Meet our Naturalist guides: Raul Velasquez

Raul is a passionate and dedicated tour guide, he was born in the Chiriqui Province among coffee farms and agriculture. He became a tour guide in 2008, he actively worked in the Pearl Archipelago when tourism was just starting in Panama. Raul guided whale watching tours as well as island day tours in the Archipelago and after 5 years working there he decided to come back to Boquete and start working as a naturalist and birding guide. He is a certified naturalist guide and MarViva guide. Birdwatching at the Ceriana Farm is his favorite activity and his favorite bird is the Three-wattled Bellbird. Raul enjoys showing Boquete to all visitors and encourages more people to visit the area. He currently resides in Boquete.

Favorite Bird:  Tree Wattle Bellbird

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Meet our guides: Octavio Rios

octavio

Meet some of our guides. We are proud to work with of highly team of experience Panamanians guides. Our guides have training in different fields such as interpretation, leadership, knowledge and first aid. Also our team of guides are highly experience in the different tours that we offer and have different ares of specialization such as ornithology, botany, herpetology, history, culture and traditions, Canal history, etc. Those who do not have formal training have a lifetime of experience and are passionate about sharing their knowledge in the field with you. We also offer an annual training in best practice and natural history.

Octavio Rios is one of our senior birding guides with ample experience in different regions.  He grow up in the highlands of Chiriqui in Panama, an area surrounded by wildlife and national parks.  This must have influenced Octavio’s fascination of ecology and bird watching. He spent his elementary school in Panama, and during high school he divided his time between California and Panama. While studying tourism in college, Octavio worked for Scuba Panama and earned his first job at the Panama Canal Museum in 1999. His area of expertise is history and ecology, and he also has work with  cruise liners. He is also a member of the Panama Audubon Society and the founder of the Tourism Guide Association of Panama. After 13 years of experience, he is now performing as a Certified Interperter Guide, Cruise Director & Naturalist Guide.

Panama Review from Zach and Teresa

We have many visitors experiencing Panama with us every year and we chose this beautiful post to share with you in our blog.  Below you will find the review from  Zach and Teresa in Panama.  They visited us from   Portland Oregon from December 21 to January 11, 2016.

EcoCircuitos Review by Zack and Teresa

This not being my first trip to Panama, I wanted to expand my experience and broaden the locations I would visit beyond the standard tourist path.  Flying into Panama City, I decided to revisit the Panama Viejo site because much had changed since I last visited.  The ruin’s infrastructure had become greatly informative with illustrative information signs and anyone without a guide would have a welcoming and historical visit. The guide from Ecocircuitos provided great historical information on the biography of adventurous nuns who lived in the convents, while also providing a contemporary scope on the way the site transforms for concerts and celebrations in the thriving metropolitan city. 

Panama City is growing and its growing fast with food, art and transportation.  A new Metro Rail will get you to the hot upcoming locations without the wait of traffic, but for a direct journey Uber is at your fingertips letting you skirt past any language barriers.  After the seeing castle ruins the guide took me over to Casco Viejo to check out the old Panama City neighbor hood full of beautiful churches and great places to grab a drink or a bite to eat. At Tántalo Hotel, I tried a delicious smoked chorizo stuffed calamari and some plantains with pulled pork.  Continuing to wander around finding great mojitos and gelato was an easy task.  Strolling along the narrow streets and wandered around the area’s waterfront to marvel at the city skyline was a great way to end a full day in the city.

Although the Boquete highlands is a common destination for the coffee obsessed and those needing a break from the heat of the country, Ecocircuitos allowed me to get a memorable and intimate experience through small organic coffee farms.  I didn’t have a huge understanding of coffee farming but one tour took me from growing the plants including the famous Geisha plant to processing and roasting the beans using recycled farm equipment and an old Jeep.  The guide was informative with lighthearted jokes, and since he worked on the farm as a young boy he had a true passion for his explanations.  The tour really helped explain how delicate the coffee plant from the climate, to its elevation and even the chemicals on your body.  The coffee was great to taste and the town was full of generous and kind hearted individuals.  Boquete also offered an abundance of wildlife and rigorous hikes through the numerous microclimates and if you were tired of drinking coffee the was a nice micro brewery offering a variety of beers full of flavor.   

EcoRevolution: Tourism and Conservation

It is almost impossible to completely remove our “footprint” in a expedition adventure, but we struggle to organize our trips and expeditions in a way that minimizes our impact and encourage our clients to do it as well.

Every adventure we create presents opportunities to educate our staff and clients.  By following the below classic responsible-hiking guidelines we are doing our part:

Trails and walking paths Stay on designated trails and walking paths. Cutting corners anywhere causes erosion and can damage ancient artifacts or historical locations. It is never acceptable to deface natural or human-made objects visited on a EcoCircuitos trip adventure.

