10 Best things to do in Panama City

There are a lot of reasons to visit Panama. You have probably already thought of the Panama Canal, which is one of the world’s most famous accomplishments of modern engineering. Maybe you have considered a tropical island or beach, or just the climate, which is warm all year round. But there is a lot more to Panama: read here some of our staff picks to do in Panama City.

1.  Visit Seafood market and walk or bike Cinta Costera towards the Casco Antiguo neighborhood while eating a fresh seafood ceviche.
2.  Take a tour at the Biodiversity Museum and hire of our naturalist guides for an introductory rainforest tour in the Metropolitan Park

3.  Bar hopping in Casco Viejo at night and don´t miss the Jazz Bar in the American Trade Hotel

4.  Historical City Tour– walking Panama la Antigua and learn about the Pirates and Conquistadors and the Canal zone era

5.  Kayaking the Panama Canal in the Gatun Lake and a visit to a local Wounaan community for handcrafts shopping

6.  Visit the Contemporary Art Museum and take a Art Cultural Tour with a local panamanian artist

7.  Hike, bike or wildlife observation at one of the many trails of the Soberania National Park

8.  Go on a historical trekking the old 8-mile Camino de Cruces Trail takes you through primarily tropical forest

9.  Ride the Transcontinental train towards the Atlantic side in one day: The Pirate trail and Panama Canal

10.  Enjoy the local gastronomy (tasajo empanada, carimañola, tortilla, yuca frita, and the seafood of Panama).

Escape the winter to Panama

There are many reasons to visit Panama. You have probably already thought of the Panama Canal, which is one of the world’s most famous feats of modern engineering. Maybe you have considered the exotic jungles or the weather, which is warm year round. But there is much more to discover in Panama!

Cultural Diversity – The Panamanian cultural diversity consists of indigenous groups who keep their culture alive today to Caribbean and Latin American sub-cultures with influences of the Spanish conquistadores and also the pirates. Today, the country’s population is made up of Chinese, Jewish and Arab neighbors living in harmony with people and backpackers from around the world. Making Panama a truly and colorful melting pot.

Wildlife – There are an incredible number of animals living in Panama. Roughly 230 types of mammals and more than 1000 bird species. This does not include the numerous reptiles, amphibians and insect species!  You can spot amazing wildlife at just 45 minutes from the City limits. Butterflies as large as your hand freely fly through neighboring rainforests. There are sloths, Howler monkeys, toucans, agotis, coatimundis and other animals that make their home within the city limits of Panama City. Just imagine what you may encounter in the countryside… tiny brightly colored frogs, ocelots, anteaters and more.

Different Places to Be – It is quite well known that Panama has superb rainforests. Jungle excursions are a definite option here. For a slight change of scenery, we recommend visiting the cloud forest in the highlands, where lush mossy trees are covered by the fog and where wild orchids flourish. But this not only what the country has to offer. There are mountains, where world-famous coffee is grown such as the Geisha; mangrove swamps and even a desert in Sarigua, Azuero. And we have coasts on both sides of the country, 2,500 kilometers of it to be precise. Numerous beaches and islands in the Caribbean Sea and off the Pacific Coast are waiting to be explored. Crystal clear waters meet white sandy beaches with the occasional coconut tree, Panama is the place to be! Coral reefs? Panama has those too. And it’s all within easy reach. All it takes is few hours’ drive or a short flight to arrive to a unique picturesque destination! There is even a national park inside the city limits of Panama City!

Things to Do – There are many things to do in Panama. Adventure? There is river rafting, rock climbing, snorkeling and wilderness expeditions in the jungles of Darien, just to name a few. Also there is great kayaking as well, mountain biking, horseback riding and many other outdoor sports. There are many great surfing and diving spots that can be found in both oceans and the wonderful beaches on both coastlines. And for those who have had enough activity, there are so many hidden island retreats and luxurious spa options. Panama’s rich culture offers arts, cultural celebrations, great food and drink and local fiestas.

Panama City – Panama City deserves a visit. The Biodiversity Museum by Frank Gehry, little art galleries and amazing restaurants are waiting to be discover by you. Every weekend brings a new event, festival, concert or an exhibition. The beautiful colonial old quarters (UESCO World Heritage Site) known as Casco Antiguo, is always worth a visit. The combination of the old and new Panama City offers traditional crafts and modern art; old buildings set against the backdrop of the modern skyline and the accessible National Parks. And don’t miss the Jazz Festival in January!

For more information contact us info@ecocircuitos.com

Zoom on Casco

By Juliette Darmon

Spending a week-end in Casco is always so pleasant! Take some time to walk around and you will discover so many hidden places…!

During a free day, let’s try the hidden Mediterranean restaurant Siroco to have lunch, in the middle of the historic Casco Antiguo. With its private and cozy terrace, you will taste some delicious Mediterranean dishes.

