Panama is Diversity

By Anaisha Shuffler

When you hear someone mention “Panama” what´s the first thing that comes to mind? Some people have never heard about the country before. Many think of Panama City, Florida. Others immediately picture the Canal.

What about the people? What do Panamanians look like? Are we mostly Caucasian or African American? Are we tall or short?

Aside from the Canal and the humidity, Panama is also known for its ethnic diversity. These groups include Mestizos, which are a mix of European and native ancestry, Afro-Panamanians, and also a considerable Asian population.

For this post, although I´m Afro-Panamanian myself, I will focus on the Asian population.

I graduated from a Taiwanese-Panamanian school, so naturally, most of my friends are Asians, and I have gained a huge appreciation and respect for their culture. And a vast love for their cuisine.

If you are ever in Panama and have a craving for Asian food, whether it be Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese… you will have many options.

One of the most popular Chinese restaurants in Panama is “Golden Unicorn”. Over the years, their clientele went from exclusively Asian to a clientele as diverse as our country. They are known mostly for their delicious Chinese breakfasts called “dim sum” and for their “hot pot”, known here as “fogón”.

The concept is simple: You pay a certain amount of money and they place a small stove in the middle of the table with a pot full of stock which can be spicy or regular (And if you want both, they place a divider). They bring multiple plates of different raw foods to your table such as shrimp, lobster, fish balls, meat balls, fine slices of steak, vegetables, noodles and more. You then proceed to cook your own food. The best thing about this is that once you are done, and you want more, you can ask for another round!

You may think “why would I pay to cook my own food?”, but it´s actually a fun experience. I went many times as a teenager with my friends and a few weeks ago I took my 14-year-old cousin to experience it and she loved it.

Many foreigners came up to us and asked us what it was all about, and as we explained, they got excited and went over to their table to ask for the same thing. My cousin and I would sneak glances at them, and you could just tell that they were having a blast!

It´s an awesome group activity. And if you are like me, and you like to eat, you will ask for another round.

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48 hours in Panama City – What to Do?

So you are traveling, your Stopover is in Panama City and you dispose of 48 hours to see the whole city? Well, of course you will have to do it in a rush – But 48 hours are sufficient to get a great taste of Panama, and it will certainly convince you to come back for a longer time and completely discover this beautiful country with its culture, nature and people!

Casco Antiguo

Let’s start very active – Day 1 in the morning!

Feel a bit of Panama’s nature – Go for a half day hike to Gamboa in the Soberania National Park, one of the most accessible national parks in Panama and keep your eyes open for beautiful birds and monkeys. Your EcoCircuitos guide will pick you up early in the morning for a 45 minutes drive along the scenic Gamboa Road. Your hiking Tour will be tailored to your physical abilities and interests!

In the afternoon

After Lunch you should rent a bike and cycle on the recently amplified Causeway, a narrow land-bridge built with rocks that were excavated during the construction of the Panama Canal, connecting four island next to the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. The view on the Bridge of the Americas and the Canal is amazing and the ride very pleasant! As the Bio-museum is just on the road, have a stop there – You will be amazed of this incredible building designed by Frank Gehry!

Day 2 in the morning

You can’t leave Panama City without visiting one of the greatest and most impressive engineering feat – The Panama Canal. Go to Miraflores and visit the Museum, where you will learn about the whole history and the difficulties during the construction. And of course watch the giant boats passing through the canal!

In the afternoon

There’s no time to lose – Go to the fish market ‘Mercado de Mariscos’ and satisfy your stomach with a delicious Ceviche. Right after that, walk to Casco Viejo, the old, colonial town of Panama which is Unesco World Heritage Site and admire the beautiful architecture from the 17th century!

Time flies and 48 hours pass really quickly – but Panama has a lot to offer. So if you have the chance to come back you should definitely consider to visit the paradisiac beaches, the highlands and experience the beautiful culture. For more information just contact info@ecocircuitos.com !

 

PANAMANIAN BUFFET AT THE CANAL

By Juliette Darmon

What a pleasant moment to share a brunch-buffet on Sundays with the Canal view at Miraflores Locks!

Every Sunday, near the Ciudad del Saber, close to the city, you could have the opportunity to savor a complete buffet, homemade food, natural juices, cocktails and so on at the Miraflores restaurant.

NEW OPENING: Brunch de la Taquilla

A fresh event has been opened this last Sunday! And what an event!

