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lars forsberg of Longboat Retirement – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
People often ask how is the ecotourism in and around Panama?
 
I answer, well - it's improving, but it has a ways to go to become a destination.  I prefer it to be a little more natural and raw myself, but some people want it to be more tourism than eco - if you know what I mean.
 
The nature is there, but the tourist operations are not, which I like, but you may not.  The opportunities for someone to open ecotourism operations are huge.  There is so much to see and the locals for the most part take it for granted.
 
The main tourist traps of Bocas Del Toro and Boquete have a growing community of eco resorts and tourist focused operations, but outside of that, it's pretty sparse.
 
Panama has so many awesome natural sites and such a bright future in this realm, if you are considering doing some eco tourism in this fantastic country, go for it!  Even better, invest in it!  Help the locals with a lack of funding and an abundance of things to see, to build it.  Please don't turn it into a tourist trap though - keep it real Panama.
Captain Carl Davis of Jungle Land Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama is one of the best places to partake in ecotourism! There are many parks, trails and outside adventures, including (but not limited to): ziplining, bird watching, hiking, fishing, kayaking, surfing, etc. Depending on where you go in the country, there is an incredibly lush, green ecosystem that is just waiting for you to discover! Many people don't realize that even if you are just in Panama for a short while, you can partake in ecotourism: Gamboa, the Soberania Natinonal Park and Lake Gatun (part of the Panama Canal) are very close to the City--just  45 minutes away. 
 
If you are interested in learning more, we are "a la orden" as Panamanians say! (Meaning we aim to please.)
 
(Kayaking with the Captain Carl Jungle Land tours, pictured.)
Zach Smith of Anywhere – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama has made an effort to be an eco-friendly location. However, I think they’re a little behind their neighbors like Costa Rica. There has been a lot of deforestation in Panama and there is still a decent amount of deforestation in Panama. So that is probably one of the things that the government could work on immediately.
 
The people of Panama haven’t necessarily gotten into the ecotourism, sustainable mindset despite some of the marketing of the government. There are beautiful national parks and there are pristine sections of Panama that are eco-friendly that have attracted a lot of wildlife. However, these national parks are a lot less stunning compared to a location like Costa Rica because it doesn’t feel quite as natural. If you would compare Panama to Costa Rica, you will see that Panama is much farther behind when it comes to eco-tourism but if you will compare Panama to West Virginia, or South Dakota, or Texas, then Panama is an eco-mecca. 
Denise Patrick of Panama Roadrunner Secure Transport – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Over the last five years our customers are becoming more aware of ecotourism and we are pleased to announce that we have hired a professional hiking guide for Campana, Gamboa or Punta Chame Mountain hiking.  Colorful bird in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
 
We often take guests to the Gamboa Rain Forest discovery center or Pipeline Road in Gamboa for early morning nature walks.  Another popular eco tour is Jungle Land which is a day on Gatun Lake in the rain forest -most of our guests tell us it is the highlight of their trip.
 
We have a new driver who has a mountain coffee plantation and we can take guests up into the mountain country to see the plantation and meet some of the local mountain people.  My personal favorite is the short hike to El Nispero waterfalls in El Valle - I've seen glass wing butterflies in the rain forest here!
Anne Gordon de Barrigón of Whale Watching Panama/Emberá Village Tours – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
ecotourism in and around Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingEcotourism is growing in Panama. It is a fairly new concept in this country and we are not nearly as well developed in ecotourism as Costa Rica. There is a lot more ecotourism developing in many areas of Panama for getting out in nature, observing wildlife, such as observing monkeys in Lake Gatun, going out the Chagres River, visiting the indigenous people that survive on tourism like the Embera and Kuna (the new official spelling is Guna because they do not really have a K sound in their language), whale watching or being with dolphins.
 
What is really important is to be a responsible consumer. When you are doing your eco tour in nature, do your research and find out if whoever you are going with is aware of the regulations and is being respectful to both the wildlife and the indigenous people.
 
As an example, there are monkey island tours here in Panama where they go out and they let you feed anything to the wild monkeys including Cheetos, candies, etc. That is not responsible and it is unhealthy for the monkeys. Encouraging them to depend on humans for food is potentially very dangerous for them. It is also not unusual that a monkey could bite in those situations. A responsible tour operator will not let you feed a wild animal because you are there for observation and we do not need to interact with the animals in that way. As fun as it may sound, if a monkey bites you on your finger, it may get infected and you may lose your finger or you could catch a fatal disease, so it is not smart to feed them on these tours.
 
zip line Lake Gatun Panama ecotourism – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are many opportunities for ecotourism here in Panama. We have canopy, zip line, water white water rafting, hiking, etc. More eco lodges are being opened on the islands and in the mountains, so there is a great opportunities for eco travel.
Vannessa Solano of Activentas, S.A. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The ecotourism in Panama is very good.  Panama has a lot of hiking trails.  We also have a lot of virgin areas of the country and places where you can see exotic animals.
 
One of the more exotic animals we have in Panama is what we call the Conejo Pintado (Cuniculus paca), which is about a 20 pound nocturnal rodent-like animal which lives in the rainforest.  It is not dangerous to humans. 
 
