5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that reveals Panama’s cultural and natural wonders

Did you know that Panama has 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Well if you didn’t, check this out!

Three Natural Sites

Since 1981: Darien National Park

This incredible National Park in the Eastern part of Panama, on the borders of Colombia, is home to an extraordinarily rich flora and fauna. It has a variety of habitats from tropical forests, mangroves and swamps, wetlands and beaches. Two of Panama’s indigenous tribes the Wounaan and Embera have their home in this incredible park. It has 169 identified mammals, to name some of them: the near threatened jaguar, the endangered tapir, bush dog and the capybara. Darien National Park has a lot to offer if you are in love with nature and incredible biodiversity!

 

Since 1983: La Amistad National Park and Talamanca Range- La Amistad reserves

The Talamanca Mountains are enclosed by this breathtaking national park and reserves. It is considered to be the tallest and wildest mountain range in Central America. There are numerous ecosystems and landforms, such as rivers, valleys and lakes which were shaped by glaciers. Also in this national park you can find an incredible amount of different animals: 215 mammals including the Puma and Jaguar and abundant bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species. Don’t miss this incredible biodiversity and unique scenery!

Since 2005: Coiba National Park

This unique island  once was a penal colony and along with other 38 smaller islands and its surrounding marine area is the Coiba site National Park. Abundant marine life such as whales and tiger sharks has its home in the surrounding marine area. The variety of endemic flora and fauna on this wonderful island is due to years of separation from the Mainland. You really should discover the natural beauties of the island, but always in a sustainable way!

Two Cultural Sites

Since 1980: Portobelo-San Lorenzo Caribbean Fortifications

The forts of Portobelo and San Lorenzo, listed as endangered, were constructed by Spanish colonialists to protect the first town of Panama Ciy which had become a very significant trade center. The forts continuously suffered attacks by pirates. It really is an incredible site, as it provides very important information about the defense system which was used in the 17th and the 18th centuries!  Don’t miss the site for the real Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

Since 1997: Panamá Viejo Archaeological Site and Historic District of Panamá

The Panama Viejo Archaeological Site and Historic District of Panama dates back to the 16th century, and is the oldest European settlement along the Pacific coast. In 1673 it has been burned to the ground, so it was located in Casco Viejo.

Significant information on various aspects of the social life, communication and the economy can be read through the ruins. Numerous Churches, medieval houses, the presidential palace and the Salón Bolivar are cultural landmarks in the historic district. Follow the the steps of the Spanish empire in Latin America in this beautiful site and book a historical tour with us.

Panama has so much to offer – besides of an incredible nature and biodiversity, our beautiful country has a very significant history. Our local guides will take you through an unforgettable cultural, historical and natural experience through our beautiful country! For tours or more information contact annie@ecocircuitos.com or visit our website http://www.ecocircuitos.com.

Expedition to Darien and Guna Yala

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.

Guna Yala, San Blas Cultural Expedition

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!

info@ecocircuitos.com or annie@ecocircuitos.com

10 Best things to do in Panama City

There are a lot of reasons to visit Panama. You have probably already thought of the Panama Canal, which is one of the world’s most famous accomplishments of modern engineering. Maybe you have considered a tropical island or beach, or just the climate, which is warm all year round. But there is a lot more to Panama: read here some of our staff picks to do in Panama City.

1.  Visit Seafood market and walk or bike Cinta Costera towards the Casco Antiguo neighborhood while eating a fresh seafood ceviche.
2.  Take a tour at the Biodiversity Museum and hire of our naturalist guides for an introductory rainforest tour in the Metropolitan Park

3.  Bar hopping in Casco Viejo at night and don´t miss the Jazz Bar in the American Trade Hotel

4.  Historical City Tour– walking Panama la Antigua and learn about the Pirates and Conquistadors and the Canal zone era

5.  Kayaking the Panama Canal in the Gatun Lake and a visit to a local Wounaan community for handcrafts shopping

6.  Visit the Contemporary Art Museum and take a Art Cultural Tour with a local panamanian artist

7.  Hike, bike or wildlife observation at one of the many trails of the Soberania National Park

8.  Go on a historical trekking the old 8-mile Camino de Cruces Trail takes you through primarily tropical forest

9.  Ride the Transcontinental train towards the Atlantic side in one day: The Pirate trail and Panama Canal

10.  Enjoy the local gastronomy (tasajo empanada, carimañola, tortilla, yuca frita, and the seafood of Panama).

Quotes for the week

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. – Marcel Proust

One’s destination is is never a place, but rather a new way of seeing things.  – Henry Miller

Sublime Incentives with EcoCircuitos

By Annie Young J.

Incentive travel is becoming more popular in Panama since recently. We saw last year, more clients interested in real and authentic experiences for their Incentives, Rewards and Recognitions.

The trend is changing and we have to be more innovative and creative to bring more quality incentives to Panama and EcoCircuitos is in the lead with our Sublime Journeys Incentive chapter!

The demand is for experiential travel and our Sublime Incentives offers unique and authentic programs out of the box and customize to the participants.

