Portobelo National Park, Panama

Amidst 86,000 acres of coral reef and coastal forest lies the Portobelo National Park, in Panama. Located just an hour and half from Panama City, this National Park includes vast stretches of coral reefs, mangrove swamps, coastal lagoons and beautiful beaches, where every year species of marine turtle, including the threatened hawksbill come to nest.

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, the fortifications surrounding the enchanting bay of Portobelo, named by Christopher Columbus during his fourth and last voyage in 1502,  will remain intact and continue to be a great tourist attraction at the park. 

Portobelo reached its high point in the middle of the seventeenth century when it became the place where all the riches from Peru and other South American countries arrived overland from the City of Panama via the Cruces Road (Camino de Cruces). Nombre de Dios was initially discovered and then Portobelo was established as a convergence center of two trade routes, one from Lima (Peru) on which huge quantities of gold and silver were carried and the other from Seville (Spain) which was the trading capital of the empire. Great fortifications were built to protect the port entrance and the city from attack by pirates and corsairs.  

Not only is the park steeped with history, it is also a bird lovers paradise. Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), black hawks (Beteogallus anthracinus) and tiger herons are often sighted (Tigrosoma fasciatum). Not forgetting the largest kingfisher in Panama, Ceryle torquata, and the plumbeous kite. Drake’s Island, Salmedena Reef, the Three Sisters, and Playa Blanca.

Portobelo translates as beautiful port and we can absolutely see why. Have any of you been there before? We would love to hear of your adventures.

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