Canopy Tower

Canopy Tower
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Soberania National Park
Northwest of Panama City
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Reviewed by Kate Siber

An aging former U.S. air-force radar tower in the Panama jungle might not seem like an obvious spot for a birdwatching lodge, but Panamanian banker-cum-conservationist Raúl Arias de Para considered it perfect. Turned out he was on to something: The best way to spot birds is, naturally, from their own vantage point—as in, up in the treetops. And this spot is in the midst of bird bedlam as the meeting point of migrating North American and South American species.

After Arias

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Price Points
Room Types
Lodge Room
Recreation & Amenities
Birding,Cultural Activities,Hiking,Photography,Wildlife/Nature Programs
Gateway Town
Closest Airport

Panama has some of the most easily accessed forests anywhere in the tropics. The Canopy Tower is located on top of Semaphore Hill, in a well preserved semi-deciduous tall forest in the heart of Soberanía National Park. It is at an altitude of 900 feet above sea level, and from its roof you can see the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal and the skyline of Panama City, just 30 minutes away. Its privileged position makes ideal as a base from which to start exploring the forests of central Panama, as well as the Canal and other historical attractions. At the base of the road up Semaphore Hill is Plantation Road, a good, easy graded dirt road where you can walk through more than three miles of mature forest. A ten minute drive takes you to the gate of the famous Pipeline Road which runs for 11 miles through wetter forests in the heart of Soberanía National Park.

The Canopy Tower has five levels that offer different views of the forest around it. The flat roof is a great place to watch the canopy, as well as the Panama Canal and, in the distance, the skyline of the city. The top floor, covered by a 30 feet high geotangent dome (a variation of Bucky Fuller's famous geodesic dome), is used as the main dining area, and is completely surrounded by panoramic windows. The floors below house 12 two-person bedrooms with large windows and a full bathroom with hot-water showers each. Below the rooms, a mezzanine with more windows adds viewing opportunities of the lower levels of the forest canopy. Finally, the ground floor will house exhibits about the environment and the surrounding forest and the animals that live in it.

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