EcoRevolution: Tourism and Conservation

It is almost impossible to completely remove our “footprint” in a expedition adventure, but we struggle to organize our trips and expeditions in a way that minimizes our impact and encourage our clients to do it as well.

Every adventure we create presents opportunities to educate our staff and clients.  By following the below classic responsible-hiking guidelines we are doing our part:

Trails and walking paths Stay on designated trails and walking paths. Cutting corners anywhere causes erosion and can damage ancient artifacts or historical locations. It is never acceptable to deface natural or human-made objects visited on a EcoCircuitos trip adventure.

Reduction and disposal of waste When possible minimize packaging and avoid using wasteful consumable goods. Our guides ensure that all trash is deposited in appropriate receptacles, even if prevailing norms are less strict. Garbage and organic waste is not to be buried or scattered under any conditions. Seek out recycling receptacles for paper, cans, bottles, foil, and plastic. Set an example and leave places cleaner than you found them, but be mindful of conveying a judgmental attitude towards local environmental sensibilities.

Bathing and washing When dedicated facilities are unavailable, these activities should be undertaken with buckets or wash basins well away from lakes, streams, and the ocean. Keep soap and detergent out of all water. Avoid wasting water and be aware that westerners’ water usage habits may be viewed as excessive in the local context.

Sanitation Use existing restrooms or latrine facilities. When there are none, walk at least 100 yards from trail, road, or body of water and dig a shallow hole (4 to 6 inches deep). Bury the waste. Do not leave toilet paper uncovered and, if safe, burn it before covering the site.

Fires In most countries we visit, forests are a precious and endangered resource. Therefore, the old-fashioned campfire or roaring fireplace is a conspicuous indulgence. Use kerosene as a fuel instead of wood.

Endangered species It should without saying that guests should not collect or purchase any items made from endangered plant or animal species. Importing products derived from endangered species into the United States is not only illegal, but it provides financial incentives for pillaging critical natural resources.

Plastic Plastic waste deserves special attention from conscientious travelers visiting developing countries. Conveniences in demand by western tourists are often delivered in some form of plastic: beverages, packaged foods, toiletries, and souvenirs. Unfortunately, poor countries face an expansion of non-biodegradable garbage on an unprecedented scale and most of them lack adequate processing infrastructure. Plastic wastes cannot be easily re-used or reprocessed and have numerous associated health risks.  The Trip Leader should seek out every opportunity to help EcoCircuitos guests avoid consumption of products packaged in plastic. In particular, water bottled in glass or canteens (which can more easily be reused or recycled) is always preferred over water in plastic bottles, even at additional cost.

 

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Traveling to Guna Yala? the San Blas islands?

Our Guna Yala Expedition  involves hiking, camping, dugout boat and snorkeling.  Below some information for those interested in this amazing adventure.

All participants must sign a Waiver and Release Form before the trip begins.

MEDICAL MATTERS
The trip leader is responsible for the safety of all trip members and he or she may withdraw or disqualify a trip member in the field if anyone’s safety is jeopardized. Please be aware that hospital facilities for serious medical problems may at times be a long way away, that a doctor may not always be available, and that evacuation can be delayed, complicated and expensive.
Remember that EcoCircuitos, S.A. is not a medical authority and that we can only give you general information, which may not be accurate by the time you travel. You should discuss with your physician, local health department.

Immunizations
No immunizations are required at this time to enter Panama. The standard recommended immunizations currently are:
Insect repellent is a very essential part of preventing insect-born diseases, and you must bring your own personal supply.
We advise you to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the early morning and early evening hours is also a good precaution against insect bites.

PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT
We suggest you to bring a basic first aid kit for emergencies, bring your own personal first aid supplies with any medications you may need. Also we advise you to bring extra prescription medicine in case of an emergency.

MONEY MATTERS
You won’t need to take a large amount of money on the trip –enough for any souvenirs, drinks and incidental items. Anywhere from $100 to $300 should be adequate for incidentals and souvenirs, depending on how much shopping you like to do, plus some money for staff tips.

GRATUITIES
It is customary in Panama to tip the staffs that have assisted you on the trip. Trip members can contribute toward a group tip to be share among cooks, camp staff, and local guides. Your trip leader will give you more guidelines on how to tip the staff. Tipping is at your own discretion and you are under no obligation to tip. In cities and in larger country hotels, lodges, restaurants, and shops, you can use credit cards to charge purchases such as accommodations, food, and clothing. American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Diner’s Club are accepted. You can also use your credit card or ATM card to withdraw funds from participating banks in Panama. Outside of cities it may be difficult to find an ATM or use credit cards.

