Regaining peace as easy as a walk in the park
PANAMA. Panama's city cosmopolitan air is in constant crescendo. At times driving through the city feels like an overdose of espressos...
PANAMA. Panama's city cosmopolitan air is in constant crescendo. At times driving through the city feels like an overdose of espressos. Which recently led me to slip away from the traffic lights and find the city's green lung: The Metropolitan Park (Avenida Juan Pablo II).
It is a large oasis of tropical rainforest and tropical dry forest right in the middle of the city, and the only Central American park within a metro area. The entrance fee is only $1 for nationals and $2 for others. You can walk solo or request a guide.
I persuaded friend and biologist Valeria to come with me and share the zen hike. Nice to have an expert to point and explain things that may fly above my head or crawl under my feet. We grabbed a couple bottles of water from the gift shop and took to the trails.
The park has 4 km of trails with different levels of difficulty and two look out points.
We went round the park starting with trail Los Caobos and kept going up along La Cienaguita trail. Some turns had steps and handrails but they were fairly easy to tread, just wear appropriate shoes for the occasional slippery mud spot.
Going through the forest is changing the channel to sweet dense air. Patches of sunlight and shadows balanced the humid walk surrounded by tall trees, shrubs and vines.
It took us about 40 minutes to reach the look outs, Cedro hill and Los Trinos, 150 meters above sea level.
The horizon view its a 180 degrees wonder. On one side you see Clayton, the Cruces trail, then the city buildings and on the other a lovely view of Ancon hill, and islands Flamenco, Naos and Perico.
We saw at least five different types of butterflies; the blue morpho, (heard somewhere that encountering one mean good news coming up), tens of a yellow and black medium size and many tiny multicolored ones.
We were lucky to see a ñeque crossing without fear in front of us, a coatimundi moving fast in between the green and a few squirrel monkeys jumping from tree to tree.
All concerns went away at the tunes of signing birds and crickets and the soothing sound of the wind swaying the tree tops. Coming down the look out points in another 45 minutes, we went through the “El Roble” trail back to the Park offices.
The Metropolitan park was established on in 1985 and is supported by a board of trustees formed by a combination of the government and civil society organizations. It has two conference rooms, a gift shop and a library.
It has four thousand hectares of extension and it joins the forests of the Soberania Park and the Cruces Trail. The park hosts around 284 plant species and 322 animal species. Approximately 46 migratory birds migrate from North America to this refuge in Panama city.
Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., however you can start your walk as early as 6:00 a.m.
If you prefer to have a guided tour, call ahead to reserve an appointment. Bilingual guides are available.
The Panama Audubon Society holds a bird watching tour at the park once a month. The next tour will one on August 2, at 6:30 a.m.
For more information call 232-5615.