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.

 

 

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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.

 

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.   

Whale Watching in Panama: Eco Guidelines for a sustainable adventure

Awe-Ispiring . Amazing . Unforgetable

Observe these elegant giants of the Pacific Ocean during their migration season that goes from July till November. At just 40 miles south from Panama City you will enter a rich biological corridor home the Pearl Islands Archipelago. Observe these amazing creatures as they make there way to their favorite warm tropical waters to give birth to their calves. Join this once in a life time experience with EcoCircuitos Panama; we will guide you through the deep waters of the Panama Bay onward to the Pearl Islands in search for these magnificent mammals.  Other options available in Azuero Peninsula and the Gulf of Chiriqui.

Here is some important guidelines for whale watching:

  • Slowly approach Cetaceans sideways, never from front or rear.
  • Never cross the path of a Cetacean or a group of Cetaceans in the aim to anticipate their moves and facilitate a closer encounter: they will most probably feel chased and avoid you.
  • Slow down to “no-wake” speed, and maintain a steady direction. You will make them feel more secure, and the probability of a close encounter will be higher.
  • Never split a pod or group of Cetaceans.
  • Be aware of other boats in the surrondings. Dolphins and Whales should never feel encircled, and it is very sensible to leave the area if it happens to be already busy.
  • Be especially aware of the presence of mothers and calves, exactly as you would be in your intraspecific relations.
  • Never spend more than 20 minutes with Cetaceans, unless they want to spend a longer time with you.
  • Never feed cetaceans. You do not want to perturb their natural feeding habits, which may cause big problems in the long run.
  • Try to make as little noise as possible.
  • Be aware of possible signs of distress (see below), and leave at very low speed the area if you notice any.
  • Kindly discourage other people from putting a lot of pressure on the Skipper in the aim of making her/him get closer and closer (and finally too close) to Cetaceans. It sadly happens more often than one can imagine. The best Whale Watch Operators are the ones who are more sensible, not the ones who get closer. Moreover, the most sensible operators have often the best encounters.
  • If you swim with Cetaceans, do not try to touch them or get closer than they want you to. As important, check the local regulations before you get in the water with them. Most countries or states do not let people swim with Cetaceans.

EcoCircuitos realizes that has important environmental and social responsibilities in and out of the office.  We create memorable travel experiences in Panama’s natural history and cultural heritage.   Our office team and supplier ensure quality service, cultural sensitivity, local knowledge, innovation and social and environmental responsibility.  As travellers ourselves we believe giving something back is essential.  Therefore we work with our team, suppliers and customers to ensure that benefits will contribute directly to the communities we visit and their environment.

For more information and tour description please contact us info@ecocircuitos.com

Highlands Adventure in Mount Totumas Private Reserve

Located in Los Pozos Volcan at 6 miles up a scenic 4WD road. Enjoy a hiking adventure and superb birdwatching. Mount Totumas Cloud Forest is a 400 acre reserve bordering the La Amistad National Park. Guests can enjoy 8 marked trails through the reserve with access into the adjacent national park, which is Central America’s largest protected mountain wilderness area. Hot springs are also located nearby. In the Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve there are keystone species present such as Resplendent Quetzals, Three Wattled Bellbirds, Baird’s Tapir, Mantled Howler Monkey, Black and Crested Guan, White-Faced Capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, mountain lions, ocelots and even Jaguars have been spotted in neighboring national park.