For a dessert or a break, you could try Granclement ice-cream. Near the Central Hotel, these gourmet ice-creams are one of the best of the city. With such a wide selection, and a lovely place, you will feel obliged to taste more than just one!

You also could enjoy your ice-cream by walking around and having a nice view on Panama by turning on your right Avenida Central.

To stay with sweet, if by any chance you like chocolate, then go straight to Oro Moreno coffee and taste these amazing and authentic Panamanian chocolates, as the maracuja, the coco, the honey, the coffee one and so many more favors. Take a delicious cappuccino and chill out on this European atmosphere!

Furthermore, if you are curious to try the traditional and sweet Panamanian raspao’, you will find some by street (in front of the Panama view, Avenida Central for instance).

For a good dinner or a simple happy hour, why wouldn’t you try the Villa Palma Hotel for a relaxed and peaceful drink in their rooftop on the center of Casco?
The nice view on the sea along with a fresh sangria or smoothie will remind you an holiday atmosphere! This boutique hotel also has a chic and warmly restaurant downstairs. Do not miss it!

For a trendier and fancier place, you definitely have to go to Tantalo or Zaza restaurant! Both also have a rooftop bar/ club.

Both are recommendable for their food, and prices are more or less competitive.
On Tantalo, the roofbar is bigger and higher (which also means more crowded, mainly on Friday and Saturday night) than the Zaza’s.

Tantalo is more trendy and cozy than Zaza which is more spangled!

Note: The Zaza restaurant became a night club around 12am during the week end and it’s closed on Sunday.

Take some time to discover the nicest area of Panama and enjoy some city or gastronomic/ culinary tours with EcoCircuitos!

 

 

Let yourself be surprised by a fresh new chocolate experience!

By Juliette Darmon

In the middle of the authentic and historic quarter of Panama, El Casco Antigo, is hidden a fresh start tropical chocolate coffee.

Passionate by chocolate or just thirst for the country discovery, you will be able to taste some 100% artisan and natural chocolates, 100% made in Panama. The team will be pleased to explain you the chocolate process from its fermentation to its finish.

Fermented in Bocas del Toro, in the north west of the country, the cacao is afterwards naturally dried and then carried until Panama, where it is transformed in this delicious natural chocolate that you can taste at Oro Moreno.

It is also possible for you to visit the chocolate factory located in Panama, in order to better understand the transformation process.

Numerous and different flavors will surprise you.

From the amazing and smooth “maracuja chocolate”, going through the original and uncommon coriander chocolate or chili chocolate, or even the delicious Panamanian coffee chocolate, like me, it will be quite hard for you to stop…! And many other surprises await you.

Its authenticity, its bright color, but also its uncommon design, will incite you to not taste only one…! Served with a yummy cappuccino, expresso or hot chocolate, the artistic waiters will amazed you by writing your name or designing animals in your drink. You will also have the chance to taste their famous “fondue de chocolat” offered with fruits.

Ideal for small groups or couples, you will be immersed in a warm, friendly and relaxing atmosphere. You will be able to admire some crafts entirely made in chocolate, and even to buy some “bombones” or other chocolates to bring to your loved ones.

We offer chocolate tasting in partnership with this amazing boutique store.  Precisely with the help of our guides team, you will learn to taste and enjoy the chocolate purity by some specific technics.

Like Ecocircuitos, Oro Moreno proudly believes in the value of products which come out of the land. In this atypical showroom, you will become aware of the value and the strength that producers and manufacturers provide to the national economy.   In partnership with Oro Moreno, EcoCircuitos is the first tour operator in Panama to offer chocolate tours in the area.  Contact us for more information and private tours.

www.ecocircuitos.com

info@ecocircuitos.com

Panama Jazz Festival 2016

On January 11-16, 2016 the annual Panama Jazz Festival, one of the region’s largest music education events held in Panama City, marks its 13th anniversary. Since its foundation in September 2003 by Panamanian Grammy-winning pianist Danilo Pérez, the festival has become a cultural tourist attraction by drawing audiences from across the globe.

We are offering an amazing itinerary to take advantage of this beautiful event.

Jan 11 – Welcome to Panama!

Today at the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos representative will meet you at the Tocumen International Airport to assist and transfer you to your hotel located in Panama City. At this time you will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit that will provide you with all the details for your stay in Panama. Once you arrive to your hotel, please check-in at the hotel.

Overnight hotel in Panama City for 5 nights in chosen hotel.

