The sunrise at the middle section of Panama Canal was a spectacular way to start our morning. The sounds of mantled howler monkeys and yellow-throated toucans were part of the melody going on at Barro Colorado. Barro Colorado is critical for research in the area, and scientists from all over the world come to study the numerious species that call this island home. It is held as one of the best studied tropical rainforests in the world, led by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1923. The trails show not only a great biodiversity of flora and fauna but also a complex of small laboratories and sampling sites in the field. We learn about stingerless bees, bats, and the incredibly industrious life of ants occupying the tree canopy. A second group around the island on Zodiacs. The shore of the islands is equally rich with wildlife, and the group managed to spot several crocodiles and birds. The morning went fast, and we now wait for our Panama Canal Pilot to complete our transit.
National Geographic Quest
I love my country. I love its people and food and more than anything else, its natural resources. After 29 years as a guide for Central America, especially Costa Rica and Panama, traveling widely around the world with the work I do (I am also a tropical biologist), the Osa Peninsula is my uncontested favorite. Not a single time in my life have I come here and not be wowed by its lush forest, green waters, blue mountains and unmatched biodiversity. Our itinerary was split between two destinations: This morning we disembarked onto Caletas Bay, owned by our friend Banbam (Enrique), and in the afternoon we went to one of the Estacion San Pedrillo ranger station. Choices this morning: A wonderful horseback ride to Rio Claro, a two-mile hike to Agujitas River, a longer paced hike through the forested trails of Caletas Wildlife Refuge, or a casual tour of the wildlife refuge’s gardens. We loved all, coming back with unforgettable wildlife sightings, including a mother three-toed sloth with her baby, a bird eating snake straight from the trail, and a lot of bird sightings such as riverside wrens and black-hooded antshrikes. With the afternoon came the icing on the cake: Corcovado National Park. Again, more opportunities: walking the longer, more strenuous trail to the San Pedrillo Waterfall, and a waterhole to come with it or the Pargo River trail to explore the lowland forests. What a way to finish our trip! From army ants, to basilisks, to pale-billed woodpeckers, howler-, spider- and white-throated capuchin monkeys, to the very scarcely seen Central American Tapir. We could not have asked for a better last day in our trip, and an amazing way to say farewell to Central America, for the time being.