Our Expeditions

 

 

 

 

We concentrate on offering a small number of high quality expeditions into the rainforests of Panama and the Amazon each year.  We obsess about the itinerary and planning to ensure you receive value for your money and an expedition that exceeds expectations.  We want to transfer some of our passion for tropical nature to you – so that you’ll want to come back for another rainforest tour.


Value for money:  two guides with groups
Rainforest tours are organized and co-led by US college professors with extensive experience in tropical nature expeditions, and by expert Panamanian and Brazilian naturalist and bird guides.  Having always two guides leading the group ensures personalized attention, additional safety, and a range of natural history expertise – giving you the best chance of seeing all that there is to see.


Small groups
Since nature and wildlife are best encountered in small groups, we limit the number of participants on expeditions.  We always bring along top-of-the-line spotting scopes, which can be used for digiscoping.  On rainforest tours with overnight camping, we also set up motion-sensing trail cameras to discover what was on the trails near our tents or hammocks after we turned in.


More than just identification
We pride ourselves in being able to give you the background stories about what you see.  On our birding tours, for example, we do more than simply identify the species of hummingbird that you’ve just seen zip by.  We’ll let you know it was a male Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus), and that if we continue along this trail you can witness males calling from the undergrowth in their odd “lek” mating system.

Even on birding and other specialized tours you’ll want to see some of the iconic plants and animals that live in the rainforests of Central and South America.


 We might follow a poison dart frog carrying tadpoles on its back – on its way to releasing the tadpoles into pools of water that collect in epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) in the forest canopy.

We might use scented oils to attract stingless orchid bees to have a close-up look at these jewels of the rainforest, with their pockets for collected fragrances in their enlarged hind legs.  And if they have pollen packets stuck to their bodies, this will give us an idea about the different species of orchids inhabiting the area.


We go off the beaten path
Whenever possible we explore areas not often visited.  For example, in our unique New Species Expeditions in the Brazilian Amazon, we travel to remote areas almost never seen by visitors.  And if you’re interested in a longer, customized, expedition – no problem:  we’re experienced in rainforest tours and birding tours that last two weeks or more.


Discounts
Children
We want to give everyone the opportunity to experience tropical nature.  In addition to keeping prices low, we provide discounts for children aged 13-17 in the hopes of capturing the imagination of the decision-makers of the next generation.

Returning to Ceiba Expeditions
As a thank-you for taking more than one expedition with us, we’ll discount your subsequent expeditions by 5%.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus

hemileucurus), Guadalupe, Panama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog

(Dendrobates auratus), Cerro Chucantí,

Panama.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Male orchid bee, Euglossa, attracted to scented
oils, Boquete, Panama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The classic Souza Quieroz riverboat used for some
of our Amazon expeditions, moored in a tributary off
the Rio Negro, Amazonas State, Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Two types of expeditions 

1   Specialized & Birding Expeditions

      Itinerary  &  Booking   


Apart from our popular birding tours, we provide a range of specialized tours on specific rainforest and amazon wildlife, focusing on everything from butterflies to frogs to mammals.

We also offer our unique New Species Expeditions in the Brazilian Amazon, led by renowned primatologist Marc van Roosmalen, PhD.  On these expeditions we search for recently discovered species of Amazon wildlife – all discovered by Marc himself.  This is a real expedition!  And with the bar set so high there is no guarantee that we will be completely successful.  However, with Marc as expedition leader, the chances are very good that at least one of these rare new species will be encountered.

Regardless, your journey into the Amazon will be spectacular.  You will be visiting areas seen by very few indeed, and you’ll undoubtedly see many iconic Amazon forest animals along the way – and a lot more besides.

Visit Marc’s website (marcvanroosmalen.com) for further information about his many Amazon discoveries and for details of his recent book publications.                    

 

 


Overview of the New Species Expeditions
The world’s second-smallest monkey
We will be searching for the second smallest monkey in the world, the Black-crowned Dwarf Marmoset (Callibella humilis), a new species of monkey discovered by Marc in 1998.  This monkey, with a “threatened” conservation status, also has the smallest distribution of any monkey in the Amazon (and possibly in the world):  your only hope of seeing it – is where we’re going!  Marc will give you a full rundown about the ecology of this remarkable monkey as we travel by riverboat along the Amazon waterways to the Rio Aripuanã region, south of Manaus.


