EcoCircuitos is specialized in educational travel experiences. Our guides are experts in their field and provide in-depth insights and understandings from culture and history to biodiversity. These understandings foster authentic travel experiences as well as responsible encounters between travelers and nature, biodiversity and local people. Contact us and experience the real #Panama.
Adventure, Conservation and Education
By Raffaele Capomolla
The Darien – A region of Panama, that is still unexplored, with an incredible biodiversity, stunning wildlife and a breathtaking beauty. The Darien is not just a place to go and see, but place you will admire, where you will literally feel the nature, which will offer you an unforgettable experience. I had the chance to accompany a group of biology students from the St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas through an adventure in Panama’s treasure of wildlife. The adventure started very early in the morning in Panama City, where we were picked up for a long drive to El Real in the Region of Darien. Once arrived there, we had to hike for 2 hours until we arrive to place called “Rancho Frio”, where we would overnight in tents and hammocks, exposed to nature, in the middle of this beautiful, virgin rainforest. The next day we went on a trail in the area, which beat all our expectations – we saw the impressive harpy eagle, a powerful and very beautiful prey bird. To finish this great trail our extraordinary local guides took us to a wonderful waterfall to have a swim and eat a snack in the middle of nature. We were impressed of what the Darien gave us to see; amazing birds, snakes, insects and amphibians. The region of the Darien is also habitat of the Jaguars; unfortunately, we didn’t see them, but that’s nature is – unpredictable.
Our next part of the trip was an incredible, cultural experience. We went to the Mogue indigenous community, where the “Embera” have their houses made of wood. We literally got to experience their way of living, their old traditions, their typical food and their language. We were impressed of the simplicity of their lives, with no electricity, no internet, just using the nature in a sustainable way. I was touched of the answer of an Embera when I asked him: “How much meat do you eat? Do you kill animals for food every day?” And he replies: No, because if we kill a lot of animals in a short time, we won’t have enough”. It seems ridiculous, but this is something a lot of people nowadays still don’t realize – Such a simple and obvious answer, but too many people still continue to eat meat every day. We stayed a night in one of those rustic but very authentic houses of the Embera.
The last part of our trip was in the beautiful Archipelago of San Blas, called “Kuna Yala” in indigenous language. Not only we enjoyed the typical Caribbean, crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic ocean, but also the culture of this indigenous community, which had to fight a lot for their territory. We slept in comfortable, rustic cabanas and had fresh seafood every day. The Kunas are very organized and very proud of their culture, which they always transmit to future generations. I was picking up a coconut that fell from a palm tree and was first a little confused when a Kuna asked me to pay for the coconut I just found on the sand. But then I understood as he explained to me that the coconut is a very important and sacred object in their daily lives, because the coconut is still used as a payment method for goods. We had then the chance to visit the village and the Museum of the Kunas, where Mister Delfino explained us everything about the history, the culture and traditions of the kunas.
If you are planning to come to Panama, don’t miss the chance to visit the incredible, natural beauty of the Darien and the marvelous clear waters of San Blas. You will have it all in one – Nature, Culture and Adventure! The EcoCircuitos Team and our naturalist guides will be happy to organize this adventure for you. Just contact us!
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Panama’s wildlife is just stunning – 10’444 different types of plant species, 678 fern species, 1’500 varieties of trees, as well as 255 species of mammals and 972 indigenous bird species. There is a history behind this rich biodiversity, let’s start from the very beginning: Everything started 65 million years ago; the two continents, North and South America were joined by a land bridge, as we know it from today. Then, around 50 million years ago, the continents split apart, and for millions of years they kept separate from one another. This allowed mother nature to create unique and fascinating landscapes in both continents. The land of South America soon gave rise to a numerous species, such as bird families, neo-tropical rodents, iguanas, frogs and more. In North America, animals such as horses, deer, raccoons, squirrels and mice flourished, as the continent repeatedly collided with Eurasia.
