Why should you visit Panama during the rainy season?

By Juliette Darmon

Contrary to what you think, visiting Panama during the rainy season has many advantages.

And first of all, if the rain is scaring you, then you have to know that it’s also raining in dry season as it’s raining 200 days per year in Panama…! And despite the name “rainy season”, it is most of the time raining only one hour per day!

So rain is not an excuse for not visiting this surprising country in rainy season!

Favorable and worthwhile:

The first and not the less, is that travelling during this period is much cheaper than during the dry season. You will so enjoy nicest hotels and places for less expansive, and could spend your money in extras, something you may not afford during the dry season.

Attractive and greener:

For travelers keen on nature, you definitely have to visit Panama during the rainy season, when it is much more eye-catching!

Panama has one of the most spectacular untouched rainforest in the world. And precisely in this period of the year, the nature and rainforest are greener and more authentic. It is one of the most picturesque times of the year!

Furthermore, because of the everyday rain (one hour downpour), Panama is open up to plenty of water-based activities (white water rafting, surf along the Caribbean coast..). Indeed, the rivers and streams are about 23 feet (7meters) higher, meaning that every watering place, like river, creek and lake are navigable.

You will so have the opportunity to explore more of the waterways of Amazonia and discovering more plant and wildlife areas than in the dry season.

More wildlife, less crowded:

As flowers, blooms, tropical fruits and vegetables are more abundant in this season, you will for sure have the chance to cross a lot of monkeys, birds and other wild animals.

Animals don’t really like tourists and they more tend to hide during the dry season, when travelers get too numerous. Take the chance to be fully immersed in Panamanian nature and wildlife by coming in the rainy season!

And less tourists also means less crowded, and so more availabilities and choices in terms of hotels, restaurants, activities and so on…!

KEEP THAT CHANCE! Try the rainy season in Panama!

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Panama Romantic Adventure

Start your trip with EcoCircuitos in the vibrant capital of Panama City with its modern skyscrapers, charming old towns.  The tour starts with kayaking the Panama Canal while looking out for wildlife and watching huge vessels passing by. Stay in the boutique American Trade Hotel located in the Old Town, offering a first-hand experience of Panama City`s extensive nightlife. Get on a snorkelling tour the next day to explore coral reefs and picturesque Caribbean Beaches.

The next stop is the charming little town of Boquete in the highlands. Watch out for birds and other wildlife in this area blessed with a spring-like climate all year. Get on a breathtaking Skywalk tour offering direct insights in the life of the cloud forest with unique views of surrounding landscapes. At the end of the tour, get on an exciting canopy zip lining adventure through the treetops.

The last stop of the tour leads to the romantic laid-back Island Plantation Resort surrounded by jungle and tropical beaches on the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. Snorkel colourful coral reefs; explore dream beaches by boat; hike through lush rainforests or gain deep relaxation enjoying a double-cabin massage before returning to Panama City.

For more information about our honeymoon programs, please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

Best Diving and Snorkeling Spots in Panama

From: Dive Advisor

Panama was named after an indigenous word meaning, “abundance of fish.” This beautiful Central America paradise is one of the few places in the world where you can dive two oceans in one day. With the warm, tropical waters of the Caribbean on its east and the cooler waters of the Pacific on the west, it’s just a two-hour car ride between them in some places. Panama boasts 1,207km of Caribbean coast and 1,700km of Pacific coast.

On the Caribbean side, divers come for the abundance of colorful reef fish and corals. When rating the best diving in Central American, Bocas del Toro always comes up with its white sand beaches and many calm and the Bastimentos Marine National park. It’s a great place to learn how to dive and the marine life make it a great place to keep diving. Another popular spot on the Caribbean coast is Colon, only two hours from Panama City. Just offshore, the Portobelo National Marine Park has beautiful corals and the area is filled with a history of pirate battles and sunken ships.  Sir Francis Drake died at sea in 1596 and his body, clad in a full suit of armour and in a lead coffin, is thought to be off the coast of Portobello.

On the Pacific side, cooler waters and currents make encounters with pelagic common. Lucky divers can see several species of shark, whale sharks, humpback whales, dolphins, and more. Coiba National Marine Park is often referred to as the Galapagos of Central America and has the second largest coral reef in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Pearl Archipelago also offers great options close to Panama City.

Just nine degrees north of the equator, Panama is hot and humid year round. The rainy season is May- November and the dry season is December-April (with less humidity and almost no rain.) Panama is not in the hurricane belt, but it can get strong winds from nearby storms. Air temperatures throughout the year range form 20-32C, being a bit cooler in the winter/dry season. Water temperatures vary between coasts. The Caribbean side the water can be as cool as 25C in the winter and as warm as 28C in the summer. Coiba can get as cold as 20C during winter and reaches a high of around 24C in the summer.

