Panama City has many tour companies offering tours of the city, canal, and nearby parks. But not all of them have guides of the same caliber, and few have true naturalist guides. An inexpensive city tour option is to board one of the hop-on/hop-off, red double-decker buses of Citysightseeing Panama (citytourspanama.com), which stop at the Amador Causeway, Miraflores Locks, Casco Viejo, and several malls once an hour, allowing you to get off, explore, then board the next bus.
Advantage Panama. With a strong focus on bird-watching and nature tours, Advantage uses guides trained in tourism and biology, and offers multiday and single-day excursions into rain forests and national parks. 1040 Calle 11 Este, Parque Lefevre, 507/6676–2466; www.advantagepanama.com.
Ancon Expeditions. Panama's highest-profile tour operator provides an array of options, including whale watching, Panama Canal boat excursions, and adventure travel in Bocas del Toro. The company is a preferred operator for Virtuoso, the upscale travel network. Calle Elvira Mendez, Edificio El Dorado No. 3, 507/269–9415; www.anconexpeditions.com.
EcoCircuitos Panama. One of Panama's best tour operators focused on ecotourism and nature travel, EcoCircuitos offers complete, multiday escorted packages into the country's interior, as well as day trips from Panama City that visit some of the region's best natural attractions. They also do city tours and Panama Canal excursions. Albrook Plaza, No. 31, Urbanización Albrook, 507/315–1305; 800/830–7142; www.ecocircuitos.com.
Rain Forest Adventures by Panama Excursions. This tour operator, a division of a larger company that also operates in Costa Rica, Jamaica, and St. Lucia, offers a variety of well-organized group and individual tour options, including Panama Canal full and partial transits, Panama Canal Railway excursions, eco-cruises on Gatún Lake, and visits to Emberá villages. Av. Roberto Chiari #722, Balboa, Panama City, 507/314--0820; www.rainforestadventure.com.