2019 Syracuse Panama Conservation Expedition

Dear Families – Welcome to the homepage for the 2019 Syracuse Panama Conservation Expedition. We are thrilled to be partnering with Syracuse High School! Please read through the details about your program below and peruse our Resource Center, which contains lots of helpful information about our organization, tuition, safety, insurance, and more. We hope you will join us on the adventure of a lifetime in Panama!
Travel Dates: July 16, 2019 - July 25, 2019
Dates are Tentative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT/SSA Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,490 - or - $2,366 with discount if paid in full
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $600
Deadline(s): Forthcoming

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Program Tuition: $2,490

Pay in Full

Pay in full at the time of enrollment and receive a 5% discount off your program tuition! Your program tuition with this discount would be:



Panama is a land of contrast. Imagine one of man’s most impressive modern feats of engineering, in the middle of one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. Aside from the canal that makes it famous, Panama is a country full of hidden natural treasures, diverse indigenous cultures, and lessons in sustainability and environmental leadership.

Neither truly part of North nor South America, Panama’s long relationship with the U.S. yields a fascinating blend of Hispanic and English-speaking influences, which, combined with some of the world’s most thriving modern indigenous traditions, creates a beautiful patchwork of cultures at the very heart of the Americas.

Located in the buffer zone of the Soberanía National Park , Soberania Lodge is a modest Bed & Breakfast offering outstanding opportunities for wildlife observation in the adjacent rainforests. Various room configurations are possible, from bunkrooms to singles, they all have air conditioning and private bathrooms with hot showers. On the grounds of the Soberania Lodge you can find a great diversity of animals, ranging from dozens of species of butterflies and moths, to iguanas and lizards, as well as scores of mammals like sloths, tamarin monkeys, night monkeys, kinkajous, agoutis, pacas, coatis, armadillos. Additionally, the bird diversity is impressive with nearly 200 species recorded from the backyard. With aprox. 48,287 acres, the Soberania National Park contains an amazing biodiversity. Even though it is found some 40 minutes from downtown Panama City, this protected area boasts an incredible assortment of wildlife including five species of monkeys, two kinds of sloths and some 400 species of birds; plus thousands of butterflies, beetles, dragonflies, etc. Its geographical position in the middle of Panama allows for a nice variety of species both from Central America, as well as some organisms typically from South America. Located in the small town of Gamboa, in the buffer zone of the Soberanía National

Conservation Expeditions

Conservation Expeditions

Conservation Expeditions invite students to participate in scientific research projects, learn about diverse ecosystems, and lend a hand in community-based biodiversity conservation efforts.

Program Highlights

Check out some of the possible featured experiences of your coming adventure! Each customized itinerary is unique, but these are just a few of the activities which may be available during your program.

Work alongside wildlife scientists on a variety or research programs

Zip-line across lake Gatun

Visit the Panama Canal and watch giant ships transit through the world-famous locks

Hike to a summit in the tropical rainforest

Learn about tropical wildlife firsthand

Explore Indigenous artisan and fish markets

The Itinerary

We work hard to create engaging, educational, and truly immersive itineraries for our travelers. However, we also know that travel can be unpredictable, so we always design our experiences to be flexible enough to allow for adjustments based on group interests, unexpected opportunities, and any weather or safety concerns that may arise during your program. Should changes to the itinerary occur, we will notify travelers and families as quickly as possible. 

