El Cope National Park
El Cope National park, Panama was created in 1986, on the country’s Central Cordillera which is the watershed between the Panamanian Caribbean and the Pacific. It’s a forest reserve of rubber and nispero (Manilkara zapota) in the cloud forest of the center of the Isthmus. Accessible by road from the town of Penonome. The park has an administrative office, an information booth, a natural path, a ranger’s refuge and a point of control. El Cope Park is 180 kilometers from Panama City.
Panama's Populist leader Major General Omar Torrijos Herrera made this place famous. He died in the area when his aircraft crashed during a thunderstorm in July 1983. Before his death, the General had 'adopted' the pueblo of El Cope, making frequent visits there and contributing to the economic development of the community.
El Cope Park covers 25,275 hectares. It protects the hydrographic basins of the rivers Bermejo, Marta, Grand, and Nombre de Dios that flow into the Pacific and rivers Blanco, Guabal, Lajas San Juan, Belen, Concepcion that flo Cerro Puntw into the Caribbean. The higher parts of the park are a low montane rainforest and as it descends, premontane rainforest, very humid tropical forest in the lower parts of the park on the wetter Caribbean slope.
Its highest point isa Blanca at 1,314 meters above sea level. Cerro Marta is 1,046 meters high, where the plane of General Omar Torrijos Herrera crashed.
The average annual temperatures fluctuate between 25ºC in the lowest parts of the park and 20ºC at the highest points. And annual rainfall varies from 2,000 mm on the Pacific side, the driest in the park, and the 4,000 mm that the Caribbean side.
Among the endangered mammals found in the park are all of the big cats found in Panama, including the jaguar, puma, ocelot (Felis pardalis), margay and jaguarunde (Toyassu tajacu). There are populations of Baird´s tapir, colored peccary, white-lipped peccary and white-tailed deer.
Birds include the rare orange-bellied trogan, the bare-necked umbrella bird, the snowcap (Microhera albaronata), and the rare strong-billed woodcreeper.
There are hotels in Penonome and Aguadulce near the park.