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Just a few years ago, villa, penthouse, apartment or condominiums in Panama have cost a lot of money. Today, however, the real estate in Panama dropped in price and local realtors have much more affordable deals. For the price of $100,000 today you can buy real estate in Panama of 80 square meters. Cost of penthouses and villas in Panama were also dropped, so today everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of enticing offers and buy property in the country that represents a pure democracy.

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Regions of Panama: Rainforests & Ecotourism

Panama has enormous potential for ecotourism. The pristine Darién jungle near Colombia, inhabited by the Emberá Waunaan, is only a 50 minute flight away from the traffic congestion and shopping malls of Panama City. There is a small runway very close to the River Sambu and you can head off into the jungle in a motorized dugout with the permission of the Indian authorities. As Michéle Labrut points out in her definitive guide to Panama, the country has 12 "life zones", according to the classification of the US botanist L. R. Holridge. A life zone in ecology is defined by climatic and soil conditions that create the type of forests growing in those regions. More than 12 per cent of the land area is in 15 protected national parks. The flora is abun­dant with 10,000 species of plants almost eight different species per square kilometer including 1,200 varieties of orchids, as well as 687 species of ferns and 1,500 varieties of other trees. In the province of Chiriquí alone, there are 13 kinds of snakes and 13 kinds of lizards. The Chiriquí highlands are the easiest place in the world to see the famed Quetzal .

Darién is an ecological bridge between South and North America and it is protected by a national park, the largest in Panama and the second biggest in Central America. Construction of the Pan American Highway as far as Yaviza in the Darién has produced deforestation, but the Darién Gap still stands untouched between Yaviza and Colombia. This region of tropical rainforests is the heart of the national park, which UNESCO has declared both a World Heritage Site and a Man and the Biosphere Reserve. Travel and tourist infra­structure is fairly primitive, as befits ecotourism, with the exception of the luxury fishing lodge at Piñas Bay on the Pacific coast.

Panama is the only country in the Americas that has five national parks less than two hours drive from its capital city, and it is the only one with a park within the perimeter of the city itself (Metropolitano). The parks are protected by the government and private organizations such as Panama's ANCON and the United States' Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute which runs the Barro Colorado National Monument, an island formed in Gatun Lake when the canal was built.

Here are some of Panama’s National Parks:

Baru Volcano National Park

Baru Volcan soars to 3475 meters above sea level, the highest elevation in Panama. From its usually cloudy summit, it is occasionally possible to see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The resplendent quetzal, a world class find, can be found here. Access from Boquete and Volcan (14,300 hectares)

La Amistad International Park

Shared with Costa Rica, this park contains seven of the 12 classified life zones, with great biodiversity and numerous endemic species. Quetzal and harpy eagles reside here. It is also the home to members of three Indian tribes and is a World Heritage Site. Access from Cerro Punta Changuinola and Bocas del Toro (407,000 hectares).

Soberania National Park

This park contains excellent hiking trails, including the Camino de Cruces - the cobblestone road by which Peruvian gold was transported on its way to Spain. (22,104 hectares).

Chagres National Park

This park preserves the main watershed of the Panama Canal. About 80% of the water needed for the canal's operation, and all the drinking water for Panama City, originates in this watershed. The park includes the Rio Chagres, Lago Alajuela, much of the Camino Real, and the traditional settlements of the Embera Indians. This park is also the site of an elfin forest. (135,000 hectares)

Metropolitan National Park

This park, a 15 minute drive from Panama City, has numerous nature trails and is the site of extensive tropical rainforest research. Although close to the city, it is home to more than 250 species of birds and 40 species of mammals. The view from the the top of Cerro Mono Titi is spectacular, offering a panoramic vista of the city, the port of Balboa, and neighboring Parque Nacional Camino de Cruces (265 hectares).

Camino de Cruces National Park

Just 30 minutes from Panama City, this splendid park (4,950 hectares) was created in 1992 and its location between the Soberania National Park to the north and the Metropolitan National Park to the south guarantees the flow of species from the other two parks while at the same time protecting the east bank of the ecological basin of the Panama Canal. Multiple species of birds and mammals can be seen in this lush rainforest.

Bastimentos Island National Park

Located in the Archipiélago of Bocas del Toro, this park has 13,226 hectares, of which 11,596 are marine. This park hosts extensive Caribbean mangroves and the best kept corals in this already beautiful area. Famous Cayo Zapatillas is in the northwest end of the park, with many scuba diving spots. 68 species of birds, 28 of reptiles and 32 classes of mammals can be found in this area of another world.

Coiba Island National Park

This park is one of the jewels of Panama with 270, 125 hectares, surrounded by islands and marine life and 240Km of coastline.

Up to now, 36 species de mammals, 147 of birds y 39 species of reptiles have been identified, plus it is probably the best place to watch Whales in Panama. Famous Hannibal bank is nearby for those interested in deep sea fishing of marlin, tuna, dolphin and others.

Darien National Park

With 570,000 hectares, Darien is the largest of all Panamanian parks, and also the second largest park in all of Central America. Darien is a dense primary very humid rainforest and the home of the famous Harpy Eagle.

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