Panama has always been an adventurous destination but those who have journeyed here have usually been in search of something else. Christopher Columbus devoted his life to finding an alternate route to India and on his last journey to the New World, survived the longest and most terrifying storm he had ever known in his life along the Panamanian coast. The Conquistadors were ruthless in their quest for treasure to fill the coffers of the Spanish kings. Gold from Peru, silver from Bolivia and the pearls of the Pacific were brought to the city of Panama to be taken through a muddy, jungle path to the expectant galleons on the Atlantic. Hiding along El Camino Real, Francis Drake and his crew waited to relieve them of their precious cargo which was so bounteous that much of it had to be hidden or was scattered in the jungle by frightened mules. A group of Scottish men dreamt of a colony independent of England and ventured to the steamy, Atlantic coast of the Darien jungle. They brought with them goods for trade including bolts of thick Scottish serge cloth, worsted Aberdeen stockings, Scotch bonnets and hunting horns. They were as unprepared for trading in the tropics as they were in founding a colony and nothing remains of their futile attempt to settle at Caledonia Bay. American forty-niners overwhelmed the isthmus in a frenzied race to join the Californian Gold Rush while the French yearned for the national acclaim of building a canal that would join the two oceans. Today, tourists pass through the canal by the thousands to marvel at the engineering feat without ever stepping ashore.

It is believed that treasure still lies hidden in the jungle but the real wealth of Panama is found in her rich cultural heritage and the extraordinary biodiversity afforded by the meeting of two continents and two oceans. This small stretch of land supports ten of the twelve life zones, more bird species than North America and Europe combined, an abundance of butterflies, a thousand varieties of orchids, coral reefs unique to the Caribbean and the Pacific, and some of the best fishing waters in the world. And, after almost five hundred years since Rodrigo de Bastidas first stepped ashore, Panama still waits to be truly discovered!






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