FAM TRIP: PANAMA CANAL EXPEDITION CRUISE & ADVENTURE – JUNE, 2018

Discover the natural and cultural beauty of Panama on board of the Discovery cruise Yacth.   This amazing journey will take you to the Darien National Park in search of amazing wildlife and for a cultural exchange with one of our distinct indigenous groups: the Emberas.   We will also navigate the Pearl Island Archipelago and will have the unique experience of a crossing the renowned Panama Canal.  This will be combined with historical tours while walking the legendary trails of the of Pirates and Conquistadores that once fought in the Isthmus that changed the world.

Day 1 – June 5, 2018 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. You will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit. Upon your arrival at your hotel please check in.   Once you arrive at Tocumen International Airport you will first go through immigration, then you will proceed to pick up your luggage.  After you have your luggage you will need to clear customs and agriculture, you will pass all your luggage through an x-ray machine.  Then you will proceed to exit the area, once you pass through the exit door you can go either to the right or the left. EcoCircuitos Panama recommends that you go to the right to better locate our staff who will be receiving you with a sign bearing your name with the company’s logo.  Then transfer to your hotel in the City.  Overnight hotel Central or similar.

 Day 2 – June 6, 2018 Historical City Tour and visit the Biodiversity Museum

biomuseo2

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 back to 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 of monuments of Ferdinand de Lesseps and other Frenchmen instrumental in the ill-fated attempt of the French to construct a canal through Panama. The full-day tour continues to visit the Biodiversity Museum designed by Canadian-American Architect Frank Gehry, the Biomuseo is his only work in Latin America and the tropics. The building was designed to tell the story about how the Isthmus of Panama rose from the sea, uniting two continents, separating a vast ocean in two, and changing the planet’s biodiversity forever. The Biomuseo’s 4,000 square meters contain 8 permanent exhibition galleries designed by Bruce Mau Design. An expert from the Museum will conduct the visit. In addition to the main spaces, the museum includes a public atrium, a space for temporary exhibitions, a shop, a cafe, and multiple outdoor exhibits displayed in the botanical park. The permanent exhibition is a combination of art and science that leads the visitor to experience a marvelous phenomenon.

Return to the hotel in the afternoon for overnight. (B, L)

Day 3 –June 7, 2018 The Pirate Trail: Agua Clara Locks & Fort San Lorenzo – Early in the morning, your guide will meet you at your hotel for a drive across the Isthmus of Panama to the Caribbean province of Colon. You will visit the Gatun Locks and Fort San Lorenzo, which was sacked by the famous Pirate Captain Morgan during his legendary attack on Panama City. Also, you will hike the San Lorenzo National Park trails looking for wildlife with an expert naturalist guide. Along the way, you will stop at a site where remnants of Las Cruces Trail, the 400-year-old colonial trail used by the Spaniards to transport gold across the isthmus, are still found. Once in Colon Province, you will take a short ferry ride over the Panama Canal, you will have the opportunity to see both the Gatun and Agua Clara Locks on one end and Colon 2000 port at the other end. Once you reach the other side of the Canal you will make your way to Fort San Lorenzo a UNESCO World Heritage Site built at the mouth of the Chagres River. The road will lead us deep into the rainforest until we get to the impressive ruins situated on cliffs overlooking endless rainforest and abandoned coastlines. The Spanish bastion formerly served to fortify and protect the river entrance of the Las Cruces Trail that led to Panama City on the Pacific Ocean. This entrance was later used as the port of entry for gold diggers on their way to California during the second half of the 19th century. Enjoy the rich history and extensive panorama of the fort and hike through the rainforest within San Lorenzo National Park, watching out for monkeys, Two and Three-toed sloths, coatimundis, toucans and other wildlife species. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.  The return if is a weekday will be on board of the transcontinental train to recreate the experience of the California Gold Rush age and enjoy the spectacular landscape of the heart of the Panama Canal watershed from the comfort of your train cabin.  Overnight at the Central hotel.  (B,L)

 Day 4 – June 8, 2018 Embarkation & Panama Canal Transit

 

