Hot Pick: SkyWalk in the Highlands

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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.   

New Tour: Night walk the Soberania National Park

Experience the thrilling of the rainforest at night! Use your flashlight, and with the direction of our naturalist specialize guide, you will uncover the nocturnal wildlife and their habitats of the tropical rainforest.  We will hike the Soberania National park towards the Rainforest Discovery Center and will walk around the different trails of the area in search for frogs, bats, insects, kinkajous and other surprises of this secreted, nocturnal world.

Medium walk, some hills. 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Minimum 4 people: $95.00 per person

Zip Line Tours in Panama and Canopy Adventures

Experience one of amazing eco-adventures in Panama:  Canopy Zip Line Tours or Canopy Adventures.  A Zip Line Tour or Canopy Tour is an established route through a wooded and often mountainous landscape making primary use of zip-lines and aerial platforms built in trees.    You will be harnessed to a super resistant steel cable without interruption throughout the entire tour for safety.  Although canopy tours date back far back into history for their civil use and even scientific they are now used primarily for recreation and fun and have become part of the adventure tourism industry in Panama.

In Panama we offer different options and areas for this exciting adventure.  Enjoy the view from above while taking in waterfalls and spotting birdlife amongst the surrounding trees. Our professional guides will assure the safety of each group and point out interesting facts along the way.   This is also a great tour and experience for team building and corporate events.

Our recommendation:  the highlands of Boquete – Boquete Tree Trek: this adventrue involve walking, mostly downhill.  This breathtaking 3.5 kilometers journey takes thrill seekers to 14 different platforms via 12 zip lines while flying through the jungle canopy. Suspended by sturdy harnesses, riders are whisked along the cables and they travel from one platform to the next, from where they can watch cascades, the magnificent Volcan Baru and exotic birds.  Times: 08:00 a.m. y 1:00 p.m. Minimun age: 5 años Duration: 4 hours.  The adventure allows the brave at heart to experience the heights of the rainforest treetops while marveling at the beautiful scenery below. This is one of the top activities in Boquete and an incredible experience to enjoy while visiting the highlands!  Departure Times:  8.00AM and 1.00PM

El Valle de Anton – Canopy Adventure:  This was the first zip line tour in Panama and it offers 5 platforms.  This adventure also involve moderate hiking, mostly uphill.   Departure:  Everyday until 5.00PM.  Reservations recommended.

Bocas del ToroBastimentos Sky Canopy Tour: with 7 ziplines and 13 platforms.  This is amazing as goes to 150 feet high and up to 1000 foot long zips.   Departure times from Kayukos Restaurant: 10am, 1pm & 3:30pm

Colón in Portobello – Panama Outdoor Adventures

A must for bird lovers: The great Panama birding tour

Are you a bird watcher? Do you want to see the very best of Panama’s almost 1000 bird species? Then make the most of it with this amazing new bird watching tour:

When you arrive to Panama City you will be comfortably housed at the Country Inn and Suites Amador out on the Causeway, where more than 40 shore birds are waiting to be spotted by you as soon as you have checked in and dropped your bags.
And yet, you are still in Panama City! Take a day to explore the Causeway and its feathered inhabitants, while looking out over the Pacific towards the Skyline of Panama City. The next days will be busy:

You start off on your third day in Panama with a visit to Metropolitan National Park.
Situated only 15 minutes from downtown Panama City, it is the most accessible rainforest in the region and the only tropical forest in Latin America located inside a major urban center. The Park is characterized by the increasingly rare dry lowland pacific forest and is home of the Two- and Three-toed Sloth as well as over 200 bird species. Take your time spotting and identifying them with your specialist guide, who will accompany you for the expedition.

To give your spotter’s guide no rest, you will spend your next nights at Canopy Tower Lodge in the rainforest of Soberania Park. With bedrooms at treetop level and a viewing platform atop the tower, you cannot possibly miss sighting a variety of birds, among them Blue Cotingas and Green Shrike-Vireos, while you are still having your morning coffee.
soberania national park
Continue the next day to Panama’s Pipeline Road, where the Audubon Society once spotted 300 species of birds in a single day – one of the best birding spots in the world. Located in the Panama Canal watershed, this former US military access road takes you into old growth secondary forest, ideal for the observation of flora and fauna from the Pacific and Caribbean slopes. The tour begins with a preparatory talk about the geography and animal life of the Panama Canal areas by your expert guide. Soon you will be enjoying an easy walk under the forest canopy into a veritable bird sanctuary. Keep your binoculars at the ready!

