Coco Island, Coiba National Park

Dec 18, 2019 - National Geographic Quest


During three days of exploration in Panama, we finished on a beautiful national park called Coiba. In the year of 1924, ex-president of Panama, Belisario Porras, created a jail to isolate the “toughest” people who used to live in Panama City. The island had 21 different prison camps under a sustainable prison plan, all prison camps shared crops, and all inmates had to plant crops to survive.

The prisons expanded during the eighties when Noriega had control of the country. Noriega kept sending more Panamanians who were opposing him to prison, and unexpectedly these prisoners ended up protecting Coiba.

Coiba today is considered the jewel of the Pacific Panama. It is part of a very important marine corridor that shared with Costa Rica, Colombia, and the Galapagos Islands. Some 80 percent of the national park is rainforest, and 20 percent is beach with white sand.

Today on-board National Geographic Quest, we stopped on a small island known as Coco Islet, but before doing any water activities we decided to walk through the rainforest of this pristine national park. The hike was meant for exercise, but along the way to see some of the birds and mammals of the area like the lance-tail manakin. We heard howler monkeys in the distance, but we did not see. After the walks, we return to the ship and some of our guest decided to enjoy the crystal water to do some snorkeling.

We spotted many kinds of tropical fish, like parrot fish, chancho surgeon fish, razor wrasse, trumpet fish, guineafowl puffer fish, bicolored parrot fish, and a green sea turtle swimming along the reef very slowly.

We also had the opportunity to kayak and paddleboard. In the afternoon, we started our departure to Costa Rica and on the way we saw pantropic spotted dolphin.

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About the Author

Joshua Hall

Naturalist

Joshua Hall was born in Panama City and raised in the highlands of the Chiriquí province.  He studied ecotourism at a university in Panama and is currently pursuing a degree in tourism business administration.  His love of nature can be attributed to a lot of time spent traveling with his mother, a nurse at the Social Security Hospital.  In 1983, a foundation called Abundant Life was created in Panama.  The foundation was made up of a group of doctors and nurses with a passion for helping those in need.  They were pioneers in going to communities in Chiriquí, sometimes hiking more than 12 miles, where they took medicine, meals, and other needed items, often opening up trails guided by the indigenous residents.  Joshua participated as a child with his mother and developed a love for nature, rainforests, mangroves, coral reefs and the indigenous communities of Panama.

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