Panama is well-known as an international business center as well as possessing one of the most famous ditches ever dug – the Panama Canal, yet this small nation is less known for its abundance of natural charms and one truly unexpected feature – square trees!
Yes, trees with square trunks, the only ones in the world, grow in Anton Valley, Los Arboles Cuadrados. Growing inside a volcanic crater, a group of cottonwood trees have grown with hard right angles. Scientists believe this rarity in nature may be caused by the unique soil composition. Even the trees’ rings grow in squares. While this is likely the most unusual aspect of Panama, it is far from the only lure. It features miles of isolated beaches, spectacular mountains and highlands, accessible rainforest and wealth of cultural experiences. It brushes up against both the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south with hundreds of islands huddling offshore.
Panama is a bird-watchers’ haven with more than 950 species in addition to 250 species of mammals and a host of other creatures in its neo-tropical forests and highlands. That means that all manner of nature-based activities are available, including sport fishing, diving, whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip lining, birding, historic tours and rainforest hikes. Even today, in a remote province of Panama, you can engage with some of the remaining forest peoples such as the Emberá, who live in small scattered villages along the banks of rivers throughout the Darien Province. They have their own government and live by their own rules, do not rely on outside assistance and receive health care primarily from trained Shamans. The land is community owned and farmed. They are working to preserve their traditional practices and retain the encyclopedic knowledge of their rainforest handed down through the generations. In this remote area, it is possible to enjoy a relaxed tented camp experience in one of the world’s richest biomes, the Parque Nacional Darién, where the primeval scenery has changed little over the ages. Panama surprises and delights travelers – from its historic canal to its square trees.
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