"Canopy Tower lodge,
a converted radar tower rising out of the rain forest of the
50,000-acre Soberanía National
Park in Panama, and a mecca for bird enthusiasts."
New York Times, Mary Tannen, 2002
"This hotel is one
of the world's best examples of recycling. A former U.S. armed
forces radar tower, it is one of the most comfortable and rewarding
destinations in the world of ecotourism. The open windows are
ideal vantage points for the many nature photographers and writers
who visit the tower. ..We were told not to bother with an alarm
clock, but to be prepared to be awakened by the unnerving pre-dawn
calls of howler monkeys. We quickly learned to keep binoculars at
hand. Our first sighting of an exotic bird, a gorgeously iridescent
green honeycreeper, the first sighting of an exotic bird, came
through the open window of our oversized shower."
Hartford Courant, 2002
Tower provides a luxurious perch"
Denver Post, 2002
Tower - a wonder of the birding world."
Birdletter, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours
"A former U.S.
radar tower outside Panama City has become one of Latin America's
most talked-about new places to stay...I'm no birder, but it is
pretty thrilling at the top of the Canopy Tower."
Travel & Leisure, Kimberly Brown
"One of the great
Chairman of the National Audubon society, Donal O'Brien
Phone: 011 507 264-5720
Web Site: www.canopytower.com
About Canopy Tower
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 semideciduous 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
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 floor
below houses six 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.
Canopy Tower Facts:
The radar originally installed in the tower consumed as
much electricity as 60 families.
From The Canopy Tower you can see the widening of the
Culebra Cut. When completed in the year 2003, the amount of soil that will
have been removed in this important improvement to the Panama Canal will
be four times the amount of soil dug to build the tunnel communicating
England with France.
The temperature in the Tower is usually 2-3 F lower than
in Panama City and in the early morning hours it gets as low as 65F.
The Canopy Tower was featured in the TV documentary,
"Panama: Paradise Found?" produced by the National Audubon Society and TBS
and hosted by Mariel Hemingway.
The Canopy Tower was built in 1965 by the United States
Air Force to house a powerful radar used in the defense of the Panama
Canal. By 1969, the site was jointly used by the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) to control air traffic in the area, and by the Panama
Canal Commission (PCC) as a communications tower. The FAA permit
terminated on its own terms in June of 1979 and its function was
deactivated, but the PCC continued to use a small area of the tower until
1995. In September of 1988, the radar tower received an important new
assignment when it was reactivated as Site One in the Caribbean Basin
Radar Network (CBRN). This network of radars was used by the United States
government to detect airplanes suspected of carrying drugs from South
America. The tower played this role until June of 1995 when it was closed
and left vacant waiting for better days.
In November of 1996, the radar tower and the Semaphore
Hill site, consisting of approximately 35 acres of rainforest within
Soberanía National Park, was transferred to Panama in compliance with the
Torrijos-Carter Treaties. The government of Panama, in turn, signed a long
term concession contract with Divertimento Ecológico, S. A., a panamanian
corporation, to transform the site into a center for the observation of
the neotropical rainforest. A fitting use for Panama, a peace loving
country with no armed forces. In the picture to the left, the radar tower
is now The Canopy Tower, an exclusive mini-lodge offering its guests an
extraordinary opportunity to appreciate the rich and diverse fauna and
flora of Soberanía National Park.