To date Panama has been famous for two things: a canal and an eponymous hat. This is set to change, and not because the hats are actually woven in Ecuador, but because Panama is following in the footsteps of its Central American neighbours such as Costa Rica in promoting itself as an eco-tourism destination. This is the latest place Original Travel has visited in a region we think is fantastic, and Panama surpassed even our expectations.
A short 40 minute flight north from the capital brings you to the province of Chiriqui which is home to both the beautiful unspoilt beaches of the Pacific and to the mountainous misty cloud forests of Boquete and Volcan. Enjoying a year round cool climate, the highlands lend themselves perfectly to coffee cultivation and are also a haven for nature lovers. Several hundred bird species have been identified here including the resplendent Quetzal which is one of the most exotic birds not only in Central America but in the entire world.
Beach lovers visiting Panama will be spoilt for choice; in addition to hundreds of miles of Pacific coastline, the country also boasts two archipelagos off its Caribbean coast. Bocas del Toro is set just off the North west corner and consists of several large islands. They offer excellent spots for snorkeling, diving and fishing as well as many opportunities for bird watching and animal observation. Further south are the islands of San Blas which are independently governed by the Kuna tribe - one of the best preserved indigenous cultures within the Americas. With over 365 tropical islands waiting to be discovered, the best way to explore this region is undoubtedly by sailing boat.