One of my favorite aspects of living in Panama City is the proximity to fabulous beaches and forests. Last weekend, my husband, some friends and I hopped in a car and headed to the Plantation Road Trail (about a 28km drive from downtown Panama City). After paying our entrance fee (US$3 for Panamanians, US$5 for foreigners) to the representative from the Ministry of the Environment, we set off on the trail.
The path was clearly marked and well defined, yet the towering trees that grew thicker and larger as we progressed made us feel as though we were venturing into the deep jungle. The screeches of monkeys, the joyful calls of birds, and the plethora blue butterflies fluttering along made the experience all the more exciting. A highlight was our encounter with a furry anteater, an “oso hormiguero,” along the trail. Very cool!
Several folks were out on the trail for a run or a mountain bike ride but for the most part we felt like we were exploring an area far removed from civilization.
The Plantation Road Trail is an easy out and back walk (about 6km each way) and connects to the Camino de Cruces. If you’re planning on hiking the Camino de Cruces it may be worthwhile to hire a guide as we’ve heard the trail is still a bit rough/difficult to follow in areas.
Plantation Road is located off Avenida Omar Torrijos Herrera. Google Map: https://goo.gl/XxCdeU
Santa Ana is gritty and unpolished, yet has a certain vibrancy and authenticity that is difficult to find on the normal Panama City tourist trek. Plaza Santa Ana with its awesome trees is a central meeting point in the neighborhood, and you’ll most likely find it abuzz with activity.
Santa Ana was akin to the Greenwich Village of Panama during its heyday in the early to mid-twentieth century. Famous poets, writers, artists, politicians and revolutionaries frequented its many cafes and bars. Panamanian independence movements were planned, large national protests and celebrations were carried out and some of the most esteemed literary works emerged from this vibrant section of the city. Famous international visitors included Pablo Neruda, Che Guevara and Eva Peron.
From its establishment, Santa Ana, which lies only 75m or so from the Casco Viejo, has been home to the working class and poor. The Casco Viejo was designed with only enough space for the elite families’ residences, and as a result, the majority of Panama’s population settled in the outskirts. Fires, population growth, economic upturns and immigration among other factors, however, led to greater mixing of economic classes and gave rise to a Panamanian renaissance in Santa Ana. But through its upturns and downturns, Santa Ana has maintained its sense of “pueblo,” of belonging to the people.
At LiveWalkPTY, we’re excited to announce that we’re about to start recording an audio tour for Santa Ana and Avenida Central. From retiree protests to café hopping with one of Panama’s most esteemed poets, there will be no shortage of intriguing stories to experience. Stay tuned for updates!
Update: LiveWalkPTY Santa Ana is now available! Download it today on the Apple App Store or Google Play!