CHRISTMAS TIME AND NEW YEAR IN PANAMA

What would you say to spend Christmas’ holidays in Panama?

Far away from cold, discovering a new culture, relaxing on white sand beaches, snorkel, wearing swimsuits and shorts, that’s what is expecting you if you choose to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Panama!

Try a snowman made in sand, taste fresh fish and seafood, get tanned on the beach, but not only.

You will be surprised by all the Panamanian traditions you will meet during this period!

One but not the least is the grapes’ tradition.

For the new year, Panamanians eat 12 grapes and count the total number of seeds to know which number is going to be their lucky number of the year.

Then, do not be surprised to catch people driving a suitcase by street (or in their house) around 12am. It’s a superstition which is supposed to make you travel during the year.

An other tradition is the “Muñeco”. Looking like a big doll, Panamanians build it (or buy it) for New Year. Made with papier-mâché and full of fireworks, Panamanians begin to set up the Muñeco in early December. They usually represent celebrities, public figures or politicians we heard about all year long and someone they normally do not like or do not care about. Creative way of taking a last look at a despised personality before making it exploded! Muñecos remain on display in front of Panamanians home throughout December before being blown up!

Let’s stay with fireworks… Panamanians are totally keen on fireworks! You are probably also used to it for New Year, but believe me, you are not prepared for Panamanian ones!
For Christmas and New Year, fireworks don’t only last few minutes, but few hours!!! So do not be scared if you hear the same noises for 2 hours, you are not becoming deaf, you are just celebrating as Panamanians do! It’s really common that a lot of families have their own fireworks! That’s why it never stops for hours…

You will also probably see people wearing red or yellow clothes. Red for love and yellow for a good luck throughout the year.

Also, Panamanians usually hang a bunch of oranges, rice, and wheat behind the front door, for prosperity, work, and health.

Of course, you will also enjoy typical Panamanian dishes as Arroz con guandù, Papa ensalada, Jamon and Pavo, Tomales, fresh Fish, rosca de pan, chichi de saril…

A real lush, authentic and original experience to live in Panama during this period!

 

 

 

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GAMBOA RAINFOREST AND APPC

By Juliette Darmon

Nature, wild animals, birds, rainforest, amazing views… What a beautiful day in Gamboa, less than one hour away from the city!

Asociación Panamericana para la conservación (APPC) center rescues threatened wild animals finding in the middle of the jungle to save, care and heal them all year long before putting them back in their territory.

The owner, his wife and all the volunteers are really devoted to their job, and they will explain you with commitment and passion what their work consists in and how do they help these animals, but also what happened to them, how do they live, and even some touching personal experiences.

You will learn why a sloth is that slow, but also that they can usually live 15 years in nature against only some weeks or months, in captivity!

You couldn’t touch these little lovely creatures in order to not scared them but you will be so close that it’s going to be the same! And as me, you will for sure, enjoy taking some selfies with sloths! You will also love meeting the famous and gorgeous jaguar Fiona, rescued at the age of 3 months!

Note bis: Some volunteer experiences are available at APPC Center.

Under a beautiful and hot sun, we have boarded on an aerial tram in the middle of jungle where we discovered and learned a lot about wildlife and nature with our guide.

We had the chance to see wild sloths grabbed to trees, impressive ants’ nests but also amazing views of the jungle and canal while we were going up.

Once up, like us, you will enjoy to climb on the Gamboa Tower and chill out for some time to admire this beautiful view!

End your day by three wonderful and rewarding exhibits.

One about orchids and gorgeous flowers and plants you could find in Panama. The guide will make you smell some herbs, and you will probably smell one which seems to be chicken…! Really weird for plants, but true story!

Then, enjoy looking at these little colored frogs in a private greenhouse. Definitely cute yes, but from far away! These little animals are indeed venomous and better not meeting them on your way.

To end, let’s discover this lovely and relaxing butterfly house. Hundreds butterflies were flying above our heads, and we could watch them feeding with some mixture especially prepared for them. Learn the process from their eggs to their transformation in butterfly.
It’s always so impressive to learn about how the Nature works and what she is able to do… Did you know that the butterfly lifetime is about one month? Did you also know that when a butterfly’s egg becomes black it means that it has been infected by another insect or mosquito which would have put some venom inside? And that this egg will actually become the insect or mosquito in question later on? Really fascinating…!

