Panama

El Cope National Park


El Cope National Park

El Cope National Park lies in the west of the central part Cocle Province, and is about a four hour drive from Panama City. It is also called the Park of Major General Omar Torrijos, who was a Panamanian army officer and the populist leader of Panama from 1968 to 1981. The park was named after Torrijos because this area was one of his favorite places in Panama, and he supported the economic and social development of this area.

The park covers approximately 15,000 acres and is located on the continental divide. It is famous for its rubber trees and because it is considered a cloud forest. The park protects important watersheds of this area such as the Bermejo, Marta, Blanco, Guabal and Lajas rivers. El Cope National Park contains a point called El Mirador, where on days with good weather, you can see both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans from this one spot. However, El Cope is known for the mists, fog and precipitation that enshroud this forest during certain times of the year, which can make it difficult to enjoy this view.

This park is not as well known as the other Panama National Parks, and the facilities are definitely more rustic, so be sure to bring your own food and water. A four wheel drive vehicle is most likely necessary to navigate around the park. The forests in this park are among the most beautiful in Panama and offer superb bird watching opportunities. Some species found within this area include the golden-olive woodpecker, red-fronted parrot, immaculate antbird, white-throated shrike-tanager and redheaded barbet. Several species of endangered felines live in the park such as the jaguar, puma, and ocelot. Populations of tapir, wild pig and white tailed deer also make the park their home.