Jan 12 – Half Day Historical City Tour

During the half-day morning tour you will visit the ruins of Old Panama, climb up the Cathedral tower, visit the Old Panama Museum and then continue to Casco Viejo (the old city compound), which dates from the late 1600’s. A bilingual guide will describe the events in history leading up to the eventual movement of the capital city to its present location. Casco Viejo is home to monuments to Ferdinand de Lesseps and other Frenchmen instrumental in the ill-fated attempt of the French to construct a canal through Panama. Your tour ends with a visit to the Panama Canal Museum. (B)

 Optional Jazz Concert: MAIN ARTIST: Rudresh Mahanthappa Quintet

http://rudreshm.com

Show Opening: Joshue Ashby C3 Project

http://www.tvn-2.com/heroesporpanama/perfiles/joshue_ashby/

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m. Place: Ateneo, Ciudad del Saber

Prices from $20.00 – $200.00

 Jan 13 – Free day for Relaxing or optional tours in Panama City

For a list of tours visit: here

 Optional Gala night at Teatro Anayansi, Centro de Convenciones Atlapa

MAIN ARTIST: Danny Rivera y Danilo Pérez + The Pan-American Detroit Big Band

http://www.dannyrivera.com

http://www.detroitjazzfest.com

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m.

Prices from $15.00 – $200.00

Jan 14 – Free day for Relaxing or optional tours in Panama City

For a list of tours visit: here

 Optional Jazz Concert: MAIN ARTIST Randy Weston

Show Opening: John & Tom Patitucci 4et

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m. Place: Ateneo, Ciudad del Saber

 Jan 15 – Free day for optional tours in Panama City

MAIN ARTIST: MCA Power Trio (David Murray, Terry Lyne Carrington, Geri Allen)

Show Opening: Dominique Eade con New England Conservatory

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m. Place: Ateneo, Ciudad del Saber

Prices from $20.00 – $200.00

 ** END OF SERVICES**

 Price per person in double occupancy: from $499.00

 Includes:  all transfers, 4 nights of lodging + taxes, bilingual guide on tour, entrance fees to attraction, 24 hour assistance from EcoCircuitos staff, Panama kit including a PBA Stainless Steel bottle and lots of fun!

Casco Antiguo & Gastronomic Tour

The Casco Antiguo & Gastronomic tour will give you a unique introduction to Panama’s history and its diverse gastronomy. This tour will take place in Casco Antiguo, the colonial section of Panama City. We will visit a coffee shop and learn about different types of coffee that are produced in Panama, also we will try a delicious local chocolate and learn how it is prepared (the chocolate visit is available for groups of 4 people minimum).

During this tour you will also learn about the history of Casco Viejo (the old city compound) which dates back to the late 1600’s, leading up to the eventual movement of the capital city to its present location. Casco Antiguo is home to the monuments of Ferdinand de Lesseps and other Frenchmen instrumental to the ill-fated attempt of the French to construct a canal through Panama.

We will continue the tour to a local microbrewery, where we will taste different artisan beers prepared in Panama and learn about how it is processed, if it is possible we will have the opportunity to see how the beer is made. Next we will walk along the Cinta Costera to the Seafood Market where you will enjoy the popular “Ceviche” (raw fish and seafood cured with lemon and spices). There you will find a lot of stands with variety of seafood. This is a popular place visited by locals that enjoy fresh seafood and who like to relax and admire the scenery, it is perfectly located on the Bay of Panama. The tour ends with a cocktail tasting of locally prepared Rum. Panama offers a good rum aging in white oak barrels. A local lunch is also included in this tour. (B, L)

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

Two amazing historical visits in Casco Antiguo

If you are in Panama you can’t miss a walk in the Old Quarters (Casco Antiguo) and learn about the amazing history of the Isthmus.  The beautiful architectonic styles, narrow streets and cafes will fascinate any traveler looking for a bit of authenticity in this cosmopolitan Panama City.  In colorful Casco, the Spanish and French colonial houses mixes with the art deco and neoclassical style.  If you go for the first time, don´t miss the Church of the Golden Altar and the Flat Arch.

The Golden Altar: The massive golden altar (altar de oro) is a prime tourist attraction at Iglesia de San José (Avenida A between Calle 8 and Calle 9, 7 a.m.– noon and 2–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 5 a.m.–noon and 5–8 p.m. Sun.). Legend has it that the altar was saved from the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan during the sacking of the original Panama City when a priest ordered it painted black, hiding its true value.

The Flat Arch: The original Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Avenida A and Calle 3 Oeste) was built in the 17th century, but it burned twice and was not rebuilt after the fire of 1756. It remains famous for one thing that survived, seemingly miraculously: the nearly flat arch (Arco Chato). Since it was built without a keystone and had almost no curve to it, it should have been a very precarious structure, yet it remained intact even as everything around it fell into ruins. One of the reasons a transoceanic canal was built in Panama was that engineers concluded from the intact arch that Panama was not subject to the kinds of devastating earthquakes that afflict its Central American neighbors.

Source:  Moon guides.