Some tips for Photographers in Panama

If you are like me and you enjoy nature photography when travel, take a look of this tips before packing your camera for your Panama Expedition.

When you go for an air-conditioned van to the humidity of the rainforest, your camera will fog up, both inside and out.  Keep your equipment as far from the air conditioner as possible.  In an ideal world having one lens per camera body would be the best solution for high humidity environments. In this situation you’d have one lens on your camera body the entire length of your trip so that humid air never enters your camera. Few people outside of the professional circle have this luxury, so it is important to minize the number of times you change lenses when in the field.

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If you buy a new camera, please play with the equipment before departing on your adventure.  It is a good idea to have the manual available just in case.  We suggest you to download an electronic version online.

If you are binging an old camera, check the batteries, lenses and electronic equipment before your trip.

Bring lot of memory for your camera!  Panama is an amazing diverse destination and you may want to take lot of pictures.  During your trip you may not have access to computer so memory is a must!

If you are planning to go out at night, bring a good flash.

Don’t forget a protected gear from rain or humidity.  You can also use a large gallon-size plastic bag as an impromptu rain sleeve in a pinch.  Another alternative is to use a shower cap that some hotels include free in the bathroom.

Bring extra batteries.  Batteries can be difficult to replace during your adventures.  Extra rechargeable batteries can be helpful too.

Bring a Tripod or a monopod can be useful for long lenses or close-up photography and is essential if you want to take long-exposure shots.

Dry your hands before changing batteries and CF cards. This will minimize introduction of moisture, inside the camera, that might later condense upon returning home. Keep in mind this will be particularly true the sweatier you are.

Bonus Tip
Toward the end of your trip utilize a hotel room air conditioners to dehumidify your gear. No need to place your gear too close. Having your equipment out and your camera bag open can be enough to help pull away a build up of moisture.

 

 

 

Adventure in Coiba National Park

Coiba national park

With the exception of the Galapagos and Isla del Coco, few places in the Americas are as exotic and biodiverse as this national park on Coiba Island. Due to its hard accessibility and the strict environmental protection, the island features pristine ecosystems and a unique fauna.

Coiba National Park consists of a group of Islands in the Pacific Ocean south of Veraguas Province. The park covers 270,125 hectares, of which about 80% is marine, the islands cover only 20% of the surface area. The waters around Coiba are very rich in life. There may be as many as 700 species of fish swimming in the waters around Coiba and some of those are present in large numbers.

While snorkeling near Coiba, you are often surrounded by hundreds of fish, mostly by small plankton-eating fish such as panamic sergeant majors and scissortails. The reefs are inhabited by morays, butterfly fish, angel fish, parrot fish, hawk fish, tile fish, moorish idols, wrasses, white-tipped reef-sharks (harmless) and many others. Occasionally, you may encounter a huge snapper, grouper or a nurse shark on the reef. The reefs are also home to turtles, mostly hawksbill and olive ridley turtles, but green turtles and loggerheads have been seen as well. The edges of the reef are often visited by blue-fin trevally and other species of jacks, trevallies, rainbow runners and occasionally schools of black-tail barracudas (harmless) also make a pass along the reefs. Wahoo, yellow fin tuna, sail fish and marlins roam the deeper waters of the park.

The island is home to 36 species of mammals, 39 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 147 species of birds. Some of the land animals have been isolated from the mainland for so long that they have evolved into different species. The Coiba agouti and the Coiba howler monkeys are a different species from those you encounter on the mainland. These two and the Coiba spinetail (Cranioleuca dissita), a bird, only occur on Coiba and nowhere else in the world. Coiba is also the only place in Panama where you can see flocks of the threatened Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao).

Check our Coiba adventure for more information.  We offer special discounts for students and groups.

For more information contact info@ecocircuitos.com  or call +507 3151488

My Internship At EcoCircuitos

By Rafaelle Capamolla

Time flies, and so did my time here in Panama. I remember like it was yesterday, when I arrived the 16th of January 2017 to this beautiful country. The 6th of February then started a new chapter in my life: my internship with EcoCircuitos for 6 months.

 

 

Of course, at the beginning it’s a little challenge: You come to a new country, with a different culture, and when you arrive you don’t know anybody. It’s not like when you travel and you just stay for a couple of days in the same place. You live the same way, take the same bus, and eat the same thing as the local people, for a longer period of time. And this is in fact an adventure, and you have to be willing to change your habits and adapt to new cultures. I didn’t have issues with that, and as Panamanians are very friendly and helpful, it was even easier.

My experience with EcoCircuitos was very enriching and I enjoyed very much working for this great company. I could develop new skills and learn a lot about the tourism industry and the work of a local Tour Operator. EcoCircuitos also gave me the chance to bring my own ideas, to show creativity and to manage Marketing campaigns on my own. In a small Company you get the chance to see and work directly with all the departments Accounting, Reservations, Sales and Operations, from which I learned a lot for my future career too. The fact that EcoCircuitos gave me the chance to explore this beautiful country made my internship even more exciting.

