Forrest is an outstanding guide. I often have trouble getting on a bird and he was very patient with me. He lived up to all the hype my friend told me. Looking forward to more trips with Rockjumper and especially with Forrest.
Those who decide to join us on our Darién Extension will have the chance to explore one of Central America’s most remote wildernesses. The Province of Darién is located east of the Panama Canal, on the border of neighbouring Colombia and nowhere else in Panama does nature express itself so abundantly than in this region of isolated wilderness! We will be spending our time in the little-explored northern forested lowlands of the Darién. Very few birders have visited here and already some very exciting species, including Panama’s national bird, the huge and majestic Harpy Eagle, as well as Crested Eagle, Red-throated Caracara, Bare-crowned and Dull-mantled Antbirds, Black Antshrike, Black Oropendola, Double-banded Greytail, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Spectacled Parrotlet, Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Beautiful Treerunner and Yellow-hooded Blackbird, among dozens of other Darién and Choco avian specialities, have been found in the locations that we will be birding. Further surprises are no doubt to be expected! After departing Panama City, we head off to our lodgings in the Darién. Day by day, we will explore some of the best birding locations along the end of the Pan-American Highway and expect to see another 70-80 species found nowhere else in Panama! We hope to have you join us on this fantastic beginning to our Panamanian tropical birding adventure!
Sapayoa, Rufous-winged Tanager, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Harpy Eagle, Crested Eagle, Red-throated Caracara, Bare-crowned and Dull-mantled Antbirds, Black Antshrike, Black Oropendola, Double-banded Greytail, Spectacled Parrotlet, Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Beautiful Treerunner, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Blue Cotinga, Northern Royal Flycatcher, Black-tailed Trogon, Golden-headed and Golden-collared Manakins, White-fronted Nunbird, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Little and Dwarf Cuckoo, Slaty-backed Forest Falcon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-white, Mottled and Crested Owls
hot and humid
relaxed with some longer walks
Day 1: Arrivals in Panama City.
Today is scheduled as an arrival day in Panama City. Our hotel is conveniently located near to Tocumen International Airport allowing for a short transfer and some relaxation before the Darien Extension kicks off properly tomorrow morning. While acclimatizing to the tropical heat, we may find a number of common Central American species in the gardens such as Great-tailed Grackle, Clay-colored Thrush, Variable Seedeater, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-grey Tanager and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. This evening we will all meet for dinner to discuss the forthcoming adventures on our Panama birding tour.
Day 2: Panama City to Canopy Camp via Nusagandi and Bayano.
We’re off to an early start this morning on our Panama birding tour, making our way east to Darién! We will head out along the Pan-American Highway, and as day breaks we will keep our eyes open along the way for Savanna Hawk, Northern Crested Caracara and other roadside birds. While the Canopy Camp in Darién is our final destination for the day, we won’t pass up some good birding along the way! Our first stop will be in Nusagandi, where the extensive Caribbean rainforest is home to some of our most-wanted species. Along these wet trails, we will search for the enigmatic Sapayoa, as well as White-eared Conebill, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Sulphur-rumped and Rufous-winged Tanagers, and Blue-fronted Parrotlet. Continuing along the Pan-American Highway, we will stop at Bayano Lake, Panama’s second largest lake, which supports a large colony of Neotropic Cormorants, and is a good place to look for Cocoi Heron, Anhinga, Purple Gallinule and Pied Water Tyrant. A short trail leading from the water’s edge is a great place to search for Black Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird and Rufous-winged Antwren. We will stop at the Rio Mono Bridge not far from the lake, where the surrounding forest is home to One-colored Becard, Orange-crowned Oriole, Blue Cotinga, Pied Puffbird, Blue Ground Dove and more. We’ll scan the river below for Green-and-rufous Kingfisher and Fasciated Tiger Heron. Heading east from here, we will next stop in Torti, just before entering into the province of Darién. While enjoying a delicious Panamanian lunch, we’ll watch the hummingbird feeders for Scaly-breasted Hummingbird and Long-billed Starthroat, amongst others. After a re-energizing lunch, we will make our way across the border into Panama’s easternmost and largest province – Darién. We will carry on to the Canopy Camp, where we should arrive before dusk in good time to get settled into our comfortable Safari-style tents and acquaint ourselves with our surroundings. After a delicious dinner of American and Panamanian fare, we will prepare for the upcoming days, and settle into our tents for the night. Night sounds may include Black-and-white, Mottled and Crested Owls calling from the vast surrounding forests.
Days 3 to 5: Canopy Camp and surrounds.