Reduction and disposal of waste When possible minimize packaging and avoid using wasteful consumable goods. Our guides ensure that all trash is deposited in appropriate receptacles, even if prevailing norms are less strict. Garbage and organic waste is not to be buried or scattered under any conditions. Seek out recycling receptacles for paper, cans, bottles, foil, and plastic. Set an example and leave places cleaner than you found them, but be mindful of conveying a judgmental attitude towards local environmental sensibilities.

Bathing and washing When dedicated facilities are unavailable, these activities should be undertaken with buckets or wash basins well away from lakes, streams, and the ocean. Keep soap and detergent out of all water. Avoid wasting water and be aware that westerners’ water usage habits may be viewed as excessive in the local context.

Sanitation Use existing restrooms or latrine facilities. When there are none, walk at least 100 yards from trail, road, or body of water and dig a shallow hole (4 to 6 inches deep). Bury the waste. Do not leave toilet paper uncovered and, if safe, burn it before covering the site.

Fires In most countries we visit, forests are a precious and endangered resource. Therefore, the old-fashioned campfire or roaring fireplace is a conspicuous indulgence. Use kerosene as a fuel instead of wood.

Endangered species It should without saying that guests should not collect or purchase any items made from endangered plant or animal species. Importing products derived from endangered species into the United States is not only illegal, but it provides financial incentives for pillaging critical natural resources.

Plastic Plastic waste deserves special attention from conscientious travelers visiting developing countries. Conveniences in demand by western tourists are often delivered in some form of plastic: beverages, packaged foods, toiletries, and souvenirs. Unfortunately, poor countries face an expansion of non-biodegradable garbage on an unprecedented scale and most of them lack adequate processing infrastructure. Plastic wastes cannot be easily re-used or reprocessed and have numerous associated health risks.  The Trip Leader should seek out every opportunity to help EcoCircuitos guests avoid consumption of products packaged in plastic. In particular, water bottled in glass or canteens (which can more easily be reused or recycled) is always preferred over water in plastic bottles, even at additional cost.

 

Whale watching adventure in Azuero Peninsula

If you want to see humpback whales, the best place is Azuero Peninsula.   Every year thousands of humpback whales are swimming along the coastline of Panama as part of their migratory journey. They will pass Panama over a four months period, from July to October. This is an amazing opportunity to head out to the pacific ocean and admire the huge friendly giants from up close.  Join us in the adventure!

Day 1 – Welcome to Panama!

Today at the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos representative will be meet you at the Tocumen International Airport to assist and transfer you to your hotel located in Panama City. You will aso receive an EcoCircuitos information kit. Once arrival, please check in and overnight.

Your transfer will take 25-30 minutes approximately.

Overnight: Hampton Hotel. Standard Room

Day 2 – Azuero Peninsula!

Early in the morning after breakfast you will be transferred to the Azuero Peninsula. This diverse region of the country is made up of three culturally rich provinces: Herrera, Los Santos and Veraguas. The Pacific Ocean is located to the west and the Gulf of Panama to the east of the peninsula. Azuero is known as the folkloric center of Panama, the traditional clothing, such as the beautiful Pollera, and handicrafts, such as ceramics based on pre-Colombian designs, originated and are still made in the areaty in the Pacific off Pedasi is whale watching. Whales are a common sight in the waters of the Azuero Peninsula near Pedasi. Once you arrive you will check in and overnight at hotel.

Turtles Experience at Isla Cañas

At around 4:00 PM you will be transferred from hotel to the port of Cañas, where your boat will be waiting for you to take you to Isla Cañas. On the short boat ride you will enjoy the mangroves and the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Isla Cañas with its 14km long beach is the most important nesting site for sea turtles on the Pacific Coast of Panama. From July thousands of sea turtles of five different species arrive to the coast of Isla Cañas to nest. Once you arrive to Cañas Island you will enjoy a traditional dinner prepared by a local family. After dinner, you will hop on a horse cart and start exploring the beaches of Cañas Island together with your guide, in order to look for the sea turtles to arrive and nest. Once you spot a turtle, your guide will take you closer so you can observe in detail how the impressive animal digs a hole in the beach and lays its eggs.  After the tour you will be transferred back to your hotel. Duration: from 4pm until 11pm approximately.  Overnight: Cubitá Boutique Hotel. Standard Room (B)

Day 3 – Made in Herrera

Discover the manufacturing process of the traditional products of the Herrera Province: sugar-cane, salt, clay and bread. Experience the many uses of sugarcane from refreshing sugarcane juice called “Guarapo”, traditional cooking of sugarcane honey to the production of artisanal sug-arcane liquor; see the extraction of salt from the Pacific Ocean; visit the production of handmade clay pottery; and learn how the famous La Arena bread is baked. Overnight: Cubitá Boutique Hotel. Standard Room (B)

 Day 4 – Whale Watching at Iguana Island

Today at the appropriate time you will be transferred to Playa El Arenal in Pedasí, to board your boat. After a short briefing about responsible whale watching you will start the tour on the Pacific Ocean. Around Pedasi’s coastline, dolphins are frequently seen and between June and October humpback whales. These whales migrate from cold waters to Panama’s Pacific coast with warmer water temperatures to give birth. Your captain and guide are trained for responsible whale watching and will enlighten you with many interesting de-tails about the whales, while – with a bit of luck – you are able to observe these giants of the seas.       After the whale watching you will head towards Iguana Island – a wildlife refuge 8 kilometers off the coast. The island is famous for its white sand beach, crystal waters and coral riffs including 17 different types of corals that shelter more than 350 species of fish. You will enjoy the white sand beach for a while before returning to the mainland for a lunch.

