Our destinations: Panama

16 National Parks of Panama Republic (part 2)

There are 16 national parks in Panama, you can explore each national park above in more depth as they become available for you to discover and learn more about. Many of these areas are part of the national park system, which includes 13 national and marine parks, and one international park. Panama's first national park, Parque Nacional Altos de Campana, was created in 1966 and all other parks have been established since then.



La Amistad International Park

Experience the magic of pure untouched nature at La Amistad International park. Proudly protected by both Panama and Costa Rica, La Amistad International Park is the largest and most remote nature reserve in Central America. The stunning 991,000-acre tropical forest located at the top of the Central Mountain Range is renowned for its biodiversity, and features animal species that can only be found in the area. In fact, UNESCO named La Amistad International Park a World Heritage Site in 1983 for its astounding diversity of plant and animal life. 

There are plenty of mountain trails to take you deep into the mist-covered forests, and if you’re lucky, you may even get to see the resplendent Quetzal—a striking bird that was once sacred to the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. Wildlife lovers should also look out for big cats such as pumas, jaguars, margays and ocelots, as well as sloths, monkeys and the endangered tapir, plus 600 other bird species. While you’re there, expect to see panoramic views of Baru Volcano—Panama’s highest point.

We highly recommend bringing a hiking guide when you visit La Amistad International Park. Though trails are abundant, they are not well documented. On your hike, you’ll venture through dense cloud forests, and into tropical rainforests, all within a few minutes, which means temperatures can vary greatly due to the many microclimates inside the park. To experience everything the park has to offer, consider camping there for a multi-day journey. 

The best way to get to La Amistad International Park is from the town of Las Nubes, located in the Chiriqui province, which you can easily reach by car or bus from the town of David. 

The closest lodging options can be found in the town of Cerro Punta.


Chagres National Park

Culture, history, watersports and abundant nature come together in the epic Chagres National Park. Home to the forest that shelters the most important river in Panama, the Chagres River, Chagres National Park consists of 309,000 acres crossed by countless streams and waterfalls that lead to both the Chagres River and Lake Alajuela. The forest is also home to the remains of 30 miles of the Camino Real. Before the canal was built, this colonial route was the only way to transport goods like gold and silver from coast to coast, and you can still see some of the original pavement today.

If you’re a daring hiker, you’ve come to the right place. The rugged terrain offers cloud-covered hills and peaks, such as Cerro Jefe. At 3,300 feet tall, this wondrous peak will give you access to spectacular views of the Panama Canal. For another can’t-miss adventure, book a tour through the remains of the Camino Real. Considered one of National Geographic’s “best experiences in South America,” this historic road is definitely worth a visit. 

When you’re done exploring on foot, enjoy some of the park’s watersports such as rafting, kayaking and fishing. Or, visit the indigenous Emberá community by canoeing up the Chagres River. Environmental stewardship is central to the Emberá way of life. They work hard to offer tours with low environmental impact in the heart of the Chagres National Park rainforest, helping to create an ecologically sustainable way for visitors to experience the local nature and the Emberá culture. On your journey, you’ll have the chance to take guided hikes through ancient paths and learn about the Emberá way of life. Chagres National Park is located about 40 miles north of Panama City, and can be accessed by car. The best way to experience Chagres is with a tour operator, as the park itself does not have its own infrastructure. 


Soberanía National Park

Soberania National Park is the most accessible national park from Panama City and the perfect nature-filled day trip for the whole family. Just 45 minutes from the city, this park sits near the banks of the Panama Canal on the canal zone construction site, and spans 55,000 acres. The park contains dry rainforest, countless animal species, and the Chagres River, which runs through the middle of it. 

When you visit, be sure to check out the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. This beacon of ecotourism and environmental education features a spiral staircase that will allow you to rise above the canopy of the rainforest, with its top deck reaching 32 meters high. 

Hiking options abound in Soberania National Park, and if you love birds, you’ll want to start on Pipeline Road. This road holds the record for the most bird species spotted in a 24-hour period—357 species to be exact. That number includes exotic birds such as toucans, trogons, motmots, flycatchers, woodpeckers, hawks, and tanagers, along with extremely rare birds such as the red-bellied woodpecker, crested eagle, yellow-eared toucanets, sirystes, rufous-fantail, ground cuckoo, and the harpy eagle, which is an endangered species. 

