Reserva Natural Punta Patiño

Reserva Natural Punta Patiño information

La Palma , Panama
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Lonely Planet review

On the southern shore of the Golfo de San Miguel, this 26,315ha (65,025 acre) wildlife preserve is owned by the private conservation group ANCON. It contains species-rich primary and secondary forest, and is one of the best places in Panama to spot harpy eagles. Even if the big bird doesn't show, there's a good chance of seeing everything from three-toed sloths to capybaras, the world's largest rodent.

In the waterways, you'll almost certainly see brown pelicans, magnificent frigate birds and laughing gulls - bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales also frequent these waters. Other birds to keep an eye out for include terns, American oystercatchers and waders.

In the mangroves, you'll have a good chance of spotting Amazon kingfishers, white ibises, herons, as well as waders including willets, whimbrels and spotted sandpipers. A specialty of the area is the black oropendola, which has a higher than normal frequency near Mogué. Late afternoon and early morning are good times to look for crab-eating raccoons venturing down to the water's edge.

A swampy flat near the ANCON lodge supports large numbers of capybaras, though a little luck is needed to spot them. This community of giant rodents attracts crocodiles and the elusive jaguar.