Today you will be transferred to the middle of the Panama Canal for the Discovery embarkation. After embarkation, you will join the afternoon’s ship convoy for our southbound canal passage. 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. At Pedro Miguel Locks and Miraflores Locks, the Discovery will be lowered 85 feet back to sea level of the Pacific Ocean. You will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience up close the history and operation of this engineering marvel. (B, L, D)

Day 5 –June 9, 2018 Darien Jungle & the Embera Indians

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 woodcarvings 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 6 –June 10, 2018 Pearl Islands

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 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 7 –June 11, 2018 Disembarkation & Hiking and Wildlife Observation at the Rainforest Discovery Center

IMG_5327

Today you will arrive Flamenco Marina and disembark the Discovery. Our guides will meet you for another exciting adventure.  Our EcoCircuitos naturalist guide will pick you up at the pier for a ride to the scenic Gamboa Road to Pipeline Road located in the Soberania National Park. You will experience a unique tour exploring the canopy of the Soberania National Park; you will be fascinated by the beautiful view of the forest, the lake and the national parks that protect the canal’s watershed. The upper rainforest canopy at the Rainforest Tower is 30 meters high with emergent trees reaching 40m. Our naturalist guide will explain you the wildlife that you will observe during this trip and you will learn about the sustainable use of water and the recycling materials of this great educational facility in the core of the forest.  Along the way, watch out for Green iguanas and three-toed sloths resting on tree branches, Ospreys in the hunt for Peacock basses, Snail Kites and Keel-billed toucans, amongst many other wildlife species.  Look for the White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey, and Geoffrey’s Tamarin among other species.

 Departure to the airport late in the afternoon

At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the Tocumen International Airport for your outbound flight. You will arrive at the airport approximately 2 hours before your departure time.

Note: customers will be picked up 3 hours before flight time. (B)

End of services.-

Price per person in double: $1485.00

Rack rate:  $2995.00

For details please contact info@ecocircuitos.com

Only for wholesalers and their travel agencies with certification.

Advertisements

Where to go in January? Panama!

by TravelLocal.com

There are hundreds of wonderful destinations across the globe to travel to, but how on earth do you know which to choose?  Travel Local selected 12 destinations to help you get your holiday daydreams on the track for 2018.  And Panama is on the list for January!

January:  Jazz Festival in Panama

Panama is a magical country, whichever way you look at it – endless

tropical beaches, exotic wildlife, and mountains covered in cloud forest

make it a dreamy holiday destination. In January, it comes alive in the

form of jazz! If you love music, you must visit at the beginning of the year

in order to get your toe tapping at the annual Jazz Festival in Panama

City, which will run from 15th – 18th January 2018. Since 2003, the

festival has attracted over 300,000 fans of this soul-stirring genre from

all over the world and is expecting 30,000 attendees in 2018. Mingle

with internationally acclaimed musicians and fellow fans in a vivacious

celebration – a perfect way to sample the lively Panamanian culture

before continuing on with your holiday, whether that involves sandy

sunbathing or seeking out sloths.

January in Panama is in the beginning of the dry season and therefore, the high season.

The diversity of Panama makes it a fantastic place to take a holiday.

When you visit, make the most of the varied opportunities – adventurous

travelers can delve deep into tropical cloud forest, encounter

indigenous peoples and explore the notorious jungles of the Darien.

Those looking more for relaxation can recline on sun-soaked sands with

the waves of the Caribbean sea lapping the shore. And, history-buffs,

don’t forget that famous canal!

Safety & Packing Tips for The Darien

Your trip in Darien is going to be very exciting and you will be impressed about the nature and the animals you will see in the rainforest of the most unexplored, and wildest area of Panama. Anyway, there are some safety instructions you need to follow in order to keep safe and make your adventure through the Darien unforgettable, and also some packing list to make your trip as comfortable as possible!

IMG_5875

1- Follow your guide: Don’t ever leave the path or be too far away from your EcoCircuitos guide. Your guide knows perfectly where you can and where you should NOT go. Losing your guide can be very dangerous as you won’t have any signal in the rainforest and the nature/wildlife can be very mean to you!

