The Journey between the Seas: Panama Exploration Cruise

Discover some of Panama’s greatest wonders on this unique marine adventure. The journey on the Discovery will take you from cosmopolitan Panama City to the remote jungles of the Darien, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. During seven days you will get to experience the true spirit of our amazing country, the secrets of the tropics, the rich and different forms of life these coasts harbor.

The Journey on the Discovery is the perfect way to explore this diversity: Passenger numbers are limited to just 24, ensuring everyone can enjoy serenity and privacy together with the excitement and closeness of a true exploration cruise.

The purpose-built catamaran is comfortably appointed with fully equipped cabins, an all-glass restaurant and lounge, as well as a barbecue and sun deck on the topmost observation area.

To get even closer up to this amazing country and its natural wonders, the Discovery carries a number of Kayaks, and is equipped with a special platform for easy boarding of those.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival 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. MARRIOTT EXECUTIVE. Welcome dinner at the hotel. Other hotel options includes American Trade Hotel in Casco Viejo for a supplement.

Day 2 – Panama City – Flamenco Marina – Pick up around 2:00 p.m. at the hotel for transfer to Flamenco marina where you embark the boat. Sail the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean towards Contadora, where the M/V Discovery will stay the first night before navigating to the Darien Jungle. Take this opportunity to meet your expedition leaders, the crew and your fellow travelers while you savor our tempting native cuisine. (D)

Day 3-  Darien Jungle – Step aboard a time machine and travel back more than 600 years to a place that not many have had the privilege of experiencing. More than an excursion, this is a journey into the lives of the Embera Indians. A proud people who have been able to maintain their traditions and lifestyle as they were before the Spaniards colonized the region. These natives are also master crafters of cocobolo wood carvings and basketry. After motoring up river you will see the village emerging from the jungle, as if by magic. Keep your eyes open along the way as the region offers abundant wildlife that is particularly active along the river’s edge. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Pearl Islands – San Telmo & Mogo Mogo – Snorkel and swim in the waters of the Pearl Islands. The archipelago owes its name to the abundance of pearl oysters which supported a substantial fishery in the early 1900’s. On the outer portion of the archipelago, the islands of San Telmo and Mogo Mogo are home to some pristine beaches and fertile fishing grounds. View the remains of the submarine Explorer built in 1865 during the Civil War and which sunk off the coast of San Telmo during the oyster fishery of the late 1800´s. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Panama Canal Transit – Gatun Lake – Wake up at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal and join the morning’s ship convoy for our northbound canal passage traversing Miraflores Locks and Pedro Miguel Locks. The Discovery will be raised 85 feet above sea level to Gatun Lake. You will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience up close the history and operation of this engineering marvel. Navigate the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, bisecting the Continental Divide. This section of the canal is full of history and geological value and you will be able to appreciate the continuous maintenance that this area requires, because it is very susceptible to landslides. Spend the night in Gatun Lake on Panama Canal waters. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Panama Canal – Barro Colorado – Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the vast jungle area that is now the Gatun Lake was teeming with an overwhelming abundance of wildlife. As the region was flooded to create the lake, animals took refuge in the mountain peaks, which are now the many islands that dot the renowned lake. Explore Barro Colorado Island where the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Center is located. Your expedition leader will take you on board small crafts past lush rainforests to secluded areas of the lake to witness first-hand the splendor and excitement of the jungle. Exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that you could see in  their native surroundings. The sights, sounds and scents that make up this beautiful, tropical jungle will engulf you. Cameras are a must as this is considered the world’s premier location for viewing monkeys and other animals in the wild. The Discovery will exit the Panama Canal in the afternoon on its way to the mouth of the Chagres River. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Chagres River – Fort San Lorenzo – Experience the magnificent Chagres River which was used by the conquistadors to move their gold across the Isthmus of Panama en-route from Peru to Spain and by the gold prospectors who attempted a “short cut” from the US East coast to the gold fields of California. The river was the center piece of the colonial inter-oceanic route and is now the lifeline of the Panama Canal full of wildlife and tropical jungle. Explore Fort San Lorenzo which is located on a cliff at the mouth of the Chagres on the Atlantic side where your leader will offer details of the immense amount of history found on this area. The fort was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century to defend their well known gold trail. Later that evening, the Discovery will reposition to Colon, where it will spend the night before disembarking the next day. (B,L,D)

