You can tell a lot from looking at a map of Ancon Hill and the nearby areas. Surrounded on all sides by Panama City, Ancon Hill is a tiny pocket of jungle wilderness in a rapidly industrializing and burgeoning urban center, capped off by a giant Panamanian flag.
For most of the 20th century until 1977, the United States was in possession of Ancon Hill. Choosing not to develop the land, but instead use the 650-foot high hill for radio communications, the Americans stubbornly held onto the slopes while the rest of Panama City developed locally. Because of this long period of non-growth, Ancon Hill has remained a 106-acre jungle in the midst of a city of 1.2 million people.
When the Panamanians finally got their land back through the Panama Canal Treaty in 1977, they hoisted a Panamanian flag over the hill. The flag is now visible from almost everywhere in Panama City. Although the Panamanians received an untouched piece of land, local entities have slowly begun to develop the land, and the jungle has taken on a more residential atmosphere. Yet even though most of the land has been sold, Ancon Hill has managed to retain a bit of its wilderness.
Besides a few developments, the slopes are also home to sloths, tamarins, coati and armadillos, and these wondrous animals are a main draw for many joggers and hikers in the area. Along with jungle creatures, the hill offers stunning views over the city and the Bridge of the Americas.
Know Before You Go
Accessible from a public access road that begins behind the Panama Canal Administration Building, or stop at Mi Pueblito, no need to buy a ticket just start walking up the road, then the stairs back onto the road. It's around a 30 minute walk including animal / bird spotting in line with the rustles.