This beautiful fella is a Summer Tanager. But wait! He, along with some other birds of his genus, are no longer part of the Tanager family: they’ve been re-classified, and are now part of the Cardinal family. (But he still goes by Tanager. He’s not partial to hyphenated last names). Confused? Don’t worry. All you have to know is that he is gorgeous and he is currently enjoying his ‘Breakfast with the Birds” gig at Boquete Garden Inn (the best place to spot the birds of Panama!)
I take this Boquete hiking trail most Sundays with my wonderful animal stalker friends, Bill and Lynne. The Waterfall Trail in Boquete is gently sloped, so not too strenuous and it delivers on stunning views and an abundance of wildlife. This Boquete hiking trail is also the Quetzal nightclub of Boquete: all the boy quetzals gather here, coyly letting their tail feathers swing, luring in the ladybirds. Finding this trail can often be confusing: it used to be called the Pipeline Trail, plus, there’s another excellent trail close by with a similar name, The Lost Waterfalls (our next featured trail – stay tuned!). You know you’ve got the correct trail if you see this sign:
This is the trail we recommend most often when guests ask us where to go. For plenty of reasons:
Quetzals! You have the greatest chance of spotting a Quetzal on this Boquete hiking trail. You further increase your odds if you have a skilled guide with you. We can arrange this at check in. Most tours pick up at the hotel at 8:00-8:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. and the hike lasts about 3.5 hours. The cost is approximately $40 per person.
Quetzal on the Waterfall Trail, August 2014. Photo courtesy of John from Boquete Custom Tours.
The Really Old Tree: Yes, that’s the official name of the 1,400 year old tree that has withstood two eruptions of Volcan Baru (you can see two distinct indentations in the trunk). The tree is off to the left of the main trail (not the first left fork at the beginning of the trail…that’s where the bee colony is. Don’t go there). You’ll see the tree from the main trail. You’ll also see a lot of people with binoculars pressed to their faces, mouths slightly ajar hovering in the vicinity – it’s prime quetzal country due to the abundance of aguacatillos, also called mini-avacados, or, quetzal crack cocaine.
The Waterfall! At the end of the trail, you’ll see a stunning waterfall. Tip: Don’t stand directly under the water, trying to recreate an Irish Spring moment. Landslides/tumble-y rocks a distinct possibility, especially in rainy season. Admire from a distance.
Wildlife: I’ve seen quetzales, toucanettes (you’re picturing a toucan in a blonde wig and smurf hat, aren’t you?), howler monkeys, a sloth, baby tinamou (he hiked with me for a spell). Lynne and Bill have seen: the above, plus, a weasel, peccary, coatimundi, armadillo, deer, olingo, cacomistle, porcupine, opossum, agouti, capuchin monkey.
Photo courtesy of Bill Fox!
Another Bill photo!
The drive up to the trail: The Bajo Mono loop road is spectacular. You can make a whole day of it: stop at the crazy rock formation, waterfalls, abandoned ‘castle’, stop in at Fresas Cafe for a fresa batido (strawberry milkshake), drive through farm country and breathe in the smell of green onions. We provide a great map with all the landmarks. Ask us about it before you hit the road and we can give you some tips!
You’ll see this on the way up to Bajo Mono.Climbers not guaranteed.
Safety first! This trail features a lovely woman named Janeth who collects $3 from each hiker to cross her family’s land. She also takes note of who enters the trail and who exits—which is always a good thing.
Trail: The Waterfall Trail
Location: Up the Bajo Mono loop road – ask at our front desk for a map!
Time: 2 – 3 hours (depends on how often you stop to shoot photos)
Pros: Beautiful views, quetzals and other wildlife, waterfall
Cons: Lots of people on it in high season
We received the following email today from Rafael Lau, a talented photographer (and bird spotter!) based out of Panama City:
Hi Susan & Jason!
How have you been? I hope everything is good! Just to let you know that during our recent stay at Boquete Garden Inn in November 26 – 27, we spotted during our stay a mysterious bird singing alone in a tree above the reception/restaurant, we took some pictures and videos of the bird and submitted the information to experts of the Panama Audubon Society in which resulted as very, very rare bird, Melodious Blackbird (Dives dives), it is ONLY the second documented record in Panama of this bird! The first record was in western Bocas del Toro, near the borderline with Costa Rica. A very important lifebird for all panamenians birders indeed!
Just for reference of the calls/song of this bird, you can find a video taken by my wife Jeannette – the bird was singing out loud the 2 days we stayed at your inn around 8-10 a.m.
We really enjoyed our stay! Thanks for everything and for giving us this wonderful lifebird that many birders will be searching for the next months!
Rafael Lau & Jeannette Caballero
Cheeky the Squirrel raids the bird feeder.
The birds aren’t the only creatures who enjoy ‘Breakfast with the Birds’. This fella routinely ambushes feeding time, packing in as much fruit as he can and then taking off. The Boquete Garden Inn birds are fighting back. Bird species on the offensive: Clay Robin and The Great Kiskadee (not surprising). Don’t worry: the birds are winning!
Bird species we routinely see at breakfast:
– Blue Gray Tanager
– Flame Tanager
– Palm Tanager
– Red Legged Honeycreeper
– Passerini’s Tanager
..and so much more.
Boquete Garden Inn is top-rated with birders (and birds!).