If you are a nature and animal lover, the Summit Botanical Gardens & Zoo should be on your list while you are in Panama. This huge park has some excellent attractions and is only a few minutes drive from Panama City. It is a muncipal park that has some great sights that everyone will enjoy.
To get there, just head north along Avenue Omar Torrijos Herrera (road that runs alongside the east side of the Canal). Follow that road straight up, past the Centenario Bridge exit, and continue along for a few minutes and you will find it on your right. Parking is located at the park and overflow is across the street from the main entrance.
Google Map - Click the Map Image below for a larger version.
Park Map - Click the Map Image below for a larger version.
Admission to the park is very inexpensive. Residents pay about a 50 cents to a dollar per person, foreigners will pay 2 dollars per person. Once inside, you have the various walks you can take that circle around the park (click park map image above). This is a fantastic place for the family to go, huge playgrounds for children, picnic areas complete with ranchos as well as all the exotic plants and animals to see and photograph. The main park paths are wide and long, giving a good walking workout so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
The animals housed in this park range from exotic birds, crocodiles, cute playful monkeys, jaguars, pumas and other interesting critters. This area is also home to some great varieties of plants, some native to Panama and others not, all interesting to see such as the Suicide Palms or the Cinnamon Trees (yes they do smell and taste like cinnamon).
There are some special exhibits as well, such as the beautiful águila harpia (Harpy Eagle) which have been partially wiped out in Central America due to their environments being destroyed but can still be found in parts of South America.
There is also a small plant market selling some very beautiful plants for some good prices. Refreshment and food venders are also available, however if you want things like ice cream, be sure to run down the ice cream guys quick as they typically run out in the afternoon. Bringing your own picnic is welcome as well as there is plenty of space to spread out on the grass in the shade or grab some picnic tables. Camping is also permitted, and there is a section designated for campers who want to spend the night or several nights (we did not get the fees for camping unfortunately).
Here are some pictures of some of the beautiful animals available at this park. Apologies for the cage wire in the way, but it was difficult to avoid in getting the pictures.
A big beautiful Puma.
Monkey, always looking for some foods although feeding the animals is not permitted.
Tucan Sam lives in Panama?
Look at his tongue, if you look close, its long and thin...like a piece of grass?
Big Crocodile, which Panama has some native speices living within its borders.
Cute little monkeys, they were very bouncy and playful with each other.
Big colorful and watchful Macaw.
This Macaw was exceptionally noisy and attempting to chat with his buddies around him.
Majestic Harpy Eagle - rescued when it was young and being raised here.
And here are some shots of some interesting greenery, there are tons more varieties of trees, shrubs, flowers and beautiful landscapes...but this will give you an idea of some of the sights available.
Huge tree, see the fellow below on the right of the tree, he is standing beside it...
Fat tree, the trunk bellies out in this speices, and the color is very interesting.
Towering palms linning one of the walking paths.
Great landscape lined with beautiful greens.
Another large tree which people enjoy picnicing under.
A very pecurliar tree, called 'Suicide Tree', grows for 40 years, flowers once on the 40th year, then dies. The flowering is very beautiful and definitely a sight to see.
A little closer to the Suicide Palm.
Different angle of the Suicide Palms. Its too bad that this tree only flowers once, looking fuzzy and soft. Next year these trees will die off and be gone.
Bamboo forest with a walking path through it. Nice and cool inside! Good break from the heat.
Remember your hat and plenty of sunscreen as the sun can be fairly intense when you are walking in the open and enjoy the park!