Tranquilo Bay Family Tour
Bocas del Toro, Panama
June 4 - 11, 2016
8-day / 7-night FAMILY PACKAGE
$1795 per adult / double occupancy
$930 per child / cabana with two adults
Each cabana can house up to 4 children with 2 adults*.
*Surcharges could apply, depending on the makeup of your family group (i.e. a family of 6 will need 2 rooms at the Riande on the final night)
Single occupancy $580 applies to adult occupying a cabana without another adult, with or without children
Stand eye-to-eye with Montezuma Oropendolas and Red-lored Parrots as they feed on fruit in branches just yards away from your perch atop a 5-story observation tower. Watch as Golden-collared Manakins perform on their lek just a short walk from your comfortable air-conditioned cabin. Observe several species of hummingbirds as they dip in and out of the water at their favorite bathing spot. Snorkel in a quiet lagoon as hundreds of jellyfish pulsate below you and tour a chocolate farm that shelters not just birds but poison dart frogs as well. Relax on the spacious deck of the main building or on your own covered porch and watch the resident birds in comfort. Go swimming on a pristine beach or snorkeling in unspoiled reefs. All of this, positioned in one of the loveliest spots in Panama, is Tranquilo Bay.
Tranquilo Bay has listed over 180 species of birds onsite and over 400 from daily excursions to nearby bird-rich environments. It is
an owner-operated eco adventure lodge located on Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro, adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park. The property has over a kilometer of Caribbean coastline covered in coral gardens teaming with tropical fish. The facilities encompass over 40 hectares (100 acres), with over a kilometer of hiking trails full of wildlife, including a lek of very active Golden-collared Manakins. This is the perfect setting for a family adventure, and we've scheduled a wide variety of activities designed to entertain and inform both children and adults. The owners' children will assist with most of the activities for the kids, making this a one-of-a-kind experience.
Why come to Tranquilo Bay? A better question would be, "Why not?"
Day 1 Arrive Panama City
Today you will fly from the US to Panama City, where you will be met at the airport for transfer to your hotel. If you arrive early enough, we can arrange for an outing to the nearby Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal where you can tour the museum and watch ships as they pass through the canal. Alternatively, we can arrange a visit to the new Biodiversity Museum. (Extra fee for either activity)
O/N Country Inn & Suites (no meals)
Day 2 Transfer to Tranquilo Bay
Early this morning you will fly to historic Bocas Town on Isla Colon, the first headquarters of the United Fruit Company, or Chiquita Brands. Vestiges of this bygone era are apparent in the town’s quirky Caribbean architecture and melting pot of cultures. Upon arrival you will meet your Tranquilo Bay guide at the airport and the adventure begins. From Isla Colon we will take a beautiful 30-minute boat ride passing through the marine portion of Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. On our way to Tranquilo Bay you will get your first looks at Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal and Black Terns, Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gull, and possibly soaring raptors and two species of jaeger. Once at the lodge, you will enjoy breakfast and fresh tropical fruits while the staff attends to your luggage. After settling into your cabanas, you will regroup with your naturalist guides for onsite activities.
Tranquilo Bay Trails & Canopy Observation Tower
Tranquilo Bay's grounds include over 200 acres with several kilometers of forested trails covering three distinct ecosystems: the coral reef, mangrove forest, and Neotropical Atlantic Rainforest. Several kilometers of nature trails meander through the forest, taking you through multiple prime habitats, for unsurpassed wildlife viewing in completely natural surroundings. This forest and its edge are home to many of Isla Bastimentos common favorites including multiple raptors, Montezuma Oropendolas, Red-lored Parrots, 11 species of hummingbirds, 6 species of kingfishers, Green Ibis, tityras, woodpeckers, honeycreepers, tanagers, pigeons, antbirds, manakins, seedeaters, and herons, and, in season Three-wattled Bellbirds. White-faced Capuchins, three- and two-toed sloths, green iguanas, basilisk lizards, butterflies and poison dart frogs are also common on these trails. After dinner try to spot some of the local nocturnal residents such as the Common Potoo, Owls, Western Night Monkey, Four-eyed Opossum, Wooly Opossum, Crab-eating Raccoon, Speckled Caiman and Bats.
