Responsible tourism: Panama bird photography vacation
During this tour in the cloud forest of central and western Panama, we will be passing through many reserves which were established specifically for the preservation of birds in this region. At the beginning of the tour clients will pass through the Soberania National Park and the Gamboa Rainforest. Here we will visit areas such as the Rainforest Discovery Centre established for the protection of birds and wildlife of this region. This area is also along a major migratory route and fly zone for many bird species. Our contribution goes a long way in providing revenue for this organisation and park to continue the work they have started.
In western Panama, the tour passes through the La Amistad International Reserve among many other smaller forested areas. La Amistad is one of the few places in the world and only area in Panama where the Resplendent Quetzal can be seen in the wild. Our tour will also take clients to other areas where coffee farmers are dedicated to preserving bird habitat. Our visits and financial contribution are greatly appreciated by these local establishments such as Cielito Sur, Finca Lerida and long established Finca Hartman. The Los Quetzales Lodge is also a local establishment located on the fringe of the La Amistad International Reserve for conservation and preservation of habitat for birds and wildlife is deep in its roots.
We ensure that our clients stay at lodges which are all involved in conservation of bird habitat where possible. Both lodges in the western portion of this tour will take clients to lodges that are committed to conservation and fits within our core values of Environmental Stewardship, Conservation and Positive Social & Economic Impact. In addition to this, we will contribute 2% of the listed tour price to a local conservation group/body or not for profit organization on behalf of each or our customers. We will provide suggestions and will be happy to make the contribution to an organization of the client’s choice as long as it is a not for profit organization involved in preservation of birds and wildlife habitat.
During one of the days, in the quiet hours of the afternoon and when convenient, clients will have the option to engage in reforestation of selected areas to protect bird habitat. This activity is strictly optional and depends on the weather and level of interest from participants. After a productive morning of birding, spending a couple of hours replanting trees in prime bird habitat can be very rewarding.
During this tour, each client is provided with his/her own reusable drinking bottle. We do not use single use plastic bottles as far as possible and water during tours are transported in portable coolers. Where packed lunches are required, we ask that the lodges provide these in reusable lunch containers rather than plastic wrappings.
On the trails during the tour, you may come across animals which frequent the forests. In all cases, wildlife and birds have the right of way. At no time will we disturb, disrupt or interfere with breeding behaviour or bird and wildlife habitat in a negative way. In any of the reserves we visit in this area, there are leks, nests, and areas where birds display during breeding season. As far as possible we will keep our distance to comfortably view these remarkable displays while avoiding any disruption.
Photography of birds is key on our tours, however we do not allow flash photography which we believe disrupts the natural behaviour of birds and animals. All clients on this tour will be provided with a Code of Conduct prior to the start of the tour.
We play our role in supporting the local communities of Cerro Punta, Boquete and the surrounding towns which this tour passes through, not only by visiting the prime bird reserves in these areas, but also by our hiring practices and local food options.
Our hiring policy mandate is to hire the best local guides only and this tour will be guided by a local expert from the Panama Cloud Forest. In addition the tour takes our clients through local villages where clients will have the opportunity to taste local foods, some of the best coffee and the best Panama has to offer.
Meals are always prepared by lodges and/or restaurants using local chefs/cooks as far as possible and our guide who is a resident of Cerro Punta, is very knowledgeable on local culture and birding hotspots and will provide our clients with a great appreciation for Panamanian birds, wildlife and culture.