EcoCircuitos Slow Adventure Tours

The independent traveler defined slow travel as an offshoot of the slow food movement, which began in Italy in the 1980’s. The slow food movement purposes are to preserve local cuisine, local farming and traditional food preparation methods. This cultural initiative has since multiplied into a whole way of life known as the Slow Movement, which emphasizes connection — connection to food, and, in the case of travel and tourism, connection to the local’s, culture, gastronomy and history. Slow travel then is the opportunity to become part of the local way of life and thinking.

Picture by Cubita, Chitré.

In today’s world we live a fast culture of stressful work, traffic and abuse of technology, that become sometimes the way of our travels. Rushing from one destination to another and not enjoying fully the landscape, a beautiful small town, a local bakery, tasting the local flavors or discovering the real people. The slow travel could be an interesting way to experience Panama for tourists that are burned out from their daily routines and the constant use of technology.

Our tailored slow experiences will allow you to truly connect with the place you are visiting, spend more time in fewer places. Immerse yourself with the local culture and connect with the community. Visit local markets, sit in a local restaurant and drink a coffee or read the paper in the plaza, while watching the community that surrounds you. EcoCircuitos´ Slow Experiences have been uniquely designed in places where visitors can interact with local people, carry out daily adventures and relax just as the locals do. Some slow destinations include Boquete and Volcan located in the Chiriqui Highlands, Pedasi and Chitré in the Azuero Peninsula and some other beautiful towns and communities. Make traveling special again with a slow adventure tour. Contact us today to find out more about these experiential slow travel options! http://www.ecocircuitos.com

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Fam Trip to Azuero Peninsula

By Franzisca Beyer

Just at the end of my internship I was invited to a great trip to Azuero and for sure I was more than happy to go on this last trip with Panama Al Natural who organized the whole trip.
Our trip started with visiting the archaeological park el Cano (province of Cocle), where remains of bodies, weapons, tools and pieces of gold, whose antiquity dates between 700 and 1,000 years were found. The excavations in el Caño started in 2006 in an area of about 5,000 square meters, but the first archaeological finds of bodies and parts were found between 2008 and 2009, when the first discoveries were reported. Visiting this place was a very nice start to our trip.
Later that day we arrived to Parita a small town near Chitre, where we visited a man who produces traditional masks. We were invited to his home, he explained and showed us how to fabricate these masks. It was heartwarming to see him working with so much passion.
Having arrived in Pedasi, we got picked up by our guide for the next hours. I already had been to Pedasi, but I had not heard before about Isla Cañas, which is about an one hour ride from Pedasi. This island is the most important place in Panama where turtles  come to spawn and whales on their migration path can be observe.

After delicious fried fish with patacones we took a long walk at the beach, hoping to meet a turtle. It was deep dark..I was listening to the sounds of the ocean and trying to keep this amazing atmosphere in mind.
And it was our lucky day because just when we started our way back to the hotel we saw a big and beautiful turtle spawning. It was one of the best days in my life…we all sat down and observed her patiently. The turtle finished spawning and started to cover the eggs carefully, after assuring herself that all eggs were well protected she started her long way back to the ocean. Impressed of this wonder of nature we also got back to the hotel.
The next day after having lovely prepared and delicious pancakes at Hostal Doña Maria we continued our trip to a small town called San José, where we had traditional lunch and got an introduction about the pollera, the typical dress of Panama which was quite interesting. It is incredible how enthusiastic these women produce the polleras and how successful they are. We finished the day with a tasty diner at hotel Mykonos in Santiago.
Early in the morning we started our last day with a boat trip to an island in the bay of Montijo. Our boat was accompanied by dolphins, the sun was shining and the island was just stunning beautiful with a white-sand beach and pristine water. While eating my picnic lunch at the beach, I watched pelicans catching fish and I was thinking about how lucky I am to experience Panama with EcoCircuitos.
Now I am back in the office writing my last report and I would like to thank EcoCircuitos for my internship here in Panama. This last trip and the Panama Canal Transit are definitely experiences that I will remember a life time.