 Day 8 – Portobelo – Caribbean – Wake up to a farewell breakfast before you disembark the Discovery. Travel by motor coach to Portobelo and enjoy this town located on Caribbean waters which was founded by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to the new continent in 1597. This quaint town is rich in history as it was the site of many sea and land battles between the Spanish colonials and the pirates and corsairs raiding the Spanish Main. Explore the fortifications built by the Spaniards to protect their treasures and visit the Church of San Felipe, the sanctuary of the Black Christ. Later in the afternoon, board the Panama Canal Railway train back to Panama City. This one hour railroad trip will allow you to traverse the picturesque trans-isthmian route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforests, cruising alongside the Canal’s locks, through the historic Gaillard Cut and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake. Arrive to Panama City with the train around 6:15 p.m. and be transferred to your hotel in the City. (B,L)

Day 9 – Depart Panama – At the appropriate time you will be transferred to the Tocumen International Airport for your outbound flight. They will arrive to the airport approximately 3 hours before their departure time. End of services. (B)

 **NOTE: THE SOUTHBOUND JOURNEY FOLLOWS THE SAME EXPLORATION ROUTE IN REVERSE

Contact us for complete itinerary, schedule and prices at info@ecocircuitos.com

 

Mission: VIEJO – Can Panama City’s Old Town Survive Its Own Success?

 

 

The Casco Viejo of Panama appears to be a contrast of the old and the new, development and slums.  When I visited the area in 2005, it was in sharp contrast to the rest of the city.  It was quiet, no traffic and beautifully remodeled apartments and residences contrasting with those abandoned and falling apart.  But the brick streets were still there as I remembered them from my youth.  A friend sent me a short article on this sublet written by Fred A. Bernstein and with photos by David Leventi.  The article was on a page torn from a magazine, but I found no indication as from what magazine it came.  At any rate, what I saw in 2005 continues to be the norm for the area . . . contrast. I will quote a few lines from the article:

 

The area represents . . . “the storied past and seedy present of Casco Viejo, a neighborhood Panamanians call Casco and view as both a shrine and slum.  These days, empty lots once home to squatters and stray dogs are giving way to valet parking, part of a process that may make the neighborhood more popular, if less compelling.”

 

A Manhattan businessman, Matthew Blesso opened the Tantalo hotel in the neighborhood and said, “To me, Casco is cool right now.”  When he went looking for property in Panama a few years ago, he started by looking around the new Panama.  He found it “Banal and soulless”

 

“But on his third day in Panama, Blesso saw Casco and fell in love with it.  Blesso’s 12-room hotel has an elaborate roof deck and graffiti-style murals reminiscent of his apartment in New York.  Night after night, Tantalo’s rooftop bar is packed with 20-something Panamanians, drinking until the early morning.”

 

“K.C. Hardin fell for Casco even harder.  A new York lawyer, Hardin came to Panama in 2003 to surf and never really left. Hardin’s company has opened two hotel in the district – Canal House, in 2007, and Las Clementinas, in 2010 – and next spring will open its biggest project to date: the America Trade Hotel, which will offer 50 rooms, a rooftop pool and, next door in an old bank building, a ballroom.”

 

Threatening Casco is the extension of a highway called La Cinta Costera which will surround Casco and isolate it from the ocean.  “If the extension to the highway is built, Unesco could withdraw the neighborhood’s World Heritage status, bestowed in 1997.”

 

“Though foreigners tend to be entranced – the wide variety of architectural styles, reflecting periods of prosperity over four centuries, make it more interesting than purely colonial outposts like Cartagena, Colombia, or Granada, Nicaragua, and almost as enticing as Havana – Panamanians are often surprised  that travelers are drawn to the area. Matt Landau, who co-owns a hotel in Casco called Los Cuatro Tulipanes, says that Panamanians tend to think of Casco as a place you visit for a few hours to look around, not where you spend your evenings.”

 

Since 2002, when some of the hotels and restaurants opened in Casco, travel magazines have been giving it a lot of publicity.  It is hoped that the Panamanian government will not wrap it up in concrete with the Cinta Costera highway.

 

Source: Luis Celerier

 

For interesting and educating tours through Casco Viejo, feel free to contact EcoCircuitos at info@ecocircuitos.com to plan your adventure for you.

New Hotel in Casco Viejo

Recently  in Casco Antiguo, a stylish new hotel open it doors:. Casa del Horno, a boutique hotel located on Avenida B in the Colonial District in Panama City.