Over the next three full days of our Panama birding tour, we shall take advantage of our immediate surrounds, while also exploring nearby forests an hour or two from the camp. As the sun rises over eastern Panama on our first morning in the Darien, we will start by scanning the towering treetops for Keel-billed and Black-mandibled Toucans, Red-lored and Northern Mealy Amazons, Chestnut-headed and Crested Oropendolas, and raptors including Red-throated Caracara, Plumbeous Kite and Broad-winged Hawk. Around camp, White-headed Wren, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Black-crowned Tityra and Barred Puffbird are active at dawn, while Sapphire-throated Hummingbird and Pale-bellied Hermit can be seen around the gardens. After breakfast, we will explore ‘Nando’s Trail’, through the mature secondary forest beside the tents. As we walk past the bases of gigantic Cuipo trees, we hope to find some Darién specialties such as Northern Royal Flycatcher, Black-tailed Trogon, Golden-headed and Golden-collared Manakins, White-fronted Nunbird, Black Antshrike, Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Double-banded Greytail and Yellow-breasted Flycatcher. Semiplumbeous Hawk, Slaty-backed Forest Falcon and Ornate Hawk-Eagle are also possible. After some rest and relaxation at the Camp, we will visit Las Lagunas Road, a countryside road through open farmland, dry scrub and roadside habitat. Along the roadsides, we hope to see Striped Cuckoo, Red-breasted Blackbird, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, White-headed Wren, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Giant, Shiny and Bronzed Cowbirds, Southern Lapwing, Muscovy Duck, and Laughing and Aplomado Falcons, while even Little and Dwarf Cuckoos have been seen in thickets along this road. We will also scan the pond at the end of the road for Black-capped Donacobius (a bird that has proven taxonomically challenging to classify in recent years due to uncertain affinities) and Yellow-hooded Blackbird. As dusk approaches, we will then make our way back to the Canopy Camp in time for cocktails and dinner. If time allows, we can also search in areas closer to our camp for nocturnal denizens of the forest including Short-tailed Nighthawk and Black-and-white Owl. On another morning, we shall head off to explore another great birding area, El Salto Road. This open road extends for 6km and meets with the Chucunaque River, bordered by mature dry forest, and is a great place to search for more regional specialties, including Orange-crowned Oriole, Golden-green Woodpecker, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Blue Cotinga and Double-banded Greytail. A small trail through a patch of low-canopy forest at the end of the road is a great place for us to look for Olivaceous Piculet, Bare-crowned Antbird, Pale-bellied Hermit and Streak-headed Woodcreeper. After lunch, we’ll head southeast and bird the forests and swampy meadows along the road toward Yaviza, to the end of the Pan-American Highway. Beyond this point is extensive mature forest, accessible mainly by river. Black-billed Flycatcher, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Jet Antbird, Black Oropendola, Pied Water Tyrant, Bicexit olored Hawk, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Black-collared Hawk, Pearl and White-tailed Kites, Limpkin, Striped Cuckoo, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Black-capped Donacobius and both Yellow-hooded and Red-breasted Blackbirds can all be found as we head farther into Darién today on our Panama birding tour. Our birding activities today depend to a large extent on which species we still desire views of. It is most likely that we will head towards Nuevo Vigia to explore the Tupisa Road area some 40 minutes away. Situated north of the Panamerican Highway, it is surrounded by great secondary growth dry forest and attract an enticing variety of birds including the opportunity to find macaws, large forest eagles and other regional specialties. As we head east from Nuevo Vigia along the Tupisa Road, we will stop at a small pond, where Capped Heron, Wood Stork and Green-and-rufous Kingfisher are often found. As we continue birding along the road, we hope to find Double-banded Graytail, Moustached and Rufous-winged Antwrens, One-colored Becard, Orange-crowned Oriole, Great Jacamar, Yellow-backed Tanager, Golden-green Woodpecker, Stripe-throated Wren, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner and Ornate Hawk-Eagle. After lunch, we will continue birding along this fantastic road, searching for Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Black Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird (eastern race) and Red-throated Caracara. As we work our way back toward camp, we will explore the road to the village of Marraganti, where a colony of Black Oropendola can be found along with Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Blue Cotinga, Black Hawk-Eagle, Double-toothed Kite and a mix of forest and open area species. If time permits, a stop at Rio Tuquesa will give us the opportunity to explore areas of open habitat, in search of water birds, shorebirds, raptors, puffbirds and flycatchers. Later in the afternoon we will head back to the Canopy Camp, with time to get in some final birding as the sun sets for the day. We will enjoy a final dinner together to celebrate our successful extension whilst also keeping an ear open for the calls of owls and night birds around the camp after dark.
Day 6: Canopy Camp to Panama City and depart.
For our last morning in Darién, we will head over to the property of the Tierra Nueva Foundation. This large property houses a technical school with a focus on applications in agriculture and is working towards sustainable development for the people of Darién. The property protects extensive mature secondary growth rainforest, and we will spend a few hours exploring the trails during our Panama birding tour, in hopes of finding Black-billed Flycatcher, Red-rumped and Golden-green Woodpeckers, Slaty-backed Forest Falcon, Spot-crowned Barbet, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Cinnamon, One-colored and Cinereous Becards, the eastern race of the Chestnut-backed Antbird (which shows white spots on the wings), White-eared Conebill, Orange-crowned Oriole and, if we are very lucky, perhaps even a spectacular Great Curassow! After a satisfying lunch, we’ll say our goodbyes to the Canopy Camp and head west toward Panama City. If time permits, we can stop at some of the birding areas along the way and try to pick up any species we may have missed such as Fasciated Tiger Heron, One-colored Becard, Savanna Hawk, Bare-crowned Antbird or Orange-crowned Oriole.
What our clients say about tours to Panama
- LR, Panama
Forrest is truly a pleasure. His bird-finding skills, both by sight and ear, are phenomenal, but even more striking is his singular personality and people skills. Always enthusiastic. Not only would I travel with Forrest again, I preferentially would select a tour if he was guiding.AF, Panama