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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Dos Tareas Pendientes en Turismo

Annie Young J.

opinion@prensa.com

25/10/2014En mis más de 15 años de labor en la industria del turismo encuentro que la mayoría de las molestias de quienes nos visitan tiene que ver con las expectativas de aseo y de servicio al cliente. He recibido quejas por los malos olores de la basura cercana a los hoteles y sitios de interés turístico, y por el mal trato e indiferencia con que se despacha al turista en los diferentes sectores comerciales.

El problema de la basura en Panamá se hace cada vez más palpable. Sin hablar del caos que se vive en las calles de la ciudad, de los decibeles ensordecedores y del ruido visual que genera la publicidad en las calles. Es inadmisible que en sitios como el Casco Antiguo o la Calzada de Amador, los basureros se desborden, sin que ninguna autoridad se de por aludida. En repetidas ocasiones veo con tristeza la basura acumulada por meses en los parques nacionales. Desde llantas viejas, toda clase de recipientes plásticos, hasta pedazos gigantescos de concreto y residuos de la construcción. Los turistas miran, y no comprenden. Y entonces me pregunto: ¿Por qué la ausencia de un programa serio de reciclaje en la agenda nacional?

El nivel de servicio al cliente que los turistas reciben en sus viajes determina si estos regresan nuevamente al destino o lo evitan en el futuro corriendo la voz sobre su buena o mala reputación. Un servicio al cliente de primera clase hace la diferencia entre elegir o no un destino nuevamente y un país limpio es parte del atractivo. Los viajeros de hoy buscan experiencias felices durante sus vacaciones y cuando se trata de la industria de la hospitalidad, los huéspedes esperan que los traten con amabilidad y no tener que caminar sobre la basura.

Panamá esta en el ranking de uno de los países más felices del mundo, sin embargo en el sector servicio nos falta felicidad. En restaurantes y tiendas la atención muchas veces parece un favor más que un servicio. Los clientes hacen preguntas y se les contesta con informalidad y hasta desprecio.   Los destinos de éxito son los que ofrecen ventajas competitivas y un cambio de actitud hacia el servicio es fundamental en Panamá si queremos atraer más turistas.

En Panamá estamos viviendo una recesión en la industria turística que nos afecta a todos.   La falta de planificación a largo plazo y de promoción en destinos emisores, impide que nuestro país se convierta en un destino preferido, pues no estamos en las mentes del trade turístico y menos de los viajeros.   Además la fluctuación de tarifas hoteleras e informalidad de algunos del sector afecta negativamente contratos con mayoristas internacionales y deteriora la imagen comercial de nuestro destino.

La temporada alta está llegando y debemos impulsar el sector privado y gubernamental estrategias sostenibles que nos ayuden a incrementar el flujo de turistas. Aún con poca promoción podemos lograr que el destino sea atractivo si capacitamos a nuestros colaboradores de la industria en servicio al cliente e impulsamos campañas cívicas sobre la importancia del aseo y el tratamiento de desechos.

Muchos viajeros nos visitan por primera vez durante este mes de Noviembre gracias a la campaña del Black Friday y no están familiarizados con el destino Panamá. Muchos harán preguntas sobre lugares y sitios de interés y es importante que estemos en capacidad y disposición para informar y ayudar a que su experiencia en el país sea completa.   No es solo bajando precios y creando una campaña de compras, es también un cambio de actitud. Los turistas siempre regresan a un país que sonríe.

Panama: Naturally close to you

Panama is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Its unique ecology stems in part from its connection to the two continents that created a bridge that made it easier for animals and plants to migrate between North and South America. Scientists believe that the formation of the Isthmus of Panama is one of the most important geologic events to happen on Earth’s climate and its environment in the last 60 million years.

Birds are a primary indicator of biodiversity and Panama has more species than the United States and Canada combine: it has more than 970 different birds. Panama is also privileged to be home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a scientific investigation center, which has been cataloging and monitoring this vast ecological heritage for nearly a century.

Panama offers to birders and nature enthusiast’s great opportunities to experience wildlife within short distances, involving diverse habitats in the different regions of the country, from tropical rainforest, marine coastal areas to the beautiful cloud forest in national parks and private reserves.

Our expert naturalist guides are passionate about tropical Panama and will make sure you have an unforgettable experience. Our team will create a special itinerary featuring wonderful locations where you are able to enjoy first class birding and other nature activities.

Come and discover Panama and the close nature of the neotropics with a passionate team.  We will make sure to organize an unforgettably vacation experience.  Contact us:  www.ecocircuitos.com

EcoCircuitos Business Objectives

By Annie Young J.

A while ago I heard the quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”.

