5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that reveals Panama’s cultural and natural wonders

Did you know that Panama has 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Well if you didn’t, check this out!

Three Natural Sites

Since 1981: Darien National Park

This incredible National Park in the Eastern part of Panama, on the borders of Colombia, is home to an extraordinarily rich flora and fauna. It has a variety of habitats from tropical forests, mangroves and swamps, wetlands and beaches. Two of Panama’s indigenous tribes the Wounaan and Embera have their home in this incredible park. It has 169 identified mammals, to name some of them: the near threatened jaguar, the endangered tapir, bush dog and the capybara. Darien National Park has a lot to offer if you are in love with nature and incredible biodiversity!

 

Since 1983: La Amistad National Park and Talamanca Range- La Amistad reserves

The Talamanca Mountains are enclosed by this breathtaking national park and reserves. It is considered to be the tallest and wildest mountain range in Central America. There are numerous ecosystems and landforms, such as rivers, valleys and lakes which were shaped by glaciers. Also in this national park you can find an incredible amount of different animals: 215 mammals including the Puma and Jaguar and abundant bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species. Don’t miss this incredible biodiversity and unique scenery!

Since 2005: Coiba National Park

This unique island  once was a penal colony and along with other 38 smaller islands and its surrounding marine area is the Coiba site National Park. Abundant marine life such as whales and tiger sharks has its home in the surrounding marine area. The variety of endemic flora and fauna on this wonderful island is due to years of separation from the Mainland. You really should discover the natural beauties of the island, but always in a sustainable way!

Two Cultural Sites

Since 1980: Portobelo-San Lorenzo Caribbean Fortifications

The forts of Portobelo and San Lorenzo, listed as endangered, were constructed by Spanish colonialists to protect the first town of Panama Ciy which had become a very significant trade center. The forts continuously suffered attacks by pirates. It really is an incredible site, as it provides very important information about the defense system which was used in the 17th and the 18th centuries!  Don’t miss the site for the real Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

Since 1997: Panamá Viejo Archaeological Site and Historic District of Panamá

The Panama Viejo Archaeological Site and Historic District of Panama dates back to the 16th century, and is the oldest European settlement along the Pacific coast. In 1673 it has been burned to the ground, so it was located in Casco Viejo.

Significant information on various aspects of the social life, communication and the economy can be read through the ruins. Numerous Churches, medieval houses, the presidential palace and the Salón Bolivar are cultural landmarks in the historic district. Follow the the steps of the Spanish empire in Latin America in this beautiful site and book a historical tour with us.

Panama has so much to offer – besides of an incredible nature and biodiversity, our beautiful country has a very significant history. Our local guides will take you through an unforgettable cultural, historical and natural experience through our beautiful country! For tours or more information contact annie@ecocircuitos.com or visit our website http://www.ecocircuitos.com.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Discovering Colon Province

By Carina Forster

The low season is here!   the time when the EcoCircuitos team explores the regions of beautiful Panama, looking for new exciting activities, tasty restaurants and nice hotels to use in our programs. All departments are working together, developing ideas and creating new exciting itineraries to our favorite places in Panama. Yesterday we explored beautiful Colon region, with its laid-back Caribbean flair, deep rainforests and colorful towns full of pirates and buccaneers history.

Crossing the country in the early morning by train, our way led along the Panama Canal from Panama City on the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean town of Colon. We quickly forgot the early hours with breathtaking views of lush rainforest, the Panama Canal and jungle lakes covered in mystic morning fog.

Being picked up by our EcoCircuitos driver Roberto at the train station in Colon, we started our road trip along the palm-fringed coast line to the colorful town of Portobelo. The charming little village does not only offer incredible history, with once being one of the most important ports in the Caribbean Sea, but surprises with lovely remains of African culture in form of Congo dances and expressive pieces of art next to lush rainforest adventures and superb snorkeling.

Every team member has his or her own preferences and opinions; however, when it came to the Arrecifes restaurant we discovered in the town of Colon, everyone was just as excited about the delicious typical fresh seafood lunch offered next to an extensive view of the Panama Canal.

To continue our road trip deep into the jungle to the Fort of San Lorenzo, we waited for a spot between large container ships to cross the Panama Canal by ferry. Following a romantic wild road surrounded by lush rainforest, we let monkeys, birds and coatimundis cross the street. The fortress of San Lorenzo lies on the edge of steep cliffs, overlooking the surrounding coast lines with abandoned beaches and wild rainforest as far as your eyes can reach.

After a successful day of collecting inspirations, testing logistics and forming partnerships, the creative part starts, with using our experiences and ideas for developing unique brand-new itineraries.

The Congo Dances from Portobello: Celebrating our African heritage

 The Congo Dance of Panama is a unique and colorful celebration of dances and part of the folklore in the province of #Colon. The dance has its roots in Africa and came to Panama by way of escaped former slaves known as “Cimarrons.”  The dance has been passed on from generation to generation, and can be seen today in the province of Colon, in costal towns such as Portobello (1 ½ hours from Panama City) where the Afro-Panamanian legacy remains very much alive.  Girls and women from #Colon province during the Congo festivities.

The Congos of Portobelo today are the descendants of the cimarrones—runaway slaves who fought for their freedom during the Spanish colonial period. After escaping into the mountain hills and forest, the cimarrones built their villages (Palenques) from which they waged wars against their former enslavers.

The Congos is beautiful dance full of mystery and legends, in which men and women stage with dances, songs and sonorous drums, the ancestral drama of life, and the fight between the good and evil.

The women dance swaying their hips in an almost erotic manner, using hands and feet to mark the man limits. They wear a long skirt made ​​up of a patchwork of very bright colors fabric, a blouse with a colorful frill necklaces, flower in her hair, and bare feet. The men wear a fringed shirt and pants (made of strips of colored cloth), masks, and bare feet and dance around the women, doing their best to get close and kiss them. The rhythm of drums, singing and applause invites everyone around to participate in the Congo.

Check out the video below of a local news report about the 2013 Festival of Diablos and Congos:

Fam Trip El Otro lado Boutique hotel in Portobello

Our team visited again El Otro Lado Boutique hotel in Portobello and they have a day relaxing and luxury.

El Otro Lado is a private retreat, situated in a privileged refuge of Portobelo Bay, integrating design, culture, nature and luxury in a unique manner to provide guests with authentic experiences that are select and customized.
Located approximately 90 minutes from Panama City, and next to the Portobelo National Park, El Otro Lado is the perfect venue to relax and disconnect while pondering the lush and youthful verdure. With views of the sea, the four tropical eclectic design houses integrate simple details with handcrafted traditions of Panama’s Atlantic coast.
A veritable stream of memorable experiences, El Otro Lado takes you to a dream-like place that is in harmony and balance, yet replete with life’s modern conveniences.This luxury boutique hotel offers a spectacular location in the tropical rainforest, an integrated landscape design in an unspoiled expanse, infinity view swimming pool, tropical eclectic design and indigenous decorative elements.