The Gambling bird at Finca Lerida.
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Panama Bird Watching

Welcome to the taste2travel Panama Bird Watching feature!

Date Visited: March 2016

Introduction

A break from the Caribbean Island blogs…

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Panamanian town of Boquete.

Feature: Panama Bird Watching: A Green violet-eared hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

A Green violet-eared hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

Boquete lies 60 km from the border with Costa Rica in the Panamanian highlands at an elevation of 1,200 metres. Because of this the town has a mild climate and has become a favoured retirement location for North Americans.

The town is also popular with tourists due to the variety of activities on offer in the area. You can climb a volcano, raft, hike, swim in hot springs and so much more.

Boquete is a major coffee growing region so the cafes here sell exceptional coffee.

A Green violet-eared hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

A Green violet-eared hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

The highlands around Boquete are lush and green due to the constantly changing weather, which sweeps in from the Caribbean sea, moving over the mountains onto the Pacific Ocean. The forests in the area are an excellent place for bird watching.

Sightseeing

Finca Lerida

The Gambling bird at Finca Lerida.

The Gambling bird at Finca Lerida.

Located 5 km up a steep hill behind Boquete, Finca Lerida (elevation: 1600 m) was first established by a Norwegian engineer who had worked on the Panama Canal and was looking for a place with fresh, clean air to spend his retirement. He established the Finca with his wife in 1924.

A Gambling bird striking a pose at Finca Lerida.

A Gambling bird striking a pose at Finca Lerida.

Today the Finca is a luxury hotel with a restaurant and coffee shop. It’s surrounded by lush, well tended gardens, which attract a variety of birds.

A Female Scintillant hummingbird flying through the rain at Finca Lerida.

A Female Scintillant hummingbird flying through the rain at Finca Lerida.

The estate is primarily a coffee plantation and you can see the beans being processed next to the coffee shop. The Finca is famous for growing the “Geisha” bean. At US$260 per kilo, this is the most expensive coffee in the world.

The famous Geisha coffee at Finca Lerida.

The famous Geisha coffee at Finca Lerida.

On the slopes above the estate are 6 km of walking trails, which will take you deep into the highland forests. Here you have a chance – but just a chance – of spotting the elusive Quetzal. I hired a guide (Eddy) and spent several hours with him in search of the Quetzal.

The elusive female Quetzal.

The elusive female Quetzal.

We got lucky! We found a male and female sitting almost side by side in two different trees. Eddy said he had never seen such a thing. They sat for 15 minutes while I photographed them.

The equally elusive male Quetzal.

The equally elusive male Quetzal.

Eddy was very excited, telling me I was very lucky to see such a site. When we returned to the Finca he told all the staff what we had seen. It was a good morning.

The resplendent male Quetzal.

The resplendent male Quetzal.

 

The tiny female Scintillant hummingbird is just 5-cm long.

The tiny female Scintillant hummingbird is just 5-cm long.

After the walk I spent some time in the garden of the Finca photographing hummingbirds and others. A female Scintillant hummingbird had built a nest on a coat rack outside one of the guest rooms and was sitting on two tiny eggs.

A female Scintillant hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

A female Scintillant hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

 

A coat rack serves as a nesting site for a Scintillant hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

A coat rack serves as a nesting site for a Scintillant hummingbird at Finca Lerida.

 

A nesting female Scintillant hummingbird.

A nesting female Scintillant hummingbird.

 

Feature: Panama Bird Watching: Each Hummingbird egg is about 1.5 cm in length.

Each Hummingbird egg is about 1.5 cm in length.

Accommodation

If your budget allows, you can splurge and stay in the beautiful rooms at Finca Lerida. Otherwise there are more reasonably priced options down the hill in Boquete from hostels to hotels.

I stayed at hotel La Casa de Abuela, which I would recommend.

There are many hotels/ hostels in town so no need to book in advance, however if you wish to you can find accommodation on booking.com

Eating Out

There is an excellent restaurant onsite at the Finca and you should ensure you try the estate coffee, which is available from the coffee shop.

Being a popular tourist destination Boquete is full of restaurants, cafes and bars. I especially recommend the craft beers sold at the Boquete Brewing Company. They have a help-yourself popcorn machine, which keeps everyone happy.

Visa Requirements

Some nationalities require visas for Panama – check your visa requirements prior to arrival.

Getting There

By Air

International flights into Panama arrive at Tocumen International Airport. The airport is a major hub for the region, providing daily connections throughout the Americas and beyond.

By Road

You can access Panama from Costa Rica crossing the border either on the Caribbean coast from Puerto Viejo to Sixaola or inland on the Pan-Americana highway from Paso Canoa.

Either way you will need to transit through the city of David where frequent buses do the run up the mountain to Boquete.

Getting Around

Boquete is nice and compact, everything is within walking distance. Taxis and buses are available if required.

Safe Travels!

Darren


Further Reading

Other travel reports from the region:

Panama Bird Watching Panama Bird Watching Panama Bird Watching

Author: Darren McLean

A perpetual traveller, photographer, travel writer and owner of taste2travel, a website which aims to inspire wanderlust.

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