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.

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New Adventure at the Mamoní private reserve

Last weekend the EcoCircuitos’ operations team led by Fabio Trujillo and Mabel Barría had the opportunity to visit a private reserve managed by Earth Train. EcoCircuitos is offering new tours and adventures that include wildlife observation in this private reserve. At the narrowest point in the Western Hemisphere, where a mere 50 kilometers separate the great oceans of the Pacific and the Atlantic, is a corridor of primary forest and river valleys rich in biological diversity. For hundreds of species of migratory birds, it is the verdant trail between the Americas. To the indigenous Guna, it is the divine Madre Tierra of their semi-autonomous territory. At the very center of this bridge of life along the continental divide in the Province of Panama, lies the valley of the upper Río Mamoní. The area offers diverse options for adventures, such as hiking trails for wildlife observation, river kayaking, camping in the forest, educational adventures and cultural exchange with the Guna and Embera communities. We invite you to explore this new area of Panama and to assist you in designing the best itinerary for you and your group.

Animal protection in Panama: EcoCircuitos signs FAADA´s policies for activities involving animals.

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By Benita Rose

Panama City, Panama, November 29, 2012 – Tour operator EcoCircuitos recently held its ground as a responsible and committed company by signing the policies for activities involving animals by the nonprofit organization “Foundation for the adoption, sponsorship and defense of animals”, FAADA.

The policies for the protection of all animals as one of the Foundation´s campaigns are supposed to raise awareness and sensitize society on the protection and defense of nonhuman animals, under different perspectives, coupled with the defense of nature and, ultimately, of life.

EcoCircuitos strongly encourages FAADA´s actions and therefore committed itself to meet the given guidelines, especially concerning whale watching, as well as birdwatching tours and any other activities involving animals.

“It is extremely important for us to respect and maintain the animals’ natural environment and to not disturb them in their routines”, says Annie Young, director and founder of EcoCircuitos. “In none of our tours we will harm animals, get too close to them, nor will we disturb them with noises or speed, or in any other way. Only this way we can sensitize our clients and make sure that the services we offer are sustainable and don´t have any impact on nature”, she adds.

EcoCircuitos stands up to its position as a sustainable tour operator by taking action and implying what is necessary to protect our animals.

Panama – a trendy & booming destination

 

By Clémence Rouleau

Panama is a small tropical country, but it is growing more and more in terms of tourism. Its strategic position makes it possible to drive from one coast to the other in short time, it is bordered by two oceans, and has a connecting position between North and South America. The mix of cultures as for instance indigenous & urban cultures, and the diversity of natural resources are significant advantages. 

The main objectives of the government are to produce economic and social prosperity through the development of national and international tourism.

Because of this, Panama seems like an emergent destination in Central America, which can compete with its neighbor Costa Rica. Luxurious forests, pristine beaches, the diversity of the flora and fauna, and indigenous peoples characterize the country. At Tocumen airport, the number of arrivals in the first trimester of 2012 increased to 19,1% in comparison to 2011. The percentage is constantly rising due to newly created facilities and investments in tourism businesses through the opening of a lot of Convention Centers.

But what should tourists do in Panama?

The answer is not easy, since there are many things to do and many places to visit. Each experience is unique here and you meet friendly people who can help you during your visit. The most popular destinations are Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Boquete, and San Blas Archipelago; but many other provinces are worth a visit as well. A lot of activities can be practiced, as for instance hiking, scuba diving, horse riding, bird watching, kayaks, rafting or just relax in paradisiacal beaches.

In addition to this, the mentality and tourism tendencies have changed in the world and tourism is taking a new track. The Authority of Tourism in Panama (ATP) and the Panamanian Association of Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), as well as the touristic infrastructre in Panama are involved in ecotourism -“responsible travel to natural areas conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)

Ecotourism is now developing quickly in the whole country.

Ecotourism in Panama is a necessity. In order to keep the variety of traditions, the country has to maintain its natural resources and the indigenous cultures and lifestyle. This – I would say – is one of the main touristic attractions, since it makes a great difference to Costa Rica for example. Costa Rica is well developed in ecotourism but indigenous peoples have almost completely disappeared. Moreover, with 950 species of birds, 15 natural protected parks, and 11 000 species of plants, Panama offers exciting possibilities to enjoy your vacation.