As I had the chance to travel with EcoCircuitos, I can really say that you don’t simply offer vacations, but experiences, memories that will stay in your heart forever, encounters with local and indigenous people that made me feel at home, sharing the living and culinary traditions. The whole team and the local guides put so much passion and authenticity in the work their doing, that I really feel like I am taking a piece of Panama with me to Switzerland.

Thank you very much EcoCircuitos for this opportunity and the great experience, you will definitely stay in my heart!

 

 

 

AgroTourism in Panama

Agrotourism or Rural tourism is becoming more popular and an international trend among sustainable travelers.  This type of tourism promotes cultural, historical, adventure and ecological activities and provide an understanding of the countryside heritage and a closer look at local towns, communities, local campesinos and indigenous groups that use farming as a way of life.     For travelers who are seeking a real rural experience and who want a “hands on” experience, this is the adventure for you.    The ‘Fincas’ offer you a natural space, outside of the cosmopolitan city, and delicious, natural and especially organic products.  Panama has great spots for those who want to experience the great outdoors and the healthy living of the countryside farmers.

We started in the cosmopolitan Panama City and head for the interior, where we will learn about the rice fields, poultry and porcine farms.  We also made our first agrotourism stop on the same day: a visit to La Granja Turistica San Judas Tadeo  in Chorrera a farm near the City that aims to teach visitors the best ways to make good use of animal  farms and essential crops of basic consumption and the  benefit  for the local economy. From here we will head to a beautiful circuit combining the Pacific, highlands, Caribbean and more.  In Panama, exist more than 35 licensed farms that offer basic accommodation, and agricultural activities for recreation and visitor learning.  Most rural tourism sites are located in Colón, Capira, La Chorrera, Coclé, Azuero and  Chiriquí.

Why we like rural and agro tourism vacations?   Because being truly sustainable!   The communities you visit helps sustain and develop the village for future generations.   Also Agrotourism is an activity  that helps a person understand and appreciate the land and the people who live on it.  This is the best way to meet with locals  in their natural environments and become more involved with the land they are visiting.

In Panama, exist more than 35 licensed farms that offer basic accommodation, and agricultural activities for recreation and visitor learning.  Most rural tourism sites are located in Colón, Capira, La Chorrera, Coclé, and  Chiriquí.

 

PINEAPPLE FARMS

The sweetest Pineapples of the world are from Panama! For example, Verba Odrec, located in Chorrera, is a local family farm, committed to responsible practices and minimizing pesticide and quality of our pinapples in every box. Visiting this farm is an incredible experience where you will learn everything about the growing of pineapples, and of course also tasting it.

COFFEE FARMS

Panama produces one of the best coffees in the world. If you’re a real coffee-lover, and ever wondered how coffee is made, Finca Lerida, a coffee farm which also offers accommodation is the place to go. You will learn about the history, origin, qualities and secrets of coffee handling directly in an ecological reserve! It is located in Boquete, in the highlands of the province of Chiriqui, which offers a perfect climatic condition to produce high quality coffee.

HONEY FARMS

Honey? In Panama? YES! In the province of Chiriqui you will find farms that produce excellent sweet honey. The honey that ‘Boquetebees’ produces is bioactive and minimally filtered. This incredible farm is committed to educate and increase the understanding of the importance of bees to sustainable biodiverse ecosystems.

EcoCircuitos Panama is specialized in sustainable tourism and tailor-made tours through the beautiful country of Panama. There are much more fincas to discover! Contact us and let us create your agricultural experience! info@ecocircuitos.com or visit www.ecocircuitos.com

 

Safety & Packing Tips for The Darien

Your trip in Darien is going to be very exciting and you will be impressed about the nature and the animals you will see in the rainforest of the most unexplored, and wildest area of Panama. Anyway, there are some safety instructions you need to follow in order to keep safe and make your adventure through the Darien unforgettable, and also some packing list to make your trip as comfortable as possible!

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1- Follow your guide: Don’t ever leave the path or be too far away from your EcoCircuitos guide. Your guide knows perfectly where you can and where you should NOT go. Losing your guide can be very dangerous as you won’t have any signal in the rainforest and the nature/wildlife can be very mean to you!

2- Don’t touch any animals or plants you don’t know:  It might sound like a parental care, but it is really important that you don’t touch any kind of animals or plants you’ve never seen, firstly because you want to conserve the nature, and secondly because you don’t want to get in danger because of poisonous animals, insects or plants.

3- Bring GOOD hiking shoesI mean, you can certainly bring your NikeFREE’s. But then you’ll just be sliding like an ice skater and falling in the mud the whole time (Unfortunately I know what I’m talking about). So be sure to have good hiking shoes and maybe also a walking stick (It is really helpful, trust me!)

4- M-O-S-Q-U-I-T-O R-E-P-E-L-L-E-N-T:  Yes, mosquitos are mean. Very mean. Because once you arrive in the Darien you could think they just waited exactly for YOU. You will be like fresh meat for them so this is a tip that comes from the bottom of my heart: Do not forget your (strong) mosquito repellent!

