When It Comes to Living Adventures…
PANAMA’S FORMIDABLE NATURAL WEALTH AND ECOLOGICAL DIVERSITY HAVE MADE IT ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER DESTINATIONS FOR THOSE WHO LOVE DOING THINGS OUTDOORS
Nestled on the Central American isthmus, the Republic of Panama is both an eyepopping and unique place. Given its geographical location and curved shape, it's the only country in the world where you can watch daybreak on the Pacific Ocean and gaze at the sunset over the Atlantic.
Another exclusive highlight is a tropical jungle, just a 10-minute drive from the modern capital, which allows visitors to have access to parks that have been declared Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage sites.
Panama stands out for its condition as a “hinge” nation, a bridge between two seas and a privileged meeting ground for cultures from around the globe. The well-known Canal –of paramount importance for international trade- and the Colon Free Trade Zone –it's by far the largest free trade zone of the Americas and the second in the world- have made major contributions to transforming the territory into a platform of maritime, commercial, real estate, financial and, last but not least, tourist services.
Viewed this way, it's not by chance that the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP is the Spanish acronym) announced that the nation will host the Adventure Week, an event that seeks to showcase the top destinations as far as adventure tourism is concerned. This initiative is also the joint brainchild of the Panama Tourism Chamber and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).
One of the main strengths of the Adventure Week is to give a number of foreign guests the chance to discover and explore different travel destinations in a bid to encourage visits in the mid and long run.
According to ATTA, a trip is labeled as adventure tourism when it involves three basic elements: nature, culture and physical activity, which includes trekking, cycling, rock climbing and rafting. In this sense, Panama has it all.
It's sound to say that adventure tourism –it's indeed a relatively new initiative- has already yielded positive outcomes and satisfactory experiences to those who have put their smart money on its potentials, either in the form of ecotourism (exploration of natural areas), accessible tourism (cultural incursions or extreme activities, such as bungee), exciting tourism (parasailing, mountain climbing, building bungee, rock climbing and speleology) or ethno-tourism (the approach to different cultures through long walks down poorly-developed areas).
The list of places for these to-dos recommended by experts includes Valle de Anton, the waters of the Chiriquí Viejo River, the La Yeguada Reserve, and the national parks of Isla Coiba (World Heritage), the Barú Volcano and Chagres.
EVERY LIKING IS COVERED
Diving, especially in one of the best-preserved coral reefs of the American Pacific coast, at the Coiba National Park, or in Portobelo –the coast features a sunken aircraft- finds in these two places major standouts among visitors looking for this kind of thrilling experience. Ziplining or canopy finds in places like Boquete or Chorro del Macho a couple of settings ideal for this activity, both blessed with a combination of good weather conditions and lavish foliage.
As to rafting, the Mamoní and Chiriquí Viejo rivers take the cake. These two watercourses are ranked among the top-ten locations on the planet for water adventures. In the same breath, water sport buffs can wallow in a sublime experience if they happen to snorkel off Bocas del Toro, or do kayaking in the Gatún Lake.
The ideal routes for cycling are perched on the Gamboa and Cerro Azul areas, together with the trails near the capital, such as Camino Plantación, close to the Summit Municipal Park. And when it comes to mountain routes, nothing compares to the Barú
According to ATTA, a trip is labeled as adventure tourism when it involves three basic elements: nature, culture and physical activity, which includes trekking, cycling, rock climbing and rafting. In this sense, Panama has it all
Volcano, laden with accessible peaks and different difficulty levels.
Extreme activities also embrace windsurfing, which finds in Punta Chame a glorious setting. Wakeboarding (sliding on a board that's tethered to either a motorboat or a water bike), wet rappel (descending waterfalls with the help of ropes) and surfing, either on the Pacific or the Atlantic coast, have great allies in a number of magnificent beaches with spectacular conditions for the practice of these sports. The huge rolling waves of Santa Catalina are one case in point.
And if that's not good enough, Panama boasts different enclaves that let you watch humpbacked whales. Along the Las Perlas Archipelago, the Gulf of Chiriquí, Montijo, San Miguel, Panama Bay or on the islands of Iguana, Coiba and Taboga, you can stare at those majestic sea creatures during their mating and spawning seasons
Either on the ground, sliding through the air or just letting your adrenaline pump up as you battle choppy waters, Panama always comes up with a perfect –or almost perfectpackage of activities. The isthmus, two oceans, plentiful flora and wildlife, heights and risks; that's all it takes to enthrall people with the most adventurous spirits.