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“Birding Trip to Canopy Tower” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Canopy Tower

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Canopy Tower
Certificate of Excellence
Ferguson, Missouri
1 review
“Birding Trip to Canopy Tower”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 6, 2012

My trip to the Canopy Tower was beyond my expectations. The Canopy Tower may not be anyone's idea of a grand hotel, but if you want comfort, delicious food, excellent service and knowledgeable bird guides, you've come to the right place.The Tower does have a certain ambiance, which can be experienced best at 6:00am while standing on the top with coffee in one hand and binoculars in the other waiting for the Green Shrike-Vireo or Blue Cotinga to perch in front of you. Both species did. Alexsis was both our driver and bird guide. He handled both duties admirably. One could easily see the pleasure he took at showing people a life bird.
Fresh fruit, delicious entrees and plenty of good wine in the evening made dining at the Tower a pleasure. By 9:30pm most of the guests had settled into their rooms quietly. I slept better than I usually do at home.

Sincerely,
Connie Alwood

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Cornelius A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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289 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (74)
Date | Rating
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English first
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 4, 2012

The Canopy Tower has been on our target travel destination list for many years. This November we spent 5 days at the Tower as part of a Wings tour and it was everything we hoped. Once a U.S. military radar tower, it is situated on a densely forested hill with a view of the Canal. After the turnover, the tower was converted to a marvelous ecolodge. It is simple and comfortable and provides unparalleled views of birds and other wildlife at every level of the silo shaped lodge.

Everyone on our Wings tour had good binoculars, but it is possible to see a wonderful variety of wildlife without them from the Tower. I loved birding from the observation deck, with a cup of strong coffee in the morning or a beer in the late afternoon. Collared Aracaris and sloths frequent the Cecropia trees almost at arms length. Howler monkeys feed there as well and are heard in the early morning, howling to each other and sounding like the wind.

The Tower has 5 levels; the top is the observation deck and is open to the sky. Level 4 is the dining area and gathering place with comfortable couches. Levels 3 & 2 have the rooms. All he rooms on level 3 have bathrooms; the single rooms on 2 share a bathroom or bathrooms.
One feature in the room that proved really helpful was an electric towel warmer rack. I was dubious about it, but the tower is in a rainforest and the rack helped dry towels and t-shirts and socks. The staff were very accommodating and are ready with coffee at dawn for those birding from the observation deck. Early breakfasts are standard but available if you want to sleep at bit later. Picnic lunches were provided if needed. Dinner was accompanied by wine. Drinks for purchase were available before dinner.

Although we had a bird guide with us, the Tower provided a guide. Alexis is extremely knowledgeable about birds and the wildlife in the surrounding forests.

One small thing to keep in mind; access to all the levels is by stairs; there are no elevators. The staff brought our luggage to our room and lugged it down when we left, but we had to climb the stairs to get to our rooms, the dining area and the top observation deck.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank KesDonahue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 16, 2012

The Canopy Tower is a very special place tucked in Parque Nacional Soberania. It's funky and very cozy with clean rooms and a very attentive staff. The observation deck gives an impressive 360 degree view of the surrounding forest stretching all the way to Panama City in the distance. Even from the deck one sees an impressive number of birds and other creatures - I spent my first afternoon on the deck in the company of a sloth - we were both a little lazy! Woke each morning to the sounds of howler monkeys. The food is delicious and wine is included! The Tower attracts interesting, well-traveled people, and there is no lack of good conversation. I hadn't had much exposure to birding, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience, benefiting from the extensive knowledge and enthusiasm of my guide and other visitors. By the end I was compiling lists and accepting an invitation to go birding in Hong Kong with two of the other visitors. I will be going back to Canopy Tower, and taking my family.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank wanderings9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nassau, New Providence Island
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 6, 2012

I was on a quick trip to Panama and last minute decided to take a day trip out here as I love birds. Although it was short notice, the staff was very accommodating and arranged a day tour, including hotel pick up in Panama City.
I was surprised to find it was a personal tour with a most excellent guide - Michael Castro. Michael is a great guide. Not only is he knowledgeable but he is obviously also passionate about the environment. I have had guides all over the world who have had a crash course and sent out as guides or have become bored over the years. However, Michael lives and breathes the whole rainforest so can point out and discover the most minute details that I certainly would have missed. He is also great at hearing the birds, mimicking their calls and brought quite a few in much closer for viewing. It helped that I did not have a group tour as I was able to spend as long (or as short) as I liked looking at any particular thing.
All in all a totally enjoyable experience. I cannot comment on the accommodation as I was not staying overnight but the rooms looked pretty basic. However, waking to the sounds of the forest would be wonderful.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Jacqui N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raul2009, Owner at Canopy Tower, responded to this review, November 16, 2012
Thank you very much for your kind comments. I'll share them with Michael. I'm sure he will be very pleased.
Best,
Raul Arias de Para
President / Founder
The Canopy Tower Family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surrey, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
166 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 171 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 3, 2012

