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Welcome to Panama, a place where the jungle meets the city and your opportunity to spot a sloth. Panama City’s lush surroundings provide the ideal habitat for sloths, as the country boasts rich rainforests and diverse ecosystems. Sloths live a pretty relaxed lifestyle, only being awake for 4-hours a day and just poop once a week. As you embark on your quest to find these elusive creatures, you must know that they can be difficult to spot in the think foliage of the forest. My biggest tip is to be on the lookout for a think ball of fur in the trees that’s barely moving and to go in the mornings.

Here are the best places to spot a sloth in Panama City, Panama. 


Punta Culebra Nature Center 

The Amador Causeway is great for riding bikes at sunset or catching a ferry to one of the islands, but there is also a little-known area here popular for sloth sightings! The Punta Culebra Nature Center offers two walking trails through a tropical dry forest and is a refuge for sloths, raccoons, iguanas, birds and armadillos, among other animals that visitors can admire as they walk around. There’s also several exhibits where you can learn about the frogs and marine life that make up Panama. 

Operating Hours: Wed, Thurs, Fri from 1 pm to 4 pm and Sat/Sun from 9 am to 4 pm

Cost: Non-Residents $8, Residents $5, Retirees & Children $2

Location: View on Google Maps


Ancon Hill 

Ancon is the highest natural point (199m) in Panama City, was once used as a lookout for pirate ships coming in, and then was part of the Canal Zone. Now it can be enjoyed by anyone and makes an excellent walk for experiencing a jungle in the middle of the city. You must constantly be looking up at the trees but it’s common to spot sloths, monkeys, and toucans here. The views from here are also stunning as the trail wraps around the hill providing views of the Amador Causeway, Casco Viejo, Panama City skyscrapers, and Panama Canal. There are two entrances but it’s faster to use the “Mi Pueblito” entrance and then go up the red stairs. Once to this point it’s about a 30 minute walk each way. The earlier you go, the better for spotting wildlife and avoiding the heat. 

Operating Hours: Everyday from 6 am – 4 pm (must start by 3 pm)

Cost: Free or if you’re interested in a guided tour, check out the “Empanadas, coffee, and Urban Jungle Hike” experience on Airbnb.

Location: View on Google Maps


Metropolitan Park 

Metropolitan Park (Parque Natural Metropolitano) is a 230-hectare park that is one of the largest tropical forests within a city limits. The park is home to SLOTHS, howler monkeys, armadillos, gato solos, 283 bird species, and more. There are 7 hiking trails to enjoy (they all connect) so this is a hike where you can really take your time and enjoy a rewarding view at the top. Like I mentioned before, the earlier you go the better to have a better chance at spotting wildlife and avoiding the heat. 

Operating Hours: Everyday from 7 am – 4:30 pm 

Cost: Non-Residents $4, Residents $1

Location: View on Google Maps


Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary 

If you want to be GUARANTEED to see a sloth, you need to travel to the Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary. This is a rescue and rehabilitation center located in Gamboa (a 45-minute uber ride) where you can get up close to the sloths (but not touch them). You’ll also learn lots of information about the sloths and get to see the butterfly garden and frog enclosure. You can also enjoy lunch at the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve or book one of their activities like Zip-Lining, Aerial Tram, and Hiking. 

Operating Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00am to 3:30pm (Closed on Mondays)

Cost: Adults $20, Children $10 

Location: View on Google Maps


Experience Panama


Author

I'm Joey, a guy from Louisville, Kentucky that packed up and studied abroad in Panamá at the age of 20 and haven't moved back since. What started as a semester trip to Panamá has turned into 10+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. I now rotate between living in Panama City, Bogotá, and Lima. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!

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