Best Spots to Dive in Panama

Coiba National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 38 islands. Lonely Planet says it’s “The best diving to be found along the Pacific Coast from Columbia to Mexico.” Coiba gets the big stuff. Sharks can be seen on almost every dive including white-tip reef sharks, black-tip reef sharks, and occasional hammerheads, bull, and tiger sharks. Whale sharks are common visitors from December to April. Humpback whales are seen July through October and orcas and pilot whales frequent the area. Large schools of mantas and mobula rays sometimes swim by, and most dives have turtles, schools of large fish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and dolphins.

On the Caribbean side of Panama, close to the Costa Rica boarder, is Bocas del Toro. This archipelago of nine large islands includes the protected area of Isla Bastimentos National Marine. Bocas is known for its well-preserved hard and soft corals. Being outside of the official hurricane zone, away from large cities and river mouths, the coral is very healthy. It is estimated that 95% of the coral species found in the Caribbean Sea can be found within the archipelago.

Tiger Rock is rated one of the best dive sites around Bocas del Toro, and is three rock pinnacles that rise up from the sea floor at 40m. It’s an advanced dive and can have strong currents, but is a good place to see sharks, rays, large fish schools, whale sharks and dolphins. Its location requires perfect sea conditions for boats to be able to get there. Dolphin Rock is another offshore rock formation where sharks can be seen and has lots of colorful fish life. The diving is also very good around Zapatillas Cays, another more distant boat ride.

Closer to town, Bouy Line is a poplar shallow site (near a deep water channel buoy) that has sea horses, lionfish, crabs, and lots of morays. Hospital Point is near the north end of Isla Solarte and has healthy cauliflower and brain corals on a sloping wall. The dive usually has a slow current and is 15m deep max. Sashek is another drift dive between Bastimentos and Carenero that has rare long lure frogfish. Airport is a protected site good for training dives, and has lots of coral.

Also on the Caribbean side, but further southeast is Portobelo National Park. This is also a popular diving area with great marine life. Being closer to Panama City, people come directly from the city to dive this area that has great reef dives and several wrecks.

Water temperatures on the Caribbean side are warm year round (23-27C) and a 3mm is usually plenty. On the Pacific side, colder currents bring waters (15-23C), so a 5mm will be comfortable. For those doing deep dives in the winter, thermoclines can be present, so a 7mm might be useful.

If you are looking for good snorkelling one of the best spots is the San Blas Archipelago.  In this Guna land is forbidden to dive with a tank but here you will find one of the most untouched coral reefs by mankind. The reef holds its beauty for decades now since people do not pollute the waters around it.  The Kuna Indians or Guna indians live from the sea and hunt on it. They hunt the reefs and sandbanks by using simple snorkeling gear and do not over fish their own waters because they only take what is needed to stay alive. They are scared that scuba dives will kill the great schools of fish and leave the Kuna without food to survive. They will preserve the coral reef for future generations this way.

The rich sea life and the crystal clear water will give you plenty enough time to drift away from the world above water. One of the easy places to get in touch with this sea life is the shipwreck near Isla Perro. This place is perfect for people not used to snorkeling or scuba diving but also gives people that have done it before a nice challenge to spot all the sea life around the ship. Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera because spotting a wild turtle, shark or octopus isn’t a rare sight in the waters around the San Blas Islands.   The best way to snorkel in San Blas is charter a sailing boat.  EcoCircuitos Panama organize this adventure for you.

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!

Tips for crossing the border from Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro, Panama

The border between Costa Rica and Panama, on the Caribbean side of these two countries, is the Sixaola River. The town on the Costa Rican side of the river is called Sixaola, here you will visit customs to check out of the country of Costa Rica and meet your contact from Panama. You will walk across the bridge to enter Panama with your new driver, leaving your Costa Rican driver to return home. The town in Panama, across the Sixaola River, is called Guabito.

The drive in Panama will take you across the low flood plains of the Sixaola and Changinola river valley’s. This area collects the watershed from the massive Talamanca mountain range, which extends through both countries. This is an important wetland for many species of tropical flora and fauna and includes habitats such as rivers, humid lowland forest, mangroves, coastal lagoons and other marine coastal environments.

A wetland reserve taking in the most of the coastal region of this area is called the San San Pond Sak (Humedal de San-San Pond Sak). This sparsely populated area is home to several endangered species such as manatees (sea cows), hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles.

Next you will come to Changinola, home of United Fruit Co. /Chiquita Brands Intl., this town is older than the country itself and thick on lore of a bygone era when it was simply known as, The Banana Republic.

