Chagres National Park
Culture, history, watersports and abundant nature come together in the epic Chagres National Park. Home to the forest that shelters the most important river in Panama, the Chagres River, Chagres National Park consists of 309,000 acres crossed by countless streams and waterfalls that lead to both the Chagres River and Lake Alajuela. The forest is also home to the remains of 30 miles of the Camino Real. Before the canal was built, this colonial route was the only way to transport goods like gold and silver from coast to coast, and you can still see some of the original pavement today.
If you’re a daring hiker, you’ve come to the right place. The rugged terrain offers cloud-covered hills and peaks, such as Cerro Jefe. At 3,300 feet tall, this wondrous peak will give you access to spectacular views of the Panama Canal. For another can’t-miss adventure, book a tour through the remains of the Camino Real. Considered one of National Geographic’s “best experiences in South America,” this historic road is definitely worth a visit.
When you’re done exploring on foot, enjoy some of the park’s watersports such as rafting, kayaking and fishing. Or, visit the indigenous Emberá community by canoeing up the Chagres River. Environmental stewardship is central to the Emberá way of life. They work hard to offer tours with low environmental impact in the heart of the Chagres National Park rainforest, helping to create an ecologically sustainable way for visitors to experience the local nature and the Emberá culture. On your journey, you’ll have the chance to take guided hikes through ancient paths and learn about the Emberá way of life.
Chagres National Park is located about 40 miles north of Panama City, and can be accessed by car. The best way to experience Chagres is with a tour operator, as the park itself does not have its own infrastructure.