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panama travel and tourism

Rainforest Discovery Center

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Just off Pipeline Road and bordering Soberanía National Park—approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the park entrance—is the Rainforest Discovery Center.

If you're a birder or just looking for a bird's-eye view of the rainforest canopy, the Rainforest Discovery Center is a great place to visit. The facility offers visitors a 105 ft. (32 m) birdwatching observation tower, hummingbird feeders, and a circuit of trails.

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A short walk from the visitor center, an open structure surrounded by lush, verdant rainforest, is the observation tower, which clears the canopy and provides panoramic views of the surrounding forest, home to an impressive collection of birds and animal species. It is ideal for birders and nature lovers alike and is best enjoyed early morning or late afternoon.

Unfortunately, the tower is not as sturdy as I expected and, as a result, is not well suited for videography, time-lapses, telescopes, etc. For still photographs or general viewing purposes, you shouldn't be bothered. The structure is very safe, so you need not be concerned for your safety. It's a design flaw. While attractive to look at, the tower is surprisingly narrow and consists of a spiral staircase with 174 stairs, and even the slightest movement causes it to shake or sway. Even a single person walking up the stairs or moving from one side of the platform to another is enough to make the tower sway. The more people, the more noticeable it becomes. Honestly, it can be frustrating at times.

A good pair of binoculars is a necessity, and if you're taking pictures, I recommend a lens longer than 300mm; 400-500mm is best. There are times when the animals get close enough to shoot with a 70-200mm, but birds, not so often.

Hummingbirds Galore!

Along the open edge are hummingbird feeders, so you're guaranteed to get a good look at a variety of different species. Stools and a wooden handrail run along the perimeter, so there's plenty of room to relax and observe flora and fauna.

The forest trails consist of a gravel path and are easy to moderate in difficulty. While well worth a visit, they take a back seat to the observation tower.

The Rainforest Discovery Center is well worth the price of admission. Get there as early as possible because that's when the viewing is best. The sun comes up quickly in Panama and by 8:00-9:00 am, you're sweating bullets. For more information, I recommend you visit their website.

Getting to the Rainforest Discovery Center

Google Map - Rainforest Discovery Center

rainforest discovery center pipeline road panama birding in panama

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