Why we love Panama

Welcome to our little paradise! With lush jungles and mystic cloud forests, white-sanded beaches and cast-away islands, hidden waterfalls and highlands covered in flowers; Panama hosts a true natural treasure. Its inhabitants are consisting of hundreds of bird species, monkeys, sloths, butterflies and the laid-back Panamanians which are welcoming all kinds of visitors.

The national charm consists of a wide diversity of cultures, from isolated indigenous tribes and traditional villages to the colorful mix of nationalities in the vibrant capital.

Panama City’s imposing skyline and the mighty Canal form a unique cultural cocktail with the rich history of colorful colonial towns and ancient fortresses on the countryside.

  • Capital: Panama City
  • Inhabitants: 4 Million (3 Million in Panama City)
  • Size: 74,177.3 km2 or 28,640 sqare miles
  • Currency: United States Dollar (Credit Cards are widely accepted)
  • Language: Spanish
  • Government: Presidential constitutional republic
  • Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (EST), GMT – 5
  • Visa: Contact Panamanian embassy or consulate in your home country!
  • Calling Code: +507
  • Plug Types: Types A & B (United States, Canada, Latin America)

Weather and Climate

Panama has a tropical and humid climate with stable year-round temperatures of about 32ºC (90ºF) during the day and 21ºC (70ºF) during night time. However, temperatures vary according to geography; in highland areas like Boquete and El Valle de Anton, the annual temperature ranges from 12ºC (53ºF) to 15ºC (59ºF).

Panama’s climate can generally be divided into two seasons:

The Dry Season: The high-season of Panama usually lasts from December to May and is characterized by a stable, dry and sunny weather, with only some very occasional sprinkles of rain. These are the perfect months for travelers seeking for sun and a usually well-predictable and stable climate. However, keep in mind that highland-regions like Chiriquí and El Valle de Anton, as well as some regions on the Caribbean side of Panama, like Bocas del Toro, Colon and the San Blas islands, might have rainfalls all year round.

The Green Season: During this season from June to November, the whole country is becoming lush, healthy and green. The season is characterized by sporadic rain showers which are vital for the tropical flora and fauna, as well as the water supplies of natural reserves, Panama City and the Panama Canal. Panama is perfectly fine to visit during this season. It may rain once a day for about two hours, however; before and afterwards it is usually sunny and on many days it does not rain at all. Moreover, the country is lush and green, less crowded and prices are lower. There are also some regions with stable and dry weather throughout the year. Click here for our “Sun in the Green Season” program or contact us for further assistance.

Although it is quite stable during the dry season in Panama, weather – like all over the globe – can never be precisely predicted or planned. For both seasons, we can make no guarantees and suggest being flexible.

“Wherever you go – always bring your own sunshine”

 

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The Taste of Panama

Try our EcoCircuitos chocolate and have a pure taste of Panama! Our fine dark chocolate is harvested in the lush region of Bocas del Toro, where the fresh air of the rainforest and a light salty sea breeze give the cocoa fruits a special flavor. You can taste the old knowledge and traditional harvesting processes of the indigenous Ngoebe people, and their deep respect for the “brown gold”.

And you taste the passion and commitment of EcoCircuitos, who donate 100% of every bar of chocolate sold to their partner organization APTSO.org, the Organization for Sustainable Tourism in Panama. You taste passion for responsible tourism and its contribution to conservation and sustainable development. You taste respect and fairness combined with in-depth insights in the culture, the people and biodiversity of Panama. You taste responsible outdoor adventures that take place without endangering natural environments and their inhabitants. And you taste the happiness of indigenous people, whose education is supported by scholarships of APTSO.

This is the fine taste of fair and responsible circulations; of Panama`s beautiful environment and its inhabitants, cultures and travelers being in harmony and benefiting from each other.

If you want more, join the EcoCircuitos chocolate tour and become a witness of the traditional manufacturing processes and old Ngoebe cultures in Bocas del Toro!

Going where the wind blows

By:  Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

Punta Chame is one of Panama`s best kitesurfing spots and has made its name to the world for its excellent conditions from November to April.

Carina Kitesurfing

The spot is a strap of land with constant N-NE and side-onshore wind, perfectly suitable for all levels, as you will always end up back on the beach and not out in the sea.

My session on this wide sandy beach spot started with the mixture of excitement and respect I always feel when the powerful strength of wind is lifting up my kite. After walking a few steps in the crystal blue water, shuffling my feet to avoid stepping on the only danger of the spot – the sting ray – I got on my board and started moving over the ocean. Going faster and faster over the large and uncrowded bay, I felt the salt and heat of the sun on my face while the coastline was getting smaller and smaller. It is pure happiness you feel when every single part of your body and mind is becoming one with the kite in the sky and the board on your feet, using the power of the wind to move forward. It always astonishes me, how I control this phenomenon without having a single thought on my mind, except this foolish song that keeps coming up when I`m happy.