Itineary

Day 1- Transfer In – 

Today at the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos representative will meet you at the Tocumen Airport to assist and transfer you to your hotel in Panama City. At this time you will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit. Hilton Double Tree/Tryp Albrook or similar, double room

Day 2- Chiriqui Highlands – Mount Totumas Private Cloud Forest Reserve

At the appropriate time you will be transferred to the Domestic Airport in Albrook for your flight to David (approximately 1 hour flight time), located in the Chiriquí Province west of Panama City. You will be met by an EcoCircuitos representative that will transfer you to the town of Volcan located to the west of Volcano Baru. Before beginning the next part of your adventure you have lunch at a local gourmet restaurant, Cerro Brujo. After lunch you will be met by your local host to begin your journey to Mount Totumas, it will take you at least 2 hours to reach your destination nestled in the middle of a 400 acre private reserve First you will proceed on paved road to a windy dirt road crossing small streams until the final kilometers where you will go up a 4WD road to reach your destination. Admire the views from road and keep your eyes out for wildlife. Once you arrive you will learn about the lodge and go for a short afternoon hike to get oriented with the reserve. Overnight at Mount Totumas, Bell Bird Lodge Room (B, L, D)

Day 3 – 4 Mount Totumas Private Cloud Forest Reserve

Enjoy the area at your leisure. You will have the opportunity to go on guided hikes in search of wildlife and to enjoy the untouched fauna or sit back and relax on the deck overlooking the valley as humming birds buzz by. Mount Totumas, Bell Bird Lodge Room (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Chiriqui Highlands – Boquete

Early in the morning after breakfast you will be transferred back to the town of Volcan where you will be met by an EcoCircuitos representative who will transfer you to the charming mountainous town of Boquete, known for its pleasant climate, coffee, adventure tourism and much more! Boquete Garden Inn/Riverside Inn/Finca Lerida or similar, double room. Optional tours available: rafting, canopy zip line, hot springs, spa treatments, hiking, birding, amongst other options. (B)

Day 6 – Coffee Tour

In Boquete you have the unique opportunity to visit a coffee plantation and learn about the process of coffee. Our guide will explain the whole process from the picking by the Ngobe Bugle Indians to the cup while you walk the coffee fields and learn about the coffee plants and how the coffee beans are harvested and processed. We will tour one of the local farms in Boquete where you will be able to admire a clean and modern environmental processing plant. The tour ends in the romantic coffee cupping room in the old mill, where we will taste and cup the product of all the work and Craftsman ship. Boquete Garden Inn/Riverside Inn/Finca Lerida or similar, double room. (B)

Day 7 – Morning Hike – Return to Panama City

In the morning after breakfast you will be met by your guide for your morning hike. You will hike through the unspoiled forest where you will experience the cloud forest and you will have the opportunity to the amazing flora and fauna of the area. You will see ancient trees covered with moss, epiphytic plants and orchids. As well, you will enjoy spotting birds such as: Orange-bellied Trogon, Three-wattled Bellbird, Black Guan, Hairy Woodpecker, Buff-fronted Quail Dove and the Resplendent Quetzal.

After you hike you will be transferred to the David Airport for your flight to Panama City. Upon your arrival you will be met by an EcoCircuitos representative that will transfer you to your hotel in the City. Hilton Double Tree/Tryp Albrook or similar, double room (B)

Day 8 – Transfer Out

At the appropriate time you will be transferred to the Tocumen International Airport for your outbound flight. You will arrive at the airport approximately 2 hours before your departure time. Note: customers will be picked up 3 hours before their flight time.

Army Ant

One of the most interesting ants of the tropics are the army ants, which march through the rainforest with the sole intent of devouring small creatures within minutes, turning them into carcasses.  The army is like a wolf pack, but with thousands of miniature creatures of prey merging and uniting to form one great living organism.  Army ants´ jaws are so potent, Indians once used them to suture wounds.  The determined insect was held over a cut and its body squeezed so that its jaws intuitively shut, clamping the flesh together.  The body was then pinched off and the wound left to heal.

Another feature is that, unlike most ant species, army ants do not construct permanent nests; an army ant colony moves almost incessantly over the time it exists. All species are members of the true ant family, Formicidae, but several groups have independently evolved the same basic behavioral and ecological syndrome. This syndrome is often referred to as “legionary behavior”, and is an example of convergent evolution.