5 Panamanians famous Chefs of the city came to cook and organize a typical Panamanian brunch-buffet! For $48 per person from 11.30am to 4.30pm, you could eat freely and drink as many Panamanian cocktails as you want! A real friendly atmosphere, food and service of quality, you will find something for every taste: appetizers, salads, seafood, fish, grilled meat, paella, fresh fruits, deserts, fresh juices, Panamanian cocktails bars.  This event will be only one time per month but it is really worth it!

Moreover, it is really interesting to see the chefs in front of you cooking your French toasts, explaining what you could find in each cooked dishes, and discussing with them about their experiences!

If you are not that hungry and you are more looking for chilling in this place for the view while tasting the buffet, you will also have the possibility to share a common plate for $25, and choosing what do you want with the waiter, just once, with one cocktail.

Enjoy the canal and locks view, go to the terrace and visit the museum to understand how does it work after your brunch!

For more information contact us: info@ecocircuitos.com

 

 

Are you ready for the New Locks?

By Jennie C. Trow

The Panama Canal Expansion project has brought many new innovative changes to the Panama Canal and the way it is visited. Now you will visit the new Aguas Claras Locks Visitor Center instead of the Gatun Locks Visitor Center. Both locks will still be used by ships crossing the Canal. The Aguas Claras Locks were constructed to accommodate larger vessels that will transit the Canal.

The Panama Canal Expansion is the largest project at the Canal since its original construction. The project will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterway’s capacity. June 26, 2016 is the inauguration, are you ready for the new Locks?

The Aguas Claras Visitor Center was built in an ecologically conscious manner, taking advantage of its natural surroundings, allowing its visitors to not only have an amazing panoramic view of the Canal but also being in the middle of nature. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch a short movie about the construction of the locks, visitors center and the several Panamanians that were involved in the project.

Afterwards if you are up for a short adventure, walk along an ecological trail close to the Center and identify the different species the Panama Canal Rescue Team has relocated within the trail.

For more information, please contact us 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.

Why we love Panama

Welcome to our little paradise! With lush jungles and mystic cloud forests, white-sanded beaches and cast-away islands, hidden waterfalls and highlands covered in flowers; Panama hosts a true natural treasure. Its inhabitants are consisting of hundreds of bird species, monkeys, sloths, butterflies and the laid-back Panamanians which are welcoming all kinds of visitors.

The national charm consists of a wide diversity of cultures, from isolated indigenous tribes and traditional villages to the colorful mix of nationalities in the vibrant capital.

Panama City’s imposing skyline and the mighty Canal form a unique cultural cocktail with the rich history of colorful colonial towns and ancient fortresses on the countryside.

  • Capital: Panama City
  • Inhabitants: 4 Million (3 Million in Panama City)
  • Size: 74,177.3 km2 or 28,640 sqare miles
  • Currency: United States Dollar (Credit Cards are widely accepted)
  • Language: Spanish
  • Government: Presidential constitutional republic
  • Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (EST), GMT – 5
  • Visa: Contact Panamanian embassy or consulate in your home country!
  • Calling Code: +507
  • Plug Types: Types A & B (United States, Canada, Latin America)

Weather and Climate

Panama has a tropical and humid climate with stable year-round temperatures of about 32ºC (90ºF) during the day and 21ºC (70ºF) during night time. However, temperatures vary according to geography; in highland areas like Boquete and El Valle de Anton, the annual temperature ranges from 12ºC (53ºF) to 15ºC (59ºF).

Panama’s climate can generally be divided into two seasons:

The Dry Season: The high-season of Panama usually lasts from December to May and is characterized by a stable, dry and sunny weather, with only some very occasional sprinkles of rain. These are the perfect months for travelers seeking for sun and a usually well-predictable and stable climate. However, keep in mind that highland-regions like Chiriquí and El Valle de Anton, as well as some regions on the Caribbean side of Panama, like Bocas del Toro, Colon and the San Blas islands, might have rainfalls all year round.

The Green Season: During this season from June to November, the whole country is becoming lush, healthy and green. The season is characterized by sporadic rain showers which are vital for the tropical flora and fauna, as well as the water supplies of natural reserves, Panama City and the Panama Canal. Panama is perfectly fine to visit during this season. It may rain once a day for about two hours, however; before and afterwards it is usually sunny and on many days it does not rain at all. Moreover, the country is lush and green, less crowded and prices are lower. There are also some regions with stable and dry weather throughout the year. Click here for our “Sun in the Green Season” program or contact us for further assistance.

Although it is quite stable during the dry season in Panama, weather – like all over the globe – can never be precisely predicted or planned. For both seasons, we can make no guarantees and suggest being flexible.

“Wherever you go – always bring your own sunshine”