Children’s Afternoon activity: Nature Study & Journaling / Fishing off the dock
O/N Tranquilo Bay (BLD)
Day 3 Cacao Plantation Tour
After birding from the lodge’s terrace with Panamanian coffee and a casual breakfast, we will take a calm 20-minute boat ride through Dolphin Bay to Buena Esperanza. The collection of tropical flora and fauna found at this location represents the best collection of tropical plants and butterflies in the archipelago. A superb water garden and natural creek running through the property also attract many species of mammals, reptiles and multicolored amphibians. The psychedelic green and black poison dart frogs, Dendrobates auratus, can be prolific with sufficient moisture. Here at Green Acres, under the rainforest’s great canopy of shade, one of the rarest strains of cacao tree in the world, the Criollo, is grown. Robert and Julie Peters, the owner/operators of Green Acres, will lead us on a tour of the rainforest and chocolate manufacturing facilities. Details of this modest but extraordinary chocolate operation will include cacao trees, forest ecology, a step-by-step process of how chocolate is made from bean to bar and a sample of the farm’s tasty products. Under this stunning rainforest canopy we will be searching for Slaty-tailed, White-tailed, and Gartered trogons; Purple-throated Fruitcrow; Black-chested Jay; Pale-billed Woodpecker; Pied Puffbird; Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant; Montezuma and Chestnut-headed oropendolas; Keel-billed and Black-mandibled toucans; Cocoa Woodcreeper; and many more species. Mammal sightings might include Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Mantled Howler Monkey, Kinkajou, Three- and Two-toed sloths, squirrels, and Greater White-lined Bats.
Children’s Afternoon activity: Rainforest Edibles Exploration / Make Brownies & Eat them!
Evening activity: Night hike to find nocturnal mammals
O/N Tranquilo Bay (BLD)
Day 4 Snorkel & Beach trip to Zapatilla Cayes (Full Day Activity)
These two unspoiled islands are protected by Bastimentos National Marine Park within Panama’s LaAmistad Biosphere, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. These pristine white sand islands are covered in coconut palms, tropical hardwoods, sea grapes, and almond trees draped in a collage of bromeliads, ferns, orchids and other epiphytes. It is possible to walk around these islands while stopping to explore the white sand beaches and reefs covering the entire circumference. Snapper, barracuda and vivid tropical fish abound on the beautiful reefs surrounding the area. Many seabirds and some migrants frequent the island; sightings might include Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal Terns, Common Black Hawk, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and migrating warblers. While at the cayes, hiking, kayaking and snorkeling are available options.
Evening activity: ID birds in flight from the canopy observation tower
O/N Tranquilo Bay (BLD)
Day 5 Isla Popa Bird & Frog Exploration / Indigenous Village Visit
Each of the islands in the Bocas del Toro archipelago has interesting wildlife and high levels of endemism; however, Isla Popa, the second largest island in the chain, has more species of birds and mammals due to its close proximity to the mainland. A leisurely boat ride of about two kilometers will bring us to a dense gallery forest surrounded by the rich mangrove lagoons of nearby Isla Popa. We will birdwatch in this phenomenal area by boat; peacefully enjoying flights of Keel-billed and Black-mandibled Toucans, Crimson-fronted Parakeets and Brown-hooded Parrots, as well as Slaty-tailed Trogon, Golden-hooded Tanager, Plumbeus and Swallow-tailed kites, Pale-billed and Lineated Woodpeckers, Mangrove Cuckoo, American Pygmy Kingfisher and hopefully see male Snowy Cotingas conspicuously blazing in the sun. This mangrove lagoon has some beautiful beds of Turtle Seagrass where we can have good looks at sponges, starfish, urchins and Upsidedown Jellyfish. When the bird activity begins to subside, we'll make landfall for a short hike into the forest in search of the Oophaga pumilio, or Red Poison-Dart Frog. This special location holds several populations of different color morphs of this species in a very small area of forest. Because colorations and patterns can vary wildly in this region, Oophaga pumilio is thoroughly studied here by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Insitute. Beautiful photographs of these rainforest jewels are possible. After our nature hike we will boat over to nearby Isla Popa Village, home to many families of Indigenous Ngobe. Some of the Ngobe women will demonstrate how they make Chacaras, or carrying bags, used for many daily chores. These beautiful and strong handmade bags, are made from a strenuous multi-process utilizing a fiberous plant called Pita.
