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Destinations Central America Panama Holidays to Bocas Del Toro

Holidays to Bocas Del Toro

An obscure Caribbean province of scattered islands and secret enclaves, the remote and sparsely settled backwater of Bocas del Toro plays host to a dazzling profusion of ecological niches. Steamy lowland rainforests, misty highland cloud forests, teeming coastal lagoons, kaleidoscopic coral reefs and rambling jungle rivers all punctuate the region, home to rare and endlessly exuberant flora and fauna. Bocas del Toro owes all its pristine natural beauty to millennia of obscurity and isolation.

Whilst neighbouring territories succumbed to the works programme of imperial Spain, Bocas was barely colonized or evangelized, let alone installed with working infrastructure. For centuries, foreign intrusion was fleeting – only itinerant pirates washed up on the shores with any regularity. But in the late 19th century, the United Fruit Company struck ‘green gold’ and nothing was ever the same again. Destined to become one of the world’s most powerful multinational corporations, the UFCO set about radically transforming the region by installing prolific banana plantations, sea ports, railways and urban settlements. West Indian labourers arrived en masse, followed later by Latino and Ngabe settlers from highland Chiriqui, all permanently altering the region’s cultural composition.

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Holidays to Bocas Del Toro
Today, the UFCO’s operations are scaled back, but the inhabitants of Bocas del Toro continue to trace their ancestry to such disparate homelands as Jamaica, China, Europe and North America. The local dialect – Guari-Guari – is assuredly multicultural too, fusing elements of the English, Spanish and Ngabere languages. But despite its international pretensions, Bocas del Toro remains decidedly insular. Hemmed in between mountains, sea and jungle, road connections to Panama’s interior were only completed towards the end of the 20th century.

From the forests of the mainland to the scattered islands of its archipelago, Bocas del Toro remains a colourful patchwork of isolated, culturally distinct communities, as vivid and varied as the natural world they echo. A great place to relax and explore – particularly the islands and underwater.

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