Diving Responsible & Protecting the Corals

From STI

Corals are actually animals! In fact, a single coral formation can be made up of THOUSANDS of tiny little animals called polyps, which are related to jellyfish. Together, polyps create beautiful corals of all shapes and sizes. Some build stony coral reefs, while others form soft corals that resemble bushes, feathers, and trees.

But corals are also extremely sensitive creatures. Something as simple as a change in water temperature or poor water quality can lead to their demise. The rise in climate change and other human impacts is putting coral reefs around the world in jeopardy. Scientists predict that up to 90% of all reefs could be gone by 2050 unless we reduce these impacts.

Coral reefs are the most biodiverse marine ecosystem. Though they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, they are home to more than a quarter of all marine life. 

If this disease continues to wreak havoc across the Mesoamerican Reef, there will be a ripple effect of consequences for marine life and communities. When coral health declines it can throw off the delicate balance of the entire ecosystem and cause fish populations to dwindle. As the reef becomes barren, local people that rely on the reef will need to find other sources of food and income. On top of this, coastal communities will be left exposed to the damaging impacts of waves and storms. And without calcium rich corals you can also bid farewell to white sandy beaches! 

Picture by Sustainable Travel International

Needless to say, the loss of a reef system as expansive as the Mesoamerican Reef would be devastating at a time when coral reefs across the globe are struggling to survive. 

Ways you can Help

  • Use reef-safe sunscreens that don’t contain harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate that are toxic the reef. More information on how sunscreen affects coral reefs and which chemicals to avoid is available here
  • Don’t touch corals or other marine life. Maintaining proper buoyancy is an important skill to keep your fins or equipment from hitting the reef or seafloor.
  • Disinfect your dive and snorkel gear between excursions by removing debris and sanitizing it with a 5-10% bleach solution. For sensitive equipment, use fresh water with antibacterial dish soap instead. Detailed instructions on how to safely decontaminate different types of gear are outlined here. 
  • Don’t litter and reduce plastic use to reduce the amount of debris that is contaminating the reef.
  • Choose responsible dive operators, hotels, and other businesses that practice proper wastewater treatment and use environmentally friendly cleaning products and fertilizers.  

From Sustainable Travel International

Romancing in the Gulf of Chiriqui

Take advantage of the COPA Stopover and explore one of Panama’s best kept secrets: The Gulf of Chiriqui.

Day 01: From Tocumen International Airport, take a flight to the capital of Chiriqui, David. From here, head to the small fishing town of Boca Chica, on the Gulf of Chiriqui. The natural beauty of this place is astounding, and still unknown. Check in to a charming boutique hotel and relax.

Day 02: The Gulf of Chiriqui is known for its amazing wildlife and stunning natural beauty. Certainly, a must is to explore part of this! Accompanied by a local captain, sail out and visit some of the islands, feel the warm tropical breeze and the sand between your toes. Go snorkeling, beach combing and enjoy a romantic picnic lunch.

Day 03: Enjoy a morning at leisure. In the afternoon sail slowly through the mangroves along the tranquil river as you observe a variety of birds and other present wildlife. This unique ecosystem is often under looked, but it’s a key environment for many species, whether they are under the ocean or soaring the skies. Finish off with a drink and appreciate the sunset.

Day 04: Unfortunately, your stay has come to an end. But hopefully, you’ll come back soon to discover more of what Panama has to offer. Check out, and head back to David for your flight back to Panama City.

Contact us for rates and more information. info@ecocircuitos.com

Discover Azuero Peninsula: the Folkloric path

Visit the idyllic Peninsula de Azuero with its year-round dry weather and laid-back lifestyle. Dive into the authentic culture of this region, which feels isolated from modern Panama, explore its colorful traditions, tasty specialties, abundant wildlife, and natural beauties, including the Sarigua dessert.

EcoCircuitos’ Azuero program starts just after a short, direct flight from Panama City, with first-hand experience of the rich culture and diverse wildlife of the Peninsula. Experience the manufacturing process of producing Panamanian rum and have a taste of the local liquors Seco and rum. See the extraction of salt from the Pacific Ocean; visit the production of handmade clay pottery, and learn how the famous La Arena bread is baked. The basic program will furthermore take you on a boat ride to the idyllic island of Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge, with its mangrove forests, pristine white-sanded beaches, crystal waters, and colorful coral reefs. Also check our Folkloric path for a more in deep experience.

Keep on exploring the facets of charming Azuero with joining our various extension tours: Surf on laid-back Playa Venao, watch the large variety of birds at Playa Aguillito, the nesting turtles of pristine Isla Canas or join adventurous canopy zipline tours over the treetops of the forest.

