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!

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Over the treetops of Boquete

By Carina Forster

Nestled in the hilly green highlands and surrounded by lush cloud forest, Boquete is the town of coffee and strawberries. It is inhabited by a charming mix of local farmers, international expats and indigenous people, who give the town it’s unique flair.

Joining the passionate EcoCircuitos guide Gerardo on a hilly road trip, we learned about the fascinating history of the area and its role as the “bread basket” of Panama. After some spectacular photo-stops at panoramic view-points of the majestic Volcano Baru, we ended the morning with a delicious cup of coffee at a local farm.

 

In the afternoon we boarded a shuttle truck up a steep and bumpy road deep in the cloud forest to reach the wooden Tree Trek headquarters situated in a picturesque valley, home to the famous Canopy Zip Line of Boquete. But instead of following the crowds to the Zip Line Adventure, we went on a hidden trail up behind the lodge with the local guide Raphael, where a mysterious and unique experience was awaiting us.

Following Raphael through lush cloud forest, we could feel his passion and respect for the surroundings. “Did you study Biology “? I asked him. “No. I just love nature and read a lot”. Was his simple response. Being a Zip Line guide for Tree Trek for over 5 years, in his free time he used to stroll around deep in the cloud forests on his own until he eventually came up with the idea of building a hanging bridge over the valley. By shooting arrows to the other side and climbing the ropes, he built 7 hanging bridges and a beautiful trail network without cutting down a single tree, just within one year.

Following these fairy tale like paths combines unique encounters with the plants and animals of the dense cloud forest with breathtaking panoramic views of rivers, waterfalls and the mighty Baru Volcano covered in mystic fogs. Together with a light dose of adrenaline when crossing the slightly shaking bridges with the ground deep beneath your feet, you have all the ingredients for a unique natural adventure.

Traveling to Guna Yala? the San Blas islands?

Our Guna Yala Expedition  involves hiking, camping, dugout boat and snorkeling.  Below some information for those interested in this amazing adventure.

All participants must sign a Waiver and Release Form before the trip begins.

MEDICAL MATTERS
The trip leader is responsible for the safety of all trip members and he or she may withdraw or disqualify a trip member in the field if anyone’s safety is jeopardized. Please be aware that hospital facilities for serious medical problems may at times be a long way away, that a doctor may not always be available, and that evacuation can be delayed, complicated and expensive.
Remember that EcoCircuitos, S.A. is not a medical authority and that we can only give you general information, which may not be accurate by the time you travel. You should discuss with your physician, local health department.

Immunizations
No immunizations are required at this time to enter Panama. The standard recommended immunizations currently are:
Insect repellent is a very essential part of preventing insect-born diseases, and you must bring your own personal supply.
We advise you to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the early morning and early evening hours is also a good precaution against insect bites.

PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT
We suggest you to bring a basic first aid kit for emergencies, bring your own personal first aid supplies with any medications you may need. Also we advise you to bring extra prescription medicine in case of an emergency.

MONEY MATTERS
You won’t need to take a large amount of money on the trip –enough for any souvenirs, drinks and incidental items. Anywhere from $100 to $300 should be adequate for incidentals and souvenirs, depending on how much shopping you like to do, plus some money for staff tips.

GRATUITIES
It is customary in Panama to tip the staffs that have assisted you on the trip. Trip members can contribute toward a group tip to be share among cooks, camp staff, and local guides. Your trip leader will give you more guidelines on how to tip the staff. Tipping is at your own discretion and you are under no obligation to tip. In cities and in larger country hotels, lodges, restaurants, and shops, you can use credit cards to charge purchases such as accommodations, food, and clothing. American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Diner’s Club are accepted. You can also use your credit card or ATM card to withdraw funds from participating banks in Panama. Outside of cities it may be difficult to find an ATM or use credit cards.

WEATHER & CLIMATE
The days in the Kuna Yala are normally sunny and hot, with temperatures between 75º and 95º Fahrenheit and occasional high humidity. Nights are comfortably cool with temperatures in 70s and 80s. In the Caribbean it can get fairly windy, causing wind directions to change constantly. In the event of high winds and stormy conditions in could be necessary to change our itinerary.
During the Rainy Season between May thru December, storms and heavy rain are possible.

LUGGAGE, CLOTHING & TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
Try to travel as light as possible and take only the essentials. Excess baggage can be a burden to you and to our support personnel. Also keep in mind; there are limits on how much your duffel and daypack can weigh (25 lbs. for the duffel and 10 pounds for the daypack) because of weight restrictions on the domestic flights within Panama.

LUGGAGE
• Duffel bag. We advise that you bring one duffel bag for your gear, and we suggest a size of about 14” x 30” or 15” x 36” with a lock. Make sure your duffel is made of a sturdy material. “When you fly, always bring in your carry-on bag all
irreplaceable items, such as cameras, medications, spare eyeglasses and important papers.”
• Daypack. It should have a capacity of 1500 to 2000 cubic inches and can double as your carry-on bag.
• Small waterproof dry bag to carry personal items (camera, etc.) while on board the kayaks.

