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 and Crested Eagles Tour, come and join us at Kaiyote Tours!

Want to see Harpy and Crested Eagles?

...and a whole list of amazing and beautiful birds, then don’t miss this trip!  Our trip to Panama is all about birds.  We will stay at all the best places for a great experience and fantastic birding.

After a couple of days of birding the Panama City and Gamboa 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 the even rarer Crested Eagle, on the same itinerary. On our way we will find many bird species found nowhere else in Central America. The last day is a train trip along the canal area to the Atlantic side for a day of birding Caribbean species.

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

Printable Bird List
(This is a checklist of the birds that we have seen on this trip)

  • Travel Dates: January 25 - February 3, 2023
  • Group Size:  6 travelers, plus guides
  • Trip Length: 10 days
  • Rates: Rate per person = $4,350 ($1,700 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.
  • Adventure level:  Moderate, please check the “Welcome” page for definition 

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)

If you would like to see recent info and photos click here:  Newsletter Archives (opens a new page)

More photos can be found here:  Photo Gallery (opens 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 along the Amador Causeway close to the Puente de Las Américas (Bridge of Americas), which is the entrance to the Panama Canal from the Pacific side.

Day 2:  Gamboa
Early departure for a 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. Last birding stop of the day before are arrival in Gamboa will be at the Summit Ponds.  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.

Day 3: Gamboa and 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 of 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.  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 4:  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 5: Vigía
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 6: 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.  Depending on which nest is active, reaching it might require a several hour canoe 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 canoe and walk along a forest trail in hot and humid conditions.  The canoe ride offers some excellent riverine 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 7:  The Darién
We will depart Metetí early in the morning and drive along Salto Road, a gravel 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 at Metetí, 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 8: 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 for the next 2-nights will be in Panama City at a hotel overlooking the water, along the Amador Causeway, Puente de Las Américas and entrance of canal, which is a great birding location as well. 

Day 9:  Panama Canal and Colón
The railroad that 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.  It leaves Panama City at 7:15am and departs Colon at 5:15pm, there are no other stops.  Originally intended for daily worker transportation, the train has also become a popular day trip to Colón for travelers.  Across the bay from Colón is the Fort San Lorenzo and San Lorenzo Protected Forest, which makes for a great day of birding and exploring this historic area.  

Day 10:  Fly Home 
Shuttle to the airport for your trip home.  Most flights back the States leave early in the morning.

Please note:  The lodging described in this itinerary is always our first choice based on availability.  Details of this trip are a little vague as it is VERY flexible. Destinations throughout the trip are based on the desires, ability and goals of the group.