Panama Birding The Darien Harpy and Crested Eagles Tour

Panama Birding The Darien Harpy and Crested Eagles Tour

If you are interested in the Panama Birding The Darien Harpy Eagles Tour, come and join us at Kaiyote Tours!

Want to see Harpy Eagles?

…and a whole list of amazing and beautiful birds, then don’t miss our Panama trips.  Our trips to Panama are all about birds, although we also see night monkeys and a lot of interesting critters as well.  We will stay at all the best places for a great experience and fantastic birding.

After a few of days of birding Gamboa, Pipeline Road, and the Panama Canal areas, this tour takes us through the hills of Nusa Gandi east of the Canal, into the province of Darién, Central America’s last true wilderness and one of the world’s main strongholds of the Harpy Eagle. We will have the unique opportunity to visit active nests of Harpy Eagle and opportunities to see the even rarer Crested Eagle, on the same itinerary. On our way we will find many bird species found nowhere else in Central America. 

Key species:  Sapayoa, Harpy Eagle, Crested Eagle, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Dusky-backed Jacamar, Black Oropendola, Double-Banded Graytail, Yellow-Green tyrannulet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Red-throated Caracara.  

We expect to see 300 - 350 different species of birds on our next trip

The Darien and Gamboa Printable Bird List
(This is a checklist of the birds that we have seen on the Darien and Gamboa tour)

Animals we have seen: Four species of monkeys (Golden-mantled Howler, Geoffroy's Tamarin, Panamanian Night Monkey, Spider Monkey), Anteaters (Northern Tamandua and Giant Anteater), both 2-toed and 3-toad sloths, Coati, Crab-eating Raccoon, Agouti, Panama slender opossum, Rufous soft-furred spiny-rat, Red-tailed squirrel, Variegated squirrel, and Capybara. Many of the mammals will have babies.  We saw many reptiles and amphibians including the Spectacled Caiman and the American Crocodile.
If you would like o see a photos from the trip, please click here:  Ersten Imaoka's Photo Album
  • January 26 - February 6, 2023
  • Group Size:  7 travelers, plus guides: (3 spots left)
  • Trip Length: 12 days
  • Rates: $5,150 per person, ($1,200 extra for single occupancy)
  • February 11 - 22, 2023
  • Group Size:  7 travelers, plus guides: (5 spots left)
  • Trip Length: 12 days
  • Rates: $5,150 per person, ($1,200 extra for single occupancy)
  • **March 22 - 31, 2023
  • Group Size:  7 travelers, plus guides
  • Trip Length: 10 days
  • Rates: $4,850 per person, ($900 extra for single occupancy)
  • January 20 - 31, 2024
  • Group Size:  7 travelers, plus guides
  • Trip Length: 12 days
  • Rates: $5,150 per person, ($1,200 extra for single occupancy)
  • Rates include: Domestic transfers, lodging, breakfast, lunch, dinner, scheduled group tours, park entrance fees and basic travel insurance.
  • Not included: International airfare, customs & immigration fees and visas, alcohol, trip cancellation insurance, Covid testing.
  • Adventure level:  Easy for the Gamboa part, and moderate for the Darien part of the trip, please check the “Welcome” page for definition

** The March trip is 2 days shorter than the January trip.  The itinerary below is for the 12-day January.  For the 10-trip, we will begin the trip by visiting the Darien first and then head to Gamboa and the end of the trip.  There will be two less days in Panama City and no train trip to Fort San Lorenzo. 

Private Trips: We are increasingly taking people on private trips. If a group trip does not interest you, please contact about a private tour and dates you prefer. 

Special offer:  Included with your trip (one per room) is a copy of the field guide “The Birds of Panama” by George Angehr and Robert Dean.  You will receive this when you reserve your trip so you will have time to study and know the beautiful birds of Panama.

Map of the travel route here:  Panama Map  (opens a new page)

Basic Itinerary

Day 1:  Arrival in Panama City
Most flights from the United States arrive late in the evening. We will meet you at the Tocumen International Airport (PTY) with a shuttle to a hotel located very close to the airport.  

Day 2:  Gamboa
Early morning departure for a full day of day of birding starting at the Panama City Metropolitan Park and ending in the village of Gamboa located along the Chagres River near the Panama Canal.  In the afternoon, on our way to Gamboa, we will stop at the Miraflores Locks to view ships going through the canal.  The Panama Canal is an astonishing engineering marvel and only in Panama will you have the opportunity to experience how massive ships traverse through the canal locks that connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.  A few notable birds for the day:  Keel-billed Toucan, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Red-lored Parrot, Black-bellied Wren, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Barred Antshrike, White-bellied and Dusky antbirds, many flycatchers and tyrannulets, Lance-tailed Manakin, migratory warblers, Spectacled Owl, Yellow-backed Oriole, Bat Falcon, Double-toothed Kite, Snow-bellied Hummingbird, Green-shrike Vireo, White-bellied Antbird and Whooping Motmot (recent split from Blue-crowned). Overnight in Gamboa at the Rainforest Resort, where we will spend 3-nights.

Day 3:  Gamboa
A full day of birding the Gamboa area and Chagres River. 

