Soberania National Park, just outside Panama City, is one of the world's most accessible rain forests. A mere 30-minute drive takes you to tropical wilderness, where you can see monkeys, toucans, iguanas and agoutis (a large rodent).
Once inside the rain forest, start at the park office, where you'll pay an admission fee and obtain a permit to walk the many trails. Also within the park is the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, which offers a cable car that skims the forest canopy to a tower lookout of the canal; as well as plenty of other adventures. For more great views, head to the Canopy Tower on Semaphore Hill. Its roof deck overlooks the forest canopy, and you can also see ships passing through the canal.
At the southern end of Soberania, the Parque National de Summit (formerly Summit Botanical Garden and Zoo) is a must-see, home to monkeys, birds, jaguars and the endangered harpy eagle, Panama's national bird. Bird-watchers should note that nearby Pipeline Road is where the Audubon Society recorded a world record for the most birds identified at a single location in a 24-hour period. http://www.ecotourismpanama.com/national-parks/soberania.htm.
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