Panama

Tour Intro

A Photo Tour along the Isthmus Route

Kathy Adams Clark is a professional nature photographer and owner of a stock agency representing fifteen photographers. Her work has been published in a variety of national and regional publications including National Geographic Books, The New York Times, and Sierra. Kathy teaches over fifty photography workshops and classes each year. Her work is seen each week in the Houston Chronicle's “Nature” column, written by her husband, Gary Clark.

Gary is an avid birdwatcher with a passion for sharing his knowledge of birding and the natural world with others. He is the founder of the Upper Texas Coast Rare Bird Alert and the Piney Woods Wildlife Society. He is Past-President of Houston Audubon Society and a former Gulf Coast Bird Observatory board member.

Kathy enjoys traveling with people new to photography as well as with folks with advanced skills. She has an ability to explain complicated photographic terms in an easily understood language. She likes to teach those hungry for new information, but also understands that photography can be a solitary task. Each person traveling with Kathy is treated as an individual, but the group always has fun. She is skilled in all makes of digital cameras. www.kathyadamsclark.com

Panama is one of the great crossroads of the world. This narrow S-shaped isthmus that stretches between Costa Rica and Colombia is a vital thoroughfare of international commerce. Visitors are surprised by Panama’s outstanding natural beauty with miles of coastline on the Pacific and Caribbean sides. Locals enjoy sharing this natural beauty with tourists. Panama is a biological bridge between continents with pristine wilderness and ecological diversity. Over half the country is still covered by dense tropical rainforest, and large tracts are protected by a system of National Parks and nature reserves. It is home to more than nine hundred species of birds.

A couple of miles from Panama City is the Metropolitan National Park. This is an unspoiled tract of primary rainforest, home to more than two hundred species of birds as well as mammals such as titi monkeys, white-tailed deer, sloths and agoutis. Departing Panama City the program moves on to Soberania National Park, considered one of the most accessible areas for bird watching and wildlife observation in Central America. At the Rainforest Discovery Center you will climb up the observation tower and enjoy canopy bird species as well as spectacular views of the Soberania’s vastness. The prestigious Pipeline Road is world famous among naturalists due to its high yield in bird species. This pipeline was built during World War II to transport fuel from one ocean to the other in the event the waterway was attacked. The abandoned gravel road provides excellent walking access to the park. Gamboa is an excellent base location for our day trips with time to explore the small village or hike along the Chagres River.

The San Lorenzo National Park is on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, where you will photograph along the Achiote Road, Trogon Trail, and through the lush rain forest. It is possible to see monkeys, sloths, coatimundi, toucans, and other wildlife.

Tour Highlights

Guided by Panama Birding & Naturalist Guide, and your Professional Photo Leader Kathy Adams Clark and Naturalist Gary Clark.
Tour limited to twelve participants.
Stand atop a canopy tower with beautiful views of the Soberania National Park.
Experience and photograph the birds of the Chagres River, Achiote Road, and Pipeline Road.
Visit the feeding stations of Cerro Azul Foothills and San Lorenzo Park
Accommodations in lovely garden settings that are photographic locations in there own right.

Tour Itinerary

March 9: Home - Panama City

Your Panama adventure begins today as you board your flight to Panama City (PTY airport code). You are met at the airport and driven to the Albrook Inn hotel. The Hotel is located in a residential area, surrounded by nature and with easy access to the main bird locations of the Panama Canal Rainforest. Overnight Albrook Inn. Meals on own

March 10: Metropolitan Nature Park

After breakfast we can photograph birds and flowers in the gardens of the hotel. After which depart for the Metropolitan Nature Park, with a list of 267 species, it is the largest tropical forest park within the limits of a Latin American city. This is a good place to find birds of the Pacific forest include the Yellow-green Tyrannulet (rare), Lance-tailed Manakin, Pheasant Cuckoo and the elusive Rosy-thrush Tanager. Mammals sighted may include titi monkeys, white-tailed deer, and sloths. After lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll go to the Smithsonian Nature Center at Culebra Island, which offers visitors an open-air museum focusing mainly on marine science and education, conservation and interpretation of marine coastal environments. There are trails with one leading to lookout point, with views of the entrance to the Panama Canal.

Nestled in the Soberania Rainforest, on the banks of the Chagres River and Panama Canal, this stunningly beautiful resort provides many comforts during your stay, optional spa services available. Overnight Gamboa Rainforest Resort (BL)

March 11: Pipeline Road & Canopy Tower

Today will include look for birds and photograph around the famous Pipeline Road and the surrounding areas of the Soberania National Park. From a new observation tower enjoy fantastic views of the tropical moist forest and several canopy dwellers, such as the Blue Cotinga and flocks of Keel-billed Toucans. The Rainforest Discovery Center gardens offer an easy place to photograph birds like the Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-breasted Puffbird, and Broad-billed Motmot. Admire hummingbird feeders teeming with acrobatic fliers who are in a battle dominated by the White-necked Jacobin. Overnight Gamboa Rainforest Resort (BL)

