Darien Explorer Trek (trip)

Darien Explorer Trek

  • Panama City
  • Culture & Nature
Panama, Central America

from $3,165* per person14 DaysMarch
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Wildland Adventures 12 people max
Travel to Panama and explore the heart of the Darien jungle on this active nature and cultural history expedition. Our route traverses several ecosystems in the mighty Darien National Park from coastal mangroves and lowland forests by motorized dugout to trekking through the pureness of montane rainforests and highland cloud forests of Pirre Mountain. A virtual island of endemism and rare species, the area around the Cana Biological Station protects diverse wildlife habitat including spectacular bird watching. This is the northernmost range of many South American species and the southern range of numerous Northern and Central American plants and animals. From the steamy towns of La Palma and El Real, the quiet Indian villages of Mogue, Pueblo Nuevo and Chulet, to the remote solitude of the ranger stations, the cultural experience of this tour of Panama is as superb as the plentiful wildlife.

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Locations visited/nearby

Panama, Central America

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3 testimonials about the provider, Wildland Adventures:

  • Reviewer: Kate Steinbacher located in Roanoke, VA USA
    You are the kind of tour operator the world needs more of...caring of your groups AND the beautiful places and people we get to experience!

  • Reviewer: Ginger and Richard Lang located in Clyde, NC USA
    Congratulations on the kudos from National Geographic Adventure magazine. Our experiences in travel with Wildland underscore this commendation. We have loved traveling to Costa Rica and Southern Africa with you and are now involved in planning a trip to East Africa. Great job from a superb company! You are first in our minds!

  • Reviewer: Libby Volckening located in Northfield, MA USA
    How can I begin to thank you for the most amazing, wonderful, incredible vacation of my life?!?!?!  Everything was better than I could have hoped.  So many precious memories.  Such wonderful chemistry of personalities.  It has been very hard to leave it all behind and get back to my real life...

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Receive a warm Panamanian welcome after passing through customs. A local transfer guide will assist you with check-in at your hotel. Bask in the new sights, sounds and warm tropical air. Enjoy a relaxing dinner as you look forward to the adventure ahead. Overnight at La Estancia Bed and Breakfast.

Wake up and savor a morning cup of coffee before beginning our exciting day of discovery. During breakfast our expedition leader shares our adventure which begins today! After breakfast we grab our gear and head to the airport to board our 1 1/2 hour charter flight to the Cana Field Station located in Darien National Park. Accommodations at the Cana Field Station are rustic but comfortable with shared bathrooms and hot showers.  After settling into our rooms our fearless leader takes us on our first exploration of the park.  Overnight at Cana Field Station. [BLD]

Regarded by renowned ornithologists as one of the best birding sites in the world, Cana Field Station is located 1,600 feet above sea level in the heart of Darien National Park. Cana enjoys a colorful history of indigenous settlements, gold mining and pirate activities. When the most recent gold mine enterprise collapsed, the jungle reclaimed the area covering locomotives, winches, wagons and furnaces that remain today - silent witnesses to the regenerative capacity of the tropical rainforest. We explore around the Station to the Cituro Locomotive, the Machinery Trail and other remnants of the massive British effort to mine the gold of Pirre at the end of the 19th century. Overnight at the Cana Field Station. [BLD]

Wake up with the birds to begin our full day, slow-paced hike to our highland campsite located at about 3,000 feet above sea level. Observe the dramatic changes in the forest habitat. Keep your binoculars handy as you enter a virtual island of endemism and rarities. Breathe in the scent of a the forest - home to Golden-Headed Quetzals, Yellow Green Grosbeak, Yellow Collared Chlorophonia, Treerunner, varied Solitaires, Pirre Warbler, Pirre Hummingbird, Pirre Bush Tanager, Gray and Gold Tanager, Rufous breasted Anthrush, Sharpbill, Black tipped Cotinga and countless other colorful birds. Follow the tracks of the tapir and be on the lookout for a glimpse of White-Lipped Peccaries. After arriving at our camp we relax and trade stories over dinner. Overnight at the Pirre Cloud Forest Camp. [BLD]

    Note: Screened tents are provided. Participants need to bring their own sleeping bag/sleeping mat and bedding. Participants who prefer not to hike to the cloud forest camp will enjoy the opportunity to explore and relax in the serenity of Cana.