In Punta Chame you can have several sessions a day, starting in the morning and finishing with a sundowner surrounded by the golden lights of dawn. It is a dream spot with constant wind for smooth freestyle or speed rides.

The Spot

  • November- April constant wind
  • N-NE and side-onshore
  • All levels, great for beginners
  • Soft sandy beach, no currents, small waves
  • No crowds, large space for launch
  • Hot weather, warm water (sunscreen!)
  • Dangers: sting rays, small jellyfish

Facilities

There are four kite schools with equipment rentals and repairs, different kinds of places to stay (hotels, hostels, apartments, guest houses), a restaurant and a supermarket.

Getting there and away

  • By car: (1.5 hours) take the Panamericana from Panama City south and exit at the Punta Chame “sign”. Rough road for half an hour till Punta Chame.
  • Public transport: take a bus from the bus terminal on direction of “el Valle de Anton” or “Penonome”. Step out in Coronado when you see the big sign ‘REY’ (a supermarket on the main road). From there take taxi to Punta Chame.

Blokarting: Sailing on Land

By Briana Reece

When people think of sailing, they mostly think they need water and a boat, but what if you could sail on land?

Blokarting, is an extreme sport created by combining hand gliding and land sailing, but what’s the difference between land sailing and blokarting?

Two words… hand steering. It all comes down to the fact that you can control the movement by steering your pod with the help of the wind.

The creation of this yatch dates back to 1999, when the New Zealander Paul Beckett, saw a fun, fast and compact toy, which would offer adventure to people of all ages, gender and even those with disability.

Now imagine you are placed into a small compact unit and it has two wheels in the back and one in the front. When you enter this small “cart or pod”, a seatbelt is placed around you and instructions are given. It sounds simple, you pull a rope to go faster, if you let it go your speed will decrease, and most importantly if you feel you’re going to tip over place your hands on the steering. Then you just sit back, grab the rope, place your hands on the steering and get ready to be blown away. Just make sure you’re not going against the wind.

The experience

It was scary at first, especially when you know you could tip over because of the wind. You feel like you´re in control, but at the same time you´re not because you´re depending of the wind to help you move. Having to pull or let go of the rope while trying to hand steer required coordination. It was like driving a manual car, the rope is your shift stick and clutch; and the hand steering is your steering wheel

There were times when one of my tires lifted, and my first thought was move towards the lifted tire and let go of the rope to maintain balance. It´s not easy at first, but once you get the hang of it, you´re able to enjoy the ride and feel the adventure, especially in every turn you take.

Having begun in New Zealand, Blokarting has managed to make its way to South Africa, Australia and will soon be available in the hidden and forgotten Island of Naos at Causeway, Amador.

Don’t miss this opportunity, check out Panama Landsailng Adventures for more information or contact us for reservations.

Sources:

http://www.blokart.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blokart

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_sailing

http://blokarts.co.uk/blokart-blog/4590803590

 

 

Luxury Sailing the Bay of Panama

EcoCircuitos Panama is proud to offer new sailing options in the Bay of Panama. Unique private options include day trips to Taboga Island, known as the “Island of Flowers, evening charters in the Bay of Panama, admire Panama City´s amazing skyline while you navigate past ships waiting to cross the canal and private Panama Canal partial transits. Sail under the famous Bridge of the Americas, transit the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks and then sail through the renowned Culebra Cut to the town of Gamboa. Overnight sailing options are also available to the Contadora Island.

This is a new product, more details are available upon request. This option is available throughout the year. All the options include sailboat, crew, snacks and beverages. Depending on the option, lunch and breakfast could be included.

For more information contact info@ecocircuitos.com.

Tips when Traveling to Guna Yala/San Blas

 The San Blas Archipelago / Guna Yala is home to the Guna people. This province consists of numerous small islands and keys and part of the mainland. It is known picturesque scenery that consists of white deserted sandy beaches with palms, transparent blue waters, seafood and the colorful Guna culture.

