This post is also available in: Spanish
By Gabriel Guandique
Panama Camping Useful Tips. Panama has a privileged geographical position which makes it a meeting point not only for modern global trade, but also since millions of years ago as a meeting point for thousands of species of flora and fauna that used the isthmus as a bridge between both continental masses (North and South America).
This makes it a great place to know all this diversity. Panama has dense jungles, flowing rivers, challenging mountains and lovely beaches, providing many different scenarios to enjoy nature. One of the best way to know these places is through the camping, this activity allows a closer connection with nature.
However, there are some recommendations to consider before embarking on a journey like this. One of the most common obstacles to camping in the Panamanian isthmus is mosquitoes, even during the construction of the Panama Canal, more than 100 years ago, the French project had many problems with this inhabitant of the rainforests, as it transmits diseases like malaria, dengue and yellow fever, this is why a powerful repellent is one of the most important items that can not be missing in your camping bag.
When it comes to equipment it is important to take into account that a reliable source of light is always needed. Although many parks and protected areas have lighted camping areas and even toilets, keep in mind that a good flashlight will be useful for walking trails during the night or going out in search of nocturnal fauna. A strong resistant camping tent is also of utmost importance, because during the rainy season a rainforest like those in Panama can receive between 9 and 30 feet of rainfall per year. Make sure you have waterproof bag or plastic to protect your equipment.
Panamanian parks and reserves have trails worth exploring, which is why you should take into account to carry a compass or some type of global positioning system – GPS, such as those equipped in today’s smart phones. If possible ask for a map at the park access gates, where park rangers can guide you better on which paths or trails to navigate. In addition, be sure to wear hiking boots or footwear with ankle support, so those steep mountains are not a difficult challenge to overcome.
When it comes to choosing a camping area, if you have already decided not to do so in the designated areas of the park, make sure to find a clear or open area that has enough space to mount the tents on a flat surface. It is important to secure the camping area and mount the tents around 4 p.m. as in the dense rainforest of Panama it darkens very early as the vegetation retains most of the sunlight.
One of the most complicated logistics when camping away from civilization, is food. Some of the most beautiful places to camp in Panama require a little effort to enter the jungle, so it is very important to have energy foods easy to transport like granola bars, nuts, chocolate or canned foods. Most likely you will find some wood in the vicinity to build a campfire, if that is the case, do not forget to have a lighter or spark to ensure that you can light the fire. During the rainy season it is more difficult to find suitable wood for a bonfire, so you should consider taking a small gas stove.
One of the most important things to consider is that you are visiting the territory of other living beings, Panama has a wide variety of snakes, and poisonous plants and amphibians that you need to be aware of; These recommendations are usually found in the ranger’s offices. It is also important that you take care of the home of the species you are visiting, so do not forget to remove all the trash and waste that your stay generates, even a simple seed or fruit foreign to the ecosystem could wreak havoc on local species, carry a bag for trash and place it in the containers that are usually at the exit of the parks.
As a final tip, we recommend that you notify the park rangers in advance of your stay; The Panamanian Environment Ministry – MiAmbiente, has a detailed list of the contact numbers of each regional park ranger office. You can receive more specific instructions about the place you visit and this way you can prepare yourself better to make your stay more enjoyable. You can access this list by visiting www.MiAmbiente.gob.pa