About 45 minutes’ drive from Panama City is the Parque Nacional Soberanía or Soberania National Park. The Soberania National Park is one of the best and best sights in Panama City for wildlife spotting.
In addition to the Soberania national park, the metropolitan national park is also a big recommendation when visiting Panama City.
The Soberania National Park
The park covers 220 km² and is very suitable for bird watching. More than 500 species of birds can be found here. The pipeline road has held the world record for most birds counted in 24 hours. It starts near the town of Gamboa and is a total of 17.5 kilometers long.
The road owes its name to the long pipe that was built during the Second World War. After a few kilometers, the easily passable road turns into dense jungle. From there you can no longer walk the road.
Before our visit to the Soberania National Park we took a half day tour. We were picked up from our hostel early, around 6:00 AM. First we stopped at a vast field with tall grass and some bushes (see photo above). A perfect location for bird watching, because we had already seen about 10 different species of birds here.
Then we drove further on the pipeline road towards the more dense jungle. During the walk of several hours, we saw many animals. A sleeping sloth in a tree was the first animal we encountered. Then we saw howler monkeys and a capuchin monkey who liked to drop all the fruits he encountered from the tree. The car must have received a few dents. When crossing a small river, our guide saw a caiman. After a minute of very good looking around, we also saw him. On the way back he sat on the side and was completely visible, cool!
The leaf frog is also very difficult to spot. The name already gives it away, it looks like a brown leaf. Of course we have also seen a lot of birds, the names of which I do not remember. But most were very colorful. Hummingbirds are also found in the park. At one point, we heard a kind of hum next to our heads. This turned out to be a curious hummingbird. He continued to fly back and forth right in front of our heads for a few seconds, then disappeared back into the jungle. What a great moment!
The national bird of Panama is the Harpy Eagle (Harpy eagle). This bird is also found in the Soberania National Park, but it is unlikely that you will actually see this bird.
Take a guide
It’s recommended to take a guide in my opinion. It’s quite difficult to reach and you could get lost along the way. We had booked a tour in advance and turned out to have a private tour, as the other two people didn’t show up. Our guide told a lot about the types of birds and what you can encounter in the park. The guide can show you the birds through his binoculars.
For a half day tour we paid $ 35 per person at Panama Roadtrips, but the prices have now risen bizarrely for this tour …
Reach Soberania National Park
The best way to reach Soberania National Park is from Panama City.
The Soberania National Park is difficult to reach by public transport. As far as I know a bus goes to the nearest town of Gamboa and you could continue on foot from there. You could possibly stay overnight in Gamboa.
You could also take a taxi from Panama City. But the easiest is to take a tour. This includes transport to and from your hostel and you also get a lot of information about the national park and about the flora and fauna.
Depart early in the day, around 6am to 7am for Soberania National Park for the best chance of spotting wildlife.