Why do we offer trips to Panama?
Panama has more bird and mammal species than any other country in Central America. While better known for the Panama Canal, its exceptional biodiversity has only recently come to wider attention. Offering both Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and mountain highlands, it packs a lot of variety into a small area. Its human history is as compelling as its natural history: Panama City is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the Americas and its rich mix of African, Native Panamanian, and Spanish cultures have contributed to what makes Casco Viejo, the old city, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Is it a Responsible Travel destination?
Panama is very much a Responsible Travel destination for several reasons. First, unlike neighboring Costa Rica, environmental sustainability historically has not been a concern. With the growing interest in both nature and native cultures, the government now appreciates that ecotourism is an important aspect of economic development and more land is being protected. Second, tourism is still largely the province of small scale local operators, meaning that the benefits accrue to local people and not large foreign corporations. And third, because it is still a newer destination, there are not large masses of tourists everywhere. There is still the opportunity for more authentic interaction with people who live there. At the same time, its growing infrastructure means that options for interesting food and comfortable places to stay is greater than ever before.
Why isn't it already a popular destination?
The Panama Canal has been both a blessing and a curse for the country. While it brought commerce and U.S. protection, its importance to shipping also caused the U.S. to support a dictator for years, whose interest was not in the economic development and prosperity of his people. Since his overthrow, that has been changing.
Why is the itinerary different for 2020?
We've been running trips in Panama for over 10 years. We've changed the itinerary several times, but always wanted to showcase Panama City, the Caribbean coast, and the Chiriqui Highlands. In the past, that involved several internal flights with early mornings and airport downtime. By heading north, we eliminate two of those flights without eliminating the diversity we showcase. We expect this itinerary to provide more relaxation while still offering amazing variety of activities, from kayaking to hiking and from swimming and snorkeling in the Caribbean to ziplining and whitewater rafting in the mountains.