Bits & Pieces: The Polleras Of Panama

by:  Louie Celerier

The traditional dress for women in Panama is the “Pollera”. This is a richly decorated dress with needlework in many designs, styles and colors. The woman wearing the pollera is further ornamented with gold and pearl jewelry. Naturally this is not every day wear but one used for special occasions. As with other national dresses in Latin America, the pollera has its origin in Spain of the 16th and 17th centuries. However, as in other parts of Latin America, in Panama it evolved into what it is today. A study as to where in Spain it originated has failed to reveal any particular location in the old country. The important fact is that its uniqueness developed in Panama and compares to no other national dress in the Americas. How did the pollera come to be the dress it is today?

a girl with Pollera in Pedasi, Azuero Peninsula, Panama

The provinces of Los Santos and Herrera jealously guard the pollera tradition, but this has not prevented the model to be adopted by all regions of the Republic. Yet, anyone who wants an “original pollera” will not wear one which is not made by the seamstresses of the two central provinces. One can appreciate the pride of a woman dressed in a pollera made in one of the two provinces and her knowledge that the outfit follows all aspects of tradition and workmanship. While no one can say for sure when the Pollera became the traditional dress of Panama, there is evidence that as early as 1846 the term was already being used. Armand Recluse, a French Naval Officer exploring the isthmus, and Darien in particular, in 1876 through 1878, mentions the “poyera” as being the dress the women of color were wearing during the Independence Day (from Spain) in 1876. He described it in the following manner, “The colored ladies wear the poyera, a skirt gathered tightly at the waist and flaring greatly at the bottom.” Later, reviewing his experiences in the Darien, he added, “the women wear the old dress of the criollas, that is, a white petticoat made of lightweight cotton, adorned with one or more ruffles on which are stamped brightly colored floral designs. Over the short sleeved blouse are three ruffles similar in appearance but so low that the upper chest and back are left practically nude.” The hair style worn with the pollera is very important. Three variations are customarily seen: one using a typical hat; one using combs; and one using tembleques, combs and other jewelry. In all three cases, the hair is parted down the middle, combed to each side and braided. Left: Pollera. Right: Montuna As to the pollera itself, there are two types: The “Pollera Montuna” has a white cotton blouse with or without needlework and a long skirt made of flowered percale chintz. The woman wearing this outfit will usually wear a “montuno” hat from Ocu or La Pintada. The “Pollera de Gala”, is the fancy one with very full skirt, beautiful handmade embroidery and Left: Pollera. Right: Montuno and Montuna colorful designs on a white background. The head adornments vary according to the wealth of the person and include fancy combs with gold and pearls and gold tembleques along with gold bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Left: Pollera. Left: Montunos and Montunas dancing. To fully appreciate the beauty of the Panamanian typical dress it is necessary to see carnival in Las Tablas when the streets of that city are full with attractive women dressed in their “Polleras” and “Montunas”. Sources: La Pollera de Panama, by Dora P. De Zarate, 1973; Explorations Of The Isthmus Of Panama And Darien In 1876, 1877 And 1878, by Armand Reclus, Officer of the French Navy.

Discover Coiba National Park

This national park and UNESCO World Heritage site is located in the southern part of the Veraguas province in the Pacific Ocean, made up of a group of islands. Coiba is the biggest island. The area of the land on the islands combined with the marine territory comes to the amazing total of 270,125 hectares (650,000 acres), making it one of the most extensive marine parks in the world. This park protects three different kinds of ecosystems: the island, reef and marine life. Due to its geographical location a penal colony was established here in 1910, the remains can still be seen today because of this situation the forest on the Coiba Island remained untouched.

For more information and itineraries to Coiba, please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

Panama 2011 Surf World Championship

Panama will open again its doors to international surf, from June 25 to July 3 to carry out the 2011 World Championships.

The event will feature surfers from around the world and will be held Venao beach in Pedasi, Los Santos province.  This event, the ISA Billabong 2011 World Surfing Games, is one of the most important surf tournaments internationally.

Yesterday a press conference held place at the Presidency of the Republic, where officials of the Tourism Authority of Panama and Panamanian Sports Authority (Pandeportes) gave their full support.

According to the representatives of the International Surfing Association, the highest surfing authority worldwide, Panama has earned the right to be the tournament’s host country because of its good surfing conditions, and the good experience at the ISA World Masters Surfing Championship, held last year at Santa Catalina in the Veraguas province.

“The waves in Panama are exceptional, and after the huge success of the Panama ISA World Masters Surfing Championship in 2010, we are eager to take one of our major championships to the powerful waves and the tropical climate of Panama, ” said Fernando Aguerre ISA President, according to a note sent by the Tourism Authority of Panama.sur

This event, which will concentrate more than 200 surfers from 25 countries worldwide, will allow Panama to promote themselves, expand and further develop surf tourism, a real economic boost.

Article courtesy of La Prensa Newspaper