Corals are actually animals! In fact, a single coral formation can be made up of THOUSANDS of tiny little animals called polyps, which are related to jellyfish. Together, polyps create beautiful corals of all shapes and sizes. Some build stony coral reefs, while others form soft corals that resemble bushes, feathers, and trees.
But corals are also extremely sensitive creatures. Something as simple as a change in water temperature or poor water quality can lead to their demise. The rise in climate change and other human impacts is putting coral reefs around the world in jeopardy. Scientists predict that up to 90% of all reefs could be gone by 2050 unless we reduce these impacts.
Coral reefs are the most biodiverse marine ecosystem. Though they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, they are home to more than a quarter of all marine life.
If this disease continues to wreak havoc across the Mesoamerican Reef, there will be a ripple effect of consequences for marine life and communities. When coral health declines it can throw off the delicate balance of the entire ecosystem and cause fish populations to dwindle. As the reef becomes barren, local people that rely on the reef will need to find other sources of food and income. On top of this, coastal communities will be left exposed to the damaging impacts of waves and storms. And without calcium rich corals you can also bid farewell to white sandy beaches!
Needless to say, the loss of a reef system as expansive as the Mesoamerican Reef would be devastating at a time when coral reefs across the globe are struggling to survive.
Ways you can Help
Use reef-safe sunscreens that don’t contain harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate that are toxic the reef. More information on how sunscreen affects coral reefs and which chemicals to avoid is available here.
Don’t touch corals or other marine life. Maintaining proper buoyancy is an important skill to keep your fins or equipment from hitting the reef or seafloor.
Disinfect your dive and snorkel gear between excursions by removing debris and sanitizing it with a 5-10% bleach solution. For sensitive equipment, use fresh water with antibacterial dish soap instead. Detailed instructions on how to safely decontaminate different types of gear are outlined here.
Don’t litter and reduce plastic use to reduce the amount of debris that is contaminating the reef.
Choose responsible dive operators, hotels, and other businesses that practice proper wastewater treatment and use environmentally friendly cleaning products and fertilizers.
In a recent survey done by Gallup, Panama ranked number 1 as the happiest country in the world. “Global happiness studies often involve two measures — how people see their lives and how they live their lives. Both concepts are rooted in behavioral economics. How people reflect on their life is very different from how people live their life.
Panama leads not only the region, but the world in four of the five well-being elements — purpose, social, community, and physical well-being.
Four reasons why Panama is a happy destination and you should include it to your bucket list for 2020.
1 – Panama is a destination of traditional family values. Bonds are paramount, and family and friends play a very important role in society.
2 – Panama is naturally beautiful and biodiverse – a small country with two oceans and a productive environment. Panama offers close natural attractions for day trips and weekend escapes. Easy access to beaches, mountains, islands, rainforests, and more.
3 – Cultural diverse – a genuinely melting pot where the local folklore can be experienced through a multitude of festivals, dances, and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. The different festivals reflect the influence of the various ethnic groups that make up the country. To the north, in Colon Province, one can observe traditions of African influence, such as Congo drums dating back to the era of slavery and the Black Christ feast. In contrast, the Pollera Festival in the town of Las Tablas honors the Spanish colonial traditions.
4 – Stable government and safe destination, Panama is considered to be the safest country of Latin America.
Happiness can’t be measured by how much money you make, but in Panama is influenced by the bonds of your family, friends, and environment.
If you have a long layover in Panama City International Airport, don’t stay bored inside some walls and get out and explore a city that offers a delightful combination of history, diversity, close national parks and cosmopolitan living.
Visit the spectacular colorful Biodiversity Museum design by Frank Gehry. Located in Amador Causeway it showcase Panama’s incredible biodiversity. This is a must and later take a biking ride along the Causeway. This is an ideal adventure if you are traveling with kids.
Visit the MAC: Contemporary Art Museum of Panama – The Museum of Contemporary Art, popularly called MAC, is the only museum of contemporary art that exists in Panama. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, which has legal status and its building is located on the Avenida de los Martyrs, San Blas Street, Ancón. There is always a show or unique exhibition for the local or Latin American artist. Book our Art Tour and get to know our local artists.
Go hiking, birding or wildlife observation in Metropolitan Park – Explore a tropical forest in the heart of Panama City on a tour through the Parque Natural Metropolitano and Ancon Hill. Watch for sloths, birds, monkeys, insects and tree frogs as you hike through the tropical rainforest, and learn the names for Panama’s native plants and animals. Take in sweeping views of the City from the lookout mirador, see flocks of birds erupt from the foliage and experience the tranquility of Panama City’s only wildlife refuge. You can join one of our rainforest adventures and discover why Panama is the Isthmus that changed the world.
