Panama Sustainable Travel Guide

 

Panama has it all! From incredibly well developed urban environments to some of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, there’s something for everyone in Panama.

Panama is obviously known for the Panama Canal, a 77 km (41 mi) ship canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Its ownership and full responsibility was officially transferred from the USA to Panama in 1999. And justifiably, it’s been one of Panama’s most popular tourist attractions.

But Panama is so much more than just the canal. Due to its geographical location as the bridge between South America (Columbia to the south) and the rest of Central and North America (Costa Rica to the north) it’s home to wildlife species found on both continents and some unique to Panama. Over 945 bird species can be found in Panama either locally or as part of their migration route. This makes Panama a gold mine for bird watchers. The country is also great for marine wildlife, being surrounded by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Turtles, whales, manta rays, dolphins, and whale sharks can all be found in local waters.  Finally, Panama’s national parks are all easily accessible, making it easy to enjoy their natural wealth.

(Continued below...)

As biologically diverse Panama is, it’s also an urban oasis. The capital of Panama City is a well developed metropolis with many 5-star luxury hotels to choose from. But here at FairAway Travel, we’re all about local investments. International hotel chains offer little benefits to local economies as the majority of money spent at large hotel chains ends up as profit for the conglomerate. Staying at all-inclusive resorts can also result in ‘economic leakage’, where the destination country loses or does not receive money from tourism. All-inclusive resorts (as well as cruises) are often to blame for economic leakage because everything is paid for up front. This includes your flights, hotel, meals, and entertainment. This leaves little incentive for the traveler to spend money at local bars, restaurants, shops and other establishments which could feed into the local economy and help those who truly benefit from your travel dollars. Therefore, we recommend staying at small, boutique hotels, preferably independently owned and operated by locals. There are a number in the heart of Panama City, all with incredible reviews from past guests calling them such things like “hidden gems” or “home away from home”.