Tips for crossing the border from Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro, Panama

The border between Costa Rica and Panama, on the Caribbean side of these two countries, is the Sixaola River. The town on the Costa Rican side of the river is called Sixaola, here you will visit customs to check out of the country of Costa Rica and meet your contact from Panama. You will walk across the bridge to enter Panama with your new driver, leaving your Costa Rican driver to return home. The town in Panama, across the Sixaola River, is called Guabito.

The drive in Panama will take you across the low flood plains of the Sixaola and Changinola river valley’s. This area collects the watershed from the massive Talamanca mountain range, which extends through both countries. This is an important wetland for many species of tropical flora and fauna and includes habitats such as rivers, humid lowland forest, mangroves, coastal lagoons and other marine coastal environments.

A wetland reserve taking in the most of the coastal region of this area is called the San San Pond Sak (Humedal de San-San Pond Sak). This sparsely populated area is home to several endangered species such as manatees (sea cows), hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles.

Next you will come to Changinola, home of United Fruit Co. /Chiquita Brands Intl., this town is older than the country itself and thick on lore of a bygone era when it was simply known as, The Banana Republic.

Crossing the bridge over the Changinola river is like stepping back in time, you might have to stop and wait for the company train to pass over first, it is only a one lane bridge. From here you will be entering the densely forested foothills of the Talamanca Range. Just up in these mountains is La Amistad Bi-national Park, some 2 million acres in size, it is jointly protect on both sides of the border. This represents one of the largest protected tracts of primary forest in Central America, and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Keep an eye on edge of the canopy, the wildlife is spectacular. You will be passing over several elevated bluffs with spectacular views of Bocas del Toro Archipelago below.

The location of this unique site in Central America, where Quaternary glaciers have left their mark, has allowed the fauna and flora of North and South America to interbreed. Tropical rainforests cover most of the area. Four different Indian tribes inhabit this property, which benefits from close co-operation between Costa Rica and Panama.

After several small pueblos, you will be passing the outskirts of Almirante, another antiquated banana town. About 12-13 miles outside of Almirante, at kilometer marker 48 ½, is a yellow sign and pink gate for La Escapada. This small eco lodge is built on a steep slope near the waters edge, the grounds are beautiful, and the birdlife is outstanding. Here you can take a short break and stretch your legs, or have a cold beverage and watch the marine life from the dock.  The boat will be waiting there to transfer to the hotel of your choice.  Tranquilo Bay is our suggested lodge for coming days.  From here it is a beautiful 45-minute boat ride to your final destination. The ocean leg of your journey will take you across Bahia Almirante passing Sheppard and San Cristobal Islands, and into Dark Land. The glassy calm and emerald green sea, and the long shadows from the steep mountainous terrain, blend to make an intense surrounding. A narrow channel passes into another smaller lagoon named Boca Torito, or little bull’s mouth. It is here where the mother dolphins bring their calves to rear. Leaving the dolphins behind, we will enter Bastimentos National Marine Park, the mangrove islets, sea grass beds and coral flats are stunning. Oceanic birds such as brown boobies, magnificent frigates, and brown pelicans will be feeding on marine wildlife that is fleeing from predators below. As we round the southern peninsula of Isla Bastimentos, we will have our first glimpse of the Zapatilla Keys, and the lodge for the next days:  Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure lodge.

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Tranquilo Bay Winter Escape From $2195.00 – Arriving on Friday

Escape the winter to the soothing waters of the Caribbean; discover the ecosystem of Bocas del Toro archipelago through snorkeling, kayaking or hiking the National Park.   The lodge lies within an area of nature reserves on land and in the sea, which is one of the most biologically diverse places in Panama. Encounter tropical birds, different monkey species, iguanas and many more during your stay and feel yourself relax and refresh in the unique natural environment.

Save $635.00 per person when you travel in February 2015. Applied to all February departures.

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. Marriott Executive.