After the tour you will be transferred to your hotel in Pedasi. Overnight: Hotel Playa Venao. Standard Room (B, L)

 Day 5 – Free day in Azuero Peninsula

Free day for relaxation and optional activities. There are many activities that visitors can do during their stay such as: swimming, snorkeling, horseback riding, walks in a tropical dry forest, surfing in Playa Venao, deep sea fishing, turtle watching and more. Overnight: Hotel Playa Venao. Standard Room (B)

Day 6 – Transfer back to Panama City

At the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos Representative will be waiting for you for your transfer from Pedasi to Panama City.

Overnight: Hotel Playa Venao. Standard Room (B)

 Day 7 – Departure

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

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

** END OF SERVICES**

PRICES PER PERSON: $1142.00

Minimum 4 people traveling together.

Rates valid from July 15th until Oct 30th, 2015

 The program includes:
– 6 nights of lodging and taxes

– Government taxes

– Private transfers in and out (Tocumen International Airport)

– Tours and meals as mentioned above

– Breakfast at all mentioned hotels (day 2 thru day 7)

– Information kit
– Lodging taxes

 

The program does not include:

– Optional activities

– International airfare and taxes
– Departure taxes ($40.00 per person for Panama)
– Meals not specified in the itinerary

– Alcoholic beverages

– Personal equipment
– Extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service, etc.)
– Gratuities

 

Rates are valid until, October 30th, 2015 and subject to change due increases on fuel prices

  • Prices are net per person.
  • Prices are given in US Dollars.
  • Prices are subject to change without previous notice depending on any significant increase in rates, taxes, fuel or due to availability problems.
  • Prices are based on the minimum of paying participants previously informed.
  • If the minimum number of paying participants changes, the rates would also change
  • Tips for drives and guides not included

**Prices are subject to change without notice, according to fuel increases, taxes and hotel availability.  

Note: This is a quote not a reservation. Please note that all quotations given are subject to availability at the time of reservation and cannot be guaranteed until payment is received. Please note that credit card payments are subject to processing fees.

 

EcoCircuitos Travel Policy

EcoCircuitos realizes that has important environmental and social responsibilities in and out of the office.  We create memorable travel experiences in Panama’s natural history and cultural heritage.   Our office team and supplier ensure quality service, cultural sensitivity, local knowledge, innovation and social and environmental responsibility.  As travellers ourselves we believe giving something back is essential.  Therefore we work with our team, suppliers and customers to ensure that benefits will contribute directly to the communities we visit and their environment.

For more information, please visit our web page www.ecocircuitos.com at Responsible Travel Policy.

Enhance the traveler experience with local talents… local knowledge.

When travel to a destination hire the locals by STI

Enrich your travel experiences and make sure your travel dollars stay in the host community by hiring a local guide to show you around. Local guides know the area better than any other guides. Whether you are looking for someone to guide you every step of the way or just show you around a sight or two – a good local guide can be the highlight of your trip.

By choosing a local guide, the needs of the local economy can be better met and you are creating cross-cultural relationships. However, when choosing any guide, local or foreign, it is important to consider the environmental impact of your guide’s actions. Keep these questions in mind as you choose a tour operation: Do their guides foster a respect for the environment, particularly in the areas visited, and encourage their guests to do the same? Do guides ever intentionally disturb or encourage the disturbance of wildlife or wildlife habitats? Do they keep vehicles on designated roads and trails and abide by the rules and regulations of the natural areas they visit?

environmentaltoursOnce you’ve found some local guides, here are some additional questions to ask to make sure that you and your guide are well matched, as well as to make sure you will be safe:

  • How many people will be taking this tour?
  • How much control do I get over what we do, when we eat, and when we take breaks?  How strenuous is the tour?
  • What happens if we have bad weather?
  • What happens if someone in the party gets injured?
  • Are there any special safety precautions I need to take?

The key to an excellent eco tour experience is finding a guide that you are comfortable with. If the answers to your inquiries are unsatisfactory, keep looking until you find a tour that is compatible with your needs. Your efforts will be rewarded with an excellent tour guide that is excited to show you around because he or she cares about the destination and your experiences there.

To read complete article from Sustinable Travel International click here