CLOTHING
In this tropical journey you will be exposed to sun, wind, and saltwater. Lightweight cotton clothes are suitable for warm weather and are recommended on this trip. Light clothing is truly all that is considered necessary (long sleeves are suggested for sun protection during kayaking). A light covering (cotton sleeping bag liner or silk or fleece bivy) is adequate for a comfortable sleep. Plastic garbage bags are recommended as liners for your dry bag as added protection.
Note: While in communities, women should dress modestly wearing long pants or sarongs and sleeves (no bikinis, tank tops or short shorts) out of respect for the locals.

TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
Pack based on expected weather conditions and weight restrictions for you your luggage.
• Regular underwear. Synthetics are easier to wash and dry.
• Long-sleeved shirt. Short –sleeved synthetic and cotton T-shirts. Lightweight lycra top or “skin” for sun protection while snorkeling.
• Full-length pants, preferably of quick-drying synthetic fabric. Hiking shorts, preferable or a synthetic fabric.
• Sun Hat with wide brim, preferably with chinstrap to keep it from blowing off. Bandanna. It will keep your neck from getting sunburned and can double as a hand towel.
• Lightweight Gore-Tex rain/wind parka.
• A small umbrella is optional (lightweight and collapsible – good for sun and rain protection).
• Athletic socks (synthetic for easy washing and drying) that is suitable for your walking shoes. You should bring along a couple of extra long socks so that pants can be tucked into them (e.g. for when encountering sand fleas).
• Comfortable walking shoes with good ankle support and good traction, or lightweight hiking boots.
• Water sandals with a strap, or Neoprene Kayaking slippers such as Aqua socks.
• Swimsuit. A change of bathing suits is recommended to avoid salt-water rash.
• Cotton or silk bivy bag or sleeping bag liner.
• Water bottle, 1- or 1.5-quart capacity. Make sure it is leak-proof, heavy-duty plastic.
• Synthetic chamois towel and additional small tower (one for salt and one for fresh water).
• Toiletry kit – soap, toothbrush, and so on.
• Insect repellent. It’s important that you bring an ample supply of good quality repellent.
• Ace bandage or brace if you’re prone to sore knees or ankles.
• Sunglasses.
• Spare pair of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses. (Attention
contact lens wearers: you will encounter lots of dust and sand — plan to wear glasses
some of the time).
• Sunscreen and lip protection with at least SPF 15 rating.
• Small flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries. A headlamp is handy for reading in your tent.
• Hand sanitizer or disposable pre-moistened towelettes for quick hand washing and hygiene.
• Plastic bags of various sizes for keeping things sorted out in your duffel. Zip-lock bags work well. (
• Snorkeling mask (please don’t bring fins – they are not necessary, they destroy the reef, and take up valuable space).
• Earplugs for noisy roosters, crashing waves on the beach, etc.
• 30-foot, three-millimeter thick, nylon cords to hang clothes to dry.
• Talcum powder, to prevent salt-water rash.
OPTIONAL TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
• Washcloth
• Reading and writing material
• Binoculars
• Your favorite snack food. The community will provide plenty of excellent food on the trip, but you might want to bring along your favorite snack food.

Electricity
The 120V, 60Hz system works in Panama. Sockets are normally the flat two-pin variety (like in the US), but can vary. We still recommend you to bring a converter and plug adapters if you are planning to use a hairdryer or an electric shaver.

Time Zones
The Republic of Panama is on Greenwich Mean Time minus five hours. Panama City is the same time as New York and 3 hours ahead of California. Then with daylight savings time, Panama is the same as Central time.

Communications
Fax machines and telephones are available at most hotels in the capital. In some of the Kuna Yala communities you will have a phone; at times they do not function.

Cross Cultural Issues
While traveling in a foreign country you must remember that you are a visitor/guest and try your best to become accustomed to the local culture and customs. English is spoken in larger cities, but as you travel further away from these cities you will find there are very few people who speak English. If you are having any difficulties with communicating, ask your guide for
assistance. Also at times it is common for events to take place in a foreign country that are different from your personal beliefs. It is important to have patience and respect the local culture; these are key elements for a successful and inspiring experience.

Cala Mia lodge in the Gulf of Chiriqui

This boutique hotel is located on the tip of an island in the Chiriquí province, 15 minutes by boat from Boca Chica and on the border with the nearly unexplored Chiriqui Marine Park, which provides habitat for birds, monkeys, dolphins, turtles and much more.  Each of the 11 individual air-conditioned bungalow suites with their thatched roofs have a “rancho” rest area, hammocks and big sofas for relaxing and generously designed bathrooms with hot water showers. With the ocean being never more than 10 meters away from your bungalow enjoy the cool evening breeze while looking out on the Pacific and the surrounding nature.
The restaurant, located on the highest point of the peninsula, offers stunning views of the surrounding area, while you treat yourself to one of the exquisite Mediterranean style dishes. Many of the ingredients are directly grown on the hotel’s organic farm. Meet other visitors around the big table in the evenings to revive age-old customs of storytelling and companionable silence as you watch the sun set.
Pamper yourself in the spa located on an adjacent islet accessible by a suspension bridge or enjoy the infinity pool on the shore. The hotel offers half and full day tours for the exploration of the nearby areas.