Day 2 – Fly to Bocas del Toro Archipelago – This morning your Caribbean adventure begins! You will be transferred to the domestic airport in Albrook to catch your flight to Boquete to Bocas del Toro Archipelago. Once you arrive to the island, you’ll board a water taxi that will route through the archipelago’s small canals, passing local communities, mangroves and into the Caribbean Ocean. You will arrive to Tranquilo Bay ecolodge and check in in your private cabin. Enjoy a welcome lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the beautiful surroundings. (B,L,D)

Day 3 – 5 Bocas del Toro Island Adventures – Awake to the sounds of nature and overlooking the Caribbean. After breakfast you will get ready for a day full of adventures. You will discover the tropical beauty that surrounds this magnificent Archipelago and National Park. Included in this adventure package is one daily standard activity each day. Daily actitivies include: snorkeling, kayaking, diving, hiking, fishing, visiting turtle nesting sites, surfing, birding, or exploring nearby beaches. The island’s midsection and surrounding waters are protected in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, and the entire island offers nature lovers an array of wildlife, both terrestrial and marine. The waters here are filled with brilliant parrot fish, angel fish, red snapper, slender needle fish and many others. Four species of sea turtles come ashore to nest on the beaches and the forests are home to many endemic and endangered species such as neon colored frogs, the red billed tropic bird and two and three toed sloths. (B,L,D)

DAY 6 – Return to Panama City and Visit the Biodiversity Museum or Miraflores Locks – This morning you will return to Bocas del Toro domestic airport for a short flight back to Panama City. You’ll be met at the airport for a visit to the Biodiveristy Museum design by Frank Gehry on the entrance of the Panama Canal or a visit to the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal to observe the “eighth wonder of the world.”  After the short visit, you will be transferred back to your hotel to enjoy your last afternoon in Panama City. (B)

Day 7 – 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.

Price per person in double room: $2195.00

Internal Flights (Panama City – Bocas del Toro – Panama City): $325.00

(Flight cost is subject to change)

The program includes:  Private Transfers from international airport to hotel in and out, 6 nights of lodging and taxes,  All meals in Tranquilo Bay, Government taxes, Tours as mentioned above, bilingual guide during tours and adventures, Breakfast at all mentioned hotels, Information kit, Lodging taxes, Panama kit.

The program does not include:  Optional activities, International and domestic airfare and taxes,  Departure taxes ($40.00 per person for Panama), Meals not specified in the itinerary, Alcoholic beverages, Personal equipment, Extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service, etc.), Gratuities

Rates are valid until October 15th, 2015 and subject to change due increases on fuel prices

  • Prices are net per person.
  • Prices are given in US Dollars.
  • Prices are subject to change without previous notice depending on any significant increase in rates, taxes, fuel or due to availability problems.
  • Prices are based on the minimum of paying participants previously informed.
  • If the minimum number of paying participants changes, the rates would also change
  • Tips for drives and guides not included

Note: This is a quote not a reservation. Please note that all quotations given are subject to availability at the time of reservation and cannot be guaranteed until payment is received. Please note that credit card payments are subject to processing fees.

EcoCircuitos realizes that has important environmental and social responsibilities in and out of the office. We create memorable travel experiences in Panama’s natural history and cultural heritage.   Our office team and suppliers ensure quality service, cultural sensitivity, local knowledge, innovation and social and environmental responsibility. As travelers ourselves we believe giving something back is essential. Therefore we work with our team, suppliers and customers to ensure that benefits will contribute directly to the communities we visit and their environment.

For more information, please visit our Responsible Travel Policy link.

Encourage the channeling of part of our revenues towards supporting the conservation and sustainable use of Panama’s biodiversity. We are committed to the conservation of protected areas, education and local community development.

 

Escape the Winter to Bocas del Toro, the Caribbean side of Panama

Are you looking for a family vacation that gives you the ability to visit an incredible variety of ecosystems, altitudinal life-zones and habitats all rich in distinctly different flora and fauna? Do you want to explore from the continental divide of Western Panama, to the edge of the mangrove forest, without ever changing hotels? Unpack, settle in and do what you came to do. We’ll take care of everything else in Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge.  This owner-operated, family-friendly eco lodge is located inside the rainforest overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the beautiful Panamanian jungle. We are adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park. This park covers a large portion of the archipelago of Bocas del Toro and is home to a variety of ecosystems which thrive at or around sea level. Our central location within the archipelago of Bocas del Toro allows you to explore some of the most biologically diverse areas of Panama and Central America.

7 Night Pacakge from $1850 per person / double occupancy – 3 days offsite excursions included

AVAILABLE FROM FEBRUARY 1 – 28, 2014

Day One Arrive Tranquilo Bay – afternoon arrival
A representative from Tranquilo Bay will meet you at the airport in Bocas Town and assist you with
your entry into Bocas del Toro. Upon arrival at Tranquilo Bay you will leisurely settle into your
cabana.