Crossing the bridge over the Changinola river is like stepping back in time, you might have to stop and wait for the company train to pass over first, it is only a one lane bridge. From here you will be entering the densely forested foothills of the Talamanca Range. Just up in these mountains is La Amistad Bi-national Park, some 2 million acres in size, it is jointly protect on both sides of the border. This represents one of the largest protected tracts of primary forest in Central America, and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Keep an eye on edge of the canopy, the wildlife is spectacular. You will be passing over several elevated bluffs with spectacular views of Bocas del Toro Archipelago below.

The location of this unique site in Central America, where Quaternary glaciers have left their mark, has allowed the fauna and flora of North and South America to interbreed. Tropical rainforests cover most of the area. Four different Indian tribes inhabit this property, which benefits from close co-operation between Costa Rica and Panama.

After several small pueblos, you will be passing the outskirts of Almirante, another antiquated banana town. About 12-13 miles outside of Almirante, at kilometer marker 48 ½, is a yellow sign and pink gate for La Escapada. This small eco lodge is built on a steep slope near the waters edge, the grounds are beautiful, and the birdlife is outstanding. Here you can take a short break and stretch your legs, or have a cold beverage and watch the marine life from the dock.  The boat will be waiting there to transfer to the hotel of your choice.  Tranquilo Bay is our suggested lodge for coming days.  From here it is a beautiful 45-minute boat ride to your final destination. The ocean leg of your journey will take you across Bahia Almirante passing Sheppard and San Cristobal Islands, and into Dark Land. The glassy calm and emerald green sea, and the long shadows from the steep mountainous terrain, blend to make an intense surrounding. A narrow channel passes into another smaller lagoon named Boca Torito, or little bull’s mouth. It is here where the mother dolphins bring their calves to rear. Leaving the dolphins behind, we will enter Bastimentos National Marine Park, the mangrove islets, sea grass beds and coral flats are stunning. Oceanic birds such as brown boobies, magnificent frigates, and brown pelicans will be feeding on marine wildlife that is fleeing from predators below. As we round the southern peninsula of Isla Bastimentos, we will have our first glimpse of the Zapatilla Keys, and the lodge for the next days:  Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure lodge.

Some advice to help you stay healthy, safe and happy while on holidays

From:  LATA

Travel to Latin America is a wonderful chance to experience a stunning array of cultures, landscapes, ecosystems and activities. At the heart of this experience are the differences between your ways of life. You should understand that this means that standards of health and safety will not be the same as in your country.

Fire Safety

When you arrive in a hotel, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the fire procedures and your escape routes and nearest fire exit. Be especially careful about this if you are staying in a hotel that is more than two storeys high. Take a flashlight with you and have it within reach by your bedside.

Balconies

Balcony heights and distance between the rungs can vary considerably from country to country. Do take care around balconies, particularly if you are traveling with children. If you are unhappy with the balcony height, or any other aspect of it, you should request a suitable alternative room.

Trips and Slips

Guards and warnings of wet floors, uneven steps, holes, or other trip hazards sometimes are not provided. Watch your step!

Swimming Pools

The vast majority of pools will not have lifeguards, depth markings or non-slip surfaces around them. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the layout and depth of the pool. Be aware of any hidden and/or submerged objects. In the event of an emergency, know how to get help. Avoid using the pool when alone, at night and after consuming alcohol.

Beach Safety

Take time to familiarize yourself with the beach and also take local advice particularly regarding swell and currents. On sandy beaches one way you may be able to identify strong currents is by looking out for distinct sandy patches in the face of breaking waves – avoid these stretches. If you are caught in a ‘rip’ current, do not panic, swim sideways out of the current – do not swim back against it. Take great care in areas where there are motorised craft of any sort sharing the water with swimmers. If in doubt, don’t bathe.

Gas Safety

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a chemical compound of carbon and oxygen. It has no colour, taste or smell and is extremely poisonous. Gas stoves, fires and boilers, gas powered water heaters, paraffin heaters, solid fuel powered stoves, boilers and room heaters are all capable of producing CO if not appropriately installed and maintained. You can tell if a gas appliance is working correctly by observing the flame. A yellow/orange flame is evidence of possible CO presence. A ‘healthy’ flame should be crisp, vibrant and blue.

Symptoms of CO poisoning can easily be confused with flu, severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, general lethargy. Severe CO poisoning makes the body turn a cherry-red colour. If you suspect CO poisoning get out into fresh air as quickly as possible and call for medical help. If you can, open doors and windows.

Electrical Appliances

Please exercise caution when using electrical appliances. When using your own appliances be sure to use relevant adapters and converters.