Children’s Afternoon activity: Rainforest or ocean printing onto t-shirts and paper for a unique keepsake
O/N Tranquilo Bay (BLD)
Day 6 Kayak & Snorkel Jellyfish Lagoon
You may decide to take today’s excursion either in the morning or in the afternoon. Our guides will take you on a kayak to a nearby jellyfish lagoon. You will search out water life above and below the surface focusing on the beautiful upside down jellyfish. We will also use this outing to explore the top-to-bottom estuary of the Red Mangrove and its ecology, while snorkeling near the root system and birding the incredible habitat above the ocean in search of herons, kingfishers, pelicans, pigeons, Green Ibis and the Yellow Mangrove Warbler with its gorgeous rufous head. Making our way out of the Lagoon, we will snorkel various reefs surrounding Tranquilo Bay and experience many different forms of colorful hard and soft corals, brilliant tropical fishes and interesting invertebrates.
Children’s activity: Scavenger hunt
O/N Tranquilo Bay (BLD)
Day 7 Depart Tranquilo Bay
Today we will explore more of the trails at Tranquilo Bay, which will give us the luxury of a hot lunch and a short rest before heading back to Isla Colon for our late afternoon departure. You will be transported from the domestic airport to the Hotel Riande Aeropuerto, just minutes from the international airport. Dinner on your own at the hotel’s restaurant.
O/N Hotel Riande Aeropuerto (BL)
Day 8 Departure
This morning you will take the hotel shuttle to Tocumen International Airport for your flights home. The Riande has a beautiful swimming pool, so you might want to schedule your flights in the afternoon (no later than 3:00 PM) in order to enjoy a morning of relaxation by the pool before going home.
Lodging in lovely air-conditioned cabanas
Meals as indicated, including alcoholic beverages with dinner at Tranquilo Bay
Bilingual naturalist guide(s) throughout the tour
Services of Cheepers! tour leaders during the tour
Transfers to and from airports
Domestic round-trip airfare, Panama City – Isla Colon
PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
Items of a personal nature such as souvenirs, tips, phone calls, etc.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
Deposit of $500 with registration (link for registration form is at the bottom of this page). Balance is due on or before February 4, 2016.
Checks should be made payable to Cheepers! Birding on a Budget and mailed with the registration form to:
Cheepers! Birding on a Budget
Post Office Box 385
Spring Valley, OH 45370
Cancellation must be made in writing (email or snail mail)
More than 6 months prior to departure – full refund of deposit
Between 4 and 6 months prior to departure – 50% refund of deposit
Less than 4 months prior to departure – No refund of deposit
If cancellation occurs after full payment is made, a refund will be given only if the vacant spot is filled.
Trip insurance is recommended.
You can compare prices offered by various trip insurance companies at this website:http://www.quotewright.com/?sub_id=6056
Cheepers! Birding on a Budget LLC reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary if the need should arise due to unforeseeable circumstances such as weather, landslides, and other natural phenomena, as well as suggestions by local guides in order to take advantage of an unusual birding opportunity. Lodging is subject to change based on availability.
Click on the link below to download a registration form.