"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
A M AWeb Site:
Meet Raúl Arias de Para
Panamanian by birth and by heart, Raúl is the grandson of Don Tomás Arias,
one of the Founders of the Republic of Panama. Raúl studied economics in
St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia, and in the University of Virginia,
Charlottesville, where he obtained an MS in 1970. His thesis director was
Dr.Leland B. Yeager. Upon his return to Panamá, Raúl worked in the banking
industry for 10 years. Motivated by the absence of freedom and human
rights in the Panamá of that time, Raúl entered politics in 1983 and
quickly reached the top echelons of the Christian Democratic Party, then
the largest opposition party in the country. After the elections of 1984,
the first presidential elections in 15 years, he became incensed by the
fraud perpetrated by the government and wrote Así fue el Fraude (Anatomy
of a Fraud), a detailed and well documented exposé. This book became the
all-time best seller in Panamá, was translated to English and can be found
in the Library of Congress and in Harvard University's library.
Later Raúl served two terms in the National Assembly and
was detained twice by the Noriega regime. After the fall of Noriega in
1990, he served the new government of Panamá as Financial Director of
Public Security and was part of the team that dismantled what remained of
Noriega's Defense Forces, transforming military installations into
hospitals and generals' ill-gotten mansions into schools . Subsequently,
the government of Panamá reformed the Constitution to prohibit the
existence of armed forces.
Panamá is now a country without an army as Costa Rica
has been for many years. After leaving the public sector in 1991, he
founded and succesfully managed several businesses (a brokerage firm, a
public opinion polling company, and a real state development corporation).
In 1994, he entered the field of ecotourism motivated by
his desire to conserve a waterfall close to his heart and located in el
Valle de Antón, on lands owned for over 80 years by his family.
Before, Raúl hired some locals previously engaged in
"slash and burn" agriculture as guides, installed a gate at the entrance
of the trail to the waterfall, instituted an entrance fee, and started
enforcing rules, the waterfall was being ruined by insensitive visitors.
The waterfall and surrounding rainforest are now clean, peaceful, and a
home to innumerable birds as well as other indigenous life forms including
the golden toad. Thus, an ecotourism activity was born: an activity that
does not deplete the natural resources it uses, and that promotes
appreciation of nature. You may read more about the waterfall and the
Canopy Adventure -- a truly thrilling cable ride through the canopy
created in early 1995.
The following year, he began to look for a place to
build an ecolodge in the forests surrounding the Panama Canal and, in
August of 1996, found the Semaphore Hill Radar Station which he later
converted it into the Canopy Tower.