For an especially scenic hike, take Plantation Road. This is a gentle, sloping 8-mile trail that will take you past viewing points for waterfalls, wildlife and interesting tropical plants such as cocoa, rubber and coffee trees. 

For a hiking adventure with a bit of history, opt for the Camino de Cruces. This trail was built in 1527 to link Old Panama City to the port of Venta de Cruces on the bank of the Chagres River. From this port, goods like textiles, spices, gold and silver were loaded onto ships to be sent back to Spain, and you can still see some of the road’s original stones to this day. The full length of the road reaches all the way to the Caribbean coast, but you can choose to hike it in shorter parts, as well.  

Finally, bring the family to El Charco Trail for a bit of relaxation. Located just 1 mile away from the Municipal Park Summit just outside of Panama City, you’ll find natural swimming pools, beautiful trails and plenty of picnic areas.

Soberania National Park is an easy 30-minute car or taxi ride from Panama City.



Volcan Baru National Park

Visit the highest point in the country, which also happens to be a volcano! At 3,474 meters high, the towering Baru Volcano is the 12th highest peak in Central America and the only place in the world where, on the clearest of days, you can see the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the same time. The Volcano and its surrounding land feature 5 different ecosystems thanks to a combination of rainforest highlands, as well as the byproducts of volcanic eruptions that occurred millions of years ago. 

Baru Volcano National Park is located in the province of Chiriqui, which is an internationally recognized producer of geisha coffee, thanks to the area’s volcanic soil. This high-quality coffee is grown at extremely high altitudes and is one of the most expensive coffee varieties in the world. Make sure to pick some up when you visit!

Baru Volcano has 7 craters, and several hiking trails you can take to see them. Some trails are quite challenging, while others are shorter and more accessible. If you’re a very experienced hiker, you can make the epic journey to the top of the volcano via the town of Volcan. This demanding hike can take up to 8 hours there and back. For a more accessible journey to the top, you can enter the park in the town of Boquete, where you can access the peak by 4x4 in about 30 minutes, or by hiking on a long, but easier trail. When you get to the top, you’ll be standing at the highest point in Panama. If the timing’s right, stay for an incredible sunset above the clouds, or consider camping there to experience a night close to the stars. 

The Baru Volcano is located in the Chiriqui Highlands, surrounded by the towns of Boquete, Volcan and Cerro Punta. The entrance of the Park is in Boquete, where hikes and most tours start from.


Santa Fe National Park.

In the province of Veraguas, in the majestic central region of Panama, you’ll find Santa Fe National Park. Known for its abundance of waterfalls and 700 square kilometers of rainforest, the park is also home to hundreds of species of birds, butterflies and orchids. Santa Fe National Park surrounds the historic and picturesque town of Santa Fe, which is also worth a visit. Founded by Captain Francisco Vasquez in 1557, Santa Fe is the oldest community in Panama, and a trip to the area ranks as a top “off the beaten track” destination by Lonely Planet. While you’re here, you can learn about life in the Panama countryside by visiting local villages by foot or on horseback. 

Inside the park, you’ll have the chance to hike to many of the park’s 50 waterfalls, with trails ranging from quick and easy, to day-long adventures. A popular route is the hike to Alto de Piedra. The trail is just 1 kilometer in length, and ranks as an easy to moderate hike. Expect to hike for 20 minutes to the first falls, and then another 1.5 hours to see all three, which can range from 10 to 15 meters high. For bigger falls, you’ll want to hike to Bermejo Falls. These powerful waterfalls are on the border of Santa Fe National Park, and reach a towering 35 meters high. This 2.5 kilometer hike is also ranked easy to moderate, and will take you about 1.5 hours round trip. 

No matter which trail you take, you can expect awe-inspiring views and beautiful, serene scenery. Just keep in mind, these treks are for the truly adventurous, as Santa Fe National Park has no developed facilities. 
You can reach Santa Fe National Park from Panama City in 3 hours by car. Text and pictures source: www.tourismpanama.com


Please, look at SAMPLE PROGRAM that we have prepared for you to show what can be organized for your clients in Panama.

Just let me know and we’ll prepare tailor made program for you to face all your individual requirements.

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 For Groups & Individual guests arriving to Panama by Cruise ships we will help you with:

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  • Private Transportation & Guides for tailor made itineraries (WE OWN OUR OWN FLEET)
  • Delightful lunch & Dining, Dine around, Gala dinners, Catering services
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