A UNIQUE BIRDING TRIP TO THE ISTHMUS OF PANAMA

Led by Allen Hale of Buteo Books, this March 2016 birdwatching adventure to Panama will visit several areas rarely on the itinerary of the usual birding tours. The tour begins in Gamboa, the historic Canal Zone town at the mouth of the Chagres River on Lake Gatun. Accommodations here will be at Ivan’s Bed & Breakfast. Pipeline Road and the Discovery Tower are a short drive from Gamboa though birds and mammals abound the moment you step out the door. Also, a de rigueur visit to the locks at Miraflores and a boat trip on Lake Gatun will be included.

After three nights in Gamboa, our group will head to Nusagandi in eastern Panama with possible stops at Metropolitan Park and Cerro Azul. Nusagandi is on the boundary of the Comarca de Guna Yala on the Continental Divide. We’ll stay at Garduk Lodge owned and operated by a Guna family. Comfortable beds and delicious meals are provided. There is electricity, but no hot water. From the covered dining area many species can be seen from the ever present Tropical Kingbird to the striking Scarlet-thighed Dacnis. Flocks of Tawny-crested Tanagers forage in the shrubbery, hummingbirds joust at feeders, White-whiskered Puffbirds and Broad-billed Motmots sit quietly, and each day brings new species in view.

Nusagandi draws a few intrepid birders for here it is possible to find many foothill species not easily encountered elsewhere, such as the Blue-fronted Parrotlet, Speckled Antshrike Xeornis setifrons, Broad-billed Sapayoa, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Carmiol’s Tanager, Blue and Gold Tanager, Emerald Tanager, and Sulphur-rumped Tanager. The trails are steep and slippery; clouds and rain are the norm. But excellent birding is also possible along the Llano-Carti road where traffic is limited most of the time.

During our four-night stay at Garduk Lodge we’ll make a one night visit to Torti near the Darien frontier to visit the San Francisco Forest Reserve and the Torti riverbed where we’ll encounter many lowland species. Our final night will be at Garduk Lodge, about two hours from Tocumen Airport (PTY).

Our group will be limited to 4-5 participants. Cost per person will be less than $2,000 per person for this 10-day trip (does not include international airfare). Contact Allen Hale at Buteo Books for further information and to reserve your spot on this unique tour.

See Allen Hale's report on his previous trip to Nusagandi.

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