With world tourism moving away from theme vacations, a new trend sees families traveling to the jungle instead of Disney; take cruises to Alaska instead of the Bahamas. This sect of tourism, aptly known as ecotourism, flourishes in response to the times; since conservation consumes all aspects of our lives.
But this should not surprise us. We’ve become so numb to the novelty of amusement parks, flashing lights, and loud noises, we’ve gone back to basics. Television audiences no longer demand compelling dramas and compelling dialogue, but rather indirectly invest their lives in the lives of others. The number of active reality television shows now surpasses sitcoms. The lives that we were once happy with, we have overcome and now we yearn for the intangible; the streamlined urban landscape of overwhelming Japan; whale watching among a sea of glaciers in Antarctica. The experiences that we once relied on television to provide us are now available and in demand.
Panama, like most countries with an eclectic variety of natural resources remaining, is well aware of this recent increase. Therefore, advertisements not for specific attractions, but for the places themselves. Cancun will likely show clips of white beaches and romantic sunsets; Gondolas of Venice flowing along the Canal Grande. Panama, on the other hand, subscribes to the adage “if you’ve got it, flaunt it.” What the country has in excess is forest land.
Planning a vacation around a particular park in Panama is a very daunting task, so it is best, instead, to build it around a specific hotel or area of the country and, from there, select a park relevant to the place. where you are staying. This guide will help you take the final step in completing your vacation planning.
La Amistad National Park – Covers 511,000 acres of mountainous terrain in the Cordillera de Talamanca. The park is known for its cloud forests and the display of 7 of the 12 natural life zones of Panama.
More than 100 species of mammals, including primates such as the howler monkey, the black-handed spider monkey, the white-throated capuchin, and the night monkey are found here. The park is also home to 5 species of cats, including the cougar and jaguar, 91 species of amphibians, and 61 species of reptiles.
The 3 towns closest to the park are Cerro Punta, Volcán in the province of Chiriquí and Changuinola in Bocas del Toro; all providing transportation to Parque La Amistad.
Bastimentos Island National Park – It covers 13,000 hectares of the Bastimentos Island of the Zapatilla Cays in Bocas del Toro; composed of land and ocean. A popular beach area of the park with tourists is Red Frog Beach, named for the poisonous red frogs that are native to the area. The park also opens its waters to snorkeling and diving, allowing visitors to experience pristine coral reefs and more than 200 species of fish.
Closed Hoya National Park – Covers 80,500 acres in Los Santos and Veraguas and is about 215 miles from Panama City. The terrain of the Park extends from the coast to the volcanic mountain. Although Cerro Hoya is one of the least explored parks in Panama, it is home to coral reefs, 95 species of birds, and many big cats.
Chagres National Park – Located within Panama and the province of Colón, with an area of 320,000 acres. The main purpose of this forest is to protect the important water sources for the Panama Canal and Panama City; however, it does not close the park to human interaction.
The park is made up of rugged mountains, lakes, rivers, and tropical forests. While the park is home to a complicated ecosystem of plants and animals, it is also home to a tribe of Embera Indians.
Coiba National Park – Located within the western portion of Veraguas and consumes 667,000 acres of land. Due to its size, number of islands and virgin beaches, Coiba is considered one of the main parks in Panama.
Thirty-six species of mammals have been recorded to live within the park, including 147 species of birds, 69 species of fish, and 39 species of amphibians. Coiba Park is also the habitat of humpback whales, killer whales, tropical spotted dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins.
Altos de Campana National Park – Composed of approximately 39 species of mammals, 267 species of birds, 62 species of reptiles and 82 species of amphibians. Altos de Campana is considered the first national park in Panama and was established in 1966.
The park is primarily rugged terrain, leading to lava fields and the El Valle del Antón volcano. As it is located in the western part of the province of Panama, approximately 1 hour and a half west of Panama City, it is one of the closest national forests to many of Panama’s tourist centers; including Meliá Panama Canal and assuming that Panama is a massive forest is understandable; much of the Panamanian land is covered in lush vegetation. However, the country is more than trees, wildlife, and streams. Other branches of ecotourism come to the country through the research centers of the Smithsonian Institute, the Camino Cruces Trail, the small fishing communities of Las Perlas and the San Blas Islands. Whether it’s a trend or something else, Panama, with all its forestry and animal life, is worth recognizing as a country that truly fuels the world’s ecological obsession.