This quote really hit home for me and since I have heard it has become one of my mottos in life. Before returning home from a study abroad program where I volunteered with a conservation organization I went on a backpacking trip that inspired me to create EcoCircuitos Panama (1999). After this trip I realized that I wanted to share my passion for Panama with the rest of the world in a different way.

As a dreamer, I felt that we could connect conservation, social development and tourism. This has been my goal since I began EcoCircuitos Panama. It has not been easy… sometimes promoting responsible travel is more difficult that the classical approach, but we believe that it can be done.

The EcoCircuitos Panama team including myself has evolved since the company began. I have learned from many different people that have worked with me all these years that in today’s world you have to give something back… not just take.

Today we are a team of local enthusiasts about Panama. On a daily basis we learn from each other sharing, our dreams for sustainable development. It is important to me to motivate each member of my team to create, innovate and collaborate in an environment where it is not only my vision that is followed.

Our objectives as a company are very clear to us:

– Create low-impact tours and experiences that are appealing to our clients.

– Increase the level of awareness amongst travelers and turning them in effective agents for conservation.

– Channel a portion of our revenues towards supporting the conservation and sustainable use of Panama´s biodiversity.

– Reduce poverty through environmental conscious income generation activities and employment, which effectively decrease the threat to biodiversity in our local communities.

– Encourage active participation and involvement of local communities in the development, operation and monitoring of tourism activities.

This is our responsibility as a tour operator and DMC in Panama, and we are a happy team that is following a beautiful dream.

New Tour in San Felipe: engage with our community

By Marius & Marc

EcoCircuitos staff tour Casco Viejo yesterday to take part in an insightful and poignantly tour organized by “Esperanza San Felipe”. This organization is founded by 5 previous gang members of San Felipe. They have decided to change their lives and thus created this group to bring hope, benefit and income to the community of San Felipe, neighboring Casco Viejo. The revenue of the tours is distributed amongst the community to enhance the living conditions of the people and to provide a better future for the next generation.

With curiosity and excitement we have left Casco Viejo to look for the guides and entered San Felipe. We did not have to search very long since the guys welcomed us very friendly directly behind the border of Casco Viejo to San Felipe. Although the quarter has a dangerous image, during the whole tour we felt safe because of the police appearance and the calmness of the people. The whole atmosphere was just peaceful. We made an appointment for a tour and met our guide a couple of hours later in Plaza Herrera just in front of the American Trade Hotel that was also our first attraction.

Nowadays a place for the rich and upper class, in the past it was used as headquarter for thieves, murderers and gang members. We were absolutely amazed by the dark past of the building and the radiating atmosphere. The only evidence of the dark history is the stairway that shows the graffiti paintings and signs of the former inhabitants.

After passing Manu Tigre, a former fortification, we had the chance to gain a deep insight behind Panama City’s glamourous facade by visiting the housing of the community. It was touchingly but also revealing to see beyond the tourist facade of Panama. Although we felt a little bit uncomfortable entering foreign property, the people were very open-minded and warm towards us.

Especially the street that divides the quarters El Chorrillo and San Felipe offered a lot of narrative material. In past days many gun fights took place although it was considered as a neutral zone between two hostile gangs. For a foreigner it was not possible to walk the street at that time without getting robbed. Today it is a vivid street and the entrance to Cinta Costera 1 as well as a place for backpackers, bikers and fun nightlife.

The end of the tour was a most delicious Panamanian meal with self-made cocktails. During the dinner we got the chance to listen to more exciting stories of people and their past thug live.

Especially for us it was touching since we come from a protected area in Germany. We got the unique chance to engage with local people and going one step further than the common tourist.

By offering this tour EcoCircuitos gives those people the opportunity to help themselves in a sustainable way. There is also big hope in the new president to enhance the living conditions.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact us directly at 1-800-830-7142.

Ecocircuitos Incentive Trip 2014 after High Season

By EcoTeam

Last Saturday our company´s boss organizes a surprise event for the office staff.  Instead of going to work on a Saturday morning we were heading to Flaminco pier for an unforgettable adventure.

The Catamaran was waiting for us at the Causeway Marina and while we board the yacht we were experiencing a thrill of what was coming next. Annie Young, our EcoCircuitos Director was exciting and smiling while welcoming us on board.

Fabio and Laura, from our operations department were explaining us about the shore birds, mammals and history of Taboga Island while sailing from the city of Panama to Taboga Island, our destination.

We enjoyed a beautiful sailing trip to the Pacific islands and we spend the day in Taboga, a small island with a beautiful history.   We learned that Paul Gaugin the painter lived there for a while.

We had a fun and unforgettable adventure day after hard days of work during our high season. We made jokes, we play beach football, swim on the pacific waters and some of us even explore the little and colorful island.

The food was fantastic, a BBQ on board the Catamaran. After a very relaxing and fun day, we headed back to the City late in the afternoon. It was a day to remember!