Ancon Hill
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Making Mountains out of Molehills
Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill) is a beautiful promontory, which offers incredible views of Panama City. It has a large Panamanian flag that you can see from anywhere in the city. You can take a cab uphill—it's only about $5 (and otherwise it's a bit of a climb). However, even if you hitch a ride, walk downhill to see interesting flora and fauna. In the 20-minute walk down the hill, I saw multiple wild iguanas and agotes as well as a toucan, very close up. There are also many small shops at the bottom of the hill that have cheap tourist items. Ask for directions before heading to the main road, because one wrong turn can lead you to a dangerous part of Panama.
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Mogwais in Panama City!
These fuzzy little creatures look a lot like the cute Mogwais from the movie Gremlins, but are actually monkeys, called Cotton Top Tamarins. These tamarins are virtually extinct in Central America and only remain in isolated pockets of forest in and around Panama City. Cerro Ancon is a forest covered hill and a tranquil oasis surrounded on all sides by the frenetic city. The hill maintains some charming buildings and former residences of important Canal Zone employees. One such building has been converted into a charming bed and breakfast, called La Estancia. At La Estancia you can enjoy a long leisurely breakfast on the patio and view more urban dwelling wildlife than wandering through the virgin rainforest all day. The list of animals viewed in a single morning is nothing short of incredible. Tamarins, sloths, tit monkeys, armadillos, agouti, parrots and toucans are all actually easy to spot on the hill, especially in the morning and late afternoon. Cerro Ancon occupies a central location in Panama City and offers easy access to the Mira Flores Locks of the Panama Canal, the colonial Casco Viejo neighborhood and the modern highrises of downtown. Most importantly, Cerro Ancon provides a quick escape after an exhausting day of exploring these exciting destinations in the tropical heat.
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