Study Abroad in Panama, The Isthmus that Changed the World

Despite its small size, Panama is one of the most biodiverse places in the world with more plant species than in all of Europe.  In vast contrast to the modern lifestyle of Panama City, large parts of the countryside are to a large extent still undeveloped. Deep in the rainforests, hidden in the highlands and cast-away on tiny little islands, there are unique cultures in Panama, who keep their traditions and customs and some living in autonomous regions. On our academic programs you will dive into our cultures and explore our amazing Isthmus.

EcoCircuitos Tour Operator has been conducting academic travel programs in Panama since 2003 promoting Adventure, Conservation and Education with different international partners as Hannover College, who visited recently to learn about Panamanian music, folk craft, dance as they meet with artisans working to preserve the local culture in Guararé, Panamá.

The variety of outdoor and cultural activities provides endless possibilities to experience academic programs in panama.  Nature lovers will find challenges on the various trails winding through mountains, rain forests, and indigenous communities. The spectacular  coastline support an underwater ecology and a diverse landscape. While our unique cultural heritage will transport to ancient times.  The most cosmopolitan capital in Central America will offer you a wide variety of attractions and the unique colonial neighborhood Casco Viejo.

For more information on our academic programs, please contact Annie Young at annie@ecocircuitos.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Academic Travel in Panama: The Isthmus that Changed the world

Recently the Hanover College students participated on a Cross-Cultural Communication tour in Panama City, where they learn about Panamanian history and its culturally diverse society.   EcoCircuitos Panama organize the program under our motto:  Adventure, Conservation and Education.

In the video the EcoCircuitos Tour guide and staff leading the tour on an amazing week where history, interpretation, new discoveries, new friends and fun where part of the daily activities.

 

Video courtesy of Hannover Students.

 

Contact us if you are interested in Academic and Educational Travel adventures and want your students to gain a deeper understanding of Panama’s history, ecological and environmental culture.   For details:  annie@ecocircuitos.com

Unesco recognizes the real Panama Hat

LA PINTADA, Panama (AP) — Cultural authorities at UNESCO have recognized the artisans of Panama for their distinctive woven hats. No, not those hats; the famed “Panama hat” comes from Ecuador.

Panama’s real contribution to the world’s hat heritage is the pintao, or painted hat, handmade from five different plants and a dose of swamp mud.

Production of the circular-brimmed hats is still a family affair carried out on a household scale. The industry’s center is La Pintada, a district about 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Panama City.

“They don’t have anything (artificial), no machinery; no factory as such exists here in La Pintada,” said Reinaldo Quiros, a well-known artisan, and designer who sells hats out of his home. “Each artisan in his own home makes the hats maintaining the techniques taught by his ancestors.”

The widely known “Panama hat” is a brimmed hat traditionally made in Ecuador from the straw of the South American toquilla palm plant. The hats are thought to have earned their misleading name because many were sold in nearby Panama to prospectors traveling through that country to California during the Gold Rush.

Artisans of the truly Panamanian pintao hat start with the fibers of several plants that are cured and then woven into braids that are wrapped around a wooden form and sewn together from the crown of the hat down.

Pasion Gutierrez, 81, grows some of the plants around his house in El Jaguito outside La Pintada, while others are found high in the mountains. Gutierrez, his wife Anazaria and several of their children and grandchildren make pintaos.  His eyesight doesn’t allow him to do the fine needlework anymore, but he harvests, prepares and braids the fibers.

On a recent day, Gutierrez said he’d gone out the night before to cut agave leaves because they believe the quality of the fibers is best when harvested under a full moon.

“It’s no good with a new moon,” he said.

Several bands of fiber are dyed black with the leaves from a different plant and then stuck in mud for three days. The fibers are woven into fine geometric designs and integrated into the hat giving it its name.

“The pintao hat has become an integral part of regional outfits throughout the country worn during traditional dances and community festivities,” the United Nations’ heritage arm’s statement said.

Depending on the quality of the work some pintao hats can cost hundreds of dollars. Authorities estimate that 4,000 of La Pintada’s 25,000 residents work creating or selling the hats.

Pedro Mendoza, a 50-year-old hat maker, hopes that the UNESCO recognition takes the pintao hat beyond the country’s borders.

“It’s really good what’s happened,” he said. “The hat for us is a way of life.”

Original article:  https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/unesco-recognizes-panamas-hat/4180101.html 

Why Travel with EcoCircuitos on your next trip to Panama?

Traveling with EcoCircuitos Panama is the best way to know our amazing country.  We are able to negotiate much better rates at hotels and in off season we offer amazing discounts.  Also, we are a local team of enthusiasts that have the best inside knowledge of the top places, lodges, and adventures while in Panama.   We want you to have a real transformative and authentic experience, not just a tour!

Our company was founded in 1999 by a passionate Panamanian woman that love her country and her people and has been committed to the development of sustainable tourism, providing distinct responsible travel options throughout the Republic of Panama. Our team is comprised of multi-lingual travel experts and enthusiasts that ensure our clients are provided with high-quality services and memorable custom made adventures.

We pride ourselves on our reputation for delivering exceptional travel experiences and we have compiled an 8 simple list of reasons why you should choose us on your next vacation to Panama.