For day five, get ready to explore Plantation Road in Soberania National Park. This road was the first paved road that went into the interior of the country during the time of the cocoa plantations. Thie trail is approximately 4.8 kilometers long and connects with the famous Camino de las Cruces Trail that was used to transport riches from South America. Some of the typical birds that may be observed are Tinamous, leaftossers, Golden-crowned Spadebills, White-breasted Wood-Wrens, Spotted, Bicolored and Ocellated Antbirds, Gray-headed Tanagers, and Plain-brown, Northern Barred and Ruddy Woodcreepers, and Hook-billed Kite.

As you have now thoroughly explored Soberania national park, the following day it is time to visit San Lorenzo, on the Atlantic side of Panama, taking one of the most scenic drives in central Panama. From the road you will be able to see remnants of the old sea level French Canal, drive through wooded hills and will be able to reach the Gatun Locks. The woodland along the road is noted for Trogons, Motmots and numerous other forest and woodland birds. Then head to Achiote Road and hike the CEASPA new trail for other species such as White-headed and Stripe-breasted Wrens and Montezuma Oropendolas among others. Return in the evening for your last night’s stay in Canopy tower.
Rise early the next day for your journey to El Valle, where you get comfortably accommodated at Canopy Lodge, Canopy Tower’s sister Lodge in the mountains.
Here, each day is pleasantly cool early and late, and pleasantly warm mid-day. The habitats are varied, the birds diverse and numerous, the accommodations extremely comfortable and tastefully appointed, and the food tasty and creative. The Lodge serves as a splendid base for birding and makes for a perfect tour for spouses who might be “lite” birders.
Still missing Tody Motmot or Rosy Thrush-Tanager on your spotting list? Or how about Black-crowned Antpitta or Rufous-browed Tyrannulet? Your chances are good to find them here as you explore with your guide around the Lodge.

Canopy-Lodge-(12)-Panama-29

Sleep in the next morning, then stroll on your own to bird a waterfall area behind the Lodge known as Chorro de Macho. With some luck, you may find a roosting Mottled Owl to make today’s top spotted bird.

A short distance from the Lodge, the Cerro Gaital Trail begins at the main road in La Mesa. This area is protected as part of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. So rise early on day 10 to make sure you get to see it all: Leading through prime cloud forest habitat, the trail starts out flat and wide. This first portion of the trail is often very birdy, with foraging flocks of tanagers and other species. Flowering trees along the trail attract Green-crowned Brilliant and the occasional Green Thorntail among the more common hummingbird species. The next portion of trail ascends more steeply and deeper into the cloud forest. Purplish-backed Quail-Doves are often heard calling and it is also where the first Common Bush-Tanagers are often spotted. Higher up, the trail levels out again and weaves through excellent cloud forest habitat. Here we will be watching for Black Guan, White-ruffed Manakin, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, and even Blue Seedeater in addition to other species. Rarities here include Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted Barbtail, and Black-headed Antthrush. Managing to see just a couple of these would be a real feat. This area can be good for Barred Hawk and Red-shouldered Parrotlet.
In the late afternoon you will return to Panama City.

Your final visit on this tour will be to Birders View, a famous birding spot with imposing views of the Chagres National Park. The gardens and feeders attract a variety of colorful tanagers, such as Bay-headed Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Rufous-winged Tanager and Speckled Tanager. Hummingbirds include: Bronzed-Tailed Plummeteer (A hummer with pink feet), Violet-capped Hummingbird and the sought after Rufous-crested Coquette.
Spend your last night at the Country Inn and Suites on the Causeway again, before being transferred to the airport the next day for your flight home.

Birds of Panama, check list.  click here

Interested? Click here for more info or to ask questions

Did you know the Shining Honeycreeper?

The Shining Honeycreeper is a small bird in the tanager family. It is found in the tropical New World in Central America from southern Mexico to Panama and northwest Colombia. It is sometimes considered to be conspecific with the Purple Hon eycreeper, but the two species breed sympatrically in eastern Panama and northwest Colombia.

This is a forest canopy species, but also occurs in forest edges and secondary growth. The female builds a shallow cup nest in a tree, and incubates the clutch of two eggs.
The Shining Honeycreeper is 10 cm long, weighs 11 g and has a long black decurved bill. The male is purple-blue with black wings, tail and throat, and bright yellow legs. The female has green upperparts, a greenish-blue head, buff throat and buff-streaked bluish underparts. The immature is similar to the female, but is greener on the head and breast.
For birding itineraries and day tours contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

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