We spend the day exploring the hidden treasures of Pirre Cloud Forest beautifully cloaked in a permanent mist. The glorious beauty surrounding Pirre is habitat to many lowland species. Our guide will be on the lookout for the scarlet browed, tawny crested and lemon spectacled Tanagers, White fronted Nunbird, and gray cheeked Nunlet among many others. You will be mesmerized by the old cathedral rainforest; ceibas, anacardiums, stranglers and rare species of flora. In the afternoon we hike back to the Cana Field Station and rest up before dinner. Overnight at Cana Field Station [BLD]

Pack your gear as we leave Cana Field Station behind and begin the hike down river towards the Tuira River. As we hike along the winding trails we enjoy a myriad of jungle sounds. We arrive at our camp tired, but excited about the days activities. Overnight at Rio Paca Camp. (BLD)

After coffee and breakast we continue our hike following the Paca River, delighting in our splendid surroundings. We quietly keep a watchful eye open for the White-headed Wren, Tody Motmot, colorful Macaws, Red-throated Caracara, and other exotic species amidst the towering Cuipo (Cavanillesia platanifolia) trees and the giant Anacardiums.  The remoteness of this region lends itself to the possibility of viewing large mammals including Tapir, Giant Anteater, Black-spider Monkey, White-lipped Peccary and others.  Overnight at Cruzamono Ranger Station. [BLD]

After an early morning breakfast, we walk along the Cupe River en route to the community of Boca Cupe.  It is from this town that the railroad took miners in and out of the fabled Cana Gold Mines. Now virtually uninhabited, Cana was home to more than 16,000 people less than 100 years ago. We search for macaws, eagles and peccaries amidst the towering Cuipo (Cavallinesia platanifolia) trees and the giant anacardiums. In the late afternoon, we reach the Afro-darienite village of Boca de Cupe, located on the shores of the powerful Tuira River.   Overnight in local homes or Boca de Cupe Tent Camp. [BLD]

We board our motorized piraguas and resume our journey on the Tuira River. We pass countless dugout canoes loaded with agricultural goods en route to Yaviza, the terminus of the Pan-American Highway. If time allows we will visit the Embera villages along the river and watch for Wood Stork, Laughing Falcon, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Gray-headed Kite, Bat Falcon, Rusty-margined Flycatcher and other interesting birds. After approximately 4 hours, we arrive at the ghost town of El Real and the Pirre River at the entrance of Darien National Park. Since the water level is too low for navigation, we begin the scenic hike from El Real to the Pirre Park Ranger Station (3-4 hours).  Rushing waterfalls and crystal clear pools overwhelm your senses as the mighty Darien jungle envelopes us.  We search for Dendrobates frogs and flocks of understory birds.  Overnight at Pirre Park Ranger Station (rustic with bunk beds) [BLD]

The area surrounding Pirre Station is the habitat for many lowland species.  You will likely see Scarlet-browed Tawny-Crested, Lemon-spectacled Tanagers, White-fronted Nunbird, Gray-cheeked Nunlet among many others.  You will be mesmerized by the old "cathedral rainforest"; Ceibas, Anacardiums, Stranglers and many more exotic plants.  This afternoon there is time to cool off in the Pirre Waterfall with its natural water slide.  Overnight at Pirre Park Ranger Station. [BLD]

An exciting day ahead as we navigate down the Tuira River toward the Gulf of San Miguel on the Pacific Ocean, where we reach the mouth of the Mogue River.  The trip up river takes us through extraordinary mangrove forest.  We arrive at the village of Mogue where we are warmly welcomed by the Embera people.  After the formalities and presentations we have the opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of the Embera people.  We also have the chance to buy beautiful handicrafts made from natural materials.  Men are expert carvers of Cocobolo wood and women weave incredible baskets made from palm fibers with dyes made using various plants.  We spend the rest of the day getting to know our new friends.  Overnight at Mogue (tents). [BLD]

    Note: Screened tents are provided. Participants need to bring their own sleeping bag/sleeping pad and bedding. Participants who prefer not to hike to the cloud forest camp will enjoy the opportunity to explore and relax in the serenity of Cana.

As the tide reaches its highest level, we depart Mogue and head down the river toward the ocean to reach Punta Patio Nature Reserve.  We are on the lookout for bottle-nosed dolphins and different species of birds that find refuge along the mangrove-lined coast.  After a refreshing lunch, we spend time at the beach or just relax in a hammock, reading, napping and enjoying a spectacular sunset over Balboa's South Sea.  Overnight at Punta Patino Lodge. [BLD]

Pack our bags and enjoy one last cup of coffee before heading to to the local airstrip for an early afternoon flight back to Panama City.  After visiting the Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks) and  shopping, we return to our hotel to freshen up for our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at La Estancia Bed and Breakfast [BLD]

Transfer to Tocumen International Airport for your scheduled flight home. [B]

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