Partnerships of touristic businesses and local communities are common, and don’t only permit the development of the local economy, but also the maintenance of traditional cultures. The company Ecocircuitos is a part of the economic development of ecotourism due to its ethic values and its involvement in the tours.

If you want to help protect Panama´s environment and traditions by travelling sustainably, feel free to contact us !

New Birding Tour in Bocas del Toro

Tranquilo Bay is ready to announce the addition of guided birding trips on the Western Caribbean Slope to their excursions.

Tranquilo Bay has been birding the Western Caribbean Slope for many years and in 2008 hired two full time biologist, that combined have 16 years of experience working in the Province of Bocas del Toro.
birding tours panama
In western Panama the Caribbean Slope of the Talamanca mountain range, Tranquilo Bay’s back yard, plunges some 11,000 feet from the high alpine forest of La Amistad National Park into the lowland rainforests bordering the Caribbean Sea, in a span of less than 40 miles. Within the areas we explore from our comfortable facility the altitude ranges from 7,000 feet to sea level in a zone where nearly 500 species of birds can be found. This extreme biodiversity and high level of endemic species is due to abrupt changes in altitudinal zones and extreme geographic features creating many distinct ecosystems, as well as, migratory corridors.

Tranquilo Bay is located on 100 pristine acres, adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park, amongst the convergence of 3 distinct ecosystems. This creates an extremely diverse and unique wildlife observation site where flora and fauna overlap from separate worlds increasing diversity. In a week it is possible to identify over 100 species of birds without leaving the property. There are several elevated porches throughout the facility, creating an incredible eye-level view. While birding onsite you might also encounter white-faced capuchin monkeys, night monkeys, two and three toed sloths, iguanas, caiman, butterflies, a variety of frogs and lizards, and within the canopy a collage of rain forest hardwood and fruit trees, lianas, mangroves, ferns, orchids and cycads.

Some common Birds Of Isla Bastimentos (Common favorites)
Gold Collared Manakin, Three Wattled Bell Bird, Violet Crowned Wood Nymph, Red Lored Amazon Parrots (by the hundreds), Green Ibis, White-Crowned Pigeon, Blue Dacnis, White Hawk, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Green Honeycreeper, Lineated Woodpecker among others.

EcoCircuitos Panama is proud to offer birding tours to Bocas del Toro with a great team of guides. For more information, contact us at annie@ecocircuitos.com or info@ecocircuitos.com

Geotourism in Chagres National Park

Early in the morning, we get to the Chagres River, the main reservoir of drinking water for the cities of Panama and Colon, also supplies water for the operation of the Panama Canal. Here we board a dugout canoe with motor and travel up the River to the Embera Drua village.

The boat journey of 45 minutes takes us through lush rainforest of the Chagres National park. From the boat it is possible to admire the beauty of the rich and flourishing nature; there is a complete silence, broken only by the sounds of the water and of the birds. The river is the only way to get to the Emberá village, otherwise it is possible to walk through the forest but that will take no less than 4 hrs. During the rainy season the river will rise a lot, while during the dry season the level of the water will be very shallow, causing problems to pass through some places.

The Emberá community was founded in the Chagres national Park in 1975, and today counts 115 inhabitants, of which 30 are kids. In 1996 a school was built also thanks to the contribution of organizations, tour operators and individuals who strongly support the protection and conservation of the environment end the life of the Indigenous communities. There are often volunteers who spend some time within the village, offering help and doing researches.

When we arrive, a representative of the Emberá community explain us everything about their history, way of living, traditions, dances, music, together with the help of some women that show us how they make handcrafts using palms fibers, woods, leaves, rocks, etc..

All the handicrafts they make are on sale at their small picturesque market.
We have also the chance to get our body painted, as the Emberá usually do, using a particular ink made of ashes and plant pigments. The tattoos will last about 8 days.

At lunchtime we sit together enjoying the delicious freshwater fish, Tilapia and Sargento, accompanied by crispy platanos y a bunch of fresh fruits, such as pineapple, passion fruit, watermelon, bananas..

After lunch we move to another open air building, where the Emberá women will perform local dances on the music played by the men using artesian flutes and drums. The first dance is performed in between them, while in the following ones everybody will take the floor and show their dancing skills!

Once we have done with that, unfortunately It’s time to board again on the piraguas and go back to the “real word”, but confident with the fact that our soul is fulfilled with the best emotions and feelings that the wonderful people of the Emberá community were passionately able to transmit to us.

Léa Maillard & Paola Alzatti.