Something very local: try a ceviche and local beer – if you want to experience the way of the locals, head to El Mercado del Marisco or stroll in Casco Viejo old colonial town where you will find beautiful shops, , and good restaurants. Our cuisine has received international recognition due to the new generation of young chefs that have raised the quality of our gastronomy by mixing hundreds of years of diversity. Book our gastronomy tour as we are the first tour operator offering this unique experience.
Discover the natural and cultural beauty of the Atlantic and Pacific of Panama on board the Discovery Expedition Cruise. This incredible journey will take you to the Darien National Park in search of unique wildlife and for a cultural exchange with one of our distinct indigenous groups: the Emberas. We will also navigate the Pearl Island Archipelago and discover some of the idillic islands of the Pacific. You will also have the unforgettable experience of crossing the renowned Panama Canal and navigate through the Gatun Lake and the world-famous Chagres River while exploring the legendary trails of the of Pirates and Conquistadores that once fought in the Isthmus that changed the world. Ask for summer savings up to 25% off
The ritual and festive expressions of the Congo culture encompass the contemporary vision of a collective celebration of black rebel descendants enslaved during the colonial period During the Congo season, participants act out a matriarchal society in a palisade, ruled by a queen and her court. Everyone must help protect the queen and members of the palisade from the devils (diablos), and the season concludes with a confrontation between the diablos and the congos. Everyone takes part, and the expressions have been fostering social integration for generations.
In today’s world where a good education is a key to success, it is important to offer the students experiences abroad. An academic travel can impact the participants beyond the fun and adventure. Below 10 benefits that students gain from educational travel from Dr Wendy Amato Ph.D and take it from World Strides.
Better Academic Performance – On an educational tour, students get to experience different styles of teaching and see a new side to their subject of study. When able to see, touch and smell the very things they have learned about in books, students return to the classroom with a deeper connection and greater motivation for their studies.
A Global Perspective – Unfamiliarity and separation from home are great incubators for thought. New experiences will question one’s preconceived ideas. The enriching experience of educational travel encourages students to expand their world view, witness a new way of life and better understand people, history and culture.
Confidence – Living for any amount of time in a culture that’s different from home can help prepare students for the future in ways more profound than any camp or holiday can. Overcoming challenges while traveling help students grow confidence and prepare them for life’s obstacles.
Grit – Travelling away from the comfort of friends, family and familiar surroundings is tough. But doing it shows that a person is interested enough in the rest of the world, and confident enough to venture out and discover other parts of the world. This is a character trait that’s very appealing to employers.
Networking – Travel provides students with a global network of contacts and references. Plus, instead of relying on others’ opinions, travelers establish perspective, confidence, and conviction that make it easier to gain the respect of others.
Growth & Independence – While away from home and the ease of a regular support system, students have opportunities to see what they are capable of accomplishing by themselves. Travelling allows students to develop themselves in ways that can’t be achieved without stepping outside of their comfort zone, becoming more mature, independent and self-aware.
Individuality – Travel provides experiences to define a person’s place and purpose and establishes lifelong values and priorities.
Career Opportunities – Employers view students that have traveled as well-rounded as they have shown not only a commitment to their education but a confidence to venture out and discover new things as well as their ability to adapt to new situations.
Appreciation – Getting away from home is also a chance to allow a student to realize what they miss most. Experiencing another place and culture is an opportunity to appreciate what they already have and realize the importance of the little things that often go unnoticed.
New Friends – Cultural immersion through travels can also help break down language barriers and open new channels of lifelong communication. Exploring a new place opens doors to establish new friendships and relationships that never would have been acquired without traveling.
For more information about our educational tours, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past 10 years, tourism in Panama has grown considerably, attracting more and more visitors around the world for its canal, but also for its marvelous environment. Located in Central America between Costa Rica and Colombia, and bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and on the south by the Pacific Ocean, the isthmus is a land bridge for an important number of mammals and bird’s species.
Nevertheless, the number of travelers to Panama is still relatively small compared with Costa Rica. But contrary to his neighbor, Panama still have plenty of treasures under-explored to discover. In fact, due to its unique geographical position, Panama provides paradisiac places, a variety of landscapes and an incredible biodiversity which offer travelers, an access to incredible adventures and sustainable experiences.
