Chagres National Park, Panama

Chagres National Park, Panama map

Chagres National Park was established in 1985. The Chagres National Park covers 129,000 hectares and is 40 kilometers from Panama City.

The Chagres river and the Alajuela Lake are its main attraction, in addition the historic Camino Real runs through the park. The Camino Real was used by the Spanish to transport gold from Peru and other South American countries from Panama City to Portobelo on the Caribbean. At the top of Alajuela Lake there is a settlement of Embera indians who moved here from the Bayano and Darien forests. Among fauna, look out for the white tail deer, the spider monkey and the toucan.

Is easily reached by road from Panama City or from Colon. You can travel by motorboat through Alajuela Lake and Chagres River. The administrative office plus three ranger stations in Altos de Cerro Azul, with a camping area in Cuango and in Alajuela, with a natural trail.

The park is to protect the basin of the Chagres River, which was dammed in 1914 to control the feed of water to the Panama Canal. In 1935 the Chagres was dammed a second time, forming the artificial Lake Alajuela, with a surface over 5,000 hectares whose role is to regulate the level of Gatun Lake.The Chagres is now a river that discharges into two oceans. Altogether the park produces some 40% of the water required for the Panama Canal, and in addition provides all the drinking water for Panama City and Colon.

The terrain is very rugged, with the highest point at Cerro Jefe 1,000 meters above sea level, and other peaks at Cerro Bruja, Cerro Brewster and Cerro Azul.

Mean temperatures range from 30º C in the lowest points to 20º C in the mountains. Rainfall varies from 2,200mm in Alajuela Lake to 4,000mm in the mountains. The volcano hills are covered by humid tropical forest, very humid premotan forest, very humid tropical forest and premontan rain forest.

Among the birds, the evasive strip-cheeked woodpecker, a species unique to Panama, can be seen around Cerro Azul and Cerro Jefe. There are some harpy eagle

Mammals. The park is rich in wildlife with whitetail deer, black-handed spider monkey, Bolitoglossa schizodactylas and Bolitoglossa. There are tapirs in the dense tropical forest, plus jaguars and other four other large cats found in Panama.

The Chagres and other rivers shelter 59 species of freshwater fish and in its waters you will find the gato de agua, along with babillos and crocodiles.

Hotels located near the park at Panama City and Colon.

 

Panama National Parks