The Land of Orchids

Santa Fe is an authentically Panamanian town. Up in the highlands of the province of Veraguas, here you’ll find khaki-green hills staggered across the horizon while rainbows streak the powder-blue skies.

People are friendly—they will greet you nonchalantly as you pass by—and the houses are traditional style—angled wooden roofs, pastel-colored walls, and small rooms. From up here you can enjoy vistas of rolling green country and looming mountains.

There are only about 3,000 inhabitants and the industries are preserved from past times. Master craftsmen make mejoranas—handcrafted Spanish guitars that you can pick up for under $100. Santa Fe is known around Panama for its orchids and you can visit gardens to see over 300 varieties of exotic flowers. In August of each year there is even a festival for the celebrated orchids.

Wildlife is varied and abundant here. Iridescent toucans are to be seen. The 70,000-heactare Santa Fe National Park is loaded with pristine rainforest which you can explore with a guide or on horseback. Hire an inner tube for just $5 and take an exhilarating journey down the Rio Bulabá. Stroll around the numerous rivers, stream and waterfalls and soak up the purity of the air and richness of the scenery.

Coffee is part of the local culture and you can see how they grow the rich, steaming brew on a tour of a coffee plantation. For budding ornithologists, bird watching is a joy in this lush forest-laden wilderness and Cerro Tute is a perfect place to take in the stunning valley panorama.