Darien Gap – raw and spine-tingling wilderness. Bocas Del Torro and Guna Yala – mesmerizing tropical island archipelagos. Coiba Island – unique biodiversity. These are just some of the natural spots you can explore right here in Panama. But, do not stop there – it would be a shame not to visit some of Panama’s natural parks! Even though this country is relatively small, it is home to 18 different national parks, and almost 30% of its land is protected. This means that you get the chance to explore secluded beaches, hike through untouched jungles, and trek somewhere off the beaten track. All of Panama’s national parks are unique in their own way.
In some, you can see the untamed wilderness and historical artifacts, while in others, you can see the most thrilling views of the mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and oceans. Of course, checking out all 18 parks would be impossible. Thus, today, we prepared an overview of some of Panama’s most fascinating national parks that you should visit the next time you find yourself here. Either while traveling or after buying a Panama home and moving.
Baru Volcano National Park
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to see the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean at the same time – Baru Volcano National Park and its highest peak are a must. If you are willing to hike 3,474 meters, you will come to the tallest peak in Panama and be able to see not only those two oceans but also some of the most mesmerizing views of the surrounding land.
Hiking trails in the Baru Volcano National Park are well-developed. Easy trails require 30 minutes of your time. The more demanding ones can take up to 10 hours. However, both will take you to one of seven different craters. If you are a beginner or a first-timer in Panama, you can join one of many organized tours that will take you to your desired destination.
And, when you finish your hike, do not forget to stop at the nearby city in the province of Chiriqui and try their coffee. It may be the most expensive one in the world, but it is also the best. This is the so-called geisha coffee. It is grown on high altitudes and volcanic soil.
Since Panama is open for traveling again, it would be a shame not to visit this beautiful place.
La Amistad International Park
According to many, La Amistad International Park is the most beautiful and most mysterious place in Panama and the entire world. This is supported by the fact that UNESCO made this park a World Heritage Site under protection by both Panama and Costa Rica.
There, you can experience cloud-covered forests and rainforests side by side. Nature lovers will also appreciate Quetzal – a bird once worshiped by Mayans and Aztecs, more than 600 different bird species, and animals such as jaguars, pumas, monkeys, sloths, and the endangered tapir.
If you want to travel to and through Panama, you will need a guide – a travel agent. On the other hand, if you want to move to Panama and have the easiest possible journey, you will also need a guide – an international moving company. The same applies to hiking and exploring Panama’s national parks (especially this one). The roads and trails here are not well-documented, so getting lost is easy.
Isla Bastimentos Marine National Park
Welcome to Panama’s largest island. If you ever get tired of Panama’s cities and all the hustle and bustle, you should hop to Isla Bastimentos Marine National Park. Exploring this island means seeing the most picturesque Wizard Beach, coral-ringed Polo Beach, snorkel heaven Coral Cay, or the chill Red Frog Beach.
If you want to explore Panama’s islands, again, find a guide. Only an experienced guide can show you all the beauty these islands hide. You will have to take water taxies, go through jungle paths, and hike for a while if you want to see all the previously mentioned beaches in Isla Bestimentos Marine National Park. Moreover, you will need a guide to reach Cayos Zapatillas. Cayos Zapatillas are actually two islands. They are uninhibited and full of natural wonders.
Experiencing all the wonders of this natural park, or any other natural park for that matter is not something that you can do in just one day. So, if you are already renting real estate for your trip, rent a property close to the park you want to explore.
Darien National Park
Last but certainly not least of Panama’s national parks to consider is the Darien National Park. This is a place to go if you are not afraid of the wilderness and, most importantly, of long, misty trails. In the past, tourists were not allowed here, but laws aimed to boost tourism in Panama made this place open for everybody. Still, be warned, even though this national park is one of the most beautiful ones in the world, it is not for the light-hearted.
The trails are challenging, long, and remote, and the weather is rainy and humid. But, according to everybody who has been here, they are worth it. Two areas are especially interesting – Cerro Pirre and Santa Cruz de Cana. The first one is located right in the middle of the jungle – it is full of lush vegetation and exotic wildlife. The second one was once a mining town. Cana is one of the most pristine outdoor areas in Panama, where you can bird-watch all day long, but you must cross all the jungle paths first to get there.
Darien National Park is home to many forests – rain forests, cloud forests, dwarf forests, premontane and montane forests, large mangroves, etc. Because of this, it was given a nickname – Natural Lungs of the Americas. It is also protected by UNESCO and the USA.
These were just four out of eighteen Panama’s national parks that you should not miss out on if you find yourself here. Consider visiting Santa Fe National Park, Metropolitan Natural Park, Charges National Park, El Cano Archeological Park, and Gulf of Chiriqui if you have more time to spare. And, lastly, wherever you decide to go, get yourself a guide.