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!

 

 

 

AgroTourism in Panama

Agrotourism or Rural tourism is becoming more popular and an international trend among sustainable travelers.  This type of tourism promotes cultural, historical, adventure and ecological activities and provide an understanding of the countryside heritage and a closer look at local towns, communities, local campesinos and indigenous groups that use farming as a way of life.     For travelers who are seeking a real rural experience and who want a “hands on” experience, this is the adventure for you.    The ‘Fincas’ offer you a natural space, outside of the cosmopolitan city, and delicious, natural and especially organic products.  Panama has great spots for those who want to experience the great outdoors and the healthy living of the countryside farmers.

We started in the cosmopolitan Panama City and head for the interior, where we will learn about the rice fields, poultry and porcine farms.  We also made our first agrotourism stop on the same day: a visit to La Granja Turistica San Judas Tadeo  in Chorrera a farm near the City that aims to teach visitors the best ways to make good use of animal  farms and essential crops of basic consumption and the  benefit  for the local economy. From here we will head to a beautiful circuit combining the Pacific, highlands, Caribbean and more.  In Panama, exist more than 35 licensed farms that offer basic accommodation, and agricultural activities for recreation and visitor learning.  Most rural tourism sites are located in Colón, Capira, La Chorrera, Coclé, Azuero and  Chiriquí.

Why we like rural and agro tourism vacations?   Because being truly sustainable!   The communities you visit helps sustain and develop the village for future generations.   Also Agrotourism is an activity  that helps a person understand and appreciate the land and the people who live on it.  This is the best way to meet with locals  in their natural environments and become more involved with the land they are visiting.

In Panama, exist more than 35 licensed farms that offer basic accommodation, and agricultural activities for recreation and visitor learning.  Most rural tourism sites are located in Colón, Capira, La Chorrera, Coclé, and  Chiriquí.

 

PINEAPPLE FARMS

The sweetest Pineapples of the world are from Panama! For example, Verba Odrec, located in Chorrera, is a local family farm, committed to responsible practices and minimizing pesticide and quality of our pinapples in every box. Visiting this farm is an incredible experience where you will learn everything about the growing of pineapples, and of course also tasting it.

COFFEE FARMS

Panama produces one of the best coffees in the world. If you’re a real coffee-lover, and ever wondered how coffee is made, Finca Lerida, a coffee farm which also offers accommodation is the place to go. You will learn about the history, origin, qualities and secrets of coffee handling directly in an ecological reserve! It is located in Boquete, in the highlands of the province of Chiriqui, which offers a perfect climatic condition to produce high quality coffee.

HONEY FARMS

Honey? In Panama? YES! In the province of Chiriqui you will find farms that produce excellent sweet honey. The honey that ‘Boquetebees’ produces is bioactive and minimally filtered. This incredible farm is committed to educate and increase the understanding of the importance of bees to sustainable biodiverse ecosystems.

EcoCircuitos Panama is specialized in sustainable tourism and tailor-made tours through the beautiful country of Panama. There are much more fincas to discover! Contact us and let us create your agricultural experience! info@ecocircuitos.com or visit www.ecocircuitos.com

 

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!

IMG_5875

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!

 

An Interview with Smithsonian Entomologist: Yves Basset

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama is dedicated to understanding and studying the unique biodiversity of the tropics. STRI’s history  began with the construction of the Panama Canal and the  interest in surveying the flora and fauna of the area for the purpose of controlling insect diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. After the Canal began operating, entomologists and biologists involved in these studies establish a permanent biological reserve on Barro Colorado Island which is located in the Gatun Lake.  Today, STRI is one of the leading research institutions in the world. Every year over 900 scientist from academic and research institutions  from all over the world visit the STRI facilities to conduct scientific research and studies.

Today we had the opportunity to interview one of the prominent entomologist in the world who has his base in Panama City.  Doctor Yves Basset talk to EcoCircuitos Panama team about his work with the tropical ecosystems and the importance of tourism and conservation to protect the tropical environment.  Learn more about his work on this very interesting EcoVideo.

EcoCircuitos promotes conservation and education through the tourism industry.   For more information about our academic adventures, contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

Boquete: A must-visit place in Panama

By Raffaelle Capamolla, intern

Have you already been to Boquete? If you are in Panama, this is a place you must visit! Boquete is the town, where Panama’s greatest coffee comes from. The many Coffee farmers produce and export one of the world’s best coffee. Of course, the small town is not a producer of big Volume, but definitely of great quality, such as the Geisha coffee.

Surrounded by the central mountain range and the Barú Volcano, it is also the place in Panama, where you’ll find cooler temperatures, compared to the rest of the country.  It is in fact an ideal place for people escaping the hot and humid weather in the lowlands.

You will even find fresh strawberries and savor many different types of honey! Boquete is just different to the rest of Panama. Nationals and Travelers from all around the world also come every year to assist to its main attraction, the Festival of Flowers and Coffee.

Not only the great fresh climate, the flowers, finest coffee, fruits and beautiful surrounding make this town unique, but especially the friendliness of the people living in this charming place. The people will let you feel at home and are very helpful!

If you plan to hike the Quetzal Trail and admire the resplendent Quetzal bird, or to hike to the top of Volcan Barú, Panama’s highest point, where you’ll have an amazing view over the pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, Boquete is a great hub to overnight. You can stay in Hotels, hostels, ecolodges, or even in a coffee farm. Imagine waking up to a cup of locally grown, roasted and ground coffee!

Boquete is a great spot for Adventurers from all ages: You practice do Zip Line, Biking, White Water Rafting, horse back riding, rock climbing, trekking, camping and much more! Of course Boquete is great for taking it easy too, and just let your traveling companions do the adventuring.

EcoCircuitos is your local expert when it comes to real experiences in Boquete. We’ve been exploring the area for many years, so whether coffee tours, guided hikings, birdwatching or tailor-made tours, we would love to organize an unforgettable trip for you!

Contact annie@ecocircuitos.com and visit our website http://www.ecocircuitos.com

 

 

 

Top 6 Reasons to travel to Panama during Green Season

Panama is worth seeing throughout the year! Not only the dry season is a good time to travel to the Isthmus, the wet and green season could be the best time to explore and enjoy different outdoor activities with less people and better prices.

Some of the reasons to visit Panama during the green season:

  1. Fewer Tourist walking the streets of Casco Viejo.  You can enjoy more time on the attractions without the crowds, have a reservation at one of the best rooftops restaurants and enjoy the beauty of this UNESCO site just for you.
  2. Lush nature in national parks and tropical fruits.  The green season is the best time to go hiking, wildlife observation or just trekking  in our national parks.  It is the time for the flowers, the birds and beautiful plants.   It is also the time for many of our tropical fruits, so get ready to taste new flavors!
  3. More water for paddling in river, kayaking and water sports.  If you are like me and enjoy paddling,  the green season is the best time for learning SUP or going kayaking in many places around Panama.
  4. Surf and Whale watching season.  The season for the humpback whale watching is starting in April and is the best time of the year to go and experience this amazing mammals.  Also good waves in both Caribbean and Pacific with less surfers.  You will have the waves just for you!
  5. Special Discounts in tours and hotels.  This is the best time to travel and get special rates.  The industry lower the rates during the green season and you will get the best deals from us.
  6. Discover the local culture.  Many national festivals and activities are held during the low season.  The national day of La Pollera on July 22 is one good opportunity to admire the national dress and hundrends of women wearing it on one day parade.  This is just one of many.

 

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.