Mountains and Highlands
Cordillera Central. They form a disconnected backbone from Costa Rica in the West, gradually descending to Panama City. Further east towards Colombia, the range becomes known as the Serrania de Tabasará or Cordillera de San Blas. For those who think that as Panama forms a land bridge between North and South America it must run north to south – think again! The Republic of Panama actually runs west to east in the shape of a recumbent “S”.
The Panama Canal was constructed at one of the lowest points to carry ships across the continental divide. The Cordillera Central divides the Republic of Panamá into the flat coastal lowlands of the Pacific slopes and those of the Caribbean slopes and very much affects the weather patterns of the country. Generally there is more rain on the Caribbean side where the mountains form a barrier for the warm moist trade winds. The majority of the population lives on the Pacific side of the country, southwest of Panamá City .
Altitude affects the temperature so the higher elevations offer cool and pleasant respite from the tropical lowlands with their enervating heat. Panamá's highlands are fast becoming some of the hottest spots for adventure vacations, with world-class whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, and rock climbing topping the bill. A pristine environment and few fellow travelers make Panama is a stunning destination for the adventure trip of a lifetime. The mountains and highlands of Panama are home to an incredible variety of flora, fauna and animal species. These are the only mountains between northern Central America and the Colombian Andes, this isolation leads to many endemic species of birds. In the Chiriqui Highlands you will find two of Panama 's finest national parks.
On Coclé Mountains several projects as second homes or for retired people who look a quieter style of life without losing comfort of modern life are being developed such as The Bristol Villas. Which is this comfort? Living in the country provides the opportunity to have a 18 hole golf course, stables, tennis court, etc. Coclé also offers beaches and large prairies where salt, rice and sugar are produced as well as cattle are raised. Furthermore, they have a great handicraft production. All of this it is just 90 minutes away from the center of the city of Panamá.
Baru Volcano National Park
This park is not only home to the Volcan Baru volcano but also to the resplendent quetzal, one of the few places in the world where you can almost be sure to see one if you take a good guide. A favorite of the Audubon Society tours, birding here is exceptional, and wild life abounds. A strenuous hike will take you to the top of the highest of the seven craters from where, on a clear morning, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean.
La Amistad National Park
Half of the 407,000 hectares of the Friendship Park is in Panama and the rest in Costa Rica. Entrances to the park are found in Cerro Punta, Guadeloupe on the Volcan side of Vulcan Baru and at Wetzo near Changuinola. This is a world heritage site and is home to numerous species of plants, birds and animals. The biodiversity includes seven of the twelve classified life zones.
For more information on Panama 's national parks, click here (http://www.businesspanama.com/tourism/rainforest_ecotourism.php)
Boquete and the Chiriqui Highlands
The highest point of the Cordillera Central as it runs parallel with the border to Costa Rica , is Volcan Baru a dormant volcano that tops 3478 meters above sea level. The highest mountains and the longest rivers in Panama are found in this province of Chiriqui , named by the local Indians as the “valley of the moon”. The rich volcanic soil makes this the bread basket of Panama , where dairy and beef cattle are farmed and vegetables, fruits and coffee thrive. Rice is grown in the lowlands.
The largest copper mine in the country is also found here. The flag of Chiriqui is red and green, a proud reminder of the province's agricultural wealth in meat and vegetables. With rainforest and cloud forests brimming with incredible wild life, Chiriqui has everything! Dominated by the majestic extinct volcano and the surrounding hills, Boquete is beautiful, a land of rainbows and flowers! Talk to anyone in Panama City and tell him or her that you are going to Boquete and they will go misty eyed and say “Ah, Boquete!” You will be regaled by stories that they are from there, have visited, or hope to visit one day when they win the lottery! Boquete has been named one of the top places in the world to retire by prestigious magazines such as Modern Maturity and International Living. So, you may ask, why all the hype about this little border town in the Chiriqui Highlands? Boquete has always been popular with vacationing Panamanians and is gradually being discovered by visitors who often return to stay.
The spring-like weather is pleasant and cool, no air conditioning or heating required. Boquete oranges and gourmet coffees are some of the best you will ever taste. The scenery is beautiful with coffee covered hillsides rising to cloud forest full of crystal clear rivers and waterfalls.. The local people are particularly welcoming as there is a history of foreign settlers here; they were instrumental in the founding of the town in 1911.
Even the original oranges trees were brought from Riverside , California ! There is definitely something special about Boquete that makes people return again and again. No wonder many expatriates are making Boquete their home. This area is now a major investment opportunity. Visit our Real Estate section for more information on properties available. The Annual Coffee and Flower fair takes place every January, followed by the Orchid fair in April. A consortium led by Intracorp strategically allied with Urbio, Cotrans and Tetratech started a Land Demarkation, Environmental and Urban Development Plan to the Municipality of Boquete.
