Reserva Natural Punta Patiño

Darién Province

On the southern shore of the Golfo de San Miguel, this 263-sq-km wildlife reserve is owned by the private conservation group ANCON. It contains species-rich primary and secondary forest and is one of the best places in the country to spot a harpy eagle, Panama's national bird. Even if the big bird proves elusive, there's a good chance of seeing everything from three-toed sloths and capybaras, the world's largest rodents, to jaguars.

In the waterways, you'll almost certainly see brown pelicans, magnificent frigate birds and laughing gulls; bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales also frequent these parts. 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 grey foxes around the lodge (especially at night) and tayras in patches of nearby dry forest.

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Nearby Darién Province attractions

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This waterfall and its crystal-clear pool is a welcome relief after a hot and sweaty climb to spot harpy eagles.