Things to do in Panama when you can Travel Again

El Mercado del Marisco

The Mercado de Mariscos is the city fish market, open for business to local restaurants and the public every day except the 3rd Monday of each month when it is closed completely for thorough cleaning. It’s the best place to buy fresh fish in Panama City – everything from tuna to snapper to lobster to octopus – or ceviche to go from one of the many vendors. It’s bustling with energy as local shoppers mingle with tourists to inspect the day’s catch.

On the outside of the market you find numerous small stalls selling Ceviche (a Panamanian specialty made with fish cured in lemon juice) and some other typical seafood dishes. Join the crowds for lunch with cup of your favorite type of fresh cold Ceviche or seafood cocktail, or head upstairs to the casual restaurant where you get a variety of typical Panamanian seafood dishes.

Take your time to taste the treasures of Panama’s oceans (some scholars even say that the word “Panama” originally meant “abundance of fish”), have a look around, and feel that you have now really arrived in Panama.

We also want to share on this post our commitment towards sustainable fishing. As a member of the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (www.aptso.org) and in partnership with MARVIVA we support the local fishermen in their efforts to supports their families and our conserve our oceans.

Weekend Escape to Panama 3 day Stop Over

Picture @Fernando Alda

Panama City is the perfect Getaway for a short stopover and a weekend Escape. Pack light and escape to a 3-day Stop Over in Panama full of activities. Within 30 minutes from the international airport, you could be relaxing in a boutique hotel in the center of the colonial Casco Antiguo or a top-notch luxurious hotel in the Banking District, close to internationally known restaurants and Jazz Bars. Visit museums, parks, and historical areas all within the Panama City limits, and just slightly beyond these limits, adventure options are endless. Access national parks are known for hiking, birding, biking, kayaking, and cultural encounters or have a day relaxing on the Pacific Coastline or a surfing adventure. Take a train to an area once owned by pirates or transit the engineering masterpiece, the Panama Canal!

Pacific or Atlantic or maybe both?

There are different options if you love the ocean and water sports. You can go surfing in a close beach at the Pacific such as El Palmar and Rio Mar, learn Kite Surfing or go snorkeling in the Atlantic side close to Portobello. Another option is escaping to one of the beautiful islands on the Pearl Archipelago. If on season, the best spots for whale watching.

Panamanian Gastronomy

Panama’s local cuisine infused with fresh local produce, seafood, and other unique ingredients are competing against other great well known culinary destinations in Latin America.  Panama offers a wide choice of restaurants to suit everyone’s taste and budget. From great cuisine and international chefs to real Panamanian food experience.  You need to come and explore the flavors of this unique Central America destination.

International Film Festival (March 26 – April 11, 2020)

If you love cinema and Latin America this is the event for you. Come and experience the International Film Festival of Panama next year.   IFF Panama’s industry program links the experiences of members of the local film industry and that of representatives of the international industry who come to the event, in spaces that feed new possibilities for film production, marketing and distribution. IFF Panama provides tools to strengthen a sector of recognized impact.    Take advantage of the COPA Stopover and discover Panama and amazing Latin American films during the 9th International Film Festival of Panama.

Close National Park and unique biodiversity

Explore a tropical forest in the heart of Panama City on a tour through the Parque Natural Metropolitano and Ancon Hill. Watch for sloths, birds, monkeys, insects and tree frogs as you hike through the tropical rainforest, and learn the names for Panama’s native plants and animals. Take in sweeping views of the City from the lookout mirador, see flocks of birds erupt from the foliage and experience the tranquility of Panama City’s only wildlife refuge. You can join one of our rainforest adventures and discover why Panama is the Isthmus that changed the world.

Go as a local in Panama

If you want to experience the way of the locals, head to El Mercado del Marisco or stroll in Casco Viejo old colonial town where you will find beautiful shops, , and good restaurants. Our cuisine has received international recognition due to the new generation of young chefs that have raised the quality of our gastronomy by mixing hundreds of years of diversity. Book our gastronomy tour as we are the first tour operator offering this unique experience.