Vaccinations

You should always seek immunization advice from a trained medical professional at least 6 weeks prior to travel. Make sure you take medication appropriate to your destination.

Sun Safety

The sun in Panama is stronger than you are used to most probably.  Use a high factor sunscreen, avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun in the middle of the day. Take a broad-brimmed sun hat, a baseball cap is rarely sufficient. Cover up with appropriate clothing. Drink bottled water. Stay in the shade.

Food and Drink

Use your common sense when selecting where and what to eat. Ask your guides for advice. Drink bottled water. Always wash your hands before eating. Anti-bacterial hand wash is worth having.

General Safety

Take note of what is going on around you and keep away from any situations where you do not feel comfortable. Keep up to date with local and regional events in the media. Leave your jewellery and valuables at home if you can. Only carry as much money as you need for the day. Respect local customs particularly when visiting religious sites, markets and rural communities. It is hard to generalize but you should at least be prepared to cover shoulders and knees when visiting churches.

Activities and Excursions

Before you go you might like to check details with your tour operator and, if necessary, take appropriate equipment with you. Whilst on holiday you should use your common sense. Always follow the guides’ instructions. If you ever have cause to feel nervous about the safety of an activity or excursion then do not go. Report your concerns to your guide, local contact and/or tour operator at the earliest opportunity.   Remember that if you choose to take an excursion or activity on holiday which is not arranged as part of your package, your tour operator will not accept any responsibility.

Getting Around

When travelling by foot, be careful crossing roads. particularly in Panama City. When traveling by taxi, make sure it is licensed, ideally you should ask your hotel or restaurant to call one for you. When traveling by coach or minibus, we recommend that you use seat belts when they are provided. If there are no seat belts then try to avoid the front seats, seats by emergency exits and seats in the middle of the back row. When travelling by hire car, familiarize yourself with local regulations and laws before setting off. Check all tires for tread and air pressure, including the spare. Check oil, water and petrol. Always obey speed limits, never drink and drive. Drive in the daytime whenever possible and be aware of distances between petrol stations. Drive defensively and be aware that pot holes and random speed bumps are common.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions and Disabilities

Please make sure that your tour operator is aware of any pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities which could affect your holiday. Please ensure that you travel with sufficient supplies of medication. When flying always pack enough medication in your hand luggage to tide you over should flights be delayed or your hold luggage go missing.

Access to Medical Facilities

During your holiday you are likely to be traveling in areas well away from medical facilities such as doctors, pharmacists and accident and emergency units. Your travel insurance must include sufficient cover for emergency medical evacuation, by air if necessary.

Travel Insurance

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fully and adequately insured for the duration of your holiday. Take time to confirm that all activities, excursions and destinations are included. Be particularly careful of any altitude exclusions. Ideally your cover would include, but not be limited to adequate: medical, legal, cancellation, delay and personal possession cover.

Letting us Know

You should always use your common sense whilst on holiday. If you ever have cause to feel nervous about the safety of an activity, excursion, mode of transport or hotel then please report this immediately.

Report your concerns to the supplier on the ground (this could be your hotel, bus driver or activity leader for instance). You should also inform your guide, local contact and/or tour operator at the earliest opportunity.

Study Spanish in Panam with EPA! and EcoCircuitos

Enjoy our culture and experience unique adventures while learning Spanish in Panama.

IMG_1528-1

This semi-intensive Spanish course is designed for students looking to combine Spanish and study with more recreational activities, such as discovering Panama.

This course gives you the opportunity to improve your Spanish Language by focusing on the skills you will need to communicate well in everyday business and social settings. The classes focus on the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills necessary to communicate effectively in Spanish. Each day, the class takes you one step closer to achieving your goal: to communicate more and better in Spanish.

f you don’t have much time and wish to make the most of it, you can follow your own pace of learning with a personalized  Spanish course. This means that neither you nor the teacher need follow the pace and interests of your fellow students, as in any other group course. You choose the frequency and the intensity.

One-on-one Spanish teaching is an exceptionally effective approach to instruction and most students, educators, and parents would agree that the ideal academic environment consists of one-on-one teaching, customized to the needs of the student. This type of individual attention allows for a high level of quality interaction between the teacher and the student.

The student benefits immensely from the personal attention inherent in a one-on-one teaching ratio. Because of the intimate environment, the teacher can accurately monitor how well the student is mastering the lessons, and can adapt the pace and targeting of skills accordingly.

If you would like to have one-to-one lessons we can offer different options customized to your needs. Firstly, we analyze your individual goals and then create a personalized program adapted to you with regard to content, timetable and additional activities.

For more information contact us:  info@ecocircuitos.com