Created in 1980, it is the largest national park in the country and the second largest in Central America. It is above all the most isolated, and the richest in tropical America in the diversity of ecosystems. Its 579,000 ha (one third of the province) constitute a buffer zone between the north and south of the American continent. The park runs along 80% of the Colombian border and covers a significant part of the famous Darién Buffer (also protected on the Colombian side by the 72,000 ha Los Katios National Park).
It is a territory of passage and meeting point for the fauna and flora of two sub-continents still separated three million years ago. Almost exclusively covered by primary and secondary tropical forest, but also other habitats (mangroves, rocky coast, sandy beaches, semi-dry forests...), it is not surprising that the park is home to many endemic species (5 species of birds, 7 mammals).
56 species endangered in the rest of the continent are still safe here, including the famous harpy eagle, which often nests at the top of the great cuipos. The park has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1981 and has also been a biosphere reserve since 1982. These titles or labels protect this vast territory from uncontrolled logging or mining, even if they do not necessarily provide the financial and human resources necessary for the effective control of such a vast area.
MiAmbiente is in charge of this protection in collaboration with the Ancon association. But the best guarantee for this wilderness area is undoubtedly the presence of the Amerindian populations. Because of their way of life and their spiritual relationship with the Tierra Madre, the Emberá, Wounaan and Guna know that without respect for this nature, it will be more and more difficult to feed, house and take care of themselves as they have done for centuries. Their lifestyles and beliefs have evolved (clothing, the arrival of electricity, the motor for the dugout canoe, the planting of churches...), but their respect for nature has remained intact. The responsibility for maintaining this fragile balance lies partly with the tourist, whose behaviour must be respectful of these communities and their environment.
Access and accommodation in the park. The park is difficult to access on its own and visitor facilities are limited, which is why it is probably one of the least visited parks in the country. This is an opportunity for anyone who decides to come here, especially for birdwatchers. The visitor must obtain prior authorization from MiAmbiente, by contacting the offices upstream and paying the reservation in a bank in Panama or Meteti for example. Don't wait to be Yavisa or El Real: it will be too late!
You will also need to take a guide, otherwise the border police will probably not let you pass through El Real or the San Miguel Gulf side. For more details, see the corresponding sections.
MiAmbiente has several places of accommodation for the tourist. Ancon Expeditions reserves the exclusivity of some of them for its clients, especially the one in Cana. The agency offers different formulas from five to eight days, which include transport, full board and ornithological excursions with a specialized guide. Ask directly at the agency in Panama.
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