  1. Value for Money:  From the moment of your booking request to your departure, every single step of your journey is attended by local specialists to ensure an authentic travel experience.
  2. Tailor made for you:  Our team of Panama experts designs your itinerary personalized for you and depending on your preferences and the time and budget you want to spend.
  3. IN-depth insights: Gain a holistic understanding of culture, architecture, history, nature, and wildlife with our specialist local guides who are experts in the field.
  4. Local passion: We are Panamanians and travel enthusiasts.  Our vacation programs are designed base upon our own discoveries and favorite places.  We believe in offering authentic experiences by local’s experts.  We want you to experience the real Panama!
  5. Responsible Traveling: Our philosophy is to approach each destination carefully, considering the impact that our tours will have on the environment and the local communities.
  6. Safety & Trust: EcoCircuitos has a Health and Safety policy in place, which is communicated to all staff members, guides, drivers, and subcontractors.   All our vehicles meet all local safety/maintenance standards.  Also, we go beyond and carry a liability insurance of 500K.
  7. Flexibility and Logistics: Using EcoCircuitos give you the flexibility to enjoy fully your vacation.  We will deal with all communications, logistics and will take away all the hassle from you.  You only get to sit back and enjoy Panama.
  8. Unique Destinations: We love exploring unusual places away from common tourist paths:  lush rainforest, archeological sites, beautiful islands and amazing local communities.  You will experience always something new!

Safety & Packing Tips for The Darien

Your trip in Darien is going to be very exciting and you will be impressed about the nature and the animals you will see in the rainforest of the most unexplored, and wildest area of Panama. Anyway, there are some safety instructions you need to follow in order to keep safe and make your adventure through the Darien unforgettable, and also some packing list to make your trip as comfortable as possible!

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1- Follow your guide: Don’t ever leave the path or be too far away from your EcoCircuitos guide. Your guide knows perfectly where you can and where you should NOT go. Losing your guide can be very dangerous as you won’t have any signal in the rainforest and the nature/wildlife can be very mean to you!

2- Don’t touch any animals or plants you don’t know:  It might sound like a parental care, but it is really important that you don’t touch any kind of animals or plants you’ve never seen, firstly because you want to conserve the nature, and secondly because you don’t want to get in danger because of poisonous animals, insects or plants.

3- Bring GOOD hiking shoesI mean, you can certainly bring your tennis shoes. But then you’ll just be sliding like an ice skater and falling in the mud the whole time (Unfortunately I know what I’m talking about). So be sure to have good hiking shoes and maybe also a walking stick (It is really helpful, trust me!)

4- M-O-S-Q-U-I-T-O R-E-P-E-L-L-E-N-T:  Yes, mosquitos are mean. Very mean. Because once you arrive in the Darien you could think they just waited exactly for YOU. You will be like fresh meat for them so this is a tip that comes from the bottom of my heart: Do not forget your (strong) mosquito repellent!

5 – Bring a good backpack (not too heavy) 65 liters and a waterproof bag: You will be carrying your bag so think ahead of which one is best for you.

6 – Bottle water (3 litres of water)  – We will provide you with more water but we suggest to bring you own bottle.

7- Bring a headlamp!  You will probably get the chance to hike through the jungle during the night, which is an incredible experience, and also in order to see different kind of animals you won’t see during the day, so be sure you bring your headlight! It will also be very helpful at in your tent once you will get your rest in the middle of the rainforest!  My favorite brand is Petzl.

8- Leave electronical stuff you don’t need at home:  Come on, you came to the Darien to feel the wildlife and listen to the sounds of nature. Just leave your headphones and your speakers at home for the time you’ll be in the Darien, you will appreciate it, and especially the animals will!

9- Bring your waterproof jacket and pants – or fast drying clothes:  Either you bring your waterproof jacket or fast drying clothes – the second option is better, because you will get wet anyways, as it starts to rain probably every ten minutes (no surprise, you’re in a rainforest). Anyway make sure you bring a waterproof bag or something to cover your backpack in order to have your documents dry and some dry clothes for when you’re going to sleep!

10- Don’t forget your camera and extra batteries:  if you enjoy nature photography you will have the best chances  to see beautiful animals, insects and plants. So if you want to have all of it captured, go for it! If you want to travel lightly and your personal memory is better than the one in the camera, leave it at home.

11- Bring enough water and some snacks:  You will be in the middle of the rainforest, so forget about little shops around the corner. Bring enough water to keep hydrated and some snacks for the emergency hunger. Protein or granola bars are a good option!

12- Bring some cash:  you may want to buy a handcraft from master artisans in communities you will visit.

13.  If you prefer, you can bring your camping hammock check:  http://www.cleverhiker.com/best-backpacking-hammocks/

But remember, take all the trash back with you, and only leave your footprint!

Those are the most important things you should consider if you’re planning to go to the Darien. Remember that it is not possible to go by your own, as the area could be dangerous and there is no infrastructure that would make it possible. Please always remember that you will be in a place of virgin nature, where there is no contamination. It is one of the few places in the earth that is still well preserved, so please be responsible and respect the environment. The Darien is definitely a hidden treasure in Panama, enjoy it and only leave you footprint!

Another fellow adventure has share with us a link with a packing tips and list.  Click here

EcoCircuitos is specialized in adventures in the Darien and organizes unforgettable trips to this breathtaking Region. Contact us info@ecocircuitos.com!

 

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.

Adventure, Conservation and Education

EcoCircuitos is specialized in educational travel experiences. Our guides are experts in their field and provide in-depth insights and understandings from culture and history to biodiversity. These understandings foster authentic travel experiences as well as responsible encounters between travelers and nature, biodiversity and local people. Contact us and experience the real #Panama.