Home of an amazing ecosystem, Panama gives you the opportunity to discover a rich culture and unique nature. Our 10 best things to do in Panama:
Cultural exchange with local communities
With 7 indigenous communities around the country, Panama offers you the unique opportunity to share a cultural experience. Their traditional lifestyle and their close relationship with nature will impact your life forever. This authentic experience that everyone should live once in Panama, contributes at the same time to the conservation of these communities, their culture and empower their economies.
See the pygmy three-toed sloth in Escudo Island
Another reason why Panama should be your next destination is to see the pygmy three-toed sloth, also known as the monk sloth or dwarf sloth. This sloth can only be found in only one place in the world: National park Escudo Island, a small island off the coast of Panama, situated in the province of Veraguas.
With no official permanent residents on the island, you can have the incredible chance to see lots of them, but it remains very important to not feed them. Indeed, wild animals who depend on people for food can cause injuries or spread disease, but also increase the chances of fighting and injury among animals.
Snorkel or scuba dive in Gulf of Chiriqui
Humpback whales, sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays, orcas, whale sharks, tiger sharks, and many more marine mammals and animals can be seen while swimming there. With around 760 species of fish, the Gulf of Chiriqui is becoming one of the favorite places for scuba divers and snorkelers in Panama.
Panama Canal Transit
Impossible to miss one of the world’s greatest human-made marvels, the Panama Canal. To learn about this fantastic engineering, nothing better than experience a transit. During the transit aboard the Pacific Queen, enjoy the splendorous Bay of Panama and pass by the Miraflores Locks where you can watch the locks operate. Discover at the same time its history while following the most enormous cargos and cruise ships of the world!
Volcan Baru’s summit
Located in the highlands of Chiriquí, the impressive Baru Volcano’s worth the detour. Down from its 3 474 meters, this dormant volcano is the highest mountain of Panama and one of the only places in the world from where you can see at the same time, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Apart from the breath-taking panoramic views at the top of the volcano, this one is also surrounded by lush jungle, offering the chance, during your summit, to see different birds of Central America, and if you’re lucky, the resplendent quetzal. Adrenaline guaranteed for this extremely challenging trail.
Visit a coffee plantation in Boquete
Did you know the country is world famous for the Geisha Coffee? Actually, one of the rarest and most expensive coffees in the world comes from Panama. So, if you love coffee, Boquete must be one of the stops of your itinerary. Thanks to the volcanic ash situated in the soil of the region, local farms have found the best place for the coffee to grow up and make it so special. Visit one of the coffee plantations and learn about its process. There, you will maybe have the privilege to taste one of the most exquisite coffee in the world!
Surf in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean
Although, if the Caribbean Sea or Pacific Coast is famed for its relaxing long white sand beaches with palm trees, it’s also the best place to surf and have fun with the waves. Unlike Costa Rica, Panama is still virgin and only a few people know about Panama’s surfing potential. El Palmar, Santa Catalina, Playa Vaneo, and many other beaches can provide you the best surfing spots of Central America. Surfers? You will love it!
Try on traditional Panamanian clothing: the Pollera
Panama is also the land of a rich culture. To not lose a crumb of Panama, we invite you to discover in Pedasi, the traditional Panamanian clothing: the Pollera. National dress of Panama worn by women for festivals or celebrations is also one of the most admired national costumes of the Americas. Handmade and very colorful, this traditional dress with Spanish colonial influences is the pride of all Panamanians. Men are well, have their own traditional costume they wear during festivities. Why not try it on to make you feel, for a moment, like a real Panamanian?!
Whale watching while migration season
Have you always dreamt to see whales? It is possible in Panama! In fact, humpback whales come to Panama every year, between July and October, to migrate and give birth, making the isthmus, one of the few places in the planet where you can see these majestic mammals. Many species of whales and dolphins can be found in Panama’s water during that period of the year, especially in the archipelago of the Pearl Islands, on the Pacific Coast.
Taste 5 typical dishes of Panama
Even if Panama is not known internationally for its cuisine, the food is however very tasty and diverse. Made with local and fresh ingredients, Panamanian cuisine is a mix of traditional cooking methods from diverse regions of Panama. Consequently, it’s very common to find dishes made from coconut, seafood, root vegetables, and tropical fruits along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, but also root vegetables, starchy fruits, livestock, chicken, beans and rice, eaten everywhere in the country. Enough ingredients to make a variety of delicious typical Panamanian dishes. You can’t miss the Panamanian Ceviche!