The city-meets-sea-meets-rainforest tangle of Panama City serves up a diverse menu of outdoor adventures.
A white blur appeared and disappeared within the leafy green canopy. A few yards away, the sight of bouncing branches was followed by a rustle high overhead. Our guide cut the boat’s motor and silence ensued as we drifted closer to the shoreline, eyes following the finger that pointed to the spot where the movement had been a moment earlier. Just then the rustling grew stronger and the pale faces of three capuchin monkeys peeked out from an opening in the lush foliage. Other members of the troop were close behind, leaping across limbs and dropping down through the dense snare of vegetation to get a closer look. As I raised my camera to snap a photo of the curious simian friars the guide warned, “Be careful. They can be clever thieves.”
Tucked into the crossroads between two continents and two oceans, the city-meets-sea-meets-rainforest tangle of Panama’s capital serves up a diverse menu of outdoor adventures. Three million years ago when the isthmus rose from the sea, the resulting land bridge created a link between North and South America, prompting a remarkable exchange of species. Subsequently, Panama remains one of the most biologically rich places on the planet—an explosion of nature and wildlife easily accessed in the myriad protected habitats within and just beyond Panama City’s urban jungle.
On a recent trip to Panama, I explored several verdant pockets of metropolitan rainforest. Each time, I found myself astounded by the fact that I could escape the sultry city streets for what felt like remote wilderness just a short Uber away.