Panama is the ultimate destination in the America’s for diversity of wildlife. Panama is a natural land bridge connecting two continents and is home to many species from South American as well as North and Central America. About 29% of Panama’s land area is protected in 14 national parks, more then a dozen forest reserves and 10 wildlife refuges. Birdwatchers have long flocked to Panama’s some 1,000 species of birds. It is also home to over 220 mammals and 354 reptiles and amphibians. There are hundreds of islands and miles of protected coral reef, sheltering an amazing diversity of marine life.
Frank Gehry, the famous architect of Guggenheim museum and other renowned buildings, is blending art and science in his latest creation in Panama, the Bridge of Life Museum of Biodiversity. It is nearing completion and was planned to open in 2010 but it maybe a bit longer before the doors open due to a variety of reasons. More info here.
Panama is becoming one of the most exciting ecotourism destinations in the Americas and there are now several exciting ecotourist possibilities you may want to consider. For most of us with limited time and desire to rough it in unfamiliar rainforest, you will want to join a tour group of some sort.
The Panama Family Adventure has a 8 day package deal reasonably priced and geared for a couple traveling with children that want a relaxed easy eco-tour of top rainforest locations as well as some time to do some tropical chilling out.
Another fascinating adventure could be the Rainforest Awakenings, on their 8 day “youth rites of passage retreat” where you get intensive close up study of the tropical ecosystem. Hiking through the rainforest,a community service day where you can help build a water catchment system for a nearby community. Also go snorkeling and discuss the tropical reef ecology, and also hike along with a Ngobe tribal member to a sacred waterfall.
If you’d rather avoid the tour groups and want to strike out on your own you may consider the 400 acre Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Preserve, started in 2008, which borders La Amistad National Park. Their website states: “The cloud forest habitats of western Panama and neighboring Costa Rica are rich in endemic species. The site provides a great potential for studies of the local biodiversity, birdwatching, orchid photography and other related areas of natural history interest.” There is a three bedroom home with off-the-grid electricity (that is available for rent to the public) They also state “Visitors to the Reserve should be prepared for an isolated wilderness “retreat” experience. The site and home is at the top of a valley bordering an immense national park.” They also have a blog and it states they are actively seeking skilled carpenters, plumbers, ecologists with cloud forest knowledge and organic and conventional gardeners, and trail designers. Check out these great photos on their flicker photo site.
Days are hot, nights much cooler; temperatures range from 90 °F during the daytime to 70 °F in the evening practically year-round. Humidity is always high at about 80 percent. The rainy season takes place between October and November, and the best months to visit are mid-December and late March. Temperatures vary according to geography. The climate is less tropical at higher elevations. In mountain areas the average annual temperature ranges from 10ºC to 19ºC
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