For the people of Panama (and especially around Panama City), the most popular places for ecotourism are (in rough distance from Panama City):
  • Metropolitan Park, which is a very nice Lake in Gamboa, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingpark right in the city of Panama, about one square mile.  It has lots of biodiversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and trees.
  • Barro Colorado Island, which was formed when Lake Gatun was created in order to construct the Panama Canal.
  • Gamboa.  There’s a resort at Gamboa, but there is a rainforest surrounding it where you can go hiking.  (See picture to the right.)
  • El Valle.  El Valle is about an hour and a half from Panama City.  In El Valle you have rainforests and hiking trails.
  • In Penomome (about 80 miles west of Panama City, you can visit Cerro la Vieja.  (That's the video above.)
  • I also recommend Coiba Island, Archipelago las Perlas, and Veraguas.
  • In the province of Chiriqui (about 7 or so hours from Panama City, where David, Boquete and Volcan are located), you have quite a few areas where you can be among virgin forests.
Of  these, the most popular for ecotourism in Panama are El Valle, Chiriqui Province and Metropolitan Park in Panama City.​
 
Many of the places I mentioned are actually not overly prepared for tourism.  They have their paths, but everything is natural. 
 
We have many companies that do ecotourism in Panama.
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
When you talk about ecotourism, you talk about Panamá, as the whole country is a great example of ecotourism, due its largest biodiversity from coast to coast.
 
Some examples are: 
  • The beautiful and one of the most important places in the world called the Park of the Friendship, in Bocas del Toro/Chiriquí which also has part in Costa Rica
  • The Biodiversity Museum
  • The Smithsonian scientific sanctuaries like Barro Colorado
  • The Barú Volcano
  • Large mountains, rivers and prime forests along the country
  • Exceptional great volume rivers like the "San Pablo" (in Soná, Veraguas"), and the "Tuira" and " Chucunaque" (In Darién)
  • The unique experience of the tour of the humpbacked whales that immigrate to Panamá  to have their babies.
  • The turtles that also come to Panama to have their babies.  It is a tremendous spectacle to watch thousands of them getting birth and trying to get to the beach for a new whole journey to the other extreme of the world.
  • El Valle, with the beautiful orchid sanctuary and gold frog
  • Coiba Island
  • Pedasí and its beautiful beaches
  • Campana and Altos de María, on top of the mountains with unparalleled views to the Pacific Ocean
  • Exotic plants, birds, fishes and animals
  • Portobello and his great ocean view and lobsters
In general, ecotourism is in every inch of the country.  Panamá is not only a smile, warm people and the Canal... it is much more.
 
You just need to have enough time to visit them all.
 
Louis Seldon – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

Taboga Island – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingEcotourism in Panamá:
 
There is no shortage of eco opportunities in Panamá.  Below is a list and websites that are available on the internet FYI.
 
The photo on the right is the beautiful island of Taboga, an eco experience in itsself, worth a day trip or overnight visit; there are several B & Bs on the island.
 
Eco/Nature/Birds/Fish Sites:
  • Barro Colorado Island: Gatun Lake, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Boquete & Chiriquí Province, beautiful eco sites & lot's of walking trails, bird watching, etc.
  • Canopy Tower Bird watching: near Gamboa
  • Darien jungle, a great eco experience, but suggest you take a guide.
  • Embera Village, Chagres River near Gamboa
  • Gamboa Rain Forrest Resort: Chagres River, trails, cable rides through the jungle canopy, kayaking, etc.
  • Panama Railroad, Though not eco itself, you will see a lot by riding the train.
  • Playa Venao: Azuero Peninsular, El Sitio beach & surf resort
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Ancon, They have a seminar every Tuesday at 4 PM on eco/science subjects followed by a "social hour".
  • San Blas Islands, definite eco experience, a must see.  The San Blas is where the Kuna Indians make their famous Mola handcrafted cloth designs that are made into clothes or framed art work. San Blas Kuna Indian mola – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
  • Taboga Island: Located just south of the Pacific entrance to the canal, about a 35 minute launch ride to the island.
  • Torti, Panama: about 2 hour drive east of Panama City on the PanAmerican highway toward the Darien, near the Hotel Avicar and Restaurant Avicar you can find bird watching and jungle tours.
  • Tranquilo Bay Eco Lodge: Bocas del Toro,
  • Tropic Star Lodge, Piñas Bay, World class Marlin fishing and whale Watching:
Las Cruces Trail – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingLas Cruces Trail – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
Col Davis Stevenson RET of Condor Tours & Travel, Inc – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama has more national parks than any other Latin America Country. The fact that the watersheds are protected due to the need for the Panama Canal to operate with their need for fresh water for the transit of ships. You can go out on Gatun Lake and see monkeys, iguanas, alligators and many species of birds. Panama has the famous Pipe Line Road, a world renowned birding site which has been a mecca for bird watchers for many years.
 
The highlands of Panama are another protected ecosystem where one can do some great bird watching. If it is marine life that you want to observe there is the Island of Coiba that is a bird sanctuary as well as having its waters protected from fishing and commercial exploitation. Panama also has whale watching the areas for whale watching is easy to get to. Panama is a really great place for the person really interested in the ecotourism.

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