The agreement was awarded by the National Board for Sustainable Development of the Ministry of the Presidency of the Republic, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank. The co-performing entity is the National Authority of Environment (ANAM). The appointment was the result of a conquest in which twenty-six international and national companies took part in. The plan shall have to be complied with in a period of nine months.
Its objective is to harmonize the instruments of territorial environmental management and urban development, applying participative strategic planning methodologies. The interest in Boquete is broadening to more remote land in nearby areas where investments are being made at bargain prices by investors who are looking to future development. These areas include the town of Caldera and its environs, and land in Palmira and Potrerillos. We can assist you in identifying available options; contact us.
Volcán, Bambito, Cerro Punta and Guadalupe
On the western slopes of Volcan Baru are the small mountain communities of Volcan, Bambito, Cerro Punta and Guadalupe. Here the rolling hillsides are covered in green pastures where you will find herds of cattle and horse farms. As you climb higher the almost vertical slopes are still full of fields of vegetables and flowers. Cerro Punta is the place to get away from it all, famous for its strawberries; the name means little pointed hill. Guadalupe is known for its orchid sanctuary. Bambito boasts a four star hotel and a trout farm.
This area is close to the entrances to Baru Volcano and La Amistad National parks making it an ideal location for eco-tourist projects. This is also an area being identified by investors as an area that will follow in the footsteps of Boquete. Properties are already being acquired by far-sighted investors.
To view properties, farms, homes, condos, islands in different parts of Panama, visit our Real Estate Marketplace.
To reach Boquete, Volcan, Cerro Punta or Guadalupe, you can fly (approximately 1 hour) to the provincial capital of Chiriqui, David, by either Aeroperlas or Mapiex national airlines. Boquete is 45 minute drive from David airport, the other towns a little more. Rental car companies are represented at the airport.
The roads are well sign posted out of David. David is approximately a 6 hour drive to from Panama City , depending upon the weather and road conditions. The road is being improved.
In the province of Coclé only two hours from Panama City, so consequently a popular weekend retreat for city dwellers, is the town of El Valle de Anton. This little town lies within the crater of an extinct volcano and is known for golden frogs, square trees and a sleeping Indian girl awaiting her lover! No wonder it is popular with tourists. Jagged peaks surround the town and any one will point out the silhouette of La India Dormida. The rare golden frogs and the square trees can be found in the grounds of the Hotel Campestre.
The frogs may be more yellow than gold and the trees may require a little imagination to justify the descriptions but they are part of the El Valle experience! With a pleasant cool climate, green forested surroundings, hillsides where you will find impressive waterfalls and petroglyphs, El Valle is a favorite among Panamanians and tourists alike. The Sunday Handicraft Market draws many visitors, prices are usually negotiable. Mostly Guaymi Indians sell their handicrafts here but you may also encounter members of the Emberá, Kuna and Wounaan.
Look for soapstone carvings or a batea, a large wooden tray used for tossing rice or corn by Guaymis. The local hardwood used for these trays is very heavy when first cut but quite light when dried. Bird watchers will be well rewarded by the numbers of different humming birds to be found here. Whether you prefer to stroll or hike, there are many paths to enjoy. This area is also known for the onion, radish, lettuce, spring onion and other vegetables production. Agroturism is enjoying a boom as an entertainment alternative for tourists and visitors coming from the cities. Nowadays, there are 20 farms devoted to agroturism on the Republic.
These farms are located at Chiriquí, Coclé, Colón, Herrera and Los Santos and have been certified by the Ministry of Agrarian Development to develop such activity. Life on the country and on the mountains is also attracting more attention from tourist operators who are looking for a greater variety on offers for holidays or pleasure trips.
El Valle is approximately 2 hours from Panama City by good roads; look for the right turn off the Inter American Highway. Travel agencies in Panama City sometimes offer day excursions to visit El Valle.
Less than 100km west of Panama City, just off the Inter American Highway, and ten minutes from El Valle is the development of Altos del Maria. At between 1,540 and 3,750 feet above sea level, it is considerably cooler than the city with great ocean views and a 20 minute drive to the beach. Footpaths and forest landscaping make this a delightful retreat. Along the coast from Panama City to Farallon you will find a number of developments that provide another option for city dwellers.
The new Centennial Bridge will make these areas even more easily accessible. A trip to Panama is not complete unless you have enjoyed the cool, scenic mountains of this wonderful country.
To view properties, farms, homes, condos, islands in different parts of Panama , visit our Real Estate Marketplace.