WEATHER & CLIMATE
The days in the Kuna Yala are normally sunny and hot, with temperatures between 75º and 95º Fahrenheit and occasional high humidity. Nights are comfortably cool with temperatures in 70s and 80s. In the Caribbean it can get fairly windy, causing wind directions to change constantly. In the event of high winds and stormy conditions in could be necessary to change our itinerary.
During the Rainy Season between May thru December, storms and heavy rain are possible.

LUGGAGE, CLOTHING & TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
Try to travel as light as possible and take only the essentials. Excess baggage can be a burden to you and to our support personnel. Also keep in mind; there are limits on how much your duffel and daypack can weigh (25 lbs. for the duffel and 10 pounds for the daypack) because of weight restrictions on the domestic flights within Panama.

LUGGAGE
• Duffel bag. We advise that you bring one duffel bag for your gear, and we suggest a size of about 14” x 30” or 15” x 36” with a lock. Make sure your duffel is made of a sturdy material. “When you fly, always bring in your carry-on bag all
irreplaceable items, such as cameras, medications, spare eyeglasses and important papers.”
• Daypack. It should have a capacity of 1500 to 2000 cubic inches and can double as your carry-on bag.
• Small waterproof dry bag to carry personal items (camera, etc.) while on board the kayaks.

CLOTHING
In this tropical journey you will be exposed to sun, wind, and saltwater. Lightweight cotton clothes are suitable for warm weather and are recommended on this trip. Light clothing is truly all that is considered necessary (long sleeves are suggested for sun protection during kayaking). A light covering (cotton sleeping bag liner or silk or fleece bivy) is adequate for a comfortable sleep. Plastic garbage bags are recommended as liners for your dry bag as added protection.
Note: While in communities, women should dress modestly wearing long pants or sarongs and sleeves (no bikinis, tank tops or short shorts) out of respect for the locals.

TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
Pack based on expected weather conditions and weight restrictions for you your luggage.
• Regular underwear. Synthetics are easier to wash and dry.
• Long-sleeved shirt. Short –sleeved synthetic and cotton T-shirts. Lightweight lycra top or “skin” for sun protection while snorkeling.
• Full-length pants, preferably of quick-drying synthetic fabric. Hiking shorts, preferable or a synthetic fabric.
• Sun Hat with wide brim, preferably with chinstrap to keep it from blowing off. Bandanna. It will keep your neck from getting sunburned and can double as a hand towel.
• Lightweight Gore-Tex rain/wind parka.
• A small umbrella is optional (lightweight and collapsible – good for sun and rain protection).
• Athletic socks (synthetic for easy washing and drying) that is suitable for your walking shoes. You should bring along a couple of extra long socks so that pants can be tucked into them (e.g. for when encountering sand fleas).
• Comfortable walking shoes with good ankle support and good traction, or lightweight hiking boots.
• Water sandals with a strap, or Neoprene Kayaking slippers such as Aqua socks.
• Swimsuit. A change of bathing suits is recommended to avoid salt-water rash.
• Cotton or silk bivy bag or sleeping bag liner.
• Water bottle, 1- or 1.5-quart capacity. Make sure it is leak-proof, heavy-duty plastic.
• Synthetic chamois towel and additional small tower (one for salt and one for fresh water).
• Toiletry kit – soap, toothbrush, and so on.
• Insect repellent. It’s important that you bring an ample supply of good quality repellent.
• Ace bandage or brace if you’re prone to sore knees or ankles.
• Sunglasses.
• Spare pair of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses. (Attention
contact lens wearers: you will encounter lots of dust and sand — plan to wear glasses
some of the time).
• Sunscreen and lip protection with at least SPF 15 rating.
• Small flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries. A headlamp is handy for reading in your tent.
• Hand sanitizer or disposable pre-moistened towelettes for quick hand washing and hygiene.
• Plastic bags of various sizes for keeping things sorted out in your duffel. Zip-lock bags work well. (
• Snorkeling mask (please don’t bring fins – they are not necessary, they destroy the reef, and take up valuable space).
• Earplugs for noisy roosters, crashing waves on the beach, etc.
• 30-foot, three-millimeter thick, nylon cords to hang clothes to dry.
• Talcum powder, to prevent salt-water rash.
OPTIONAL TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
• Washcloth
• Reading and writing material
• Binoculars
• Your favorite snack food. The community will provide plenty of excellent food on the trip, but you might want to bring along your favorite snack food.