5- Bring a headlamp!  You will probably get the chance to hike through the jungle during the night, which is an incredible experience, and also in order to see different kind of animals you won’t see during the day, so be sure you bring your headlight! It will also be very helpful at in your tent once you will get your rest in the middle of the rainforest!  My favorite brand is Petzl.

6- Leave electronical stuff you don’t need at home:  Come on, you came to the Darien to feel the wildlife and listen to the sounds of nature. Just leave your headphones and your speakers at home for the time you’ll be in the Darien, you will appreciate it, and especially the animals will!

7- Bring your waterproof jacket and pants – or fast drying clothes:  Either you bring your waterproof jacket or fast drying clothes – the second option is better, because you will get wet anyways, as it starts to rain probably every ten minutes (no surprise, you’re in a rainforest). Anyway make sure you bring a waterproof bag or something to cover your backpack in order to have your documents dry and some dry clothes for when you’re going to sleep!

8- Don’t forget your camera and extra batteries:  if you enjoy nature photography you will have the best chances  to see beautiful animals, insects and plants. So if you want to have all of it captured, go for it! If you want to travel lightly and your personal memory is better than the one in the camera, leave it at home.

9- Bring enough water and some snacks:  You will be in the middle of the rainforest, so forget about little shops around the corner. Bring enough water to keep hydrated and some snacks for the emergency hunger. Protein or granola bars are a good option!

10- Bring some cash:  you may want to buy a handcraft from master artisans in communities you will visit.

But remember, take all the trash back with you, and only leave your footprint!

Those are the most important things you should consider if you’re planning to go to the Darien. Remember that it is not possible to go by your own, as the area could be dangerous and there is no infrastructure that would make it possible. Please always remember that you will be in a place of virgin nature, where there is no contamination. It is one of the few places in the earth that is still well preserved, so please be responsible and respect the environment. The Darien is definitely a hidden treasure in Panama, enjoy it and only leave you footprint!

EcoCircuitos is specialized in adventures in the Darien and organizes unforgettable trips to this breathtaking Region. Contact us info@ecocircuitos.com!

 

An Interview with Smithsonian Entomologist: Yves Basset

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama is dedicated to understanding and studying the unique biodiversity of the tropics. STRI’s history  began with the construction of the Panama Canal and the  interest in surveying the flora and fauna of the area for the purpose of controlling insect diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. After the Canal began operating, entomologists and biologists involved in these studies establish a permanent biological reserve on Barro Colorado Island which is located in the Gatun Lake.  Today, STRI is one of the leading research institutions in the world. Every year over 900 scientist from academic and research institutions  from all over the world visit the STRI facilities to conduct scientific research and studies.

Today we had the opportunity to interview one of the prominent entomologist in the world who has his base in Panama City.  Doctor Yves Basset talk to EcoCircuitos Panama team about his work with the tropical ecosystems and the importance of tourism and conservation to protect the tropical environment.  Learn more about his work on this very interesting EcoVideo.

EcoCircuitos promotes conservation and education through the tourism industry.   For more information about our academic adventures, contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

Boquete: A must-visit place in Panama

By Raffaelle Capamolla, intern

Have you already been to Boquete? If you are in Panama, this is a place you must visit! Boquete is the town, where Panama’s greatest coffee comes from. The many Coffee farmers produce and export one of the world’s best coffee. Of course, the small town is not a producer of big Volume, but definitely of great quality, such as the Geisha coffee.

Surrounded by the central mountain range and the Barú Volcano, it is also the place in Panama, where you’ll find cooler temperatures, compared to the rest of the country.  It is in fact an ideal place for people escaping the hot and humid weather in the lowlands.

You will even find fresh strawberries and savor many different types of honey! Boquete is just different to the rest of Panama. Nationals and Travelers from all around the world also come every year to assist to its main attraction, the Festival of Flowers and Coffee.

Not only the great fresh climate, the flowers, finest coffee, fruits and beautiful surrounding make this town unique, but especially the friendliness of the people living in this charming place. The people will let you feel at home and are very helpful!

If you plan to hike the Quetzal Trail and admire the resplendent Quetzal bird, or to hike to the top of Volcan Barú, Panama’s highest point, where you’ll have an amazing view over the pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, Boquete is a great hub to overnight. You can stay in Hotels, hostels, ecolodges, or even in a coffee farm. Imagine waking up to a cup of locally grown, roasted and ground coffee!

Boquete is a great spot for Adventurers from all ages: You practice do Zip Line, Biking, White Water Rafting, horse back riding, rock climbing, trekking, camping and much more! Of course Boquete is great for taking it easy too, and just let your traveling companions do the adventuring.

EcoCircuitos is your local expert when it comes to real experiences in Boquete. We’ve been exploring the area for many years, so whether coffee tours, guided hikings, birdwatching or tailor-made tours, we would love to organize an unforgettable trip for you!

Contact annie@ecocircuitos.com and visit our website http://www.ecocircuitos.com