Pipeline Road

Perhaps Panama’s most famous birding destination, is situated inside Soberania National Park, which itself is located within the Panama and Colon provinces. 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; there are several others nearby.

Measuring approximately 10.5 miles (17 km) in length, the road is very well maintained and has a base composed primarily of dirt and stone. Vehicle traffic is accommodated and should be expected. There are very few open areas that offer expansive views, most of the trail is lined with thick forest. As well, there are no benches or seats along the trails. The first 5 miles (8 km) are relatively flat and provide for easy walking. There are numerous wooden bridges along the way, all very safe and easy to cross. The second half of the trail has more hills, some of them fairly steep, but the road itself is in good condition. (if you plan to drive on the road to the park’s interior section it is recommend that you do so in a 4×4, rather than a passenger vehicle.)

We recommend that you bring bottled water, as there is no fresh water available inside the park, other than fresh water steams, which may or may not interest you. The Discovery Center, which is a private reserve located approximately 1 mile (1.5 km) from the park entrance, can be accessed from Pipeline Road and does sell bottled water and other refreshments at their visitors center.

Entering the Park:
The park office is open daily between 6:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and the cost p/p is $5.00 for foreigners; a nice map may or may not be available, so do ask for one. You can enter into or leave the park at any time, as there is a door to the right side of the ranger station that is never locked. If you enter the park before 6:00 a.m. you’ll be asked to pay upon departing. You can, upon request, stay overnight inside the park, which costs $10.00 p/p in addition to the entrance fee. You vehicle can also stay inside the park.

How to Get to Pipeline Road
By car
From Panama City you need to drive to the town of Gamboa, which is located approximately 40 minutes away and is situated alongside the Panama Canal (it’s the same road that takes you to Albrook Airport, just continue straight along this 2 lane highway). Upon reaching Gamboa, cross over the bridge (Chagres River) and continue straight along the paved highway for a few minutes, passing a large crane on the left side. The road then forks, say to the left and continue along the dirt/gravel road, with the Panama Canal to the left. A bit further the road turns to the right where there’s a sign pointing to Pipeline Road (Sendero Oleoducto), soon you’ll see the park entrance. From the bridge in Gamboa it’s just a few minutes drive to the park entrance. There is ample space outside to park your vehicle.

By bus:
You need to take the Gamboa bus that departs from the Albrook Bus Terminal in Panama City. The bus enters into the town of Gamboa but does not reach the park’s entrance. Just after passing the large crane on the left side the bus will turn to the right, you must get off the bus here. Then, just follow the dirt road mentioned above to the park entrance, it’s a very easy 20 minute walk.

The cost is less than $1.00 and takes approximately 45 minutes. Monday – Friday the buses depart from 5:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., leaving every hour. On weekends, the buses depart from 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., leaving every hour. The last bus departs Gamboa at 10:00 p.m. for Panama City. The buses that depart for Gamboa depart from the Terminal’s far left side, just behind the Burger King restaurant, which is located in the food eatery.