March 12: Gamboa Wetlands & The Chagres River Shores

Outings today includes several aquatic habitats around Gamboa, including the Ammo Dumps, searching for Rufescent Tiger-Heron, White-throated Crake, Yellow–tailed Oriole, and many flycatchers. We’ll walk the north areas of the Pipeline Road looking for specialties such as the Streak-chested Antpitta, Great Jacamar, Antbirds and several other elusive birds of the National Park. After lunch continue the explorations around Gamboa and the Chagres river shores. Gamboa, a tiny community, is surrounded by exuberant tropical nature. It is nestled between the Panama Canal and the rainforest of Soberania National Park. Overnight Gamboa Rainforest Resort (BL)

March 13: Old Gamboa Road & Plantation Road

Explore another hot spot at the Canal corridor, looking for Spectacled Owls and Blue-crowned Motmot. Scan the Summit Ponds for Amazon, Green, Ringed Kingfishers and nesting Boat- billed Herons. Bird walk under the evergreen forest of Plantation Road, there are possibilities to find army ant-swarms and many of the birds that follow these ants, such as Spotted Antbird, and Ocellated Antbird. Some other specialties of the Plantation Road include Golden-crowned Spadebill, Olivaceous Flatbill, White-whiskered Puffbird and more. In the afternoon we continue on to the Caribbean Slope. The accommodations for the next two evenings are a perfect choice for nature lovers, nestled in a gorgeous setting of 500 acres on a private rainforest. Overnight Sierra Llorona Lodge (BLD)

March 14: Achiote Road – Atlantic side fo the Panama Canal

We'll spend the day on the Western Caribbean bank of the Panama Canal. Along the Achiote Road, on the edge of the San Lorenzo National Park, we’ll search for Spot-crowned Barbet, Pied Puffbird, and White-headed Wren. Achiote is the site of the famous Christmas Bird Count held by the Panama Audubon Society each year, consistently exceeding 340 species in a 24-hour period.

At mid-morning we'll go to the Trogon Trail, an easy level trail, under ever-wet forest to look for forest-interior birds, including the Chestnut-backed, Spotted, Bicolored and Ocellated Antbird. Several species of trogons could be found, like White-tailed Trogon, and Black-throated Trogon. Achiote is also an important site for diurnal raptors. Skies should be watched for King Vulture, Gray-headed Kite and Hook-billed Kite. Lunch we’ll be at a community owned restaurant at Achiote. Overnight Sierra Llorona Lodge. (BLD)

March 15: Cerro Azul Foothills & the Chagres National Park

The Chagres National Park protects the headwaters of the Chagres River, the main provider of water of the Panama Canal. From the gated community of Cerro Azul there is easy access to several trails and roads that lead into the park. There is a lookout with hummingbird feeders and trails where we will go in search of the national endemic Striped-cheeked Woodpecker, Rufous-crested Coquette, Violet-capped Hummingbird, and Scaled Pigeons. Gardens and feeders lure a colorful mixture of tanagers such as Emerald, Bay-headed, Speckled and Rufous-wing Tanagers. Soaring Black-and- white-Hawk Eagle are often seen at Cerro Azul. Overnight Riande Continental Airport (BLD)

March 16: Departure for Home

Given enough time before flights home we can return to Cerro Azul for the Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Swallow-tailed Kite and a nearby colony of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas. Transfer to Tocumen Airport (PTY). (B)

Photo Leader

Kathy Adams Clark
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Kathy Adams Clark

Kathy Adams Clark is a professional nature photographer and owner of a stock agency representing thirteen photographers. Her work has been published in a variety of national and regional publications including National Geographic Books, The New York Times, and Sierra. Kathy teaches over fifty photography workshops and classes each year. Her work may be viewed weekly in the Houston Chronicle's “Wonders of Nature” column, written by her husband, Gary.

Kathy enjoys traveling with people new to photography as well as with folks with advanced skills. She has an ability to explain complicated photographic terms in easy-to-understand language. She likes to teach those hungry for new information but also understands that photography can be a solitary task. Each person traveling with Kathy is treated as an individual, but the group always has fun.

Kathy is an accomplished naturalist as well as a photographer, skilled in 35mm film and digital cameras. She is very passionate about nature, birdlife, and wildlife. Gary Clark who is an acclaimed naturalist guide in his own right will co-lead some trips each year with her.

A lifelong naturalist, Gary Clark has studied birds, mammals, and butterflies in North, Central, and South America and in East Africa.  He is an award winning professional writer whose column “Nature” appears weekly in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News.  He has authored feature articles in state and national magazines and has written six books that include photographs from his wife, Kathy.  He frequently conducts birding workshops and leads birding tours.  He is founder of the Piney Woods Wildlife Society of Texas, former president of the Houston Audubon Society, and former vice-president of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.  Gary is a full professor at Lone Star College.

Because of both Kathy & Gary's love of nature, and the work they do, Strabo Tours is proud to make a donation to the Houston Audubon Society for each trip they take part in.

This was the trip of a lifetime for me. I was challenging myself to learn all sorts of new things, photography, a new culture, and was immersed in it. It surpassed my expectations and I met so many beautiful souls along the way. Kathy was fantastic, I give her a 10++!!!

D. Whitney

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 9 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 if 6-8 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

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