This is an ideal program for a StopOver in Panama. Contact us for more information: annie@ecocircuitos.com

Kayaking the Panama Canal Water Trails

The construction of Gatun Dam in the Chagres Valley in the early 1900’s has provided waters for thousands of ships to transit across the Isthmus of Panama. Today these waters are the massive 470km2 Gatun Lake, that in years past, was the largest manmade lake in the world. Paddling Lake Gatun along its pristine bright green banks, between its numerous islands, over the extensive underwater vegetation and through the still standing tips of submerged trees is a real neo-tropical safari. 

Kayaking the Gatun Lake

Thousands of refugee wildlife species live in this spectacular environment. 

Soberania National Park touches Gatun’s borders. This park is one of the most accessible tropical forests in the country. Paddling along the Soberania National Park, the primary rainforest edges provide some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. This can include manatees, sloths, kinkajous, coatimundis, capybaras, caimans, crocodiles, white faced capuchins, Geoffroy’s tamarins, spider monkey, night monkeys and howler monkeys are all common in the area. Legendary beautiful species like jaguars and harpy eagles also call this home. 

Along the coastal forest shore, common bird species include soaring magnificent frigates, gliding brown pelicans, darting flocks of parrots, ibis and various other wading migratory shore birds.   Contact us for amazing itineraries filled with adrenaline! Ideal for couples, groups and families.

Contact us: info@ecocircuitos.com

Family Fun Adventures

This fun-filled trip is perfect for families who are ready to start an exciting adventure holiday in the tropics. Explore the natural beauties of Panama together with your whole family and keep an eye out for wild animals with your fun guide. Get ready for the vacation of the year!

Experience the facets of the Panama Canal in this great itinerary combining the history of this amazing feat of human engineering with the biodiversity of its lush rainforest surroundings in the Soberania National Park. Our guides are specialists trained to provide in-depth insights and understandings in their field, from ornithology, botany, and herpetology to history, culture and traditions. These understandings foster unforgettable travel experiences, as well as responsible encounters between travelers and nature, animals and local people.

On this unique adventure you will visit the Atlantic locks and the UNESCO site in Portobello and San Lorenzo, a magnificent example of 17th- and 18th-century military architecture, these Panamanian forts on the Caribbean coast form part of the defense system built by the Spanish Crown to protect transatlantic trade. What an unforgettable adventure for families! Recreate the real Pirates of the Caribbean! 

Panama is for foodies

Celebrating 500 years since its foundation, in 2019 Panama City was designated Gastronomic Capital of the Americas. For many years, the country has been a treat for the food enthusiasts – particularly in September when Panama City holds Restaurant week. Panamanian cuisine is a mix of African, Spanish, and native American influences where dishes and ingredients, reflect our diverse and beautiful population.

Sometimes hot and spicy, the food is hearty with rice present at just about every meal. Seafood is excellent and abundant, especially along the Caribbean coast. The ceviche is superb, usually served with an ice-cold beer. Panama’s national dishes are a traditional chicken soup: sancocho de Gallina served with herbs, tamal de maiz (a type of polenta filled with meat), guacho de mariscos (seafood stew).

Casco Antiguo Food tours

One of the best ways to discover Panamanian cuisine is to eat and drink your way through Panama City’s historic Casco Antiguo district, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed old quarter, now home to some of the city’s hippest food and drink venues. Our tour includes a visit to a coffee roaster (here you can try a sample of the best coffee in the world: Geisha), a chocolate shop (sample a piece of organic chocolate from Bocas del Toro area), a rum house, a microbrewery, the seafood market (enjoy fresh and authentic ceviche), and a rooftop cocktail bar, sampling more culinary delights as you go.

Discover Panama: Cocle Province

The Rio Grande Basin of the Coclé region (a province of central Panama on the nation’s southern coast) has become famous in recent years for the discovery of extraordinary remains exhibiting the life and customs of pre-Columbian societies in the Neotropics. The El Caño Archeological Park, located close to Rio Grande, is of particular importance. In 2009, archeologists discovered the tomb of an important Coclé warrior buried with treasures such as breastplates, bracelets, belts, and ear sticks made of gold and copper, stone and bone. The artifacts found were so spectacular that an article in National Geographic Magazine (2012) entitled “The Golden Chiefs of Panama” describe El Caño and its surrounding areas as “Panama Valley of the Kings”. Since that time many more tombs have been identified and continue to be excavated.

El Dorado