For EcoCircuitos it is important to manage expectations to all destinations, but particularly San Blas Archipelago/ Guna Yala territory.  We would like to highlight the following:

  • Very rustic, it is not a luxurious destination nor a snorkeling or diving destination. It is a cultural destination.
  • Lodging is rustic with basic amenities
  • Take precautions for mosquitos, chitras, bats and other rodents
  • Be flexible, you will be on Guna time
  • Remember everything in this area of the country is operated by the Gunas under their rules and regulations
  • Tours can change due to climate and weather conditions

Flying to Achutupu or Playon Chico: Domestic flights to San Blas are operated in small planes that seat around 12 people and have the strict check in baggage limitations. Each person is allowed to check in 14kg and can carry a small bag. Don’t be surprised if the airline representative asks to weigh you as well.  They are very conscious of how much weight the planes can carry. This flight is approximately 30 minutes long.

When flying to Achutupu or Playon Chico it is possible your plane could make multiple stops, be sure to listen to the captain at each stop when he announces the name of the area. If you do not hear name of the stop, please ask the captain.

Achutupu Airstrip: When you arrive to Achutupu you will see an airstrip and a small one room concrete structure. Your host will be waiting for you to transfer you approximately 15 minutes to your lodge.

Playon Chico: When you arrive to Playon Chico you will see the airstrip and a long walking bridge that connects the airport area to the Playon Chico island. A representative from the lodge will be waiting for you to take you to your lodge, which is less than 10 minutes away.

Arriving by car to Carti (Please remember your passport): From Panama City to the coast of San Blas it can take approximately 3 hours. You will travel east along the Pan American Highway passing the Tocumen International Airport in the direction towards Darien. You will pass through one checkpoint. Eventually you will veer to the right and travel down a windy and curvy road that will take you through the Guna Yala Territory to the coast. There will be two check points, one will be a police check point and the other will be to pay Guna tourism taxes. The road is like a roller coaster and we recommend travellers with that are sensitive to motion to take motion sickness medicine just in case.

Once you arrive to Carti you will be met by your local host and will be transferred by boat to your lodge, this boat transfer could take approximately 20 minutes.

To take: enough cash ($100 max each for two nights/ three days, better to take more than less just in case. Also useful for some Kuna handcrafted products to buy on the island), a mosquito net, mosquito spray, toilet paper, shower gel and shampoo, sunglasses and high protection sun cream (the sun is really hard in the tropics), hat, towel, snacks and water, raincoat and camera/ gopro of course! Better to wear long clothes during the night.

*After reading this document and you still have questions or would like more details, please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com or marketing@ecocircuitos.com

     

Panama Review from Zach and Teresa

We have many visitors experiencing Panama with us every year and we chose this beautiful post to share with you in our blog.  Below you will find the review from  Zach and Teresa in Panama.  They visited us from   Portland Oregon from December 21 to January 11, 2016.

EcoCircuitos Review by Zack and Teresa

This not being my first trip to Panama, I wanted to expand my experience and broaden the locations I would visit beyond the standard tourist path.  Flying into Panama City, I decided to revisit the Panama Viejo site because much had changed since I last visited.  The ruin’s infrastructure had become greatly informative with illustrative information signs and anyone without a guide would have a welcoming and historical visit. The guide from Ecocircuitos provided great historical information on the biography of adventurous nuns who lived in the convents, while also providing a contemporary scope on the way the site transforms for concerts and celebrations in the thriving metropolitan city. 

Panama City is growing and its growing fast with food, art and transportation.  A new Metro Rail will get you to the hot upcoming locations without the wait of traffic, but for a direct journey Uber is at your fingertips letting you skirt past any language barriers.  After the seeing castle ruins the guide took me over to Casco Viejo to check out the old Panama City neighbor hood full of beautiful churches and great places to grab a drink or a bite to eat. At Tántalo Hotel, I tried a delicious smoked chorizo stuffed calamari and some plantains with pulled pork.  Continuing to wander around finding great mojitos and gelato was an easy task.  Strolling along the narrow streets and wandered around the area’s waterfront to marvel at the city skyline was a great way to end a full day in the city.

Although the Boquete highlands is a common destination for the coffee obsessed and those needing a break from the heat of the country, Ecocircuitos allowed me to get a memorable and intimate experience through small organic coffee farms.  I didn’t have a huge understanding of coffee farming but one tour took me from growing the plants including the famous Geisha plant to processing and roasting the beans using recycled farm equipment and an old Jeep.  The guide was informative with lighthearted jokes, and since he worked on the farm as a young boy he had a true passion for his explanations.  The tour really helped explain how delicate the coffee plant from the climate, to its elevation and even the chemicals on your body.  The coffee was great to taste and the town was full of generous and kind hearted individuals.  Boquete also offered an abundance of wildlife and rigorous hikes through the numerous microclimates and if you were tired of drinking coffee the was a nice micro brewery offering a variety of beers full of flavor.