Panama promotes its adventure tourism in international markets

The destination of Panama is a study in contrasts, with ecosystems as diverse as forests, beaches, and mountains. Beyond the modernity of its capital, striking landscapes emerge in the countryside provinces that are suitable for adventure sports and active tourism outdoors.

Coastal sites and marine areas provide additional opportunities to be in contact with nature or practice aquatic sports.

As such, the Central American country is carrying out an aggressive international promotional campaign to attract tourists.

Climb to the peak of Barú Volcano

A hike up Barú is a great adventure, and once you make it to the summit there is a possibility to spend the night on top of the volcano. At 3,475 meters above sea level, the highest point in Panama is not out of reach and can be accessed from the towns of Volcán or Boquete.

From atop Barú, on a clear day, you can make out both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

The volcano has been dormant for centuries. The mountain slopes are blanketed in a lush cloud forest formed by large trees covered with mosses and lichens, making for an ideal hiking area and providing a pleasant temperature.

During the ascent, which should take a little over four hours, you will have the opportunity to observe unique bird species, including the quetzal. The exquisite mountain scenery, coupled with a view of very picturesque villages that surround the volcano, form a perfect backdrop for the activity.

Hiking in natural parks

Panama offers the opportunity to explore its wild environments by hiking in protected natural areas and observing from up close the rich biodiversity of this Central American destination.

Across the country there are several natural parks with well-marked paths and look-out points to enjoy a hike in nature. Wildlife trails are found quite close to the capital city at Soberanía Park, with the route options of the Oil Pipeline or Camino de Cruces paths and El Charco or Plantación trails.

Another option for ecotourism is along the Canal banks, between the villages of Paraíso and Gamboa, and at Summit National Park.

It is also possible to combine hiking with beaches at Taboga. A climb to the highest spot on the island following the Three Crosses Path is a way to take in extraordinary views of the town, the ships entering the Canal, and the nearby island of Urabá.

Panama's countryside is crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers that flow towards the Caribbean coast and the Pacific Ocean. Some of these rivers are very turbulent and have strong currents, the precise conditions to go rafting.

River rafting is an extreme sport consisting of riding downstream on inflatable boats and navigating the white water rapids.

This adventure sport can be practiced on the numerous rivers in the​ Chiriquí area, such as Sereno, Dolega, Esti or Majagua. The Río Chiriquí Viejo has sections for only the experienced, like the spectacular cascades and canyons, steep plunges, and powerful currents at Las Vueltas-Salsipuedes and Palón, which also has an impressive waterfall plunging nearly 10 meters deep.

In addition, there are rapids on the Chagres River, within the Chagres National Park located in the Panama Canal region, in the greater Panama City area.

Bird-watching paradise

More than 35% of Panamanian territory is protected in national parks or nature reserves. These ecologically valuable areas provide habitat for 220 species of mammals, 240 of reptiles, nearly a thousand of birds, and over ten thousand of vascular plants.

The country's numerous natural parks and areas, some of them home to endemic or endangered species, are open to go bird watching. The quetzal, macaw, and toucan are the most exotic species that can be spotted.

These natural areas are generally easy to access and additionally offer guided tours and hikes on marked trails that traverse the tropical vegetation. To name just a few, there are the National Parks of Soberanía, Barú Volcano, Pila, Chagres or Valle de Antón.

In addition, there are sites within or near the capital, such as the Metropolitan Natural Park, the Oil Pipeline Path and the Summit Botanical Gardens, where you can see the Harpy Eagle.