Panama – a trendy & booming destination

 

By Clémence Rouleau

Panama is a small tropical country, but it is growing more and more in terms of tourism. Its strategic position makes it possible to drive from one coast to the other in short time, it is bordered by two oceans, and has a connecting position between North and South America. The mix of cultures as for instance indigenous & urban cultures, and the diversity of natural resources are significant advantages. 

The main objectives of the government are to produce economic and social prosperity through the development of national and international tourism.

Because of this, Panama seems like an emergent destination in Central America, which can compete with its neighbor Costa Rica. Luxurious forests, pristine beaches, the diversity of the flora and fauna, and indigenous peoples characterize the country. At Tocumen airport, the number of arrivals in the first trimester of 2012 increased to 19,1% in comparison to 2011. The percentage is constantly rising due to newly created facilities and investments in tourism businesses through the opening of a lot of Convention Centers.

But what should tourists do in Panama?

The answer is not easy, since there are many things to do and many places to visit. Each experience is unique here and you meet friendly people who can help you during your visit. The most popular destinations are Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Boquete, and San Blas Archipelago; but many other provinces are worth a visit as well. A lot of activities can be practiced, as for instance hiking, scuba diving, horse riding, bird watching, kayaks, rafting or just relax in paradisiacal beaches.

In addition to this, the mentality and tourism tendencies have changed in the world and tourism is taking a new track. The Authority of Tourism in Panama (ATP) and the Panamanian Association of Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), as well as the touristic infrastructre in Panama are involved in ecotourism -“responsible travel to natural areas conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)

Ecotourism is now developing quickly in the whole country.

Ecotourism in Panama is a necessity. In order to keep the variety of traditions, the country has to maintain its natural resources and the indigenous cultures and lifestyle. This – I would say – is one of the main touristic attractions, since it makes a great difference to Costa Rica for example. Costa Rica is well developed in ecotourism but indigenous peoples have almost completely disappeared. Moreover, with 950 species of birds, 15 natural protected parks, and 11 000 species of plants, Panama offers exciting possibilities to enjoy your vacation.

Partnerships of touristic businesses and local communities are common, and don’t only permit the development of the local economy, but also the maintenance of traditional cultures. The company Ecocircuitos is a part of the economic development of ecotourism due to its ethic values and its involvement in the tours.

If you want to help protect Panama´s environment and traditions by travelling sustainably, feel free to contact us !

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Panama Canal Watershed adventure

From $495.00 per person min. 8 people
Fix departure rates: Every Friday from October to December 2010

Day 1: Friday – Welcome to Panama & Sightseeing tour of Panama City
Welcome to Panama! Upon your arrival you will be met by an EcoCircuitos Tour Representative that will assist you during arrival and transfer. Before heading to your hotel in Panama City, you will have a short sightseeing tour of Panama La Vieja; the modern city of Panama; followed by a transfer to the hotel located in Amador Area. Once arrival to the hotel, please check-in and overnight. Lodging will be at COUNTRY INN AMADOR, Standard Room. (NO MEALS)

Day 2: Saturday – Embera Indigenous Encounter at Chagres River
Early in the morning you are picked up at the lobby of your hotel by our guide and transferred to El Corotu on the shores of Madden Lake. Here, you board a motorized piragua (dugout canoe) and travel up the Chagres River to the Embera indigenous village of Embera Drua. The boat journey takes you through the rainforest of the 320,000-acre Chagres National Park, which is the largest of the National Parks protecting the Panama Canal Watershed. Along the Chagres River, you may be able to spot Little Blue and Green Heron, Great Egret, Anhingas, Neotropical Cormorant, Amazon, Ringed, and Green Kingfishers, along with Keel-billed Toucans and Ospreys flying above. At the Embera village you will be greeted with dancing and music. You will learn about Embera customs and their relationship with nature. There will be handcrafts available for sale and you will have a chance to be painted with the traditional jagua, a natural dye the Embera use to adorn their bodies. After a traditional Embera lunch you will be heading back to Panama City. Optional: short hiking in a botanical trail at the community. Duration: 8 hours. Departure: 8:00 AM
Include: ground and river transportation, entrance fees to the Chagres National Park, traditional lunch at the community, donation and specialized guide.
What to bring: Sunscreen and insect repellent, Light synthetic clothes (easy to dry), walking shoes or river sandals, swimming suit, rain jacket and an extra pair of clothes.
Overnight at COUNTRY INN AMADOR, Standard Room. (B,L)

Day 3: Sunday – Panama Canal Morning Expansion Tour
Today you will have a tour to visit the project of expansion of the Panama Canal. Afternoon free for your relaxation and exploration of the city on your own. Overnight at COUNTRY INN AMADOR, Standard Room. (B)

Day 4: Monday – Transcontinental Railway & the Pirate Trail
Depart from the hotel at 9.00AM and start and cross the Isthmus via the Trans-Isthmian Highway. Stop at Gatún to explore the locks and the lake. Afterwards, cross the Panama Canal by drawbridge and keep going till Fort San Lorenzo. Constructed by the Spaniards in the 16th century, San Lorenzo was occupied by British pirates over the years due to its strategic location on the Chagres River. Sir Henry Morgan conquered San Lorenzo and used it as the entrance point to sack Panama City in 1671.
Afterwards you will be transferred to Colon Train Station for your ride back to Panama City.
The trip is every weekday throughout the year with departures at 5:15PM from Colon City to Panama City. Re-creating the experience of the famous California Golden steam age and enjoy the most beautiful scenery: observe the rainforest and the heart of the canal from the comfort of your train cabin. Include: Private transportation, Historical Guide, lunch in a local restaurant, train ride, entrance fees to Gatún Locks Visitor Center and San Lorenzo National Park. Tour Remarks: transcontinental train ride is only available during week days. Overnight in Country Inn Amador or similar, Standard Room. (B,L)

Day 5: Tuesday – Departure
At the appropriate time the tourists will be transferred to the Tocumen International Airport for their flight back home. They will arrive to the airport approximately 2 hours before their departure time. (B)

Arrival dates:
October 8, 22
November 12, 19
December 3, 10, 17

Ask for our 7 day program.
For more information annie@ecocircuitos.com
http://www.ecocircuitos.com