Be under no illusions this property is an all metal ex military radar observation station. Comments about the property being Spartan are fair, however....you are situated in a national park with jungle all around, the Panama Canal nearby and Panama city sky scrappers in the distance. I spent a week in October - rainy season but had dry weather every morning and only two afternoon trips out were disrupted by rain.
This is a place to come to enjoy the bird watching and other wildlife - using the guides (Michael and Alexis were both of an excellent standard) I saw over 200 species (363 for my two week trip that included the Canopy Lodge). The food was pleasant and enjoyable if rustic.
The noise in the building will very much depend upon the people staying there. My experience was of no noise after 10ish each night (as everyone tended to be up on the Tower for dawn at 6am
To conclude if you want luxury this is not the right place but if you want an incredible wildlife experience away from it all then I very much recommend. I am sure I will be returning.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank M&G_OnTheRoadAgain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raul2009, Owner at Canopy Tower, responded to this review, November 16, 2012
Thank you very much for taking the time to share your comments with us and with all the readers of tripavisor. Indeed, birding is our passion!
Best,
Raul Arias de Para
President / Founder
The Canopy Tower Family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lisbon, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
26 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 29, 2012

We were here for 2 nights in October. In summary, though we had a reasonably good time, we felt that the Canopy Tower offered very poor value for our tourism dollar. We have spent time in eco-lodges on 3 occasions deep in the Amazon and once in Costa Rica. We have always been pleased with our choices. But, we felt like the Canopy Tower was terribly overpriced for what it provided. We were in a standard double room and it felt like a jail cell. The sound insulation is so bad that they issue ear plugs. The morning after our first night, several guests (including, to some extent, me) were sick which was quite clear given the noise transfer between rooms. I attribute it to the watercress salad which is notoriously risky to eat where sanitation is not perfect. I was concerned about one person but could not even get a staff member interested in checking on him. (On this trip, I stayed in 19 hotels and this was my only experience of getting sick.) The observation level is pleasant with a view of passing ships but I saw far more wildlife in 1 hour at Barro Colorado, some years ago, than I saw in many hours scanning the tree tops with binoculars from the observation deck at the Canopy Tower. That said, I know other guests were very happy with their experience. We did not use a guide, having spent so much on the lodge already, but other guests were very pleased with their guides. The first morning I was too sick to attend the morning viewing (with a guide present) at the observation level. The second morning, we found him helpful though there was less to see than I had anticipated. The howler monkeys were wonderful and they put on a better show (howling from a closer local) than I have experienced elsewhere.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Jan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raul2009, Owner at Canopy Tower, responded to this review, November 16, 2012
Dear Guest,

We would like to thank you for taking the time to provide your
feedback regarding your stay in our lodge. We are disappointed that
your stay was not all that you expected and would like to clarify
certain points made in the review. First, we would like to emphasize
that the Canopy Tower is not your standard hotel, but rather, is a
very unique type of lodge located in a national park that caters to a
specific market. Guests who do not fall inside our niche will probably
not appreciate all we have to offer.

We mention in several places on our website that the Tower is a
“recycled” US Military radar tower turned eco-lodge, thus the
structure itself is made of steel which allows sound to travel easily.
We do provide complimentary earplugs for light sleepers who prefer to
use them -- they are not a requirement and are certainly not "issued"
at the door.

We are also hurt by the description of our standard double rooms as a
"jail cell." We are aware that they are not the usual size of a
typical hotel room, but they are nothing like a jail cell. In fact,
the close proximity of the rooms to nature has been the major draw for
eco-tourists here for more than 12 years!

Regarding the food complaint, our chef and kitchen personnel are well
trained in handling food and have been doing so for over a decade.
Also, our kitchen passes rigorous health certifications on a yearly
basis. None of the other guests had any complaints with the food that
was served, and all of them attended the morning tour.

Regarding not seeing wildlife, to fully experience what our ecosystem
has to offer, one must go on a guided tour. Neotropical rainforest
animals are well camouflaged such that the untrained eye could easily
miss them. In fact the animals rely on this camouflage and mimicry in
order to survive.

This all being said, we welcome you to return soon for a longer visit,
and we are sure you would have a great time. And the howlers will be very close again, most likely.

All the best,

Raul Arias de Para
President / Founder
The Canopy Tower Family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Island NY
Level Contributor
270 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 153 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 7, 2012

There is no question this place is for the birds! Some have complained about that. If you are not a birder I recommend you make that known when you make your reservation so the staff can plan accordingly. We went on our walks separate from the birders, which makes sense given we have different interests. The best part about the our stay was being able to look out the window and see everything from Sloths to Toucans from the top of the canopy to the ground. You can’t do that anywhere else. In addition to monkeys (howler and tamarin) saw a lot of lovely birds from the roof. Thank you to the birders and our guide for spotting them for us, don’t ask me to remember their names.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank travelingNYfamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Canopy Tower

Property: Canopy Tower
Address: Semaphore Hill Road | Soberania National Park, Panama City 0832, Panama
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 110 Specialty Lodging in Panama City
Number of rooms: 12
Also Known As:
Canopy Tower Hotel Panama City
Canopy Tower Panama/Panama City

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