10 of the best things to do in Panama

By Maelle Denoule

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.

17-Que-hacer-en-el-Casco-Viejo-Antiguo-y-como-llegar-desde-Ciudad-de-Panama-Lugares-turisticos-1

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:

Encounters with an indigenous community

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 and their culture.

Embera

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.

DCIM108GOPRO
White Tips sharks

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!

Panama Canal Transit
Panama Canal

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!

IMG_7519

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?!

Panamanian Pollera
a girl with Pollera in Pedasi, Azuero Peninsula, Panama

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.

whale watching

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Blokarting: Sailing on Land

By Briana Reece

When people think of sailing, they mostly think they need water and a boat, but what if you could sail on land?

Blokarting, is an extreme sport created by combining hand gliding and land sailing, but what’s the difference between land sailing and blokarting?

Two words… hand steering. It all comes down to the fact that you can control the movement by steering your pod with the help of the wind.

The creation of this yatch dates back to 1999, when the New Zealander Paul Beckett, saw a fun, fast and compact toy, which would offer adventure to people of all ages, gender and even those with disability.

Now imagine you are placed into a small compact unit and it has two wheels in the back and one in the front. When you enter this small “cart or pod”, a seatbelt is placed around you and instructions are given. It sounds simple, you pull a rope to go faster, if you let it go your speed will decrease, and most importantly if you feel you’re going to tip over place your hands on the steering. Then you just sit back, grab the rope, place your hands on the steering and get ready to be blown away. Just make sure you’re not going against the wind.

The experience

It was scary at first, especially when you know you could tip over because of the wind. You feel like you´re in control, but at the same time you´re not because you´re depending of the wind to help you move. Having to pull or let go of the rope while trying to hand steer required coordination. It was like driving a manual car, the rope is your shift stick and clutch; and the hand steering is your steering wheel

There were times when one of my tires lifted, and my first thought was move towards the lifted tire and let go of the rope to maintain balance. It´s not easy at first, but once you get the hang of it, you´re able to enjoy the ride and feel the adventure, especially in every turn you take.

Having begun in New Zealand, Blokarting has managed to make its way to South Africa, Australia and will soon be available in the hidden and forgotten Island of Naos at Causeway, Amador.

Don’t miss this opportunity, check out Panama Landsailng Adventures for more information or contact us for reservations.

Sources:

http://www.blokart.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blokart

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_sailing

http://blokarts.co.uk/blokart-blog/4590803590

 

 

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.   

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

Capacitación de guías de turismo, una necesidad

Annie Young J.

opinion@prensa.com

25/07/2014 – Los guías de turismo son muchas veces la cara de Panamá, ya que orientan e informan al turista sobre nuestro patrimonio cultural, natural e histórico. Este grupo tan especial de profesionales contribuye a la economía del país de gran manera, pues brinda servicios de asistencia, define algunos procedimientos de las empresas en las que trabaja y apoya a la industria, con seguridad al turista y protección de los recursos.

¿Qué pasa en Panamá con los guías? En la actualidad no existe una acreditación o diplomado para su formación, no se cuenta con un directorio de profesionales en la industria ni se dictan cursos para capacitarlos en interpretación, liderazgo, ética y conocimiento. Sin embargo, en Panamá la industria del turismo –igual que en Costa Rica– será incluida en los temas a tratar como política de Estado.

Durante la temporada alta (de noviembre a mayo) es más palpable la necesidad de capacitar a nuevos guías. Las empresas tour operadoras, los hoteles y afines pasan trabajo para garantizar servicios de calidad que involucren la participación de estos profesionales.

En la temporada esas empresas y otras afines tienen grandes dificultades para garantizar los servicios que involucran a los guías. En todo el engranaje de esta industria, los guías son un eje fundamental, pues participan en los circuitos turísticos, en los grupos educacionales, etc., que son necesarios para impulsar un destino emergente como Panamá.

Pienso en Costa Rica, Chile y Perú, donde he tenido la oportunidad de participar en giras con guías capacitados, y la experiencia ha sido extraordinaria e inolvidable. Ellos reciben formación y certificación en programas estatales, en los que la empresa privada y el Gobierno han trabajado de la mano para el éxito del turismo en sus países. Me toca, entonces, comparar lo anterior con la práctica local y me entristece, pues no tenemos suficiente gente capacitada para ese trabajo. Hoy día las buenas experiencias son un lujo en el turismo, y esto muchas veces depende de terceras personas.

Definitivamente, todos los que trabajamos en este ámbito apostamos a un crecimiento sostenido. Sin embargo, urge la colaboración del Estado y de la empresa privada para garantizar la calidad y cantidad de guías para el desarrollo de nuestra industria.

El deseo de muchos empresarios, a los que nos toca instruir por nuestra propia cuenta, es que se desarrolle, con la ayuda de las instituciones gubernamentales un programa sostenible de capacitación y certificación de guías de sitio y patrimoniales. Ellos son necesarios no solo en la ciudad de Panamá, sino en el interior de la República, en donde muchos turistas esperan recibir mayor información, pero no hay quien se las proporcione.