Eastern Lowlands and Darien
As you head East of Panama City, you find yourself in some of the best birding locations in the country. This region of the country is not heavily birded and much remains to be discovered.
This trip will start in the Central Highland town of Cerro Azul and head East, stopping along the way to bird some prime lowland forest habitat. The trip will end in the Darien Province, a region occupied by many species that split their range between Panama and Colombia.
Lodging will be a mix of well-appointed and relaxing Bed and Breakfasts and roadside hotels and the days will be spent birding in locations that will make your head spin.
We will see many endemics as well as Eastern Lowland specialties such as Double-banded Graytail, Rufous-winged Antwren, Golden-green Woodpecker and Green Manakin. If luck is on our side, this is the best trip to find Harpy Eagle.
Day 1: Arrive in Panama City and head to the town of Cerro Azul. Here we will check in to our very comfortable ecolodge and spend our evening birding the lodge grounds. Elevation here is high relative to the lowlands and a light jacket will keep you warm through the night. After some introductory birding, we will have dinner and retire to our rooms for big day of birding to come.
Day 2: Wake early and walk through the extensive trail system in Cerro Azul. Here we will find many specialties of the area including Spiny-faced Antshrike and Tacarcuna Chlorospingus. After a full day of birding this very special place, we will return to the lodge where you can relax in a hot tub or make a spa appointment. More evening birding around town will help to build out the species list from the region.
Day 3: This morning we will depart from our lodge early and begin our drive East. We will stop at Lago Bayano, get into a boat and bird the lake for One-colored Becard, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Long-tailed Tyrant and, if we are lucky Pearly-breasted Cuckoo. We will make our way to an Embera Indian village where we will walk along forested birding trails. After a full day of birding the lake we will make our way to the town of Torti and check-in to our hotel and prepare for another big day of birding.
Day 4: Today we will spend the entire day birding Reserva San Francisco for endemics and other Eastern Lowland Specialties. We will search for the Yellow-green Tyrannulet...a bird that has a small range entirely in Eastern Panama and nowhere else. In addition, we will search the reserve for Black Antshrike, Barred Puffbird, Great Jacamar and many other species. The reserve has multiple habitat types which leads to huge diversity in the resident avifauna. If we are very lucky, we may see a Harpy Eagle while in the reserve, as this is a location where eagles show up from time to time to hunt the resident monkey populations. After a full day in the reserve we will head to the town of Meteti and pass into the Darien Province.
Day 5: This morning we will wake early and head out on a dugout canoe for a ride down the Chucunaque River. We will look for owls and potoos perched along the river in the pre-dawn hours before arriving at the small Darien town of El Real at sunrise. We will get out of the canoe and into a truck and make our way to a trailhead that will lead us to an active Harpy Eagle nest. Along the way, we will bird the highly productive lowland rainforest. We will end our hike at an active Harpy Eagle nest and you will have the opportunity to witness one of the most impressive birds on earth. After a while observing the birds at the nest, we will reverse our trip back to Yaviza while birding the entire time.
Day 6: Today we will bird El Salto road, another very productive birding location within the Darien Province. We will start our morning walking along an easy road that bisects multiple habitat types while we continue looking for Darien specialties. The road terminates at the river where we will spend time looking for birds moving up and down the river corridor.
After a full morning of birding we will make our way back to the city to check in to our hotel prior to our flight home the next day.
Our first two nights of lodging will take place at La Semilla Ecolodge in Cerro Azul. The lodge is well appointed with an on-site restaurant, spa, game room and tv lounge.
During the days visiting Torti and Meteti, we will be staying in roadside hotels. All hotels rooms will come with private bathrooms and air conditioning. The night prior to our flight home will be spent at the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel near Tocumen International Airport.
TOTAL TRIP COST: $2,950 per person
*Cost includes all airport transfers, transportation within country, lodging, breakfast, dinners and guiding services. Does not include airfare, drinks, lunches and gratuities.
DATES OF TRIPS: January 11-17, 2020