Birding The Darién Panama
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.
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, we saw 29 different species of raptors and 20 different species of hummingbirds.
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 see many reptiles and amphibians including the Spectacled Caiman and the American Crocodile.
You can view photos from someone who was on a previous trip. This is a great example of the trip you will experience if you visit both the Darien and Gamboa. Please click here: Ersten Imaoka's Photo Album
- Dates: February 14 - 22, 2024
- Group Size: 6 travelers, plus guides, spots left = 1
- Trip Length: 9 days
- Rates: $3,650 per person double occupancy, ($900 extra for single occupancy)
- Included: 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
**Pearl Islands bonus: About 30 miles off the coast from Panama City is the island archipelago called the Pearl Islands, which includes over 200 islands. If you sign up for two tours, back to back, you will get a free trip for a day visit to one of the islands. It is a 1.5 hour boat ride and with opportunities to view sea birds such as boobies, petrels, terns, gulls, and other birds as well.
Check out our local guides by clicking here: Nando and Ismael (opens a new page), scroll down to the bottom of the page
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 close to the airport.
Day 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: Fly Home
Shuttle to the airport for your trip home. Most flights back to the States leave early in the morning.
Pied Water Tyrant