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Legend has it that the infamous pirate Captain Henry Morgan used Ancon Hill as a lookout point during his sacking of Panama City in 1671. Sitting 654 feet above sea level Ancon Hill continues to be a piece of Panama’s vibrant history.
On a clear day from any spot in the city you can see the enormous Panamanian flag the size of a basketball court flying high atop Ancon Hill. Panama City’s own protected jungle oasis, it sits on 106 acres of parkland. From the top of Ancon Hill you can admire the Panama Canal, Albrook, Casco Viejo, the new Coastal Strip, the Bridge of the Americas, the Causeway, and Panama City.
Getting to Ancon Hill is very easy by car or taxi (if arriving by taxi, just ask for Cerro Ancon). The entrance is located right after the Canal Administration building in the Balboa neighborhood of Panama City. Pass the Canal Administration building, keeping it on your right, and continue up the road, passing through a guard booth at the foot of the hill. From there you have two options: park and walk the rest of the way to the top of the hill, or continue to drive to the top. The climb up the hill is a little under a mile on a paved but steep one lane road.
The advantage of hiking up the hill is the possibility of catching a glimpse of various indigenous animals, such as toucans, sloths, birds, deer, monkeys, and boa constrictors. At the top of the hill several nice benches are well situated for relaxing after the hike and enjoying the fresh air, beautiful flora and fauna of Panama, and of course the stunning views.
Until 1977 Ancon Hill was part of the Canal Zone and it was mainly used for radio communication purposes. The hill contains an abandoned underground bunker built run by the U.S. Southern Command, and a plaque at the top of the hill commemorates the Torrijos-Carter Treaty, which guaranteed that Panama would regain control of the Canal and its land from the U.S.
The park is open from 7am until 4pm, 365 days a year. The best time of day to visit is at sunrise, right when the park opens. A hidden gem tucked away in Panama City, Ancon Hill, with its unparalleled views, is well worth a visit.