Casa del Horno (The Oven House) is a majestic colonial property built by the French colony in the 1850s that served as a bakery. The building has been renovated with modern elements and keeping the original colonial architecture.

Casa del Horno is a sweet haven for those who love art, wine and simple pleasures.  Built with Calicanto stonewalls and finished with delicate wooden details, each of the 8 suite is equipped with state of the art bathrooms, imported Italian kitchens, top of the line wine fridges, LCD TVs with Satellite, Sony IPod docks and L’Occitane bathroom amenities, differencing each other only by size and specific amenities.

This fantastic new hotel is a jewel in Casco Viejo and .

Tropical Christmas

EcoCircuitos Panama is more than pleased to invite you to enjoy Christmas Holidays in our unique country. Get to know our history and the Panama Canal; have a cultural encounter and get to know the Tropical Rainforest during Christmas time!!!

Day 1, December 20, Welcome to Panama At the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos Representative will be waiting for you at the Tocumen International Airport for transfer to the Hotel. Once arrival, please check in and overnight at Country Inn Dorado, Junior Suite Room.

Day 2, December 21, Historical Tour, Panama La Vieja & Casco Antiguo
Breakfast at the hotel – Depart from the hotel to visit Panama Viejo, the first city founded in the isthmus by Spanish conquerors at the beginning of colonization. The remaining ruins are the ones left by Pirate Henry Morgan, who sacked the town in 1671. We will then head to the second colonial city of Panama, Casco Viejo, built in 1673 and will walk around the French Plaza and its monuments. The architecture of this area is exquisite including French, Italian and Spanish styles. Includes: transportation, bilingual guide, entrance fee to Panama La Vieja Visitor Center and Tower Duration: 3 – 4 hours – Available from Tuesday to Sunday. Departure time: 9:00 AM or 1:00 PM

Day 3, December 22 The Caribbean Side; the Kuna Kingdom an Indigenous Encounter – Today very early in the morning you will be transferred your hotel in Panama City to Albrook Domestic Airport to take your flight to San Blas. Once arrival, you will be met by a representative from the lodge for your boat transfer to the lodge. Check-in and overnight at Dolphin Lodge, Uaguinega. Standard Room 1 Day tour included to a nearby island for beachcombing or snorkeling (gear available for rental). All meals included. No drinks or water included.

Day 4, December 23, San Blas Islands, Dolphin Lodge – Days to enjoy at your leisure on the island, taking it easy or visit with the local Kuna Community. One day tour is included. 1 Day tour included to a nearby island for beachcombing or snorkeling (gear available for rental). All meals included No drinks or water included.

Day 5, December 24, The Rainforest Experience, Gamboa Rainforest Resort At the appropriate time, transfer to the local airstrip for your return flight to Panama City. Once arrival, transfer to the local airstrip for your return flight to Panama City. At the appropriate time, transfer to the local airstrip for your return flight to Panama City. Check-in time is at 3.00PM. Arrival to Gamboa Rainforest Resort; where you will stay for the next 2 nights in One Standard Room. This resort features Gatun Lake tours, an aerial tram ride through the forest canopy, animal exhibitions and more.

Day 6, December 25, Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Free day Breakfast at the hotel Day to enjoy at your leisure exploring the area or relaxing in the hotel’s spa, pool or on Gatun Lake. Optional tours include: Arial tram, night tours, birding tours, boat tours, kayaking, fishing.

Day 7, December 26, Departure Panama- Breakfast at the hotel At the appropriate time the tourists will be transferred to the Tocumen International Airport for their flight back home. They will arrive to the airport approximately 2 hours before their departure time. (Breakfast)

Price per person – Double occupancy $ 1,025.00 – minimum 4 pax ***Prices are subject to 5% ITBM government taxes and banking fees

The program includes: – Meet and greet at the international airport – 6 nights of lodging + taxes – Domestic flights (as mentioned above) – Entrance fees to the attractions as mentioned above – Private transportation with a/c throughout the tour – Meals as specified each day: B=breakfast, L=lunch or D=dinner – Information kit – Lodging taxes

The program does not include: – Optional activities – International airfare and taxes – Departure taxes ($20.00 per person for Panama and $26.00 for Costa Rica) – Meals not specified in the itinerary – Personal equipment – Extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service, etc.)