Educational and Academic trips in Panama.

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.

With being one of the most biodiverse places on earth, Panama hosts world-class biological and geological experiences. With its numerous indigenous communities, colonial towns, ancient ruins and the Panama Canal, the Isthmus it is also a top-spot for historians, anthropologists and architecture lovers. What is less known, is Panama’s extensive art scene; from numerous galleries in the capital, Afro-Caribbean remains and indigenous handicrafts to artisans dating back to colonial times.

Private Reserves:  Mamoní Valley and ideal spot for neotropical studies

Located at 2.5 hours east of Panama’s international airport, and in the heart of the Mamoní Valley, lies an amazing rainforest campus amidst land manage by a non-profit organization that support Tourism and Conservation.    Their efforts supports its large-scale land conservation and habitat restoration within 28,000-acre Upper Mamoní Valley Watershed and beyond.  They offer a natural campus within a critical biological corridor that is the bridge for culture and wildlife throughout the Americas and home to many endemic and endangered species.

They have count to date 332 birds, 51 amphibians, 63 mammals, 62 reptiles and a incredible diversity of plants and trees.

We partner with this organization to offer Educational Trips for universities and high schools students interested in hands-on learning, while making a positive impact on the flora, fauna and communities in an ecological hotspot.  Some of the projects involves permaculture, wildlife observation, rainforest treks, adventures and exchange with local communities.

A fun and engaging environment for my students to learn through hands-on learning and solving real world problems.  – Nader Afzalan. Teacher at Redlands university.

EcoCircuitos has experience with programs that have been tailored to middle and high school level students and with undergraduate and graduate students. For more information contact us at: info@ecocircuitos.com.

 

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Our Latest Darien Jungle Expedition

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

Tourism, Education and Conservation in Panama: STRI

Panama has to be considered as one of the leading destinations for students interested in tropical biology and rainforest preservation. As a land bridge between the two continents, Panama is a meeting place of over 970 species of birds from North and South America. Its tremendous biodiversity and the accessibility of its tropical forests make Panama a paradise for nature and ecological studies. Panama itself is a flower garden with more than 1500 species of trees and more than 10,000 species of plants. With two oceans washing its shores, Panama is rich in marine life.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI) in Panama, is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution based outside of the United States, is dedicated to understanding biological diversity.

What began in 1923 as small field station on Barro Colorado Island, in the Panama Canal Zone, has developed into one of the leading research institutions of the world. STRI’s facilities provide a unique opportunity for long-term ecological studies in the tropics, and are used extensively by some 900 visiting scientists from academic and research institutions in the United States and around the world every year. The work of our resident scientists has allowed us to better understand tropical habitats and has trained hundreds of tropical biologists.

STRI is the perfect partner for Academic and Educational Tours in the Tropics:

Panama’s remarkable biodiversity and the accessibility of its tropical forests make it a paradise for nature and ecological studies. Our trip will expose participants to the natural wonders of lowland tropical forest, cloud forest and coral reef ecosystems. Culturally, students will have the opportunity to interact with and learn about our local communities and to experience city life in the developing world.

Panama EcoArt Program

Discover what truly makes Panama so special, its people, land, history and culture. The Panamanian culture is translated through its art. The mola that carefully handcrafted by is Guna (Kuna indians) is a reflection of how unique this culture truly is. During this program you will travel, learn and experience the true Panama, learning in person from the people who call this land bridge their home. You will journey to six of Panama’s provinces to learn from local artisans, while they work on their masterpieces that will be used in local celebrations or could be flown halfway around the globe. This program includes visits to Guna Yala – San Blas Archipelago (molas), Chagres National Park to visit the Embera people (Cocobolo and Tagua –vegetable ivory carvings), Cocle (sombrero pintado – woven hat) and Herrera (ceramics and diablo sucio masks).  This is a complete and fun itinerary that is ideal for those who love Latin American art.  Contact us for a detailed itinerary.

