El Otro Lado: a Portobello spot

By Raffaele Capomolla

Recently the EcoCircuitos Team visited the historically very important town of Portobelo, which was discovered by Christofer Columbus in 1502, and founded by the Spanish explorer Francisco Verlarde in 1597. Portobelo was a very important silver-exporting port, which also explains why the Spanish built those defensive fortifications which still are very well preserved. In 1688 Portobelo was captured by Sir Henry Morgan, who had a fleet of 9 ships and 460 buccaneers. Once you stand in front of those impressive cannons of the 16th century you start to imagine how the Spanish fought against the pirates who were trying to steal their treasures.

Portobelo has a great potential to become a touristic attraction due to its History and the well-preserved ruins and forts which were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, named Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama. There is certainly still a great deal of work to be done, but the Fundation ‘Bahìa de Portobelo’ is working hard in implementing their strategy of sustainable, cultural, social and economic development.

The EcoCircuitos Team also had the chance to visit the beautiful luxury accommodation  ‘El otro lado’, which is located in an exceptional enclave of the Portobelo bay. Couples, Families but also solo travelers looking for a high class retreat in a tropical rainforest can find there a natural sense of tranquility, combined with authenticity, luxury and comfort.

For more information visit http://www.ecocircuitos.com and contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Escape the Winter to Bocas del Toro, the Caribbean side of Panama

Are you looking for a family vacation that gives you the ability to visit an incredible variety of ecosystems, altitudinal life-zones and habitats all rich in distinctly different flora and fauna? Do you want to explore from the continental divide of Western Panama, to the edge of the mangrove forest, without ever changing hotels? Unpack, settle in and do what you came to do. We’ll take care of everything else in Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge.  This owner-operated, family-friendly eco lodge is located inside the rainforest overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the beautiful Panamanian jungle. We are adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park. This park covers a large portion of the archipelago of Bocas del Toro and is home to a variety of ecosystems which thrive at or around sea level. Our central location within the archipelago of Bocas del Toro allows you to explore some of the most biologically diverse areas of Panama and Central America.

7 Night Pacakge from $1850 per person / double occupancy – 3 days offsite excursions included

AVAILABLE FROM FEBRUARY 1 – 28, 2014

Day One Arrive Tranquilo Bay – afternoon arrival
A representative from Tranquilo Bay will meet you at the airport in Bocas Town and assist you with
your entry into Bocas del Toro. Upon arrival at Tranquilo Bay you will leisurely settle into your
cabana.

Day Two Snorkel & Beach trip to Zapatilla Cayes
These two unspoiled islands are protected by Bastimentos National Marine Park. These pristine white sand islands are covered in coconut palms, tropical hardwoods, sea grapes, and almond trees draped in a collage of bromeliads, ferns, orchids and other epiphytes. It is possible to walk around these islands while stopping to explore the white sand beaches and reefs covering the entire circumference. Snapper, barracuda and vivid tropical fish abound on the beautiful reefs surrounding
the area.

Day Three Tranquilo Bay Trails & Canopy Observation Tower
Tranquilo Bay’s grounds include over 200 acres with several kilometers of forested trails covering different habitats. This forest and its edge are home to many of Isla Bastimentos common favorites including multiple raptors, Montezuma Oropendolas, Red-lored Parrots, hummingbirds, 5-species of kingfishers, Green Ibis, tityras, woodpeckers, honeycreepers, tanagers, pigeons, antbirds, manakins, seedeaters, and herons, and, in season Three-wattled Bellbirds. White-faced Capuchins, three and two toed sloths, green iguanas, basilisk lizards, butterflies and poison dart frogs are also common on these trails. After dinner try to spot some of the local nocturnal residents such as the Common Potoo, Owls, Western Night Monkey, Four-eyed opossum, Wooly opossum, Crab-eating raccoon, Speckled Caiman and bats.

Day Four Cacao Plantation Tour
Following breakfast, we will deploy by boat on a 15-minute passage trek across Dolphin Bay for the Green Acres Cacao Plantation. Guided by Robert & Julie Peters, the owners and operators of the facility, we will tour their gardens as Robert presents us with extensive information about his farm. It is here where one of the rarest strands of cacao plant in the world, the Criollo, is grown. Details of his modest but extraordinary chocolate manufacturing techniques will accompany; including growth of the trees, a step-by-step process of how chocolate is made from bean to bar and a sample of the farm’s product. The day trip includes lunch onsite at an immaculately built stone-structured home, surrounded by grounds with an exotic collection of tropical plants from around the world. Multiple varieties of tropical birds and the dendrobates auratus (black and green poison dart frog) all live onsite for your discovery. This humble couple and their unique project of growing cacao to save the
rainforest, while making unparalleled chocolate, are not to be missed.

Day Five Kayak & Snorkel Jellyfish Lagoon
You may decide to take today’s excursion either in the morning or in the afternoon. Our biologist guides will take you on a kayak to a nearby jellyfish lagoon. You will search out water life above and below the surface focusing on the beautiful upside down jellyfish. Once you make your way out of the lagoon, you will snorkel at various spots in the bay near Tranquilo Bay to see a wide variety of underwater animals.

Day Six Cave Nivida Exploration
Following breakfast we will leave the facility in a support boat for a 15-minute ride across the Bastimentos National Marine Park. In kayaks we will meander through the glassy calm backwaters of Bahia Honda. Following the jungle’s edge of Isla Bastimentos we will paddle through channels, deep bays, mangrove cayes, and patch reef. Dolphins like the deep water of Bahia Honda and can often be seen breaching the surface for air. Many birds can be seen feeding near the waters edge, and the jungle is home to white-faced capuchins, two- and three-toed sloths, green iguanas, and caimans. In the back of Bahia Honda we will paddle up a small creek through lush vegetation. A short jungle walk leads to the entrance of cave Nivida. Entering the cave with lights, we will explore this subterranean phenomenon while wading through cold spring water and passing nectar bats. A support boat will be waiting at the mouth of the creek for our return to Tranquilo Bay.

Day Seven Explore Tranquilo Bay & its surrounds
Today, you have the choice in the morning or the afternoon between a guided hike on our two-mile nature trail watching for wildlife or a leisurely kayak and snorkeling session.

Day Eight  Depart Bocas del Toro

Packages includes:  Transfers between Town and Tranquilo Bay, Meals and beverages at Tranquilo Bay, all meals, snacks available all the time, deluxe air conditions cabanas, access to water and land activities, activities daily as designated in the itinerary.