Escape to the Carnivals in Panama City Feb 24 – 28, 2017 -Last minute $388.00 per person

The Carnival of Panama, also known as King Momo’s party, is celebrated for the four consecutive days leading up to Ash Wednesday (March 1th).  The Panamanian Carnival festivities begin in the morning with mojaderas or culecos and music. At the night parades, the queens ride on floats dressed in Carnival costumes and accompanied by dancing musical groups. Dance festivals are also held parallel to these activities in city squares or along avenues.  This is a cultural festivity and a great time to discover a bit of Panama.
Itinerary for Carnivals for a minimum of 2 people in double room

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 in Panama City. You will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit. Check in and overnight at Hotel in the city, Marriott Executive or similar.

Day 2 – Half Day City Tour – Depart from your hotel to visit the City Carnival celebrations, we will walk in the morning part of the festivities and will learn about the history of Panama and the culture.  .  Our guide will accompany you to show you the areas and also we will visit the Old Quarters; the second colonial city of Panama, which was built in 1673. Here we will walk the French Plaza and surrounding area. The architecture here includes colonial styles of the French, Italian, American and Spanish. Finally, you will have time to shop for handcrafts. After the visit to Old Quarters and an overview of the Modern City and Carnivals, transfer to the hotel.  Overnight hotel in the City. (B)

Day 3-4 –Free day for optional tours (not included) or relaxation in Panama City hotel:

Choose from different options as:

  • Hiking adventure tours to National guides with interpretative guide
  • Jungle boat tour the Gatun Lake and wildlife observation or Kayaking tour in the Panama Canal
  • Biking tour El Valle, Casco Viejo or the Rainforest
  • Cultural encounter with the Embera people of the Chagres National Park
  • Canopy Adventure – Zip Line, biking tours, surfing and beach combing and more.

Day 5 – Departure Panama

At the appropriate time, transfer to international airport for departure.

End of Services.- (B)

Last minute program from $388.00 including transfers in private, 3 nights lodging in Hilton Double Tree or similar, 1 day tour, 1 eco-bottle gift souvenir, assistance 24 hours and 1 day tour.  For more details contact us.  info@ecocircuitos.com

Panama Celebrates Black Friday

This year the Panamanian government along with the private sector is promoting a Black Friday commercial event from September 15 – 25, 2017.   Copa Airlines and distinct tour operators are offering a special packages oriented to clients that are attracted this event.  This won´t attract only commercial tourism but it will be an opportunity for travelers that want to explore the nature, culture and history that Panama has to offer.  Below is our special program for this event:

Price per person for a minimum of 2 sharing room:  $285.00

Day 1 – 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. 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.  Executive hotel or similar.

Day 2 – Black Friday Shopping- Today you will be transferred to the mall you will like to visit. You can choose from the following malls:

  • Albrook Mall
  • Multicentro
  • Multiplaza Pacific

Day 3 – Panama City-Free Day- Today you will have a free day for relaxation and exploration of the nearby areas on your own or some optional tours.   Explore Panama City, visit monuments, museums, shop at the various department stores, stroll through the historic district or pay a visit to a national park.  Optional activities / tours can be arranged upon request.

Day 4 – Departure – 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 their flight time.

The program includes:  3 nights of lodging and taxes, private transportation in and out of Tocumen international airport, all breakfasts, transfer to the mall, information kit and government taxes.

Panama: Naturally close to you

Panama is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Its unique ecology stems in part from its connection to the two continents that created a bridge that made it easier for animals and plants to migrate between North and South America. Scientists believe that the formation of the Isthmus of Panama is one of the most important geologic events to happen on Earth’s climate and its environment in the last 60 million years.

Birds are a primary indicator of biodiversity and Panama has more species than the United States and Canada combine: it has more than 970 different birds. Panama is also privileged to be home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a scientific investigation center, which has been cataloging and monitoring this vast ecological heritage for nearly a century.

Panama offers to birders and nature enthusiast’s great opportunities to experience wildlife within short distances, involving diverse habitats in the different regions of the country, from tropical rainforest, marine coastal areas to the beautiful cloud forest in national parks and private reserves.

Our expert naturalist guides are passionate about tropical Panama and will make sure you have an unforgettable experience. Our team will create a special itinerary featuring wonderful locations where you are able to enjoy first class birding and other nature activities.

Come and discover Panama and the close nature of the neotropics with a passionate team.  We will make sure to organize an unforgettably vacation experience.  Contact us:  www.ecocircuitos.com