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

 

A Fantastic Journey: Part 3

By Louie Celerier

Embera  Indian  Village,  Chagres  River

Sunday,  March  6           Leaving   the   hotel   at   8   AM   with   the   EcoCircuitos   guide,   we   headed   for   the   Chagres   River   above   Madden   Dam.   We   were   headed   to   one   of   the   Embera   Indian   villages   on   the   shores   of   the   Chagres   River.        The   Chagres   River   and   its   water   shed   is,   as   you   know,   the   key   to   the   operation   of   the   locks   of   the   Canal.  It  feeds  Gatun  Lake  which  provides  the  reservoir  of  water  that  allows  ships  to  be  raised  85  feet   above  sea  level  to  transit  across  the  isthmus.        But,  also,  much  history  flows  through  this  river:  First,  as  a  route  for  the  Spanish  “Las  Cruces  Trail”  on   which   gold   from   Peru   was   carried   from   Panama   City   to   the   banks   of   the   upper   Chagres   and   floated   down   to   Fort   San   Lorenzo.   From   there   it   was   transferred   to   the   Portobello   Customs   House   where   it   was  stored  until  the  Spanish  Galleons  would  arrive  from  Spain.  The  other  route  to  Portobello,  the  “El   Camino  Real”,  was  a  land  trail  all  the  way  from  Panama  to  the  Atlantic  port.  Later,  the  Chagres  route   was   used,   in   reverse,   by   the   “Forty-­niners”   on   their   way   to   the   Pacific   and   the   California   gold   fields.   (How  many  found  their  resting  place  on  its  banks?)  Therefore,  I  was  very  glad  to  be  able  to  go  up  this   river,   in   an   Indian   dug-­out   canoe   (with   outboard,   of   course),   to   the   lower   of   three   Embera   Indian   villages  on  the  banks  of  the  river.        This  area  is  a  new  National  Park.  Three  Indian  villages  have  been  created,  for  the  benefit  of  tourist,  by   bringing  Indians  from  the  Embera  tribes  to  live  at  these  settlements  by  the  shores  of  the  river.  As  their   chief  explained,  they  are  mostly  young  people  now,  but  in  time  they  will  be  representative  of  a  typical   Indian  community.  They  live  according  to  their  customs,  providing  an  insight  of  their  history  and  way   of  life  to  the  tourist  that  cannot  venture  into  the  jungles  of  Darien.  At  any  rate,  this  type  of  trip  should   be  made  with  a  group  of  not  less  that  20  as  otherwise,  the  Indians  do  not  get  into  the  full  spirit  of  their   “show”.   As   it   happened,   the   other   two   Indian   villages   were   full   for   that   day   and   we   had   to   visit   the   lower  village  all  by  ourselves,  just  two  of  us.  The  group  ahead  of  us,  on  the  next  village  consisted  of  130   and  they  had  a  ball.  But  we  did  learn  much  about  their  way  of  life  and  were  able  to  poke  out  heads  into   their  village,  even  helping  them  saw  some  lumber  they  were  needing  for  a  new  “privy”.        On  leaving  the  village,  we  went  up  river  for  a  better  view  of  the  Chagres.  Being  dry  season,  it  was  not   easy   and,   running   short   of   gasoline,   we   were   forced   to   turn   back.   But   we   got   to   see   more   of   this   majestic  river  which  has  always  played  such  an  important  part  in  the  history  of  Panama.  And  the  views   were  beautiful  as  well  as  menacing.        Back   in   the   city   that   night,   we   went   to   dinner   at   El   Panama   Hotel   again   and   had   another   excellent   meal.  Remember  how  we  would  go  there  after  the  school  dances?  We  would  go  to  the  ballroom  at  the   top   floor,   which   would   also   open   into   a   terrace,   and   dance   until   midnight.   The   view   of   the   bay   of   Panama,  with  the  flickering  lights  of  the  fishing  boats,  was  always  beautiful  and  romantic.  What  a  long   time  ago  that  was!

Every Monday we publish part of Louis Celerier’s mesmerizing tale of how he rediscovered the country of his childhood. Subscribe to this blog or follow us on Facebook to make sure not to miss anything!

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How long have Native American peoples lived on the Isthmus of Panama?

From STRI.org

All Native American peoples in Central and South America descend from Northeast Asians who travelled down the Pacific Coast 20,000-15,000 years ago, settling in Chile by 14,500 years ago.Image

If migrants travelled along the coast, their camps in Panama were submerged as sea levels rose when the last ice age was ending, leaving no trace.

Nor did humans make any impact on forests near La Yeguada (Veraguas) until 13,200 years ago when clearing and burning began. At this time Clovis hunters camped at the Vampiros rock shelter (Coclé) and made Clovis stone spear points and hide scrapers at nearby Sarigua (Herrera). They probably hunted mastodons and giant ground sloths.

By 6000 years ago maize, manioc and squash had arrived from their respective domestication centers in Mexico and South America. Farming expanded and settlements became larger and more permanent.

Panama’s seven Native American peoples descend from earlier populations living on or near the Isthmus for thousands of years. Eighty percent of modern Panamanians have a Native American woman as their original female ancestor.

For more information see the complete article by staff scientist Richard Cooke: How long have Native Americans lived in Panama?