Electricity
The 120V, 60Hz system works in Panama. Sockets are normally the flat two-pin variety (like in the US), but can vary. We still recommend you to bring a converter and plug adapters if you are planning to use a hairdryer or an electric shaver.

Time Zones
The Republic of Panama is on Greenwich Mean Time minus five hours. Panama City is the same time as New York and 3 hours ahead of California. Then with daylight savings time, Panama is the same as Central time.

Communications
Fax machines and telephones are available at most hotels in the capital. In some of the Kuna Yala communities you will have a phone; at times they do not function.

Cross Cultural Issues
While traveling in a foreign country you must remember that you are a visitor/guest and try your best to become accustomed to the local culture and customs. English is spoken in larger cities, but as you travel further away from these cities you will find there are very few people who speak English. If you are having any difficulties with communicating, ask your guide for
assistance. Also at times it is common for events to take place in a foreign country that are different from your personal beliefs. It is important to have patience and respect the local culture; these are key elements for a successful and inspiring experience.

Panama Destination: Chiriquí Highlands

The Chiriqui Highlands comprise the part of the Cordillera Central that defines the northern border of the province of Chiriquí.  It is a beautiful landscape of cloud forest, volcanic peaks, and coffee plantations and is home to most of Panama’s Ngöbe Indians.  In the province of Chiriquí, a few roads connect the highway to the highlands areas.  All these roads encompass one of the most beautiful scenic roads and landscapes of Panama.  Lowland areas give way to hills that have been clean for farming.  Ascending the mountains become sharper, their slopes more densely forested, and by noontime, they are enveloped in misty blue clouds.

La Amistad International Park

La Amistad is a binational park that stretches from Costa Rica into Panama, a small portion of which extends into the Chiriquí province. Here the land rises almost 5,000 feet, and warm air ascends the mountains where it meets with cooler air and condenses into persistent cloud cover. Cloudforest exhibit a unique ecosystem with an astonishing diversity of flora and fauna. Towering trees reach to the sun to form a canopy that creates a cool, shadowed, misty underworld on the forest floor. It is noisy with the sound of numerous ferns and epiphytes that crowd the lower and middle strata of the forest. Water drips from spongy mosses covering three trunks, from bromeliads that attach themselves to every cranny on the trees, and from flower petal perched high in the canopy of the forest. It is a magical world.

Boquete Mountain town

Tucked away on the eastern slopes of the Volcan Barú is small and charming mountain town of Boquete. Known to produce some of the best Coffee in Central America, Boquete is becoming a destination for those seeking great outdoor activities and good weather. Visitors bask in Boquete’s sunny and cool mountain climate and marvel at the beautiful landscape.

Boquete’s hills and slopes are primary covered in shade-grown coffee plantations.   Coffee is primary picked by the Ngöbe Indians during the months of October through February. Coffee picking season is a festive time when colorfully Indian families come from varios part of the Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui province to harvest the berries.

The highlands of Panama are the perfect place to practice different outdoor activities, such as hiking national parks, trekking adventures, birdwatching tours, river rafting, zip lining, downhill biking and more.  Contact us for more information on our extension tours to the highlands.  http://www.ecocircuitos.com

Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve

EcoCircuitos staff visited Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve, located in Los Pozos Volcan at 6 miles up a scenic 4WD road.  We enjoyed a two day hiking adventure and superb birdwatching, including spotting a male Quetzal and a Black and Crested Guan among other species. Mount Totumas Cloud Forest is a 400 acre reserve bordering the La Amistad National Park. Guests can enjoy 8 marked trails through the reserve with access into the adjacent national park, which is Central America’s largest protected mountain wilderness area.   Hot springs are also located nearby.   In the Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve there are keystone species present such as Resplendent Quetzals, Three Wattled Bellbirds, Baird’s Tapir, Mantled Howler Monkey, Black and Crested Guan, White-Faced Capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, mountain lions, ocelots and even Jaguars have been spotted in neighboring national park. The reserve is in a remote wilderness location with cabins and lodge that offers all the basic amenities thanks to a sustainable off the grid micro hydro power plant that taps the power of a nearby stream. For 2015 EcoCircuitos is offering a 4 day adventure at Mount Totumas Private Reserve – where you can experience the real beauty of the Cloud forest.  If you are an avid birder,  a hiker or just love wildlife observation and conservation, this is the adventure for you.   Contact us for more information:  www.ecocircuitos.com

Bird List Mount Totumas Cloud Forest:

