Reserva Natural Punta Patiño

Reserva Natural Punta Patiño information

On the southern shore of the Golfo de San Miguel, this 26,315-hectare (65,025-acre) wildlife preserve is owned by 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 and herons, as well as waders such as 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. Commonly spotted mammals include gray foxes around the lodge (especially at night) and tayras in patches of nearby dry forest.