Panama Ecotourism and Culture

From the lively mix of old and new to sugary beaches, Panama is one of Latin America’s most buzzed-about destinations.  This alluring gateway between nature and culture is an absolute must for ecotourism with a spark. Go for the lush rainforests, stay for the sustainable resorts, great restaurants, and stylish vibe that’s garnered comparisons to Hong Kong and Miami.

WHERE TO STAY: Panama City is often described as three cities in one-old Panama, colonial Panama, and modern Panama-with hotels ranging from centuries­old mansions to five-star boutiques. Centrally located in the shopping and financial district, The Bristol strikes a balance with lovely old-world elegance and one of the best restaurants in town, Barandas, which serves Panamanian specialties by award-winning chef Cuquita Arias.

WHAT TO SEE: Going green gets a massive splash of style in Panama City. Located within city limits, minutes from downtown’s shops, the Metropolitan National Park is a true “urban jungle.” However, an even sleeker take on ecotourism is the new Museum of Biodiversity, which looks more like a contemporary art museum than an ecological showcase.

WHERE TO GO: The city’s seamless flow between nature and skyline only hints at the extraordinary beauty that lies beyond.

San Blas Islands: The fully sustainable Coral Lodge has secluded bungalows right on the water’s edge with infinity-pool-like access to snorkeling and diving.

Bocas del Toro Archipelago: Relax in the pure surroundings of the solar-powered Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge, then explore mangrove forests and off­shore coral reefs in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, which is just a short boat ride away.

Mountain Region: In the Chiriqui province, visit the soaring Baru Volcano National Park-from its peak, travelers can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


Nicaragua Ecotourism

ELEVEN DEGREES NORTH OF THE EQUATOR, IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, LIES A VERDANT OASIS. FULL OF WILDLIFE AND SURROUNDED BY THE CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE PACIFIC OCEAN, NICARAGUA IS TRANS­FORMING ITSELF INTO A MAJOR DESTI­NATION FOR ECO-TOURISTS EVERY­WHERE. WITH SOARING MOUNTAINS, ACTIVE VOLCANOES, LUSH RAIN­FORESTS AND QUITE THE SELECTION OF SOUTH AMERICAN ANIMAL SPECIES, NICARAGUA-WHICH, TRANSLATED, MEANS “SURROUNDED BY WATER”- IS PRACTICALLY HEAVEN-SENT IN THE EYES OF AN AVID NATURE LOVER.

With new plant species being discovered regularly, visitors have a chance to be a part of the action in this leafy para­dise. The country is not for the weak of heart, however. Be ready to hike through forests, stand atop a volcano, and get a true Nicaraguan experience. Make time to stop at some of Nicaragua’s 78 national parks, including Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge, Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve and Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve. Though the accommoda­tions can get primitive in some cases, the adventure is well worth it. Staying in an ecolodge is a fantastic option, offering a submersion into nature and a memorable experience. And when you take a break from all the exploring, immerse yourself in Nicaragua’s plethora of cultural options. Take in unique performances at the Ruben Dario National Theater, the Victor Romeo Theater and the lusto Rufino Garay Theatre. Revel in pieces of Nicaragua’s history at the Cathedral of Leon, the Church of laleva and Parque Central in Granada. The landscape, outdoors adventures and cultural attractions, in conjunction with the serene views of the Pacific ocean, make Nicaragua a private, romantic-and definitely green-vacation. The destination is engaged in eco-tourism due to its wide range of animals and plants in a comparative­ly small area as well as its lack of development.