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"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

"Panama's Canopy Tower provides a luxurious perch"
Denver Post, 2002

"Panama's Canopy 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 eco-tourist experiences"
Chairman of the National Audubon society, Donal O'Brien


Gamboa, Panama
Phone: 011 507 264-5720
Web Site:

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 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 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.