Just a hop, a skip, and a boogie from the heart of the thriving metropolis that is Panama City is a sweet sanctuary of plush greenery and exotic wildlife at Soberania National Park. The scenic park is also home to two amazing hiking paths. One is El Charco in Gamboa, and the other, Pipeline Road. Both are perfect for incredible bird watching, as well as other wildlife sightings.
In fact, Soberania National Park is one of Panama’s best birding sites. Many species are protected within the park, which spans 55,000 acres (223 square kilometers) along the shores of the Panama Canal. The park also contains the country’s most accessible tropical forest, stretching from Limón all the way to Lago Gatún, and offers a perfect day trip opportunity from the city.
Expect to get a good workout on the varied hiking trails. With luck, you’ll catch sight of some of the 525 species of birds, 105 species of mammals, 80 reptiles, and 55 amphibians that call this place home. Exotic birds that live within Soberania National Park include toucans, trogons, motmots, flycatchers, woodpeckers, hawks, and tanagers. The rarest of the birds are the red-bellied woodpecker, crested eagle, yellow-eared toucanets, sirystes, rufous-fantail, ground cuckoo, and harpy eagle, which is an endangered species.
Bird lovers will marvel at Pipeline Road, which is the top spot for birding within the park. It is best to do your birdspotting in the early morning hours, as the forest starts to wake from sleep. Pipeline Road offers several miles of scenery, and along with birds, you may spot a capybara, which is the world’s largest rodent, as well as both two- and three-toed sloths. Geoffroy’s tamarin and coatimundis are also known to roam Pipeline Road.
The Panama Rainforest Discovery Center is a mile into the Pipeline Road trail. There, you can climb the observation tower, which is fantastic for bird spotting, as well as giving you the best chance of seeing sloths.