, Panama City's lights are visible on the horizon, and lighted ships traverse the Canal. During the day you can see both the skyline of Panama City and the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.

The Canal is itself of prime interest to many. Two sets of locks on the Pacific side of the Canal, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel, are a short drive from the Tower, as well as the Panama Canal Visitor Center. Panama City itself, with its museums, fine restaurants and shops, is only 30 minutes away.

Visit and book a tour like kayaking in the Panama Canal, an aerial tram, orchids and butterfly exhibits and fishing expeditions in the Gatun Lake, Monkey Island.

What is your policy regarding children?

Canopy Tower is not really a place for children younger than 13 years of age. The activities which we offer, and in which the Canopy Tower excels -- wildlife observation -- require silence and calm. Few young children can sustain these qualities while waiting to see a bird or a mammal. As you can imagine, a restless child can become a disturbance to other guests, while spoiling parental enjoyment of our extraordinary place.

What is your policy regarding smoking?

Canopy Tower is a smoke-free lodge. However, there are smoking areas in the Observation Deck and in the front patio.

At what altitude is the Canopy Tower?

The Canopy Tower is on top of Semaphore Hill at an altitude of 285 meters (940 feet) above sea level