The Western Highlands of Panama are very special and offer some of the most alluring birds in the country. For starters, the Resplendent Quetzal only breeds in this location. In addition, the diversity of hummingbirds and tanagers is astounding in this region.
The higher altitude of this coffee-producing region means less humidity and cooler daytime temperatures, which keeps bird activity high throughout the day. Birding in the highlands is an unforgettable experience and no visit to Panama is complete without a visit to this very special region.
This Tour includes 8-days of birding and offers some of the most "luxurious" lodging of all. Clients will spend their days marveling at some of the most amazing birds on earth and their nights sleeping in comfort.
Day 1: Arrive in Panama City and head to the town of Cerro Azul. Because it is exhausting to fly straight to the Western Highlands, we will bird this area prior to heading West. 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.
Days 3 & 4: After 1 1/2 days in Cerro Azul, we will catch an early flight to the Western City of David. This is the gateway to the Volcan Baru region, which is the breeding habitat for the Resplendent Quetzal. From here, we will catch a ride to a coffee farm that offers lodging and has an extensive trail system with over 300 species of birds recorded. We will spend two nights at this location and our days will be spent exploring their trails and hummingbird gardens. Our lodging will once again be "luxury" and everyone will be in their own suite complete with a balcony and hammock. The lodge itself is considered one of the nicest in the Western Highlands and is also considered one of the best places to see the Resplendent Quetzal during the breeding season.
Days 5-8: In the morning we will picked up and driven two hours to the Costa Rican border where we will check-in to our mountain lodge, which is the highest elevation lodge in the entire country. Enveloped in a cloud forest, this lodge has an extensive trail system that can take over a week to explore. We will spend three days at this remote location. On the first day, we will hike trails located at 6000ft looking for bellbirds, quetzals and tapaculos (among other species) and the open edge habitat and hummingbird stations located at the lodge. The next day we will be driven to a trail system that sits close to 7000ft and look for completely different species (Flame-throated Warblers, Prong-billed Barbets, Collared Redstarts, and Streak-backed Treehunters) in the morning and head downhill in the afternoon to look for dippers, Torrent Tyranulet, Sulphur-winged Parakeets and Red-headed Barbets. If individuals are really up for it, we can hike all the way up to La Amistad park located at approximately 7500ft and see some mountaintop endemics as well.
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.
Once in the highlands, we will be staying at the Finca Lerida and Mount Totuma Cloud Forest Ecolodge. Both of these lodges are extremely comfortable and situated at ideal locations for birding in the highlands.
TOTAL TRIP COST: $3,500 per person
*Cost includes all airport transfers, transportation within country, lodging, breakfasts and guiding services. Does not include dinners, airfare, drinks and gratuities.
DATES OF TRIPS: March 22-29, 2020