John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
A hike up Ancon Hill is an activity that I recommend to people of all ages, both residents and visitors of Panama. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the top of the hill, where the bird’s-eye views of Panama City are truly unmatched.
Also, If you’re lucky enough you’ll be able spot a sloth or two, as wildlife is abundant in this tropical jungle. At the top of hill, the highest point of Panama City, there is a symbolic Panamanian flag that was hoisted in 1977 when Panama signed the Panama Canal Treaty with the United States; to handle over all operations of the Canal to the Panamanian government at the end of the 20th century.
The hill is popular among joggers and hikers. I was there about a week ago with my family on a Sunday. I hadn’t been to Ancon Hill since I was 12 or 13 years old on a school fieldtrip. Our assignment was to take pictures of as many species of plants and animals we saw. I remember we even saw a snake! The whole trip took us like 3 or 4 hours, I have no idea why – we must have hiking very slowly.
This last hike to Ancon with the fam only took us an 45 min each way, and unfortunately we did not see any animals. How a decade changes things…
It was, nevertheless, a great form of exercise – and a reminder of how much Panama City is growing lately! From the top of the hill you can see everything: the old part ‘Casco Viejo’, which was built in the 1600s; the city’s downtown with its towering, glass skyscrapers, and even the entrance of the Canal. You can also see the Panama Canal Railway which runs parallel to the Canal.
Breathing the fresh air of the jungle was truly revitalizing. It reminded me of how good it is for our body, soul, and mind to stay connected with the environment. Plus, research shows hiking helps improve sleep quality and is especially good for the heart and lungs. I can’t wait to make this a thing and go back to Ancon Hill a few times a month and maybe try jogging it – turn it into a routine. BUT can’t forget some ice cold water next time.