Day 4: Pipeline Road
We will spend the day birding the Pipeline Road area:  During WWII, a petroleum pipeline and its service road were built across the isthmus of Panama as an emergency back-up for getting across Panama in case the canal was blocked. The pipeline was never used, but the single-lane, gravel-and-dirt road persists and allows entry through the center of the incredible Soberanía National Park. According to George Angehr, “Pipeline Road is one of the best places to see tropical forest birds in the Americas, with a species list exceeding 400.” Along the Pipeline Road is the Discovery Center Tower and Hummingbird feeder areas; both locations are excellent for birds and photography.  Last stop for the day are the "Summit Ponds".  Birds:  Great Tinamú, Pied Puffbird, Blue Cotinga, White-necked Jacobin, Blue-chested Hummingbird and Rufous Motmot, to name a few. Overnight in Gamboa at the Rainforest Resort.

Day 5:  Panama City, the Causeway, and Ancon Hill
Morning birding in Gamboa, and an afternoon visit to Ancon Hill.  Lodging for the next 2-nights will be in Panama City at a hotel along the Amador Causeway, close to the Puente de Las Américas and entrance of canal, which is a great birding location as well. 

Day 6:  Panama Canal and Colón
The Panama Canal Railroad, which connects Panama City on the Pacific side and Colón on the Atlantic side, has a long history dating back to the year 1851. In 2001, the railway was updated to handle both cargo and passenger travel and as of 2018 a regular schedule exists for passenger travel.  From Panama City the trip to Colon takes about 1-hour and is nonstop.  Originally intended for daily worker transportation, the train has also become a popular day trip to Colón for travelers.  During the day when the train is not being used to transport people, the tracks are used to transport cargo and containers in between ports; sometimes it is cheaper to put the cargo on a train, rather than send the whole ship through the canal.   Across the bay from Colón is Fort San Lorenzo and the San Lorenzo Protected Forest, which make for a great day of birding on the Caribbean side.   We will drive to Colón very early in the morning, spend the day birding, and then take the late afternoon train back to Panama City.  

Day 7:  Travel to the Darién
Early departure and birding through Nusagandi and Guna Yala provinces in search of Sapayoa, Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, and several mid-altitude hummingbird and tanager species.  We will stop for lunch in Tortí, roughly half-way to Darién on the Pan-American Highway. We will spend most of our afternoon birding along the Tortí River, searching for Little Cuckoo, Jet Antbird, Red-billed Scythebill, Red-breasted Blackbird. Overnight in Metetí.

Day 8: The Darién
Early morning departure towards the village of Vigía, an indigenous community home to 105 Emberá families. In the forest around their village, we will search for Dusky-backed Jacamar, Golden-green Woodpecker, Agami Heron, Orange-crowned Oriole, Black Antshrike, Black Oropendola, and roosting Crested and Mottled owls. For lunch we will have the choice between a packed lunch and the local Emberá food. Drive back to Metetí in time for dinner at the hotel in Metetí.

Day 9: The Darién
This day is fully dedicated to the Harpy Eagle. We will visit a remote Emberá community where there are active Harpy Eagle nests.  The location of active nests changes every year. Depending on which nest is active, sometime the location is a long truck ride and a short walk, or sometimes reaching the nest might require a boat trip up the Chuchunaque River and 1.5 hour walk through mostly level forest terrain. The trip is not physically strenuous, and you don’t have to be a great shape, but you will need to be able to easily get in and out of a small boat and walk along a forest trail in hot and humid conditions.  There is an option to ride a horse (a small pony size), either one way or both ways.  The canoe ride offers some excellent river and forest birding, with possible Dusky-backed Jacamar, Black Oropendola, Great Curassow and Red-throated Caracara, among many other species.  We will spend enough time at the Harpy Eagle nesting site to secure the best possible views of the adult birds as they come to the nest platform to feed and tend for their chick. Overnight in Metetí.

Day 10:  The Darién
We will depart Metetí early in the morning and drive along Salto Road, a dirt road through some excellent secondary forest next to the Chucunaque river, searching for local specialties like Double-banded Graytail, White-eared Conebill, Rufous-winged Antwren, White-headed Wren, and Blue Cotinga. After lunch we will drive to Yaviza, the last stop before the end of the Pan-American Highway, searching for Black Oropendola, Orange-crowned Oriole, Bicolored Hawk, Bicolored Wren and Spectacled Parrotlet, among other species. We will return to Metetí for dinner and hotel stay.

Day 11: The Darién, Travel to Panama City
We start our drive back to Panama City. Along the way we will stop at the San Francisco reserve, where we will search for Yellow-Green Tyrannulet, White Fronted Nunbird, Blue Cotinga, Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, King Vulture, Barred Puffbird. San Francisco is one of the few places in Central America where the critically endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey can still be seen. We will have lunch at nearby Tortí, where hummingbird feeders regularly produce Long-billed Starthroat, Black-breasted Mango and Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, among other species.  Lodging will be at hotel close to the airport. 

Day 12:  Fly Home 
Shuttle to the airport for your trip home.  Most flights back to the States leave early in the morning.