Day Two Snorkel & Beach trip to Zapatilla Cayes
These two unspoiled islands are protected by Bastimentos National Marine Park. These pristine white sand islands are covered in coconut palms, tropical hardwoods, sea grapes, and almond trees draped in a collage of bromeliads, ferns, orchids and other epiphytes. It is possible to walk around these islands while stopping to explore the white sand beaches and reefs covering the entire circumference. Snapper, barracuda and vivid tropical fish abound on the beautiful reefs surrounding
the area.

Day Three Tranquilo Bay Trails & Canopy Observation Tower
Tranquilo Bay’s grounds include over 200 acres with several kilometers of forested trails covering different habitats. This forest and its edge are home to many of Isla Bastimentos common favorites including multiple raptors, Montezuma Oropendolas, Red-lored Parrots, hummingbirds, 5-species of kingfishers, Green Ibis, tityras, woodpeckers, honeycreepers, tanagers, pigeons, antbirds, manakins, seedeaters, and herons, and, in season Three-wattled Bellbirds. White-faced Capuchins, three and two toed sloths, green iguanas, basilisk lizards, butterflies and poison dart frogs are also common on these trails. After dinner try to spot some of the local nocturnal residents such as the Common Potoo, Owls, Western Night Monkey, Four-eyed opossum, Wooly opossum, Crab-eating raccoon, Speckled Caiman and bats.

Day Four Cacao Plantation Tour
Following breakfast, we will deploy by boat on a 15-minute passage trek across Dolphin Bay for the Green Acres Cacao Plantation. Guided by Robert & Julie Peters, the owners and operators of the facility, we will tour their gardens as Robert presents us with extensive information about his farm. It is here where one of the rarest strands of cacao plant in the world, the Criollo, is grown. Details of his modest but extraordinary chocolate manufacturing techniques will accompany; including growth of the trees, a step-by-step process of how chocolate is made from bean to bar and a sample of the farm’s product. The day trip includes lunch onsite at an immaculately built stone-structured home, surrounded by grounds with an exotic collection of tropical plants from around the world. Multiple varieties of tropical birds and the dendrobates auratus (black and green poison dart frog) all live onsite for your discovery. This humble couple and their unique project of growing cacao to save the
rainforest, while making unparalleled chocolate, are not to be missed.

Day Five Kayak & Snorkel Jellyfish Lagoon
You may decide to take today’s excursion either in the morning or in the afternoon. Our biologist guides will take you on a kayak to a nearby jellyfish lagoon. You will search out water life above and below the surface focusing on the beautiful upside down jellyfish. Once you make your way out of the lagoon, you will snorkel at various spots in the bay near Tranquilo Bay to see a wide variety of underwater animals.

Day Six Cave Nivida Exploration
Following breakfast we will leave the facility in a support boat for a 15-minute ride across the Bastimentos National Marine Park. In kayaks we will meander through the glassy calm backwaters of Bahia Honda. Following the jungle’s edge of Isla Bastimentos we will paddle through channels, deep bays, mangrove cayes, and patch reef. Dolphins like the deep water of Bahia Honda and can often be seen breaching the surface for air. Many birds can be seen feeding near the waters edge, and the jungle is home to white-faced capuchins, two- and three-toed sloths, green iguanas, and caimans. In the back of Bahia Honda we will paddle up a small creek through lush vegetation. A short jungle walk leads to the entrance of cave Nivida. Entering the cave with lights, we will explore this subterranean phenomenon while wading through cold spring water and passing nectar bats. A support boat will be waiting at the mouth of the creek for our return to Tranquilo Bay.

Day Seven Explore Tranquilo Bay & its surrounds
Today, you have the choice in the morning or the afternoon between a guided hike on our two-mile nature trail watching for wildlife or a leisurely kayak and snorkeling session.

Day Eight  Depart Bocas del Toro

Packages includes:  Transfers between Town and Tranquilo Bay, Meals and beverages at Tranquilo Bay, all meals, snacks available all the time, deluxe air conditions cabanas, access to water and land activities, activities daily as designated in the itinerary.

Bocas del Toro Panama, Western Caribbean slope