Booking & Payment

The program prices do not include international airfares and taxes. All optional activities and meals that are not specified in the itinerary you receive at the time of your reservation are not included, as well as alcoholic beverages, extras in hotels (like laundry, phone calls, room service), gratuities and tips for drivers and guides and your personal expenses.

We require reservations in advance in order to organize your trip properly according to your needs.

EcoCircuitos tours are tailor-made; we chose the hotels and room types for your trip and your exact tour itineraries and activities according to your wishes and preferences; therefore we can set a final price only after communication with you. Hotel prices also vary according to the season and transportation prices can change with the fuel price and local taxes. The price of your tours and hotels also depends on the number of participants, as there are discounted rates for groups for transports and in some hotels. Furthermore, in the prices listed on the website, domestic flights are still not included, because this price varies according to the flight day, time and season.

Hotel and tour prices vary according to the season, the number of participants, local taxes and constantly-changing fuel fees. Furthermore, most of our tours include custom-made details specialized on your preferences, that we will discuss with you during the booking process. Based on your personal needs and wishes, we will then work out your exact itinerary and accommodation option, before we can let you know the final price.

Ideally, you should book at least one month in advance for longer packages to make sure the activities and select hotels you would like to book are available. If you want to book on shorter notice, contact us or have a look at our last minute offers. Short tours, hotel reservations and transfers should be booked at least two weeks before arrival; day tours ideally one week in advance. If you book later, we will still try to accommodate you, but might not have availability on your preferred dates or activities. As a rule of thumb, the earlier you book, the more options you have. Also consider that the processing can be longer if you have special requests.

Flights & Transportation

EcoCircuitos tours usually include the transfer from and to the airport and all ground transportation throughout your trip. However, if you wish to extend your stay and explore Panama on your own before or after your tour, we can assist you in renting a car with the appropriate safety and insurance. Panama’s roads are generally good condition, only in remote jungle areas they might be a bit bumpy. Driving is on the right side, an international driving license is required. Click here to check out our Fly & Drive Programs.

On EcoCircuitos tours and transfers between hotels and destinations, you will usually travel in a private, air-conditioned 4×4 or minivan, unless it is specified otherwise.

If you book a full package or a domestic flight with us, airport transfers are always included. Make sure to send us your international arrival and departure information in advance! You can also book just an airport transfer.

We recommend you to be at the airport 3 hours before an international flight, and at least 1 hour before domestic flights. We will make sure to pick you up from your hotel on time.

On the majority of domestic and chartered flights within Panama, each passenger is entitled to check in 14kg. or 30.8lbs. and 4kg. or 8.8lbs. of carry-on luggage per person. Do not pack high value, fragile or electronic items (computers, phones, cameras, camcorders, etc.) in your carry-on luggage, as those must be carried in hand luggage. Passengers are responsible for excess baggage fees which are subject to 2% of the published fare that will be charged for every kilo of baggage excess. Any further piece of baggage is accepted and subject to additional charges and available space inside the aircraft, otherwise it will be sent on the next flight.

On flights to and from David, located in the Chiriqui Province passengers are allowed to check in 30kg. or 66.1lbs. Please keep in mind this is only for flights to David, if you have other flights connecting to other destinations from David you will only be allowed to check in 14kg. free of charge. If you have any questions please contact your EcoCircuitos Panama sales representative.

We can organize domestic flight reservations and bookings. We do not offer international flight reservations.

Preparation

You do not need to bring a receipt. Upon your arrival at the airport, your guide will be waiting for you at the exit with a sign bearing your name and the EcoCircuitos logo.

As Panama is a tropical country situated close to the equator, bringing a sun block is definitely recommended, as well as a mosquito repellent. Panama uses plugs of type A and type B, which are common in Central America, the United States, Canada and Japan. If your plug type is different in your home country, we recommend bringing a travel adapter. Concerning clothing style, lightweight long pants and loose fitting shirts are usually the best option. Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a small backpack for day excursions, a sun hat and a foldaway umbrella or light raincoat during the green season. Depending on the activities you are planning, hiking boots or running shoes, bathing suits and sports clothing might be useful. In the highlands it can get quite chilly (as well as on airplanes, buses, restaurants and shopping malls because of AC), so a sweater and a pair of warm pants are always a good idea to bring along. Do not worry if you forget something: there are multiple shopping options and fully equipped pharmacies in Panama where you can find just about everything you need, from cosmetics to medication and clothing.

Visitors entering Panama need to possess an international passport, which is valid for at least six months at the time of entry. Please check in advance with the Panamanian Embassy or Consulate in your home country weather you need a visa to travel to Panama.

You do not need to speak Spanish; however, locals are happy if you know a few words. Hotel staff is usually bilingual and your EcoCircuitos contact and guide will definitely speak English. However, to communicate with locals, negotiate prices and get to know Panama’s culture, some Spanish skills can be useful, but not necessary.

