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Canopy Tower, from Canal Defense Radar to a Bird Watching Tower


In 1963, during the height of the Cold War, the United States Army had the idea of ​​installing a powerful radar in Panama to protect the Canal from a possible attack with intercontinental missiles from the Soviet Union, or some ally during those years.

Radar Tower for the Panama Canal Defense

Soon military architects and engineers arrived and found a hill with the name of Semphore Hill near the Summit Park Gardens. The highest hill in the area from where it is possible to clearly see Panama City and Culebra Cut.

These experts decided to build a huge galvanized steel tower topped with a 9-meter-diameter geo tangent dome. At that time, this group of soldiers never imagined that 35 years later, instead of monitoring missiles, the site would be revitalized for bird watching.

From Radar to Bird Watching Tower

The particular blue tower that honors the name of the site, was used to protect the Canal from 1965 to the beginning of the 1990s, later abandoned until businessman Raul Arias de Para decided to give life to the project that shortly after would become an exceptional site for ecotourism enthusiasts: The Canopy Tower.

Transformation of a Military Installation for Civil Use

This birdwatching hotel opened on January 1, 1999, exactly when the Torrijos-Carter treaties allowed the transfer of the Canal to Panamanian hands. An event that attracted many journalists from all over the world to the Canopy Tower and marveled at how a military installation could be converted for civilian use.

Among the Best Remote Places in the World to Stay

Located within Soberania National Park, 35 miles north of Panama City, Canopy Tower is one of the most unique refuges in the world, dedicated to bird and wildlife watching.

Canopy Tower is an iconic site for Panamanian eco tourism. The British portal Host Unusual included this site in the “Top 20 remote places to stay”, in one of its publications. A privileged place from where you can watch a huge variety of birds without having to leave the room. A unique natural place that honors how the exuberant tropical jungle of Panama harmoniously intertwines with humans.

A Tourist Adventure Like Few in the World

This natural enclave is quite an adventure, since you must climb a one-kilometer path through the jungle. On this route it is possible to observe birds and monkeys until reaching the 35 meters high tower. Once at the site, you must climb the stairs until you reach a deck with a 360-degree view, and from where it is possible to see the highest part of the forest.

The Canopy Tower places the Visitor on the roof of the forest where certain species of birds and butterflies can be observed, which are very difficult to appreciate from below. It is an experience within a mature forest, very rich in fauna, from where you can see the Canal, the ships at the Culebra cut, the bridge of the Americas; and on clear days the beautiful island of Taboga, and Panama City’s skyscrapers.

Canopy Tower is an invitation to rediscover the potential that ecological tourism has and to glimpse all the possibilities of a sector that can become one of the great protagonists of Panamanian tourism at a local and international level.

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