Panama is well-known for its famous Panama Canal, the modern Panama City, and its idyllic islands. Now, thanks to a newly created wildlife refuge, Panama is one of the best destinations for bird lovers in the Americas.
This month on World Wetlands Day – February 2 – Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela officially created the Panama Bay Wetland Wildlife Refuge. The huge five-million-acre expanse of estuaries, mangroves, swamp forests, freshwater pools and intertidal mudflats of the Panama Bay is a stopover site for two million migrating shorebirds in the Americas every year.
The Upper Bay of Panama is one of the most important migratory wetlands. In 2005, the area was designated a part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. Many birds travel from as far as Alaska to winter in the Bay of Panama, or stop to rest there before heading farther south.
This critical bird habitat on the western coast of Panama shelters 30 percent of the global population of Western Sandpiper, approximately 20 percent of the world population of Semipalmated Plover, and 34 other North American migratory bird species, according to the Audubon Society.
The new Panama Bay Wetland Wildlife Refuge also safeguards the vast mangrove forest, which protects Panama City and the coast against storms and hurricanes. In 2003, it was declared a site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands.
Panama should definitely be on your list of places to visit for phenomenal bird-watching, nature and adventure activities. In this most southern country in Central America, you have the impressive Panama Canal, modern Panama City, postcard-perfect beaches, pure rainforest, and cultural diversity with seven indigenous populations.
Central America Experience travel agency presents three exciting vacation packages to Panama – a historic and cultural tour of Panama City and the Azuero Peninsula, a cultural and nature tour of the Azuero Peninsula, and an island adventure in the Bocas del Toro archipelago off the Caribbean Coast. The Costa Rica-based travel agency offers family trips, honeymoons, luxury adventures and custom travel packages in Central America.
Article by Shannon Farley