Blog Feature

Panama’s Burbayar Lodge Reopened



After four years of closure, the extensively renovated Burbayar Lodge has reopened under new management. Reef & Rainforest are delighted to welcome back one of the best jungle lodges in Panama.

Burbayar Lodge is set at over 1000 ft above sea level in its own 148-acre pre-montane rainforest reserve bordering the Nargana Wilderness Area, which in turn is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor extending from southern Mexico to the Darien in eastern Panama. It is an area of outstanding biodiversity containing many rare and endangered species of mammals, birds and amphibians.

The word burbayar means spirit of the mountain in the local Kuna language, and that is certainly what you will discover there.

Rich in plant and animal life, Burbayar’s habitat is home to jaguar, tapir and harpy eagle, animals that require extensive healthy environments to thrive. Since 1998, when the reserve was established, the increase in wildlife abundance and diversity has been dramatic. Troops of Geoffroy’s tamarin monkeys (endemic to Panama) are common as well as families of collared peccaries, tamandua and pacca. Rivers and creeks that traverse the reserve, as well as bromeliad leaves and other humid crevices in tree trunks are teeming with frogs and other amphibians. The bountiful flowering plants attract countless butterflies and the rainforest trees are used by many species of birds to nest, feed and rest.

The Burbayar bird list exceeds 300 species including rare specialities such as sapayoa, xenornis, yellow-eared toucanet, rufous-winged and sulphur-rumped tanagers and plumbeous hawk. The wildlife trails lead to natural river pools, waterfalls and exuberant tropical landscapes.

Burbayar Nature Reserve is situated in a low saddle on the Continental Divide where species of different ranges congregate. It is in the narrowest section of the Isthmus of Panama, used by literally millions of birds during their migrations from the north and south of the American continent.

For over 20 years Burbayar has served the scientific community as a prime location for their work thanks to its accessibility, protected status and abundance of wildlife. Organisations such as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Gorgas Institute for Health Research and Yaguará carry out field research within the reserve on a permanent or regular basis.

Only 90 minutes away from Panama City (70 minutes from Tocumen International Airport) Burbayar is only 30 minutes from the San Blas islands northwards and Bayano Lake to the south. This unique advantage offers more possibilities to explore different habitats and to encounter new cultures.

The management at Burbayar are committed to the protection of the rainforest and the wildlife found within the reserve, to provide the opportunity to visitors to explore, learn and enjoy its natural attributes, to offer support to conservation. They work closely with their neighbours to guarantee the area’s long term conservation status and a sustainable economy through ecotourism. The best way to accomplish this is by educating the future generations: therefore Burbayar supports the local school by providing workshops on environmental education and guide training.

About the Lodge

Burbayar Lodge reopened its doors in 2019 under new management yet maintains the same tradition of homestay hospitality. The lodge underwent important renovations and it now offers six rustic yet comfortable cabins with private bathrooms, quality mattresses, ceiling fans and 24-hour electricity. Other creature comforts include screened windows, reading lamps and charging stations for cameras, smart phones and other electronic equipment.

The main house offers a lounge, reference library, hammocks and hummingbird feeders. Meals are traditional Panamanian and served family style. The kitchen is prepared to accommodate special diets with advance notification. A drinking water dispenser is located at the main house which is accessible at all times. Guest are expected to bring their own reusable bottles.

The pathways between the cabins and main house are exceptional for bird and butterfly watching and visits by Geoffroy’s tamarins and other small mammals are not uncommon. The gardens contain a variety of tropical plants including unique orchids.

We at Reef & Rainforest are delighted that Burbayar can once again form an integral part of a tailor-made wildlife trip to Panama. Please ask us for more details.

If you have any questions regarding our tours, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965