Highland Tinamou

Black Guan
Crested Guan
Grey-headed Chacalaca

Spotted Wood Quail

Cattle Egret

Turkey Vulture

Black Vulture

Swallow-Tailed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Ornate Hawk Eagle

Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk

Great Black Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Yellow Headed Caracara

Collared Forest Falcon

American Kestrel
Bat Falcon

Spotted Sandpiper

Band-Tailed Pigeon
Ruddy Pigeon

Buff-Fronted Quail Dove

Chiriqui Quail Dove

White-Tipped Dove

Sulfur-winged Parakeet

Crimson-fronted Parakeet

Blue-Headed Parrot
Brown-hooded Parrot

Spectacled Owl
Mottled Owl

Bare-shanked Screech Owl

Common Pauraque

Dusky Nightjar

White-Collared Swift

Vauxs Swift

Scintillant Hummingbird
Fiery-throated Hummingbird

Volcano Hummingbird

Stripe-Tailed Hummingbird

Purple-Throated Mountain Gem

White-throated Mountain Gem

Green Hermit

Violet Sabrewing

Magnificent Hummingbird

Green Violet-Ear
Brown Violet-Ear

Green-Crowned Brilliant

Snowy Bellied Hummingbird
Magenta-throated Woodstar
Purple-crowned Fairy
Long-billed Starthroat
Snowcap
Resplendent Quetzal

Collared Trogon
Orange-bellied Trogon

Blue-Crowned Motmot

Blue-throated Toucanet
Fiery-billed Aracari
Prong-billed Barbet

Red-Headed Barbet

Acorn Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-Crowned Woodpecker
Smoky-brown Woodpecker
Golden-Olive Woodpecker
Olivaceous Piculet

Ruddy Tree Runner

Lineated Foilage-Gleaner

Spectacled Foilage-Gleaner

Spotted Barbtail
Red-Faced Spinetail

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper

Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Buffy Tuftedcheek
Streak-breasted Treehunter

Silvery-fronted Tapaculo

Mountain Elaenia

Yellow-Bellied Elaenia

Torrent Tyrannulet

Common Tody-Flycatcher

Rough-legged Tyranulet

White-Throated Spadebill

Tufted Flycatcher

Ochraceous Pewee

Western Wood-Pewee
Olive-sided Flycatcher

Dark Pewee

Yellow-bellied Flycatcherr
Black Phoebe
Yellowish Flycatcher

Bright-Rumped Atitla

Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher

Great Kiskadee

Social Flycatcher

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Golden-bellied Flycatcher

Streaked Flycatcher

Tropical Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird
Masked Tityra

White-Winged Becard
Barred Becard
Three-Wattled Bellbird
Yellow-winged Vireo

Yellow-Throated Vireo
Brown-capped Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Rufous-Browed Peppershrike

Silvery-Throated Jay
Brown Jay

Blue and White Swallow
Barn Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow

Ochraceous Wren

House Wren

Grey-Breasted Woodwren
Southern Nightingale-Wren

American Dipper

Mountain Thrush
Clay-colored Thrush

Black-faced Solitaire

Orange-Billed Nightingale Thrush
Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrush
Black-billed Nightingale Thrush

Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush

Swainsons Thrush
Wood Thrush
White-throated Thrush

Black and Yellow Silky-Flycatcher

Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher

Black and White Warbler

Wilsons Warbler
Canada Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler
Magnolia Warbler

Collared Redstart

Slate-throated Redstart
Black cheeked Warbler

Buff-rumped Warbler
wrenthrush

Mourning Warbler

Flame Throated Warbler

Golden Winged Warbler

Three Striped Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Tennessee Warbler

Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush

Common Bush Tanager

Sooty Capped Bush Tanager

Silver-throated Tanager

Summer Tanager

Flame Colored Tanager
Cherrie’s Tanager

Blue Grey Tanager

White Winged Tanager

Bay Headed Tanager

Spangle Cheeked Tanager

Golden-Hooded Tanager

Scarlet-Thighed Dacnis
Red-legged Honeycreeper

Buff-throated Saltator

Streaked Saltator

Yellow-faced Grassquit
Blue-Black Grassquit

White-naped Brush Finch

Yellow-thighed Finch

Chestnut Capped Brush Finch

Large Footed Finch

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Slaty Flower-piercer

Baltimore Oriole
Eastern Meadowlark

Shiny Cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird

Great-Tailed Grackle

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Elegant Euphonia
Spot-crowned Euphonia
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Golden Browed Chlorophonia
Yellow-bellied Siskin

* Elevation range from 1500 to 2200ft (including Rio Colorado drainage in La Amistad National Park)

** Last updated May 6, 2014