Tuesday, July 16USA - Panama CityFly to Panama City at night, then drive across the glittering city and along the Panama Canal to Gamboa, where we'll check into our lodge next to Soberanía National Park, our home away from home for the next few days.Soberania Lodge
Wednesday, July 17GamboaAfter our first Panamanian breakfast we'll have an orientation meeting and introduction to the center and the work of some of our Panamanian hosts, all of whom are Panamanian researchers and biodiversity conservationists. Then, strap on your hiking shoes! Today we dive in and spend our first full day in Panama observing and documenting wildlife in the rainforest in Soberanía National Park, right around our lodge. We may be lucky to see some of different species od toucans, motmots, trogons, and myriad tanagers found here. We may even spot agouties, perhaps an armadillo, or a coati exploring the grounds. In the evening, we'll have an introduction to the work we'll be assisting with during our time in Panama.Soberania Lodge
Thursday, July 18GamboaToday, we'll be doing volunteer work identifying and clearing invasive species from the National Park. After lunch, we will have a biodiversity talk, and discuss our group projects for the following days (scientific methods for data collection). Pending confirmation, we will hear form Panamanian primate researchers that will tell us about their work and the native primates we will obeserve in the coming days.Soberania Lodge
Friday, July 19GamboaIn the morning we will continue volunteer work at the National Park with invasive species. In the afternoon we will visit the local Wildife Rescue Center- Asociación Panamericana para la Conservación (APPC). We will assist in activities that promote the Center's Sanctuary's core mission and goals.Soberania Lodge
Saturday, July 20Chagres National ParkToday, we will travel outside Panama City for a journey back in time. We will spend the day with the Emberá natives living in the rainforest. With over 320,000 acres, the Chagres National Park is the largest protected area in the Panama Canal Watershed. Even though they are found close to Panama City, the Emberá retain most of their ancestral traditions. We will learn about the local culture as our host answers all your questions. In addition, you will have an opportunity to buy some hand crafts created by the Emberá, including wood and nut carvings, as well as gorgeous baskets with their bright colors.Soberania Lodge
Sunday, July 21Altos de CampanaEarly today we will travel towards the Altos de Campana National Park to see a completely different ecosystem. At the heart of the mist-covered cloud-forest, we will be on the lookout for a few organisms unique to this ecosystem, giant trees, tree ferns, orchids, and an array of epiphytic flora. We may continue our volunteer work in the afternoon, time and energy permitting!Soberania Lodge
Monday, July 22Panama CityAfter eating breakfast enjoying the creatures that frequent the grounds of the Soberanía Lodge, we will drive towards the Pacific coast of Panama City to visit the Smithsonian Institution's Punta Culebra Marine Exhibit Center, where you will learn about the various marine ecosystems of Panama, including biodiverse mangrove eco-regions. This will be a great introduction for your snorkeling explorations in the coral reef. You will learn about the ecology of Coral reefs, tropic reef fishes, echinoderms, and crustaceans, among other organisms. We will then explore Panama City's historic Casco Viejo district. We'll take a stroll along the seaside Cinta Costera, try fresh ceviche at the fish market, and have the chance to purchase some souvenirs from local vendors. In the afternoon, we will stop by the Panama Canal Museum and the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, in order to learn firsthand about the operation of this globally important waterway. You may be lucky to see how some gigantic ships, called PANAMAX vessels, just barely (but always) squeeze through the immense locks.Soberania Lodge
Tuesday, July 23Isla IguanaEarly today we will drive towards the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula; here we will board a boat to visit Iguana Island. This wildlife sanctuary protects one of the most important coral reefs in the Pacific coast of Panama. Hundreds of colorful reef fishes, sponges, and corals thrive here. In between snorkeling outings you may take a break to enjoy the white sandy beach, or go for a walk to find the namesake of the island: Green Iguanas. The sanctuary is also important as a breeding colony for sea birds like Frigatebirds, Pelicans, and Brown Boobies. On our journey back to the mainland we will keep our eyes wide open in search of dolphins or sea turtles. We'll stay the night near the picturesque town of Pedasí, we will stroll around the main Plaza to acquire a feel for this colonial site.Pedasi Hostel
Wednesday, July 24
Isla Iguana/GamboaAfter breakfast, we will drive to a wetland area to learn about one of the most important ecosystems in the tropics, both for its significant biodiversity, and for the economic and ecologic services they provide. Here we'll hope to find a large concentration of waterfowl and wading birds including ducks, herons, egrets, lapwings, and much more. Afterward, along the drive back to our home base in Gamboa through forested roads, we may spot a three-toed sloth hanging from a tree on the roadside. In the evening, students will have the opportunity to interact with researchers currently working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in topics such as Amphibian decline, birds, plant physiology, bat research, among others. We'll have a final dinner, then get some rest before the voyage homeSoberania Lodge
Thursday, July 25Panama City - USADrive through downtown Panama City and past mangroves to the airport, where we'll board our flight home!Your own bed, eventually!


In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for our travelers, teachers, staff, Program Leaders and Country Directors, we follow strict guidelines when deciding on lodging, making reservations, and assigning program participants to rooms.

Travelers will always be grouped in rooms and/or sleeping areas by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with their Walking Tree group. Group Organizers and Program Leaders will be roomed separately from each other and from other students. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are centrally located, clean, safe and wifi-enabled. 


Below are a few examples of our partner hotels. Although these are our preferred providers, they are subject to change based on availability. Your final itinerary will provide complete information on your accommodations in the cities you will be visiting.
Soberania Lodge

Soberania Lodge is located in Soberania National Park. The lodge is locally owned and in a prime location for neighboring attractions. Each room comfortably sleeps 1-8 students.


Hotel Punta Franca

Hotel Punta Franca is a 3-star beachside hotel overlooking the ocean. Each room can comfortably sleep 1-4 students with ensuite bathrooms.



Safety and Support


My experience with your organization was exceptional. The communication was prompt, courteous, and thorough. The trip was very well planned and the educational focus made me feel this such trip had a great value. My daughter has grown and matured in a wonderful way because of this trip.

Parent of Teagan, traveler on 2017 program to Thailand

Your Adventure Includes

Estimated Airfare

In order to give our travelers the best possible price, we break out airfare from the Program Tuition. We will still handle all booking and ticketing via our flight partner who has access to special fares not available to the general public. We will provide full transparency in cost so that families pay what the flight costs and nothing more. You will be invoiced for the flight once we are able to secure the group’s airline contract.

Program Tuition Excludes: Travel insurance, baggage fees, airline minor fees, passport/visa fees, laundry, souvenirs, and activities not listed on itinerary.


Need to Raise Money? We have you covered.

Our travelers are provided with fundraising opportunities that are easy to implement and fun to take part in. Our flagship fundraiser involves selling bird-friendly, fair trade coffee from our host countries. There is no limit to the amount you can raise, so get started now by selling coffee or referring your friends to earn credit toward your program!


WTT coffee
Resource center

Resource Center

Why should high school students travel abroad? What happens if a participant gets sick? How quickly do we need to enroll? We’re sure you have plenty of questions and we’ve got you covered! Visit our Resource Center to discover the answers to your most pressing questions and contact us anytime with additional questions.

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