- 1 Park Information
- 2 Biodiversity of Omar Torrijos Park
- 3 The Legacy of General Omar Torrijos
- 4 Exploring the Park
- 5 Conservation and Management
- 6 Activities and Nearby Attractions
- 7 Planning Your Visit
- 8 The Park’s Impact on the Local Community
- 9 Photo Gallery
Immerse yourself in the pristine nature of the Omar Torrijos Herrera Division General National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional General de División Omar Torrijos Herrera), formerly known as El Copé, located in Panama. It provides a unique immersion into the biodiversity of Central America and a journey through the history of one of Panama’s most iconic leaders. Join us on this journey to discover all the marvels that the park has to offer.
The Omar Torrijos Park was created by Executive Decree No. 18 on July 31, 1986, named in honor of Division General Omar Torrijos Herrera, a Panamanian military and political leader whose legacy has left an indelible mark on the country’s history. It spans an area of 25,275 hectares of primary forests. The park’s objective is to protect and conserve the mountainous areas of the humid tropics and watercourses. The park’s boundaries were defined by Executive Decree No. 27 on August 5, 1996. It is administered and protected by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM).
The park is situated in the province of Coclé, within the districts of La Pintada and Olá, as well as Donoso in the province of Colón. It is located approximately 180 km west of Panama City.
How to Get There
You can reach the park by car or through a combination of bus and taxi from the major cities of the country.
By road, you can take the Inter-American Highway to the town of La Candelaria in Coclé (161 km), then turn right and continue on a well-maintained road to El Copé. There are signs to guide you to the village of El Barrigón and the National Park (40 km).
From this point, from El Copé, the access road to the park is unpaved, so a 4×4 vehicle is recommended for a safe and comfortable journey. If suitable vehicles are not available, local trucks can be taken.
Following the path, you need to cross a small river, ensuring that the water level is low at the crossing point. During rainy seasons, the water level may rise and make crossing difficult or impossible.
Continue to Chorro Las Yayas, pass it, and the next landmark will be the entrance to the Omar Torrijos Herrera Division General National Park.
The Omar Torrijos Herrera Park features a tropical climate with average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C. There is a significant difference in precipitation between the Pacific side, which is drier with around 2,000 mm annually, and the Caribbean sector, receiving approximately 4,000 mm of rain per year. The temperature remains pleasant throughout the year, providing a unique experience. The climate can vary between humid and very humid in the Caribbean area, resulting in lush vegetation.
Biodiversity of Omar Torrijos Park
The park hosts an impressive variety of flora, including several species of orchids and ferns, as well as towering trees like cedar, oak, and barrigón. Some of the common species are: Copé (Clusia divaricata maguire), Guayacán (Tabebuia guaycan), Zamia (Zamia pseudoparasitica), Jacaranda (Jacaranda caucana), Orchid (Epidendrum panamense), Orchid (Phragmipedium longifolium), Mountain Platanillo (Stromanthe jacquinii), among others.
This is the home to a diverse range of wildlife, from jaguars to white-faced capuchins, not to mention a wide variety of birds like quetzals and toucans. There are also endangered species like the margay, white-tailed deer, peccary, tapir, puma, and more. Among the birds are the Sword-billed Hummingbird (Eutoxeres Aquila), Snowcap Hummingbird (Microhera alboronata), Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis) which is endangered, Orange-bellied Trogon (Trogon aurantiiventris), Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastus sulfuratus), among others.
Endemic and Threatened Species
The park serves as a sanctuary for many endemic and threatened species, making their protection a priority. Here, you can encounter rare creatures such as the Panama golden frog, the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), and the Umbrellabird.
The Legacy of General Omar Torrijos
Who Was Omar Torrijos
Omar Torrijos was a military and political leader who played a crucial role in the history of Panama. His legacy remains an inspiration for many people in Panama and around the world.
The Importance of His Figure for Panama
He is known for having signed the Torrijos-Carter Treaties that led to the return of the Panama Canal to Panama. His image is present throughout the park, honoring his struggle for sovereignty and social justice.
Why the Park Bears His Name
The park bears his name as a tribute to his legacy, his love for nature, and his vision of a prosperous and ecologically sustainable Panama.
Exploring the Park
Trails and Trekking Routes
The park offers a network of well-maintained trails that will lead you through its breathtaking landscapes. Take the Cascade Trail to enjoy a spectacular waterfall, or the Fern Trail to marvel at the diversity of the park’s flora.
Viewpoints and Points of Interest
From the park’s viewpoints, you can enjoy panoramic views of the rainforest and the surrounding mountains. Don’t miss the Ferns Viewpoint, which offers unparalleled vistas of the park.
Remember to wear comfortable clothing and footwear, and always follow the park’s rules to ensure your safety and the conservation of this valuable ecosystem.
Conservation and Management
Threats and Challenges
While the park is well-conserved, it faces challenges such as deforestation and poaching. It is essential for all visitors to respect the park’s rules to ensure its long-term conservation.
The park authorities and various NGOs are working hard to protect and conserve the park through reforestation programs, environmental education, and the promotion of sustainable tourism.
The Importance of Sustainable Tourism
Sustainable tourism is crucial for the park’s conservation. By visiting the park, you can contribute to the local economy and help preserve this precious ecosystem for future generations.
Activities and Nearby Attractions
Nearby Towns and Cities
Visit charming nearby towns and cities like Penonomé and El Valle de Antón, which offer rich culture, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality.
Enjoy the rich local cuisine, which includes delights such as sancocho, a traditional Panamanian soup, and tamales wrapped in banana leaves.
Cultural Events and Regional Festivals
Plan your visit to coincide with one of the vibrant festivals and cultural events in the region, such as the Manito Festival in Ocú.
Planning Your Visit
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the park is during the dry season, from December to April, when conditions are ideal for hiking and wildlife observation.
Park Rules and Regulations
It’s important to follow the park’s rules and regulations to preserve its natural beauty and protect wildlife. Some common rules include not littering, not feeding animals, and respecting designated trails.
Available Services and Facilities
The park offers basic services and facilities, such as picnic areas, restrooms, and parking. However, it’s advisable to bring your own provisions, such as water and food, as options might be limited.
The Park’s Impact on the Local Community
Tourism in Omar Torrijos Park generates income for the local community, promoting economic development and providing employment opportunities in the tourism and conservation industry.
Education and Environmental Awareness
The park plays a significant role in education and environmental awareness, promoting the importance of biodiversity conservation and environmental protection among visitors and the local community.
Benefits of Tourism for the Community
Tourism in the park not only contributes economically but also fosters pride and appreciation for local natural resources, strengthening a sense of ownership and long-term protection of this precious heritage.