My Internship At EcoCircuitos

By Rafaelle Capamolla

Time flies, and so did my time here in Panama. I remember like it was yesterday, when I arrived the 16th of January 2017 to this beautiful country. The 6th of February then started a new chapter in my life: my internship with EcoCircuitos for 6 months.

 

 

Of course, at the beginning it’s a little challenge: You come to a new country, with a different culture, and when you arrive you don’t know anybody. It’s not like when you travel and you just stay for a couple of days in the same place. You live the same way, take the same bus, and eat the same thing as the local people, for a longer period of time. And this is in fact an adventure, and you have to be willing to change your habits and adapt to new cultures. I didn’t have issues with that, and as Panamanians are very friendly and helpful, it was even easier.

My experience with EcoCircuitos was very enriching and I enjoyed very much working for this great company. I could develop new skills and learn a lot about the tourism industry and the work of a local Tour Operator. EcoCircuitos also gave me the chance to bring my own ideas, to show creativity and to manage Marketing campaigns on my own. In a small Company you get the chance to see and work directly with all the departments Accounting, Reservations, Sales and Operations, from which I learned a lot for my future career too. The fact that EcoCircuitos gave me the chance to explore this beautiful country made my internship even more exciting.

As I had the chance to travel with EcoCircuitos, I can really say that you don’t simply offer vacations, but experiences, memories that will stay in your heart forever, encounters with local and indigenous people that made me feel at home, sharing the living and culinary traditions. The whole team and the local guides put so much passion and authenticity in the work their doing, that I really feel like I am taking a piece of Panama with me to Switzerland.

Thank you very much EcoCircuitos for this opportunity and the great experience, you will definitely stay in my heart!

 

 

 

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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 NikeFREE’s. 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.

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!

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.

Our Latest Darien Jungle Expedition

Experience with a local team of expert guides a unique jungle adventure in Panama. Our Darien Expedition is a 5 days adventure that starts in Panama City where we will take the Pan- American Highway towards the eastern side of the of Panama to the world famous forest of the Darien National Park.

This National Park of 579,000 ha (1,400,000 acres) is situated in the eastern part of the country, bordering on Colombia and is the largest protected nature area of Central America and the Caribbean. Its prodigious nature includes mountain ranges reaching 2,500 m (7,500 ft),  wide range of habitats: sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, freshwater marshes, palm forest swamps and lowland and upland moist tropical forest.   Wetland forest along the Chucunaque and Tuira rivers is often covered by pure stands of cativo, this species being the most utilized timber tree in the region, and mangroves along the Pacific coast.    Also Darien contains a Premontane and montane forests, with several types of botanically interesting ecosystem including cloud forest and the elfin forest of Cerro Pirre.

Darien National park is home  of many extraordinary plant species that are unique in the world as well as some amazing beautiful animals, like the Jaguar (Felis Onca) and the Harpy Eagle (Harpia Harpyja).

This park is an adventure site that can give you unforgettable memories and experiences. The forest offers activities bird watching, hiking and jungle trekking, wildlife observation, 4 x 4 expeditions and boat trips on the river. The local communities of the Emberá and Wounan will share their wisdom, culture and traditions with the visitors.

For complete itinerary and details, please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com  or our partner wholesalers

Educational and Academic tours

What is Authenticity?

Take as an example a photo you took of an indigenous woman in colorful clothes during your travels and imagine looking at it at home. Imagine knowing this woman’s story, having experienced her every-day life and the beauty of her culture and traditions. Imagine the difference it would make, if you would have taken the photo just when seeing this woman on the street on coincidence, without knowing anything about her. The only thing you would personally take out of this encounter is a nice photo, without the possibility of broadening your mind and knowledge.

The key in an authentic travel experience lies in interpretation and interaction. There is a difference between seeing something and understanding something, not only with cultural encounters, but also with wildlife watching, bird viewing or walking through an unknown ecosystem.

EcoCircuitos Academic Tours

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.

With being one of the most biodiverse places on earth, Panama hosts world-class biological and geological experiences. With its numerous indigenous communities, colonial towns, ancient ruins and the Panama Canal, the Isthmus it is also a top-spot for historians, anthropologists and architecture lovers. What is less known, is Panama’s extensive art scene; from numerous galleries in the capital, Afro-Caribbean remains and indigenous handicrafts to artisans dating back to colonial times.

Biodiversity Tour San Edwards University

Last week, our expert guide Fabio Trujillo led the Biology class of San Edwards University from Texas on their Academic trip through Panama for 15 days. The excursion started in the rainforest area around Panama City, continued to the cloud forest-covered highlands of Chiriqui and ended in the Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro. With a focus on interpretation, the students gained holistic understandings of the different ecosystems, without losing the fun-factor through outdoor adventures like zip lining and snorkeling.

 

 

Re-Discovering Colon Province

By Carina Forster

The low season is here!   the time when the EcoCircuitos team explores the regions of beautiful Panama, looking for new exciting activities, tasty restaurants and nice hotels to use in our programs. All departments are working together, developing ideas and creating new exciting itineraries to our favorite places in Panama. Yesterday we explored beautiful Colon region, with its laid-back Caribbean flair, deep rainforests and colorful towns full of pirates and buccaneers history.

Crossing the country in the early morning by train, our way led along the Panama Canal from Panama City on the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean town of Colon. We quickly forgot the early hours with breathtaking views of lush rainforest, the Panama Canal and jungle lakes covered in mystic morning fog.

Being picked up by our EcoCircuitos driver Roberto at the train station in Colon, we started our road trip along the palm-fringed coast line to the colorful town of Portobelo. The charming little village does not only offer incredible history, with once being one of the most important ports in the Caribbean Sea, but surprises with lovely remains of African culture in form of Congo dances and expressive pieces of art next to lush rainforest adventures and superb snorkeling.

Every team member has his or her own preferences and opinions; however, when it came to the Arrecifes restaurant we discovered in the town of Colon, everyone was just as excited about the delicious typical fresh seafood lunch offered next to an extensive view of the Panama Canal.

To continue our road trip deep into the jungle to the Fort of San Lorenzo, we waited for a spot between large container ships to cross the Panama Canal by ferry. Following a romantic wild road surrounded by lush rainforest, we let monkeys, birds and coatimundis cross the street. The fortress of San Lorenzo lies on the edge of steep cliffs, overlooking the surrounding coast lines with abandoned beaches and wild rainforest as far as your eyes can reach.

After a successful day of collecting inspirations, testing logistics and forming partnerships, the creative part starts, with using our experiences and ideas for developing unique brand-new itineraries.

New Coffee Farm: Finca Ceriana

Strategically located between the highlands and lowlands of Chiriquí, Finca Ceriana forms part of a privately protected area for the conservation of flora and fauna in the region.

One of Finca Ceriana’s unique characteristics is the number of bird species and other animals from the upper and lower mountain areas. The property is part of the biological corridor that hosts the famous volcano lagoons and a large variety of animal and plant species. Apart from being an important migration zone for birds, the biological corridor of the lagoons and Finca Ceriana is vital for the wellbeing of the protected areas of La Amistad International Park and Baru Volcano National Park. 

The farm offers its visitors easy nature trails for outdoor activities and particularly bird watching, a unique canopy tower, gourmet picnic, sugar cane mill and much more. The total area counts 10 hectares of protected land and nearly 3 kilometers of nature trails, in addition to one of the most beautiful views to Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce and Osa peninsula as well as to Punta Burica in Panama.