We deliver programs that create an immersion in Panama maintaining the luxury demanded by the incentive travelers of today’s world. We want you to experience our amazing country and engage with the locals.

  • Adventure and Nature – From unforgettable wildlife encounters to challenging group activities, our team let you share incredible outdoor experiences.
  • Explore Panama- Whether by kayak, bike or on foot. We provide unique outdoor activities for groups of all sizes and participants of all levels of physical fitness.
  • Cultural Discovery- Cultural exchange broadens the mind and helps personal growth. The cultural activities of Sublime Journeys focus on providing exclusive insights into the culture, gastronomy and history of Panama. Encounter one of Panama’s seven unique indigenous groups.
  • Experiential and Authentic- Take a painting class in Portobello, learn how to make Panamanian ceviche with a local chef, experience traditional congo dance, or learn to dance Merengue with a local expert. Cosmopolitan nightlife of Panama City and the gourmet side of the country with our world class chefs.
  • Relax and Enjoy – We have the a great array of hotels for you, whether you you want to stay in the Old city, Downtown on the beach or in the rainforest.
  • Day cruise or excursion- Private sailing or Yachts for luxury tours to private islands on the Pacific side. Beach BBQ, Beach Volleyball, snorkeling, whale watching and more.
  • Community Outreach Activities – Commit to a social responsibility project helping a local school and sharing your time and energy with the locals.

For more information visit our Incentive page: www.discoversublime.com

We look forward to have you in Panama in 2017!

Zoom on Casco

By Juliette Darmon

Spending a week-end in Casco is always so pleasant! Take some time to walk around and you will discover so many hidden places…!

During a free day, let’s try the hidden Mediterranean restaurant Siroco to have lunch, in the middle of the historic Casco Antiguo. With its private and cozy terrace, you will taste some delicious Mediterranean dishes.

For a dessert or a break, you could try Granclement ice-cream. Near the Central Hotel, these gourmet ice-creams are one of the best of the city. With such a wide selection, and a lovely place, you will feel obliged to taste more than just one!

You also could enjoy your ice-cream by walking around and having a nice view on Panama by turning on your right Avenida Central.

To stay with sweet, if by any chance you like chocolate, then go straight to Oro Moreno coffee and taste these amazing and authentic Panamanian chocolates, as the maracuja, the coco, the honey, the coffee one and so many more favors. Take a delicious cappuccino and chill out on this European atmosphere!

Furthermore, if you are curious to try the traditional and sweet Panamanian raspao’, you will find some by street (in front of the Panama view, Avenida Central for instance).

For a good dinner or a simple happy hour, why wouldn’t you try the Villa Palma Hotel for a relaxed and peaceful drink in their rooftop on the center of Casco?
The nice view on the sea along with a fresh sangria or smoothie will remind you an holiday atmosphere! This boutique hotel also has a chic and warmly restaurant downstairs. Do not miss it!

For a trendier and fancier place, you definitely have to go to Tantalo or Zaza restaurant! Both also have a rooftop bar/ club.

Both are recommendable for their food, and prices are more or less competitive.
On Tantalo, the roofbar is bigger and higher (which also means more crowded, mainly on Friday and Saturday night) than the Zaza’s.

Tantalo is more trendy and cozy than Zaza which is more spangled!

Note: The Zaza restaurant became a night club around 12am during the week end and it’s closed on Sunday.

Take some time to discover the nicest area of Panama and enjoy some city or gastronomic/ culinary tours with EcoCircuitos!

 

 

About your Panama Guides

Your guides are your gateway to the world of the tropical rainforest. Even if you don’t see a single animal, you’ll laugh; you’ll cry; and you’ll learn things. Each guide’s personality colors your experience of Panama, and reveals the richness and diversity of its people and culture. Guides provide education, insight into the culture, and knowledge of nature. Travelers who have decided to go it alone often end up wishing they had a guide.

Our partners wholesalers as WPA strives to use the best local guides available (EcoCircuitos guides)  at each destination on your adventure. At times, naturalists, biologists or biology students may be used as guides but are not guaranteed, nor are they always the best guides for the activity. You’ll find our guides have just the right mix of personality, knowledge and training to make your experience fun, safe, educational, and full of wonder. We’ve found that the best guides are the ones who live at each location and absolutely love what they are doing. Their enthusiasm and curiosity is contagious and will awaken the wonder–and the guide—in you.  You’ll find that spotting the wildlife yourself is half the fun! In addition to your guides, we’ll have bird and wildlife books and materials to help identify what we see. With thousands of different species of flora and fauna in each area of the country, and new species being identified each year, a rare siting could be the highlight of your trip!

Tipping your guide in Panama

EcoCircuitos recommends the following guidelines for tipping our guides, drivers and staff in Panama:

  • Naturalist guide:  US$15.00 – US$20.00 per person per / day
  • Day tour guide:  US$10.00 per person per day
  • Transfer driver:  US$2.00 per person
  • Tour driver:  US$5.00 per person per day
  • Tour boat driver:  US$5.00 per person per day
  • Hotel bellman:  US$1.00 per person per piece of luggage

International airport bellmen:  US$1.00 per piece of luggage