Oh, we sure love la selva and, let’s be real, it’ll always get better if we invest our dollars to visit nature’s finest jungle reserves. That’s what keeps ’em reserves.
Plus, who doesn’t love Central American life?
Great food, warm people, nature, and plenty of crazy history. To that end, this just in from a little birdie’s mouth. Check out:
Panamá, La Amistad Bird Sanctuary
La Amistad was declared by UNESCO to be a Natural World Heritage Site in 1983. Spread out between Panama and Costa Rica, the sanctuary covers a whopping 207,000 hectares of forests on Panamanian soil (of which 95% are located in the province of Bocas del Toro and the other 5% in Chiriquí). One of the most popular attractions of this park is its potential for bird watching, given that about 425 species of the 925 bird species located in Panama have been identified in this area alone. In this amazing natural reserve, travelers can watch the illusive resplendent quetzal and the harpy eagle. The park also offers the opportunity to be in contact with the indigenous communities of the Teribe and explore ecological trails like La Cascada and El Retoño. With an array of ecosystems such as cloud forest, coral reefs, mangrove forests, and the unique paramo, Amistad/Bocas del Toro is rich in biological and cultural diversity: it is the most culturally and ethnically diverse region where Panama’s indigenous Afro-Caribbean, BriBri, Ngöbe, Naso, Cabecar and Latino ethnic groups live. I had a chance to hike into the jungle and have lunch the Bribri. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life – complete with fresh fish eaten out of a banana leaf.
La Amistad International Park is also the perfect place for travelers who enjoy river adventures and mountain hikes through dense, humid forests.
The Teribe and Changuinola Rivers are the life blood of this ancient forest and offer endless opportunities for site seeing, forest travel, and adventure. Just remember: this area is located 2000 meters (6,000 ft.) above sea level, its also important to be prepared for the altitude.
How to get there
From Panama City, you can fly (1 hour) or by land (6 hours) to David, the third largest city of Panama and the capital of the province of Chiriqui. Once you’re there, you take a ride to Cerro Punta that is 1 hour from David. From Cerro Punta to the Administration Center of the park (Las Nubes) is another 5 kilometers by car.
Where to stay
Near the park, you can find three towns that provide hotels, banks, health centers, transportation and guides to the different attractions of the park:
Volcan in Chiriqui
Here is a list of lodgings at David, unfortunately most of them don’t have a website, but you can contact them and get a quote at the following site: http://panamatoptravel.com/en/ficha_hot.php?idhotel=6
Most of these hotels are 3 or 4 stars, clean, simple accommodations:
Gran Nacional Hotel
You can also find more luxurious accommodations such as:
Volcan is a small, beautiful town located in the mountains of the Chiriqui province, just beside the Baru volcano.
In the town of Volcan, you can find hotels like the Bambito Hotel or fully equiped mountain cabins like Las Huacas or Kucikas Cabines.
Bambito Hotel: $264.00/night
Las Huacas Cabines: 1 or 2 bedroom cabins from $85 to $125/night
Kucikas Cabines (Bambito): $70 to $165
Cerro Punta is a small and beautiful village located in the highlands of the Chiriquí Province Cerro Punta, the newest tourism destination of Panama, with amazing landscapes, abundance of natural resources and cool climate. So, with that in mind, here are some other places to visit within the stunning region:
Finca Dracula Orchids Farm
Los Quetzales Trail
Baru Volcano National Park