While the coastal strips are generally flat cyclists can find more challenging ascents and thrilling descents in the mountains that are cloaked in cloud forest and run down the spine of Panama, dividing the Caribbean and Pacific coastline. In the central area between Colon and Panama city the mountains become hills and home to one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century – the Panama Canal – creating a navigable waterway between two oceans. It is possible to cycle alongside giant ocean-going ships or on easy trails through the tropical rainforest reserves and national parks that create a corridor along the length of the canal.
Marine and riverine life is also an important aspect of a country with 500 rivers and countless tropical islands that dot the Caribbean and Pacific coastline. You can take a break from the bike to enjoy exquisite palm-fringed beaches, clear seas and excellent scuba and snorkelling. From the Caribbean lilt of the Bocas del Toro archipelago to the indigenous Kuna people of the San Blas Islands this small country offers a surprising diversity.