After this instructive and enjoying day, your driver will drop you off to your hotel in the city, and as us, you could take some time to look at your beautiful pictures of the day!

If you are staying in Gamboa Rainforest Resort try visit APPC.

For more information, contact us info@ecocircuitos.com

 

Las Perlas off the beaten track

by Carina Forster

A weekend-visit to the picturesque archipelago of Las Perlas astonished me in several ways. While Panama is lush with occasional rain showers during the green season, the islands of Las Perlas hardly see any rain throughout the whole year. Just after a 1,5 hour boat ride from Panama City, you find yourself in a climate and landscape completely distinct from the rest of the country.

The islands are characterized by dry vegetation and palm-fringed beaches, which are amongst the most beautiful ones I have seen throughout Panama, with incredibly white sand and blue waters. The underwater world is spectacular with colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, turtles and rays. Furthermore, the islands are a paradise for bird lovers with hundreds of migrating species passing by in spectacular formations. From May to October humpback whales can be seen on their way to warmer waters.

Instead of visiting the well-developed island of Contadora, we decided to check out its larger, less developed and more economical neighbor Saboga. Without a doubt the beaches being just as beautiful as on famous Contadora, Saboga offers some nice hiking treks and deserted beaches just for your own. For adventurers, the charming village offers authentic local food and simple accommodation behind the police station with a spectacular view over the bay.

We asked a local fisherman to take us to Bartolome Island in the morning, having the little island completely for ourselves before other people arrived at around 11. This white-sanded Robinson Crusoe Island is perfect for snorkeling, with beautiful coral reefs and large colorful fish. And like if it was not perfect enough already, a large group of dolphins accompanied our little boat on the way back.

EcoCircuitos Pride Tours

By:  Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

Over the years Panama has become a multi-cultural place, influenced by a variety of different world-powers. Today it is considered one of the most open-minded countries for gay people in Central America. Even though Panama is a religious catholic country and gay marriage is still not legal, people are generally accepting on a personal level. The constantly growing Gay Community in Panama is very welcoming and accessible. Since 2005, a Gay Pride Parade is held every year and the famous annual carnival on the Peninsula Azuero has become an adopted holiday for Panama’s gay population.

Nightlife is extensive in Panama City; there are several Gourmet Restaurants, Clubs and Bars where you can party until dawn. During the day time you can find a variety of beaches, forests, and historical sites along with many other interesting things to see. Panama offers a wide variety of gay friendly hotels at amazing destinations. Weather you seek for party, luxury, adventure, family trips or a romantic time with your partner, Panama is the place for you to go.

EcoCircuitos offers various LGBT tours and vacation options throughout Panama:

  • Adventure Tours
  • Honeymoon
  • Beach Retreats
  • Romantic Tours
  • Family Tours
  • Educational Tours

Join our tours!  and work with the family!

Meet our guides: Octavio Rios

octavio

Meet some of our guides. We are proud to work with of highly team of experience Panamanians guides. Our guides have training in different fields such as interpretation, leadership, knowledge and first aid. Also our team of guides are highly experience in the different tours that we offer and have different ares of specialization such as ornithology, botany, herpetology, history, culture and traditions, Canal history, etc. Those who do not have formal training have a lifetime of experience and are passionate about sharing their knowledge in the field with you. We also offer an annual training in best practice and natural history.

Octavio Rios is one of our senior birding guides with ample experience in different regions.  He grow up in the highlands of Chiriqui in Panama, an area surrounded by wildlife and national parks.  This must have influenced Octavio’s fascination of ecology and bird watching. He spent his elementary school in Panama, and during high school he divided his time between California and Panama. While studying tourism in college, Octavio worked for Scuba Panama and earned his first job at the Panama Canal Museum in 1999. His area of expertise is history and ecology, and he also has work with  cruise liners. He is also a member of the Panama Audubon Society and the founder of the Tourism Guide Association of Panama. After 13 years of experience, he is now performing as a Certified Interperter Guide, Cruise Director & Naturalist Guide.

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.