2- Don’t touch any animals or plants you don’t know:  It might sound like a parental care, but it is really important that you don’t touch any kind of animals or plants you’ve never seen, firstly because you want to conserve the nature, and secondly because you don’t want to get in danger because of poisonous animals, insects or plants.

3- Bring GOOD hiking shoesI mean, you can certainly bring your tennis shoes. But then you’ll just be sliding like an ice skater and falling in the mud the whole time (Unfortunately I know what I’m talking about). So be sure to have good hiking shoes and maybe also a walking stick (It is really helpful, trust me!)

4- M-O-S-Q-U-I-T-O R-E-P-E-L-L-E-N-T:  Yes, mosquitos are mean. Very mean. Because once you arrive in the Darien you could think they just waited exactly for YOU. You will be like fresh meat for them so this is a tip that comes from the bottom of my heart: Do not forget your (strong) mosquito repellent!

5 – Bring a good backpack (not too heavy) 65 liters and a waterproof bag: You will be carrying your bag so think ahead of which one is best for you.

6 – Bottle water (3 litres of water)  – We will provide you with more water but we suggest to bring you own bottle.

7- Bring a headlamp!  You will probably get the chance to hike through the jungle during the night, which is an incredible experience, and also in order to see different kind of animals you won’t see during the day, so be sure you bring your headlight! It will also be very helpful at in your tent once you will get your rest in the middle of the rainforest!  My favorite brand is Petzl.

8- Leave electronical stuff you don’t need at home:  Come on, you came to the Darien to feel the wildlife and listen to the sounds of nature. Just leave your headphones and your speakers at home for the time you’ll be in the Darien, you will appreciate it, and especially the animals will!

9- Bring your waterproof jacket and pants – or fast drying clothes:  Either you bring your waterproof jacket or fast drying clothes – the second option is better, because you will get wet anyways, as it starts to rain probably every ten minutes (no surprise, you’re in a rainforest). Anyway make sure you bring a waterproof bag or something to cover your backpack in order to have your documents dry and some dry clothes for when you’re going to sleep!

10- Don’t forget your camera and extra batteries:  if you enjoy nature photography you will have the best chances  to see beautiful animals, insects and plants. So if you want to have all of it captured, go for it! If you want to travel lightly and your personal memory is better than the one in the camera, leave it at home.

11- Bring enough water and some snacks:  You will be in the middle of the rainforest, so forget about little shops around the corner. Bring enough water to keep hydrated and some snacks for the emergency hunger. Protein or granola bars are a good option!

12- Bring some cash:  you may want to buy a handcraft from master artisans in communities you will visit.

13.  If you prefer, you can bring your camping hammock check:  http://www.cleverhiker.com/best-backpacking-hammocks/

But remember, take all the trash back with you, and only leave your footprint!

Those are the most important things you should consider if you’re planning to go to the Darien. Remember that it is not possible to go by your own, as the area could be dangerous and there is no infrastructure that would make it possible. Please always remember that you will be in a place of virgin nature, where there is no contamination. It is one of the few places in the earth that is still well preserved, so please be responsible and respect the environment. The Darien is definitely a hidden treasure in Panama, enjoy it and only leave you footprint!

Another fellow adventure has share with us a link with a packing tips and list.  Click here

EcoCircuitos is specialized in adventures in the Darien and organizes unforgettable trips to this breathtaking Region. Contact us info@ecocircuitos.com!

 

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.

Adventure, Conservation and Education

EcoCircuitos is specialized in educational travel experiences. Our guides are experts in their field and provide in-depth insights and understandings from culture and history to biodiversity. These understandings foster authentic travel experiences as well as responsible encounters between travelers and nature, biodiversity and local people. Contact us and experience the real #Panama.

