You’ve heard it said that location is everything. In this regard, a vacation in Panama has a lot going for it. We all know about the history-making Panama Canal, which singlehandedly connected trade along Pacific and Atlantic routes. But get this: the country also enjoys an exclusive position as the first stretch of land connecting South America to Central and North America, and the formerly-unique animal populations of each. Today, its dense jungles, highlands, shores and seas are home to 218 species of mammals, 226 reptile species, 164 amphibian species—as well as 125 animal species found nowhere else on planet Earth!
When planning an adventure vacation in Panama or considering a Panama vacation package, be sure to include the country’s rich ecotourism offerings in your plans. Here are the top 10 most-amazing species you won’t want to miss on your adventure vacation in Panama.
While macaws, parrots, toucans and all manner of migratory birds can be spotted in the Panamanian jungles, no species inspires more awe than the resplendent quetzal. Look for these regal birds on a walk through La Amistad International Park.
These small, wild cats can be found throughout South and Central America, as well as in Mexico. Nocturnal and territorial, ocelots have keen vision and can often be spotted lounging in trees.
Several species of monkeys call the jungles of Central America home, including spider monkeys, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, White-faced capuchin and tamarin. Look for them in La Amistad International Park.
The distinction as the world’s largest rodent¬—larger even than beaver and porcupines—doesn’t help the reputation of these highly social animals. Look for them living in groups near bodies of water.
Panamanian Golden Frog
As its name suggests, the rare Panamanian Golden Frog is indigenous to Panama. It makes its home in the rainforests and cloud forests near fast-moving streams in the Cordilleran Mountains.
Jaguars, the largest cats in the Americas, prey on a wide variety of species found in the Panamanian rainforest. La Amistad International Park has a relatively large population of jaguars, but you’ll need keen vision to spot these stealthy hunters among the thick vegetation.
Pygmy Three-toed Sloth
Panama is home to several species of sloth, but you’ll only find this diminutive, three-toed sloth on Isla Escudo de Veraguas. They live and feed exclusively in red mangrove trees.
Of the world’s seven different species of sea turtles, five can be seen in Panama at various times throughout the year. A rare phenomenon know as arribadas (arrivals), when as many as 50,000 olive ridleys come ashore to nest at the same time, occasionally occurs on Panama’s Isla de Cañas during the first and last quarter of the fall moon.
Migratory birds aren’t the only species that make use of Panama’s central location and tropical climate. Migrating humpback whales can often be seen cruising the protected reefs just offshore, along with sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins and reef sharks.