National Parks of Panama

Over 30% of Panama’s territory is protected by national parks and reserves.

These wild spaces are home to at least 14,000 plant species, 930 native birds varieties, 140 species of frog, and over 1,000 types of butterfly.

Panama’s National Parks also serve as habitat for multiple species of sea turtles, monkeys, and native cats.

Lush green coast and caribbean blue water on the edge of Darien national park in Panama

Most of these parks can be accessed as day trips. A few others require time, patience, and determination.

La Amistad International Park

Located on the border of Panama and Costa Rica, La Amistad International Park can be accessed from Las Nubes, five miles west of the town of Cerro Punta.

This park protects 850 square miles of cloud forest, rainforest, and lowland habitat. La Amistad is home to:

  • Over 1,000 bird species,
  • Tapirs,
  • Monkeys,
  • Brilliantly-colored frogs

Privately guided day hikes can be arranged to the La Cascada waterfall and panoramic lookout points.

Clouds around the peaks of the Mountains surrounding Boquete, Panama

Volcan Baru National Park

High in the misty Talamanca Mountains of eastern Chiriqui Province, Volcan Baru is an inactive volcano, crowned by seven craters.

Due to its summit reaching 11,401 feet above sea level, those making the two-day cloud forest trek are rewarded with the unique opportunity to witness both coasts simultaneously.

Just outside Volcan Baru National park, one of Latin America’s finest orchid sanctuaries cultivates over 2,000 exotic varieties.

Coiba Island National Marine Park

With an area of 650,000 acres, Coiba is Panama’s largest island.

Red, yellow, orange, and white Thin spotted orchids in a group, spotted Amistad, Boquete, Panama

Coiba split from the mainland around 18,000 years ago, subsequently evolving its own unique variety of flora and fauna.

This island served as a penal colony from 1919 to 2004, resultantly protecting approximately 80% of its landmass from human development.

Multi-Day Cruises to Coiba Island

Today, the island is home to a few rangers, numerous scarlet macaws, and an endemic sub-species of spider monkey.

In addition to Coiba Island, this national marine park extends protection to 37 other islands and the surrounding waters.

Two red, colorful birds (scarlet Macaws) flying side-by-side in Panama's Coiba National Park

Multi-day cruises to the island allow visitors to dive with manta rays, whale sharks, and other pelagics.

Dolphin and Whale Watching at Coiba

Twenty-three cetacean species have been identified here, including dolphins, humpback and sperm whales.

The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Omar Torrijos Herrera National Park

Also known as El Cope, this cloud forest reserve covers over 62,000 acres of Panama’s Central Cordillera.

Three dolphins sighted on a private boat tour of the ocean around Bocas del Toro, Panama

All five of Panama’s native feline species are found here. Accordingly, visitors to Omar Torrijos Herrera can observe:

  • Jaguars
  • Pumas
  • Ocelots
  • Jaguarundis
  • Margays

Omar Torrijos Herrera is also home to Baird’s Tapir, two species of peccary and hundreds of species of bird.

Interoceanico and Soberania

For much of its length, the Panama Canal is flanked by twin national parks: Interoceanico on the west and Soberania to the east.

Interoceanico National Park is one of Panama’s newest parks, established to protect a vital watershed.

Jaguar emerging from tropical brush in El Cope national park, Panama

Founded in 1980, Soberania National Park covers approximately 55,000 acres of rainforest—some of the most accessible in the world.

Wildlife Tours of Soberania

Soberania park residents include, but are not limited to:

  • Sloths
  • Monkeys
  • Anteaters
  • Toucans
  • Harpy Eagles

Watershed conservation in this region serves a secondary economic purpose—the canal’s locks cannot operate without sufficient fresh water.

Chagres National Park

East of Soberania, the Chagres National Park protects approximately 337,000 acres of tropical rainforest and river basin.

Macro shot of dried up land in a desert in Panama

The Chagres River, providing 80% of the region’s fresh water, also offers some of the best rafting in Panama.

Lake Alajuela, on the park’s western border, is surrounded by hiking trails.

Wildlife Watching at Chagres

Charges National Park is an excellent place to spot crocodiles, otters, caimans, and woodpeckers.

Several Embera communities are located within the park’s borders.

Chagres can be visited as a day trip from Panama City.

Wild Darien

Established in 1980, the Darien National Park is the largest national park in Central America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tan sloth hanging from a tree branch in National Park of Panama. Photographed on private wildlife tour in Coiba National Park, Panama

Darien National Park’s territory covers over 2,200 square miles, protecting mangrove swamps, mountains, lowland rain forests and Pacific beaches.

Resident Darien species include:

  • Harpy Eagle (and over 450 other avian species)
  • Five types of monkey
  • Jaguar
  • Puma
  • Baird’s Tapir.

Darien is also the home of Embera, Kuna and Wounaan indigenous communities.

Getting to Darien

Visitors to the park can arrive via air or river.

Experienced guides and permits are a necessity at Darien. LANDED can help you with both.

Shot of bright yellow eye of partially submerged sub-adult caiman. Spectacled Caiman also known as Common Caiman or Caiman crocodilus.

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