Panama Heli-Adventures

Are you planning a Panama getaway this summer or in 2020? If you want to do something more adventurous and exciting, hop on a helicopter ride and have an unforgettable vacation with unique pictures and stories to tell. 

Did you come to Panama to admire the mind-blowing Panama Canal? To see the tropical rainforest, rivers, the Guna Yala Archipelago, pristine islands, coastlines, and maybe the Gatun lake. Taking a helicopter flight in Panama City is not only an excellent way to experience all of that but also to travel far and see more. You also will be able to land in unique areas and start hiking towards beautiful adventures.

The visibility from these helicopters is unparalleled and our pilots are trained with an emphasis on safety and responsibility.  

Our most popular tours are the following:

Panama Canal and Panama City Tour  Full Panama Canal Tour and Panama City Tour.  East and west side of Pacific Canal Locks, Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and The New Cocoli Locks.  Also the Borinquen Dam, Centenario Bridge, Gailard (Culebra) Cut, Gamboa Resort, Gatun Lake, Gatun Dam, “Vietnam” Chagres river flight near its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean, San Lorenzo Spanish Fort, Gatun Locks and new Agua Clara locks (Atlantic Side Locks).  Before returning back to the airport we do a full Panama City Tour. Approximately 55 minutes.  

Panama Canal, Panama City and Cultural Encounter with the Embera It’s more than a full hour flight of the Canal and Panama City Tour, plus a stop at a Native American Community (Embera Quera) who’s origins where in the Amazon and due to their peaceful nature kept migrating north (because of tribal conflicts) to the jungle between Panama and Colombia.  This one hour and 30 minute visit will consist of sharing with the Emberas to enjoy their music, dances, history and food.  The adventure includes the cost of the stop at the Village, lunch and the Village’s Show (everything is included).  It’s really an extraordinary experience with a very healthy and happy community living a relatively modern life while conserving and sharing their culture and heritage.  Total time for this tour, 10 minute preflight speech, 25 minutes first flight, 1:30 visit at Emebera Quera community, and 40 minutes last flight, so allow approximately three and one half hours taking into account the transfer from your hotel and back to it.

Panama Canal and beach day at Contadora Island – Day trip to Contadora Island starting at 10AM with a Full Panama Canal and City Tour prior to flying towards this small island.  This Tour includes everything as described in the first and best selling 55 minute Panama Canal and Panama City Tour, plus a round trip Helicopter flight to Contadora Island which is located 35 nautical miles southeast of Panama City on the Pacific Side of the Istmus.  Not included in this tour are day passes of $35.00/person that includes a beach chair and lunch at the Island’s best beach.

If you want to fly out to other Pearl Islands on the Pacific Side of Panama, such as Pedro Gonzalez (Pearl Island Project), Viveros Island or San José Island (Hacienda Del Mar Resort).

On the Atlantic Side we offer a day trip to San Blas – Helicopter Flight from Panama City to El Porvenir Island, capital of the San Blas Native American Reserve, will take you on a beach escape in the Caribbean side of Panama.  At El Porvenir our boat Captain, Tico and Jaime his mate,  will take you to a beautiful island where you will be able to enjoy its beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of the Panamanian Atlantic coast.  At the same time you will have a chance to meet and engage with the Kuna people and enjoy their food (lunch), maybe buy some of their famous “Molas” and share a little with this small community.  I will either stay at El Porvenir waiting for you, or fly back to Panama and fly back when you are ready to bring you back to the city.  Tico, your boat captain, will stay with you (at your Island, obviously very far from you) so that you can leave the island anytime you want.  We could leave Panama City as early as 8:00am and be back no later than 5pm (6pm in the dry season).  

Beach Day at Famous Playa Venao -Enjoy a whole day at this world famous Surfer’s Beach Break that has surf schools, board rentals and a nice variety of restaurants and quaint small hotels.  The flight would take you over the Western Pacific shores of Panama which are quite scenic and you will be there in approximately one hour (4-5 hours by car).  Included is the round trip flight and you decide the time to leave the city as early as 7AM and come back as late as 5:00PM.