Expedition to Darien and Guna Yala

Adventure, Conservation and Education

By Raffaele Capomolla

The Darien – A region of Panama, that is still unexplored, with an incredible biodiversity, stunning wildlife and a breathtaking beauty. The Darien is not just a place to go and see, but place you will admire, where you will literally feel the nature, which will offer you an unforgettable experience. I had the chance to accompany a group of biology students from the St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas through an adventure in Panama’s treasure of wildlife. The adventure started very early in the morning in Panama City, where we were picked up for a long drive to El Real in the Region of Darien. Once arrived there, we had to hike for 2 hours until we arrive to place called “Rancho Frio”, where we would overnight in tents and hammocks, exposed to nature, in the middle of this beautiful, virgin rainforest. The next day we went on a trail in the area, which beat all our expectations – we saw the impressive harpy eagle, a powerful and very beautiful prey bird. To finish this great trail our extraordinary local guides took us to a wonderful waterfall to have a swim and eat a snack in the middle of nature. We were impressed of what the Darien gave us to see; amazing birds, snakes, insects and amphibians. The region of the Darien is also habitat of the Jaguars; unfortunately, we didn’t see them, but that’s nature is – unpredictable.

Our next part of the trip was an incredible, cultural experience. We went to the Mogue indigenous community, where the “Embera” have their houses made of wood. We literally got to experience their way of living, their old traditions, their typical food and their language. We were impressed of the simplicity of their lives, with no electricity, no internet, just using the nature in a sustainable way.  I was touched of the answer of an Embera when I asked him: “How much meat do you eat? Do you kill animals for food every day?” And he replies: No, because if we kill a lot of animals in a short time, we won’t have enough”. It seems ridiculous, but this is something a lot of people nowadays still don’t realize – Such a simple and obvious answer, but too many people still continue to eat meat every day. We stayed a night in one of those rustic but very authentic houses of the Embera.

Guna Yala, San Blas Cultural Expedition

The last part of our trip was in the beautiful Archipelago of San Blas, called “Kuna Yala” in indigenous language. Not only we enjoyed the typical Caribbean, crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic ocean, but also the culture of this indigenous community, which had to fight a lot for their territory. We slept in comfortable, rustic cabanas and had fresh seafood every day. The Kunas are very organized and very proud of their culture, which they always transmit to future generations. I was picking up a coconut that fell from a palm tree and was first a little confused when a Kuna asked me to pay for the coconut I just found on the sand. But then I understood as he explained to me that the coconut is a very important and sacred object in their daily lives, because the coconut is still used as a payment method for goods. We had then the chance to visit the village and the Museum of the Kunas, where Mister Delfino explained us everything about the history, the culture and traditions of the kunas.

If you are planning to come to Panama, don’t miss the chance to visit the incredible, natural beauty of the Darien and the marvelous clear waters of San Blas. You will have it all in one – Nature, Culture and Adventure! The EcoCircuitos Team and our naturalist guides will be happy to organize this adventure for you. Just contact us!

info@ecocircuitos.com or annie@ecocircuitos.com

Darien Jungle Expedition in Pirre

Experience with a local team of expert guides a unique jungle adventure in Panama. Our Darien Expedition is a 5 days adventure that starts in Panama City where we will take the Pan- American Highway towards the eastern side of the of Panama to the world famous forest of the Darien National Park.

This National Park of 579,000 ha (1,400,000 acres) is situated in the eastern part of the country, bordering on Colombia and is the largest protected nature area of Central America and the Caribbean. Its prodigious nature includes mountain ranges reaching 2,500 m (7,500 ft),  wide range of habitats: sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, freshwater marshes, palm forest swamps and lowland and upland moist tropical forest.   Wetland forest along the Chucunaque and Tuira rivers is often covered by pure stands of cativo, this species being the most utilized timber tree in the region, and mangroves along the Pacific coast.    Also Darien contains a Premontane and montane forests, with several types of botanically interesting ecosystem including cloud forest and the elfin forest of Cerro Pirre.

Darien National park is home  of many extraordinary plant species that are unique in the world as well as some amazing beautiful animals, like the Jaguar (Felis Onca) and the Harpy Eagle (Harpia Harpyja).

This park is an adventure site that can give you unforgettable memories and experiences. The forest offers activities bird watching, hiking and jungle trekking, wildlife observation, 4 x 4 expeditions and boat trips on the river. The local communities of the Emberá and Wounan will share their wisdom, culture and traditions with the visitors.

For complete itinerary and details, please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com  or our partner wholesalers