Sights in La Palma
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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.
Traveling the wide, brown Sambú River is a heart-of-darkness experience: you'll pass through spectacular jungle while gliding past traditional Emberá and Wounaan villages. Be forewarned: it's not everyone's cup of tea. If riding in a boat that's loaded down with leaking gasoline cans bothers you, you should probably pass on the Sambú - you'll need to bring several large containers of gas from La Palma to fuel the canoe you hire upriver.
This journey has other minor hardships, such as a lack of showers and toilets, and an abundance of creepy crawlies. But, a trip up the Río Sambú is a true adventure, something that may not be possible anywhere in the Tropics 50 years…
The Rancho Frío sector of Parque Nacional Darién is home to Pirre Station. Rancho Frío is, to steal a line from the famous naturalist guide Hernán Araúz, 'Panama's foremost theater of life'. There are a number of rare bird species here including the crimson-bellied woodpecker, the white-fronted nunbird and the striped woodhaunter.
Pirre Station has a network of accessible trails. The trail to Pirre Mountain ridge takes most hikers two days to reach, while another winds through thick jungle to a series of cascades about an hour's hike away. Neither should be attempted without a guide - if you get lost out here, you're finished.
If you intend to visit Pirre Station, you…