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panama travel and tourism

Pipeline Road - Soberania National Park

panama's pipeline road in soberania national park, birdwatching in panama

Perhaps Panama’s most famous birding destination, Pipeline Road, is located inside Soberania National Park. The park, measuring 48,287 acres (19,541 hectares) in size, was established in 1980 and contains numerous trails, one of which is Pipeline Road.

Approximately 10.5 miles (17 km) in length, the road is well maintained and composed primarily of dirt and stones. Dense forest lines both sides of the trail, leaving few areas with expansive views.

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Pipeline Road is well maintained and composed primarily of dirt and stones. Dense forest lines both sides of the trail; there are no expansive views, though the area directly overhead is usually open. The road is mostly flat, though there are gradual inclines and declines. I'd say it's easy walking. After a hard rain, there might be some large, deep puddles and areas of mud, so I highly recommend hiking shoes, not sandals.

Getting to Pipeline Road

Google Map - Pipeline Road Google Map - Albrook Bus Terminal

There are no public buses that reach the entrance of Pipeline Road. Metro buses only go as far as Summit Gardens. However, small, private mini-vans service Gamboa from the Albrook Bus Terminal. They depart five times daily from behind the food eatery; you will need to look for the PIO PIO chicken fast-food restaurant. Walk to the right, and then turn left at the first entrance; you will see buses in front of you. To pass through the turnstiles, you will need a RAPI>PASS bus card, which you can purchase for $2.00 at the machine along the wall before reaching the turnstiles. In addition to the card, you will need to add $1.00 to cover the terminal entrance fee, which is $0.10. The bus trip costs $2.00 per person (each way) and takes approximately 45 minutes, depending on traffic.

Get off the bus at the last stop along the main road before turning right; before reaching Gamboa, you will cross over the Chagres River. There is an abandoned basketball court on the left side of the road.

From here, continue walking straight along the cement road, and shortly, you'll pass a Smithsonian Institute Scientific Research Station to your right. A few minutes later, the left side of the road opens up, and you'll see the canal and the many maintenance installations. Continue walking until you reach the intersection. From the bus stop, it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes.

At the intersection, stay left and continue along the asphalt road. There is a sign pointing to the Rainforest Discovery Center (2.4 Km).

After 4-5 minutes, the road turns to gravel and bends to the right. On the right side is a steel guard rail, and on the left is a railroad crossing. As you walk around the bend, there's a noticeable incline.

Follow this road for another 4-5 minutes, staying left until reaching a yellow security gate. Before the gate, turn right. There is another sign pointing to the Center (2.2 Km).

Further ahead (2-3 minutes) is the entrance to Pipeline Road, where you'll find an abandoned ranger station. If you are arriving by car, there is space off to the right where you can park; the road is not well suited for automobiles. Passenger vans, pick-ups, and SUVs are needed.

If you intend to visit the Rainforest Discovery Center, you can find more information here.

panama's pipeline road in soberania national park, birdwatching in panama

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