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Visit Panama City National Parks. There are many national reserves and national parks in Panama, but the closest to the capital city are the Metropolitano and the Soberania. Both offer the opportunity to see birds, butterflies and if you are very lucky monkeys. Although you cannot see them you hear them. The great advantage of these locations that you can plan a day trip and be back to your accommodation in town by nightfall.
The Metropolitan National Park (Parque Nacional Metropolitano (MNP)) is located in the Juan Pablo II Avenue, at only ten minutes of Albrook Mall and 15 minutes from the city center, is the only wildlife refuge in the city.
The park is part of the Biological Corridor located along the east shore of the Panama Canal, which includes the Camino de Cruces and Soberania National Parks. The existence of this extensive protected rainforest along with others, such as Chagres National Park, ensures the efficiency of the Panama Canal which requires large quantities of water for its operation, and also provides drinking water for Panama, Colón and Chorrera.
It has a surface of 232 hectares and in Central America it is one of the few tropical dry forests on the Pacific Coast that remains. MNP is home to 84 species of trees, 45 species of mammals, 254 species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.
The park has several areas of interest there are:
The Butterfly Farm: Recently inaugurated, it houses 30 different species of butterflies. The enclosure where the butterflies are exhibited has about 400 square meters covered, which has been conditioned to maintain the right temperature, the vegetation of its ecosystem and the specific food that favors the butterflies to maintain their colorful colors.
Los Trinos Lookout Point: located on the Mono Titi road, it is ideal for bird observation. Here you will be able to enjoy the melody of a great variety of birds that inhabit the park.
Cedar Hill lookout Point first level: located at 140 meters above sea level; from here you will see El Dorado shopping area, the former Clayton Hospital and the two National Parks that are connected to the MNP.
Cedar Hill Lookout Point second level: it is the Park’s highest point, located at 150 meters above sea level. You can observe the islands of Naos, Flamenco, Taboguilla and Taboga. You can also observe the Panama Canal entrance on the Pacific side, the Bridge of the Americas, Ancon Hill, and an incredible panoramic view of Panama City.
Trails: the Park has four trails and a road that allows the observation of our rich vegetation formed by vines, bindweed, shrubs, orchids, and trees between 30 and 50 meters high.
The Metropolitan Park opens Monday to Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Entrance costs $1.00 for Panamanians and residents: children up to the age of 17 and pensioners $0.50. For foreigners tickets cost: adults $4.00; children up to 17, $2.00.
The Soberanía National Park (Parque Nacional Soberanía), near the banks of the Panama Canal in the provinces of Panamá and Colón, some 25 kilometres from Panama City is one of the favorites for birdwatchers, because around 525 bird species are found there. The Chagres River runs through it which accounts for the amount of wildlife found there. Established as a national park in 1980, the park covers 55,000 acres (220 km2).
One of the most famous birding sites is Pipeline Road, which covers 17.5 km north-south through the park and passes through old-growth and secondary forest. Pipeline Road is one of the best places to see tropical birds in the Americas, with a bird species list exceeding 400.
The park’s 105 species of mammals include white-faced capuchin monkeys, mantled howler monkeys, Geoffroy’s tamarins, two-toed sloths, three-toed sloths, southern tamanduas, white-nosed coatis, jaguars, agoutis and even deer. Green iguanas are also found in the park. Many of the animals and amphibians that had to be moved during the Panama Canal expansion were relocated to this site.
Visitors to the Soberanía National Park can also explore the Las Cruces Trail (Camino de Cruces). This historical trail dates back to the 16th century and was used by the Spanish to transport gold. Parts of the trail are still lined with old stones that once marked the trail’s original path.
Visit Panama City National Parks: The Soberania Park has six natural trails:
The Pipeline Road: The path is best well known in the park and it is where the Panama Audubon Society carries out its annual bird census.
The Plantation Road: this path measures 6.5 kilometers and received its name due to a banana and cocoa plantation operated by the United States government used to be there.
El Charco (The Pool) Natural Path: It is the shortest of the paths with a length of 800 meters. It is located over the Gaillard as you walk you can find pools where you can swim.
Camino de Cruces (Path of the Cruces): it measures 10 kilometers and is located over the Madden road. During XVI century it was used by the Spaniards to transport merchandise and goods between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.
Sendero Espíritu del Bosque (The Holy Spirit Path): It measures 1.7 kilometers and is self guided with 13 stops. There you can find squirrels, capuchine monkeys, whitetail deer, sloths and birds.
Cicloruta: (Bicycle route): it is a special route created for mountain cycling, measures 17.5 kilometers and goes through the Soberania and Las Cruces national parks.
The Soberanía Park opens Monday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entrance cost: foreigners $5, nationals $3 students $1 and pensioners $1.50.