Depending on your type of SIM card and the contract you have, you might have internet access (usually at high additional costs) in Panama. However, we recommend you to check details and prices with your phone provider in advance. There is also the possibility of purchasing a local SIM card (approximately 3 USD) and conduct a contract with unlimited internet on your phone (1 week costs 5 USD). Those SIM cards can easily be purchased in most local supermarkets and stores, just ask the salesperson or your EcoCircuitos guide for assistance.

Panama uses US Dollar as a currency (locally known as the Balboa). Major credit cards are widely accepted, and ATM’s can found at almost every corner of towns and cities, although not many banks accept traveler’s checks or foreign debit cards. As a safety precaution, it is not advisable to carry very large amounts of cash; you can also pay with credit card in most stores and restaurants. Keep in mind that showing your ID or a passport copy is required when paying by credit card.

Safety and Health

Panama is one of the safest tourist destinations in Central America; however, we recommend to always being cautious while sightseeing in the street or in crowded public areas. Avoid carrying your travel documents, valuables or large amounts of money in your purse or wallet.

Eating local food provides authentic insights in the local cuisine and directly supports the local population by buying local. However, we recommend using common sense and taking one’s dietary restrictions into consideration, as your body may not be used to local ingredients.

Panama City offers a variety of different international cuisine options combined with local flare. Outside of Panama City you will find typical Panamanian food in most restaurants. Panamanians eat a staple diet of rice, beans and meat with a variety of local vegetables and fruits such as yucca, plantains, squash, papaya, banana and watermelon. In Bocas del Toro, Colon and Guna Yala (San Blas Archipelago) provinces you can enjoy traditional fish and seafood dishes. For a list of options click here.

Panama City has good water quality and can be consumed from the tap. Outside the city, the water quality is generally good as well; however, travelers are recommended to drink bottled water to avoid any possible illness. In Bocas del Toro and the San Blas Archipelago, as well as in the Darien Provinces, tap water is usually not drinkable. If in doubt, ask a representative at your hotel.

Please note, as tap water is considered drinking water in Panama, and – in an effort to be more eco-friendly – we do not provide bottled water on transfers around the country. Instead, we provide refillable stainless steel, PBA free bottles upon arrival to use en-route and keep as a souvenir.

Contact us on our 24/7 emergency number and we will assist you immediately: +507 6450-1093.

For medical emergencies in Panama City, contact the Paitilla Hospital, where most of the doctors speak English (and have studied in the United States or Europe) and offer high quality medical services.

Panama in general has excellent and reasonably-priced health care. Hospital San Fernando, Punta Pacifica and National Hospital, also offer very good health care options. In other cities in Panama, hospitals may not have the latest equipment, but doctors are well trained and professional (and usually speak English). We highly recommend all travelers to have international medical coverage, if necessary, purchase sufficient travel insurance before your departure from your home country.

Panama is listed as one of the countries where mosquitos are infected with the Zika Virus. If you are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant, we recommend consulting a doctor before and after your trip and strictly following steps to avoid mosquito bites.

You may need malaria prophylaxis if you are planning on traveling to remote jungle areas such as the Darien. There are several cases of dengue fever reported annually throughout Panama; so we generally recommend avoiding mosquito bites by wearing long clothes and using repellents. Yellow fever also exists in certain parts of Panama, mostly in remote Jungle areas like the Darien. We recommend consulting your doctor before your trip to decide, whether vaccinations are necessary or not.

Yellow Fever vaccination

As of November 01, 2008, Panama requires valid Yellow Fever Vaccination to enter or leave the country for the following countries:

South America: Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela.

Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo Democratic Rep., Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leona, Sudan.

If you have any health concerns, we strongly recommend consulting your doctor or clinic before traveling.

Special Requirements

Our tours descriptions all feature an activity level showing you the difficulty of the activities on the tour on a scale from 1 to 10. We offer many tours that do not require a high fitness level and there are hotels suitable for people with limited mobility. If you have any special request, please let us know when we are designing your program so we can provide you with best possible options that suit your needs.

If you any special dietary need, please let us know as soon as possible. We can usually accommodate any special requests, if we know about them early enough in advance.

Select day tours have age restrictions and tours to the Darien region have a minimum age of 12 years. If you are traveling with young children, please let us know in advance so we can recommend the best places and activities for you. Check out our family-friendly tours by clicking here.

Sustainability

The major thing you can do is to leave no trash behind. Bring a re-usable water bottle and lunch box to reduce the amount of garbage you produce. Always follow your guide’s instructions, do not leave designated trails, feed or touch wild animals or pick flowers. Leave the place you visited the way you found it. At the hotel, try to reduce your water and energy consumption, keep your showers short, and turn off electrical appliances when you do not use them. Try not using air conditioning on full power all the time. For more information on how to travel responsibly click here.

