Humedales de San San Pondsack
The Humedales de San San Pondsack, established as a wetlands wildlife refuge in 1994, encompass a strip of coast that extends east and south from the Río Sixaola to the Caribbean. It comprises 16,125 hectares, but only a small part of it is easily accessible.
The completely decrepit boardwalk that passes through its heart was being rebuilt when I last visited; if it’s actually back in service, it will give visitors a close-up look at this otherworldly place.
Animals found in the wetlands include an important population of manatees and leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles, but the manatees are shy and the turtles seasonal, so as usual don’t get your hopes up.
Birders come here for the 67 known avian species it attracts. The only things visitors are guaranteed to see, however, are mangroves, palms, and eerie, brackish water.
The wetlands can be visited either as part of a boat tour from the islands or by taxi from Changuinola. Arrange for the taxi either to wait or to pick you up for the return trip. To be sure the taxi will show up at the appointed time, don’t pay until the return to Changuinola.
Note: There is not yet a consensus on how to spell the wetlands’ funky name. You may see it as San San Pondsock, San San Pond Soc, San-San Pond Sak, and so on. It’s all the same place, but don’t confuse it—easier said than done—with Punta Pondsack, also known as Punta Pond Soc, east of Almirante.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition