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 Crested 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 350 - 400 different species of birds on our next 16-day 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)
On our last trip to the Darien, which was a 12 day trip in January 2023, we saw 29 different species of raptors and 20 different species of hummingbirds. Our January 2024 has been expanded to 16 days, and we will see more birds.
- November 4 - 10, 2023 (Raptor Tour)**
- Group Size: 7 travelers, 3 birding guides, and local indigenous guides, spots left = 5
- Trip Length: 7 days
- Rates: $3,150 per person double occupancy, ($900 extra for single occupancy)
- January 25 - February 9, 2024
- Group Size: 7 travelers, 3 birding guides, and local indigenous guides
- Trip Length: 16 days*
- Rates: $5,250 per person, ($1,800 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: Easy for the Gamboa part, and moderate for the Darien part of the trip, please check the “Welcome” page for definition
!!Check out our local guides by clicking here: Nando and Ismael (opens a new page), scroll down to the bottom of the page
* The January trip is the complete Gamboa, Pipeline Road, Cerro Azul, and Darien Tour. The itinerary is below. It is possible to sign up for a shorter trip: Visiting only Gamboa or only the Darien. Contact us for pricing.
**The November 2023 trip is a special trip to view Harpy Eagles, Crested Eagles, Black Hawk-Eagles, Ornate Hawk-Eagles, and other raptors. This trip happens during the rainy season when the trails will be muddy and slippery, but still great birding. The trip also happens during th end of raptor migration, so we expect to see a lot of raptors.
Private Trips: We are increasingly taking people on private trips. If a group trip does not interest you, please contact us about a private tour and the dates you prefer.
Extended Tours: If you are interested in a longer trip, many of our tours can be joined back to back. For example, you can sign up for a Gamboa and/or Chiriquí Tour plus a Darien tour for a 2 - 3 week trip. Please contact us for the discounted price for signing up for multiple trips.
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)
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 Panama Canal and Amador Causeway, close to the Puente de Las Américas and entrance of canal, which is a great birding location as well.
Day 2: Amador Causeway
We will spend the day birding the hotel property, the Amador Causeway, and the surrounding neighborhoods. This area is excellent for a large variety of resident birds and rarities: shorebirds, terns, parrots, toucans, parakeets, and occasionally boobies.
Day 3: Gamboa
Morning birding along the Panama Canal and then we will transfer to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort where we will spend 4-nights. The Gamboa Resort is excellent for nighttime exploring for owls and nightjars.
Day 4: Gamboa
A full day of birding the Gamboa area and Chagres River.
Day 5: 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 6: Pipeline Road
A second full day along Pipeline Road and visiting the Discovery Center Tower.
Day 7: Panama City
Early morning departure for a full day of day of birding starting at the Panama City Metropolitan Park, and an afternoon visit to Ancon Hill. 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 at a hotel close to the airport, where we will spend 2-nights.
Day 8: Cerro Azul
Close to Panama City is the mountain community of Cerro Azul. This area is great for high altitude birds such as Emerald Tanager, Speckled Tanager, and Striped-cheeked Woodpecker.
Day 9: Travel to Tortí
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 Tortí.
Day 10: The Darién
Early morning departure to the San Francisco Reserve for excellent birding and then on to Metetí where we will spend 4-nights.
Day 11: 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 12: 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, sometimes 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-hour walk through mostly level forest terrain. The trip is not physically strenuous, and you don’t have to be in great shape, but you will need to be able to walk along a forest trail in hot and humid conditions. At some nest site locations, there is an option to ride a horse (a small pony size), either one way or both ways. The boat 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 13: 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. Overnight in Metetí.
Day 14: Tortí
We will depart Metetí early and visit a few excellent birding locations on our way back to Tortí where we will spend one night.
Day 15: Travel to Panama City
We start our drive back to Panama City. Along the way we will stop again 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 a hotel close to the airport.
Day 16: Fly Home
Shuttle to the airport for your trip home. Most flights back to the States leave early in the morning. If you have an afternoon flight, there will be an option for more birding.