EcoCircuitos supports a variety of community projects. We also offer volunteer vacations upon request. If you are planning to make a donation, we can put you in contact with a suitable program.

When you buy souvenirs, try to buy them directly from the producers, not at souvenir stores at the airport or in shopping centers. Eat at local restaurants and stay in locally-owned accommodations to make sure your money benefits local communities, and not international or foreign corporations. Click here for tips of how to travel responsibly.

EcoCircuitos partners in community development projects with local organizations such as Casa Esperanza, supporting children and indigenous communities as well as rural development programs. We work with local suppliers and accommodations whenever possible, the majority of EcoCircuitos drivers and guides are Panamanian. For more information, check out our commitment.

All our tours are designed to have a minimum impact on the environment. Our guides are trained to respect the natural surroundings and its inhabitants, we never feed or touch wild animals or leave designated trails in delicate environments. We pursue a “Leave No Trace” and “take nothing but memories” policy. Furthermore, we work with environmentally responsible accommodations whenever possible and foster responsible interactions between travelers and local people to create positive advantages on both sides. For more information, check out our commitment.

Tours and Hotels

By law all hotels in Panama have a non-smoking policy, which includes all hotel rooms and in-door facilities. Usually there is an outside area where smoking is allowed. Generally, smoking is not allowed in public buildings in Panama, including restaurants and bars.

The standard tipping rate in Panama is around 10- 12%, which at times is included in the bill already. At some restaurants you should add the tip or “propina” to your total.

EcoCircuitos recommends the following guidelines for tipping our guides, drivers and staff in Panama:

  • Naturalist guide:  US$15.00 – US$20.00 per person per / day
  • Day tour guide:  US$10.00 per person per day
  • Transfer driver:  US$2.00 per person
  • Tour driver:  US$5.00 per person per day
  • Tour boat driver:  US$5.00 per person per day
  • Hotel bellman:  US$1.00 per person per piece of luggage

International airport bellmen:  US$1.00 per piece of luggage

In general, most of the hotels we use throughout Panama have WiFi which is included in the hotel rate already. Only in some special cases in remote areas, like the San Blas islands, hotels do not have access to WiFi. However, we always communicate those special conditions with you in advance and book hotels only upon your consent.

EcoCircuitos generally works with hotels following international standards. The exact type and classification of the hotels we use for your trip depends on your preferences and budget and will be organized upon your consent. In some remote regions of Panama, such as the San Blas Archipelago or in local communities, accommodations can be very simple. However, we always share and discuss details and conditions of lodging with you in advance and book your hotels only upon your consent.

EcoCircuitos programs normally include breakfast, if not stated differently in our itinerary details. Lunch and dinner are only included as stated in our individual tour programs. Our full day tours usually include lunch, and breakfast is included in most hotel bookings. Some hotels, especially on the islands or in rural areas, offer all-inclusive concepts. Let us know about your preferences and check the description of our tour itineraries.

You definitely can. EcoCircuitos tours are tailor-made for the different needs of different travelers. Let us know how long you want to travel, what you want to do and where you would like to stay; we will assist you in developing a custom itinerary. You can also book additional hotel nights or opt for one of our various tour extension programs.

EcoCircuitos offers a range of tours specifically for families. In general, many of our tours are suitable for children; many of hotels offer babysitter services, kids meals or cots upon request. If you are planning to travel with small children, ask us for specific family recommendations. Tours to the Darien area have a minimum age of 12 years. Click here for our family-friendly tours.

If not mentioned otherwise, all tours are private, with your just booking party participating and no one else.

Apart from their native Spanish, all our guides are fluent in English. Upon request, we can arrange a guide for you who speaks another language.

Weather

We do go hiking in the rain, as weather can change quite fast in Panama and after one hour of rain it can be sunny again. If the weather is unsafe for any reason and if there are thunderstorms, the trip will be changed or postponed. We recommend to be flexible, as weather can never be guaranteed or exactly predicted, especially in tropical countries like Panama.

Panama is perfectly fine to visit during this season, it may rain once a day for about two hours, however; before and afterwards it is usually sunny and on many days it does not rain at all. The only thing you need is a little flexibility in your travel program. For more information on weather and climate click here https://ecocircuitospanama.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/weather-in-panama/

Panama’s climate is very warm and humid throughout the whole year in the low lands and on the coast; the highlands can be slightly cooler. Panama`s high season starts in the beginning of November and ends with the month of April. During this time, it is usually sunny, humidity will be lower and a steady breeze is going throughout most of the country. Between May and October Panama is becoming lush and green, with occasionally mid-day clouds and showers in the evening. During the Green season, crowds are less and prices are lower. For more information on weather and climate click here https://ecocircuitospanama.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/weather-in-panama/