Beach Day at World Famous Santa Catalina Beach  – Enjoy a whole day at this world famous Surfer’s and Scuba Diver’s paradise that has a decent variety of restaurants and activity.  There are surfer and scuba academies and all equipment may be rented there.  The flight would take you over the Western Pacific shores of Panama which are quite scenic and then across the Azuero Peninsula and you will be there in approximately one hour and 20 minutes (6-7 hours by car).  Included is the round trip flight and you decide the time to leave, as early as 7PM and come back as late as 5:00PM.

Rum Tasting at Panama’s oldest and most prestigious distillery, Hacienda San Isidro, managed and owned by Varela Hermanos – Enjoy a unique tour and Rum Tasting at Panama’s Oldest Sugar Mill and Alcohol Distillery.  Located in the small town of Pesé in the middle of “Panama’s interior” or “heartland”, this factory is where Panama’s national alcoholic beverage “Seco Herrerano” is made, and where one of the finest rums in the world, “Ron Abuelo”, and it’s multiple varieties, is made and aged.  The tour includes round trip transfer by helicopter to Pesé and the factory’s Premium Tour and Rum Tasting.  During the first leg of the flight we will include an over flight of Panama City, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, Centennial Bridge, new Cocoli Locks and finally over Panama’s Pacific Beach Resorts (Olaya Blanca, Buenaventura and others) before landing at Hacienda San Isidro after about a 1 hour and 15 minute flight (4 hours by car).  After that the Premium Tour begins and includes the following:

  • Visit to the Colonial Home of the Mill’s founder in the town of Pesé
  • Brief Oxcart “Carreta de Bueyes” Ride to experience how the sugar cane was carried to the Mill for years 
  • Welcome cocktail
  • Sugar Mill and Distillery Tour to understand the process of the Seco Herrerano and Ron Abuelo
  • Visit to one of 19 warehouses, were the aging process takes place
  • Panama’s heartland typical lunch
  • Rum Tasting of the 8 rums, including Finish Collection, Two Oaks and Top of the Line Centuria 
  • After the tastings an Open Bar for up to 30 minutes
  • Certificate of Rum Tasting to each participant 

I recommend to takeoff at 9AM, arriving at Hacienda San Isidro at around 10:30AM, do the tour, the lunch, the tasting and lastly the open bar.  Leaving Hacienda San Isidro at 4PM approximately and arriving Panama City at 5PM.

Fishing Day at Famous Tropic Star Lodge at Piñas Bay -all prices upon request!

For details and quotes, please contact annie@ecocircuitos.com

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

Panamanians: Truly happy people

In a recent survey done by Gallup, Panama ranked number 1 as the happiest country in the world. “Global happiness studies often involve two measures — how people see their lives and how they live their lives. Both concepts are rooted in behavioral economics.  How people reflect on their life is very different from how people live their life.

Panama leads not only the region, but the world in four of the five well-being elements — purpose, social, community, and physical well-being.

Four reasons why Panama is a happy destination and you should include it to your bucket list for 2020.

1 – Panama is a destination of traditional family values. Bonds are paramount, and family and friends play a very important role in society.

2 – Panama is naturally beautiful and biodiverse – a small country with two oceans and a productive environment. Panama offers close natural attractions for day trips and weekend escapes. Easy access to beaches, mountains, islands, rainforests, and more.

3 – Cultural diverse – a genuinely melting pot where the local folklore can be experienced through a multitude of festivals, dances, and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. The different festivals reflect the influence of the various ethnic groups that make up the country. To the north, in Colon Province, one can observe traditions of African influence, such as Congo drums dating back to the era of slavery and the Black Christ feast. In contrast, the Pollera Festival in the town of Las Tablas honors the Spanish colonial traditions.

4 – Stable government and safe destination, Panama is considered to be the safest country of Latin America.

Happiness can’t be measured by how much money you make, but in Panama is influenced by the bonds of your family, friends, and environment.