Citizen science
If we locate the dwarf marmoset on our Amazon tour, we’ll make note of the size and make-up of their sometimes large social groups (e.g., whether infants are being carried by mothers).  And we may take notes on their odd tree-sap feeding behavior (sap is obtained by gouging the bark with their specialized teeth).  Any observations are invaluable, since very little information on the ecology of this unusual monkey has been collected since its discovery.  Expedition members would be acknowledged in any report resulting from the expedition.


New species
Additionally, depending upon reports from local guides and villagers, we will search for two potentially new species of Amazon wildlife that Marc has been researching:  a suspected new species of river dolphin and a suspected new species of manatee, the dwarf manatee.  If you check Marc’s website (see above) you’ll realize that we will be visiting a biologically “lost world”; we may well find ourselves pursuing reports of other potentially new species.
 
These expeditions are a once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved in tracking down Amazon wildlife potentially new to science.



2   Natural History Expeditions                                     
      Itinerary  &  Booking    


Our Natural History Expeditions are designed to provide a spectacular cross-section of tropical wildlife and an adventure beyond the typical ecotour.  Experience the amazing birds of the area, like the resplendent quetzal in Panama or the species of macaws and toucans passing over our Amazon riverboat as we glide past flooded forests.

In Panama, it’s possible to travel in just a few hours from other-worldly mountain-top cloud forests to pristine coral-fringed islands in the Caribbean or Pacific.  Or, in the Amazon, meet (literally at one of our sites) the famous pink river dolphins and see the world-famous Meeting of Waters near Manaus.  There’s a good chance that our Amazon guide can coax a tarantula out of its den on the rainforest floor or, occasionally, point out the shredded bark seven feet up a tree trunk:  a jaguar “scratch tree.”

We’ll introduce you to the wealth of butterflies and frogs (including poison dart frogs) and other tropical rainforest animals in both Panama and the Amazon, and we’ll show you the sloths and different species of monkeys of the area.

We go off the beaten path:  we include novel features such as overnight camping in the rainforest.  You might see kinkajous and olingos (relatives of raccoons) by flashlight foraging acrobatically in the forest canopy.  Or you might see a spectacled owl staring back at you, or the eye-shine of a tree boa.  In the Amazon, we’ll take nighttime canoe trips to look for the ruby eye-shine of spectacled caimans (like small alligators) or the large shining eyes of potoos (cryptically-colored nocturnal birds) perched on dead snags at the river’s edge.

And for those animals that we miss at night, we’ll set up motion-sensing trail cameras.  Captured images of peccaries (like front-heavy, hairy, pigs) and agoutis and pacas (like giant, but not so hairy, guinea pigs) are not uncommon.   Not to mention that jaguars, and other wild cats, are also resident at many of the sites we visit.


Supporting indigenous communities
On most expeditions to the Panamanian and Amazon rainforest, we include visits to indigenous communities.  Your ecotourism dollars are thereby providing important support of indigenous cultures.  Additionally, many of those on our expeditions express interest in donating school supplies to the children of the communities we visit.



Day & half-day tours

If you find yourself in Panama and would like to take a short birding tour or natural history excursion, we highly recommend the following expert guides:

 

Western mountains

Genover (Ito) Santamaria (itotourspanama@gmail.com)

 

Central Panama

Kent Livezey (birdingpipelinepanama.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young Black-crowned Dwarf Marmoset (Callibella 

humilis), Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marc van Roosmalen with the suspected

new species of dwarf manatee, Rio

Aripuanã Basin, Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same manatee as above, posing for a photo,

with Marc’s hand for reassurance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus 

mocinno) with a wild avocado, on its way

to its nest hole.  Males are often the sole

provider towards the end of nesting. Shortly 

after this photograph was taken the young 

quetzal took its maiden flight. Guadalupe,

Panama.


See Galleries for a (distant) image of the

young quetzal just moments out of the

nest with the male in attendance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown-throated Sloth (Bradypus variegatus),

Metropolitan Natural Park, Panama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner in the jungle, Amazonas State, Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embera girl, Embera village, Chagres

River, Panama.