Three million years ago happened the world change! The natural history for both continents: The land bridge of Panama arose. Migration started and species from North America went south and from South America north, where they found their homes in the lush forest and wetlands along the isthmus. The great variety of plant species created the perfect conditions for nourishing wildlife including the Jaguar.
‘Yaguará’ is a Panamanian Foundation that works towards the conservation of wild cats. They are studying the Jaguar’s behavior through placing cameras and GPS Collars, in order to develop conservation in the jaguar habitats. They also directly work with the local communities, which has proved to be very important and successful to immediately apply conservation of this beautiful mammals.
Ricardo Moreno who has been nominated by National Geographic as an emergent explorer, is a Panamanian biologist and one of the the leader of Fundación Yaguara. He fights for the conservation of the Jaguar and the Puma in Panama, and says that “the situation is critical, and there is no time to wait. It is important to create a pacific cohabitation between mankind and the felines.”
The conflicts between Felines and humans arose because their natural prey was scarce, due to human activities such as hunting and habitat occupation, threrefore the cats attacked livestock’s. Unfortunately, people used to “solve” the situation by just sacrificing the felines, and this caused a serious fall in jaguar’s populations in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and Panama. Several studies showed that if the cats had enough natural prey, they wouldn’t attack livestock.
“Yaguará” started a program which gives a monetary compensation to the owners of domestic animals, if their animals were preyed. They also support the local communities by educating in learning to live with the jaguars and avoid killing them. The communities could take benefit from conserving the natural habitats and supporting the trend in the tourism industry: Adventure and Conservation.
Academic and Educational adventures are a way to discover Panama and learn about the efforts of several scientists, guides and tour companies that promote the restoration of our natural habitats. In conjunction with different organizations such as STRI, Fundacion Avifauna, APTSO, YAGUARA among others EcoCircuitos is promoting Tourism, Conservation and Education.
Explore with the experts in the field and discover a country full of contrasts. You can contribute to the conservation and efforts of this organization and others by traveling responsable.
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Experience with a local team of expert guides a unique jungle adventure in Panama. Our Darien Expedition is a 5 days adventure that starts in Panama City where we will take the Pan- American Highway towards the eastern side of the of Panama to the world famous forest of the Darien National Park.
This National Park of 579,000 ha (1,400,000 acres) is situated in the eastern part of the country, bordering on Colombia and is the largest protected nature area of Central America and the Caribbean. Its prodigious nature includes mountain ranges reaching 2,500 m (7,500 ft), wide range of habitats: sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, freshwater marshes, palm forest swamps and lowland and upland moist tropical forest. Wetland forest along the Chucunaque and Tuira rivers is often covered by pure stands of cativo, this species being the most utilized timber tree in the region, and mangroves along the Pacific coast. Also Darien contains a Premontane and montane forests, with several types of botanically interesting ecosystem including cloud forest and the elfin forest of Cerro Pirre.
Darien National park is home of many extraordinary plant species that are unique in the world as well as some amazing beautiful animals, like the Jaguar (Felis Onca) and the Harpy Eagle (Harpia Harpyja).
This park is an adventure site that can give you unforgettable memories and experiences. The forest offers activities bird watching, hiking and jungle trekking, wildlife observation, 4 x 4 expeditions and boat trips on the river. The local communities of the Emberá and Wounan will share their wisdom, culture and traditions with the visitors.
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You may need malaria prophylaxis if you are planning on traveling to remote jungle areas such as the Darien. There are several cases of dengue fever reported annually throughout Panama; so we generally recommend avoiding mosquito bites by wearing long clothes and using repellents. Yellow fever also exists in certain parts of Panama, mostly in remote Jungle areas like the Darien. We recommend consulting your doctor before your trip to decide, whether vaccinations are necessary or not.
Yellow Fever vaccination
As of November 01, 2008, Panama requires valid Yellow Fever Vaccination to enter or leave the country for the following countries:
South America: Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela.
Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo Democratic Rep., Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leona, Sudan.
If you have any health concerns, we strongly recommend consulting your doctor or clinic before traveling.
For more information about Panama and our FAQs. Please click here
What is Authenticity?
Take as an example a photo you took of an indigenous woman in colorful clothes during your travels and imagine looking at it at home. Imagine knowing this woman’s story, having experienced her every-day life and the beauty of her culture and traditions. Imagine the difference it would make, if you would have taken the photo just when seeing this woman on the street on coincidence, without knowing anything about her. The only thing you would personally take out of this encounter is a nice photo, without the possibility of broadening your mind and knowledge.
The key in an authentic travel experience lies in interpretation and interaction. There is a difference between seeing something and understanding something, not only with cultural encounters, but also with wildlife watching, bird viewing or walking through an unknown ecosystem.
EcoCircuitos Academic Tours
EcoCircuitos is specialized in educational travel experiences. Our guides are experts in their field and provide in-depth insights and understandings from culture and history to biodiversity. These understandings foster authentic travel experiences as well as responsible encounters between travelers and nature, biodiversity and local people.
With being one of the most biodiverse places on earth, Panama hosts world-class biological and geological experiences. With its numerous indigenous communities, colonial towns, ancient ruins and the Panama Canal, the Isthmus it is also a top-spot for historians, anthropologists and architecture lovers. What is less known, is Panama’s extensive art scene; from numerous galleries in the capital, Afro-Caribbean remains and indigenous handicrafts to artisans dating back to colonial times.
Biodiversity Tour San Edwards University
Last week, our expert guide Fabio Trujillo led the Biology class of San Edwards University from Texas on their Academic trip through Panama for 15 days. The excursion started in the rainforest area around Panama City, continued to the cloud forest-covered highlands of Chiriqui and ended in the Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro. With a focus on interpretation, the students gained holistic understandings of the different ecosystems, without losing the fun-factor through outdoor adventures like zip lining and snorkeling.
Many travelers that come to Panama have doubts about the weather; we would like clear these doubts to help you with your travel planning to Panama!
Panama has a tropical climate and it´s divided in two main seasons: dry, which is usually from December to May, and rainy which we like to call the “green season”, from June to November. During the dry season, it usually doesn´t rain, but sometimes we can get a surprise sprinkle of rain. Due to the dryness, these months are good months to travel to Panama. Not only will you be able enjoy the wonderful climate, but you are able to be in the presence of a variety of birds, mammals and great flowers.
The rainy season doesn´t mean that the rain won´t allow you to enjoy Panama, on the contrary, during the rainy season is when Panama is the greenest and our favorite time to enjoy outdoors. You will be able to admire the growing flora and also take advantage of good deals off season, just make sure that if you´re planning an activity outside to check the weather forecast!
**Note: These two seasons don’t apply to all of the country. On the Caribbean side, which includes Colon, Bocas del Toro, and San Blas, might have rainfall during the whole year. Meanwhile in Chiriquí and Valle de Anton, there might be some rainfall during the dry season.
Year-round in Panama the temperature in the daytime usually ranges from 32ºC (90ºF) to 21ºC (70ºF) in the evening, meaning the day is hot and the night is cooler.
However it’s important to mention that the temperature varies according to geography. In the mountainous areas, such as Boquete and El Valle de Anton, the temperature annually may range from 12ºC (53ºF) to 15ºC (59ºF).
Facts about the weather in Panama
- Even though we have a dry season, Panama´s humidity goes up to 80% all year round.
- Because of Panama´s location you don´t have to worry about hurricanes.
- February is the driest month and October is the wettest month
- Rain can fall for more than 2 hours
- It’s very rare and important to mention that in the mountainous areas, snow and frost may sometimes be visible, but not in large amount.
Just make sure to check the weather and temperature when booking your trip, to be able to have the best experience in Panama!