Panama is a tiny country packed with diversity. It boasts some of the best beaches in Latin America, seven distinct indigenous cultures, cloud forests, rainforests, and some of the best coffee in the world. Browse below for a combination of off-the-beaten path activities and destinations that you can’t miss during your trip to Panama.
A country geographically about the size of South Carolina, Panama has beaches, a lot of jungle, mountains, seven indigenous groups, multiple micro-climates, cities and even a little desert. For travelers, Panama is particularly famous for its beaches, its cultural tourism, surfing, bird-watching, hiking, coffee friendly highlands, and the Panama Canal. This combination of developed destinations as well as heavily under-developed regions mixing with raw natural beauty create a diverse spread of potential activities for an adventure, eco-, or volun-tourist and has kept us constantly discovering new adventures.
Panama has every kind of natural challenge you can think of (besides of course those that involve snow.) River rafting, swimming, mountain climbing, hiking, waterfall exploring, diving—there’s somewhere for all of that. Since Panama is so small, you don’t have to go physically far from the main highway to reach the thickest jungle of your life, get surrounded by howler monkeys, sloths and exotic birds and have lunch with a Ngäbe family that is using a stove made out of rocks and fanning the fire with a banana leaf.
So if you’re looking for a complete physical, emotional and educational adventure, they’ll be no shortage of opportunities in Panama.
Panama has some truly screen-saver worthy beaches, one of the last remaining primary, or virgin, rainforests in the world, a cloud forest in its western highlands and lots of mountains and rivers throughout the country. It is also an international bird-watching destination, with over 960 species (to put that in perspective, the entire United States has about 920 species and Panama’s only the size of South Carolina).
With international eco-all-star Costa Rica on its western border, Panama has seen the benefit of protecting and promoting its environment and officially conserves 29% of all land, including 16 national parks.
Keteka’s founders both served as Peace Corps volunteers for two years, working on community-based tourism projects. During that time, they developed strong ties with community tourism projects and with local operators all over the country – many of which are now bookable on Keteka. Any given year, the Peace Corps has between 200 and 300 volunteers in Panama, and the Keteka team maintains close ties with them and is the first to know about new community tourism projects and authentic and off-the-beaten path experiences. Below, you will find the best of these Panama tours, operators, and other travel experiences.