East of the older highway that connects Panama City with Colón – the Transístmica lies Parque Nacional Chagres, 1290 square kilometres of mountainous rainforest comprising four different life zones that are home to more than three hundred bird species and several Emberá communities displaced by the flooding of Lago Bayano, further east.

Day-trips to the park include transport – bus from Panama City – followed by a glorious trip by motorized dugout up the Río Chagres, a rainforest walk, a traditional meal, and the opportunity to buy handicrafts directly from producers. Note that sometimes these Emberá villages can be overrun with cruise ship groups (Dec–April); you’ll find fewer visitors in the Emberá communities of the Darién.

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