Al van Meurs decided to move from Canada to Panama due to this country’s welcoming nature toward foreign investors.
Soon after moving, he started developing his project, an ecological reserve on the shore of the Gatún Lake. The Gatún is an artificial lake that feeds the Panama Canal. The Jungle Eco Reserve is located in Limón, Colón, about an hour from Panama City.
This is a place you can let loose and go hiking, fishing, canoeing, birdwatching… there’s so much to do.
Adriana Valdez E.: What exactly is the Jungle Eco Reserve?
Al van Meurs: Jungle Eco Reserve is, as the name states, an ecological reserve on Gatún Lake with the purpose of preserving this beautiful piece of jungle, and encouraging tourism and ecological based sciences.
AVE: When and how did the idea of the Jungle Eco Reserve come about?
AvM: The idea was originally my father’s. It came up February 2018 while visiting him in Panama. I was living in British Columbia at the time and the housing market was way up. I decided to sell my home on Vancouver Island and invest into this jungle venture with my dad.
AVE: I understand the Jungle Eco Reserve is already up and running. How has that been going?
AvM: So far, we’ve had positive reviews from every camper. They’ve all said they had an amazing time.
We are up and running, but maneuvering slowly. We are using re-purposed sea containers for building structures. We just brought in our home container, and we have a male and female bathroom and hot water showers in a different container.
Reaching our overall goal to have a net zero operation will take a little longer still as we increase our tourist market and build more campsites.
AVE: What is the next step?
AvM: The next step for the reserve is to bring in another 40-foot re-purposed container which will make two rental units offering luxury camping. We also plan to build another gazebo and two more toilets near the campsites.
AVE: What is your ultimate goal for the Jungle Eco Reserve?
AvM: Our ultimate goal, other than keeping a green space, is to have Panama’s very first carbon sequestration project. We hope other Nations use the carbon sequestration project we launch as a model. Our aim is to do this while balancing the books with tourism.
AVE: Who is the man behind the Jungle Eco Reserve?
AvM: The man behind Jungle Eco Reserve, me, is really just a simple guy who wants to make a difference. Somebody who believes in the science at hand as it pertains to climate change. I am somebody who wants to leave the world in better shape than I found it.
AVE: Where are you originally from?
AvM: I was originally born in the Netherlands. My parents immigrated to Canada when I was two years old. I did my school years there, and then moved to Thailand for a number of years and worked as a scuba diving instructor. I then moved back to Canada and came out to Panama.
AVE: When did you move to Panama? Why?
AvM: I moved to Panama in August 2018. One of the reasons I moved was because I had a free place to stay in Panama City, my father’s condo. Mainly however I was looking for another opportunity to tie my real estate money up and Panama seemed like a good idea.
AVE: What was your experience moving here? Did you encounter any difficulties? If so, what were they?
AvM: Moving here went pretty smoothly. Luckily, I had the experience of my father who was already a landed resident by the time I arrived. No major hiccups, but a fair bit of patience is needed in some of these government buildings.
AVE: What made you choose Panama?
AvM: Panama is one of the best choices to move to for a foreign investor. Real estate prices are relatively low, inflation is high, taxes on investments are low, and the currency is stable. High interest savings accounts are also a bonus. In most countries in the world, a foreigner is not even allowed to own property. Panama Is about as favorable an investment for foreigners as it gets.
AVE: Is it safe to say that you’re happy with your decision of moving and settling down here? Is it a country you would recommend to others?
AvM: Overall yes, I am 100% happy with the choice I made of moving here. I would certainly recommend Panama to other foreigners. Not only did I find an investment that will inflate in value, but we used Panama law to our side and picked up the squatting rights around the property. Panama law is favorable for investments.
Plan a trip to Al’s Jungle Eco Reserve and enjoy all nature has to offer, including wildlife sightings in their natural habitats.
Adriana Valdez E.