5 Ways to Experience an Authentic Panama Getaway

There are many reasons why Panama should be your next getaway destination this year. Beyond the amazing biodiversity, our unique and fascinating history, amazing gastronomy and superb weather. Panama is a small country that offers a lot. This year Panama is celebrating 500th anniversary since its foundation and the diversity of its people is what makes this country unique.

Private Islands and Unique Lodges

There are still undiscovered lands. Pristine corners of the world unspoiled by man and unchanged by time. Tropical islands where true wilderness awakens your senses and rouses your inner explorer. Isla Palenque Island Resort is an exclusive private island resort set amidst 400-acres of an enchanting jungle in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama. A luxury beachfront haven for those seeking the tranquillity of nature in the raw. A 5-day adventure in Panama includes: a night in Casco Viejo hotel (American Trade Hotel or Central Hotel), Transfer to the Gulf of Chiriqui, Kayaking the Gulf of Chiriqui, Snorkeling the Amazing Gulf of Chiriqui and a 4 day stay at the exclusive private island resort. The resort is equipped to have you scaling gargantuan strangler fig and Panama trees, spying on falcons and howler monkeys and zipping through the sea for as many days as you can handle. Those guests determined to get some time on the mainland can also opt for the Ngöbe-Buglé tour and waterfall hike, a remarkable excursion that includes horseback riding to a waterfall along with a deep exploration of the tribe’s culture. There are also countless trails to hike and beaches to walk, and the resort provides binoculars, maps and everything else you’ll need to set out like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe. For reservations and more details please contact info@ecocircuitos.com

The Panama Exploration Cruise

Explore Panama’s natural beauty with this 7-day Adventure Cruise Tour. You will be learning about the geology, animals, birds and ocean life of the Isthmus that changes the world. Including the Darien Jungle and the Canal Transit. The Discovery is a 33 meter, purpose built catamaran providing 8 queen and 4 twin cabins. All cabins have individual climate control, bathrooms and huge windows which extend along the length of the cabin allowing you to enjoy the scenery in complete privacy. Book for May 28th, 2019 and get a special discount.

Drive through the Countryside and meet the locals

Go on scenic roads exploring volcanos, waterfalls, highlands and the beaches of Panama. This adventurous road trip features extensive panoramic views and leaves a lot of flexibility for you to explore and meet new friends!

Top tree: Panama Road tripWaves of PanamaHighlands Extension

Go birding in one of the best spots in the world

For birdwatchers, Panama is considered one of the top spots in the world, hosting more than 1000 bird species. Our classic birding program is for the true birder who wants to discover the unique birds diversity of Panama. click here

Enjoy one of the many and unique festivals

Resultado de imagen para micro brewery 2019 panama

Although some Panamanian events are becoming more international events such as the Jazz Festival every January and the International Film Festival in April. There are many other unique festivals such as the Micro Brew Fest in February to boost the craft beer industry in Panama and the region; The Pollera (National Dress) Festival, where hundreds of participants in their beautiful customer and hairdos compete in different categories; The Congo Festival where the AfroPanamanian folklore is represented with music, customers and food and many more.

Panama is a destination full of contrast and is waiting to be discovered. Contact us or your special travel partner to curate your next vacation in the best-kept secret of Central America. http://www.ecocircuitos.com

Adventure week Panama 2018

During the Adventure Week Panama this past May, the participants from different Continents discover why Panama became the Isthmus that changed the world and a paradise for the outdoor travelers.

The explorers discover a diverse destination filled with natural and cultural beauty and with an incredible history to share with the rest of the world.  Panama surprises the adventure travelers for the cosmopolitan capital,  the legends of Pirates and Conquistadores that fought for the treasures of the Americas, amazing close national parks and trails, good adventures, unique wildlife and a superb gastronomy.

Through kayak, trekking, amazing gastronomic fests, hikes with naturalist guides, snorkeling, boutique hotels and wildlife observation, Panama became the place where friends from around the world united for one week.  We all enjoyed this adventure and we hope to continue receiving new friends from the Adventure Travel Association.

Keep Exploring!!!!