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From Cerro Punta you can drive up a dirt road (4x4 recommended!) to the trailhead of the Senderos De Quetzals. We parked at the start of the dirt road and walked about a mile (steep) to the trailhead. You only have to walk a mile or two along the trail to come to the quetzal area. At the trailhead there is a ranger station that charges $3 per person to hike the trail. The trail goes all the way to Boquette but there are plenty of birds to see on the first couple of miles, and we returned to the ranger station and hiked back down toward Cerro Punta. We spent about 5 hours on this hike, but if you drive to the trailhead, you can do the part of the trail we did in a couple of hours.
We went birdwatching on this trail in early August 2005, and we were told that we were not likely to see a Quetzal. However, at about 9am, just as we past the sign announcing the quetzal area, a beautiful male quetzal flew into a tree just above us, and we were able to take some pictures and listen to its calls for several minutes. At times it has a gobble like a turkey!
As you can see in the picture, the quetzal we saw was dark blue on top, red on the bottom , with white under the tail, and a ruff on top of its head. This is somewhat different than the green back we expected, but experts told us it was definitely a male resplendent quetzal. The shorter tail than normal was explained as the result of nesting in narrow holes in trees where the tail gets worn off.
Good luck on your quetzal hunt!
Equipment: The trail altitude is up to 3200m (7000ft) so it is cool and rain is likely during the rainy season. Be prepared with rain gear. Hiking boots and long pants are useful since the trail can be muddy and overgrown. We only brought T shirts, and we wished we had something heavier to wear when we were not hiking.
For birding you need binoculars, a bird identification guide, and maybe a camera.
Updated Aug 20, 2005
Address: near Cerro Punta