While farming has deep roots in the green rural regions of Panama, agritourism is just starting to bud. TUCAYA Panama is excited to nurture the seeds of several sustainable agritourism projects and watch them grow. TUCAYA’s small tours visit a hand-picked selection of worthwhile farm hosts throughout the country.
Indulge in Coffee and Chocolate in Chiriquí
In the northwest of Panama, near the border with Costa Rica, is the region of Chiriquí. When you’re there, if a cup of local, freshly roasted coffee sounds appetising, visit the foot of Volcan Baru, where you can find one of the best coffees in the world: the Geisha variety. Stop by for a visit and tasting at one of the working farms such as Eleta, Esmeralda or Finca Lerida.
Other highlights of the region are the authentic farmers’ markets in the towns of Boquete and Volcan. In Volcan, try the delights of sustainable cooking in the Cerro Brujo restaurant, property of the famous chef Patricia Miranda Allen. She teaches the nutritional values of food and gastronomy to indigenous Ngabe students.
Just to the north, on Panama’s Caribbean coast, the region of Bocas del Toro is a source of coffee’s complementary ingredient: cocoa. There, TUCAYA works with a sustainable agritourism project, Citizens of Chocolate, comprising women from the Ngabe tribe that produces cocoa. Visit a plantation and then participate in a cocoa workshop during which you grind roasted beans into a raw cocoa paste for use in a fondue, hot chocolate or brownie. The pure cocoa flavour never fails to make a strong impression!
Sample the Traditions of the Azuero Peninsula
Inland in the central provinces, Azuero Peninsula is an authentic slice of old colonial Panama. For centuries, this spot has been very active in agriculture and cattle ranching. Here, you will find farms like Mama Tina Paradise, where you can enjoy the atmosphere of traditional thatch-and-tile homes and get inside the process of dairy farming.
Also on Azuero Peninsula, visit the village of La Arena for the opportunity to work with artisans and make the beautiful pottery and clay figurines that are traditional to this region. A classic example is the famous colourful mask of diablico sucio, a demon from Panamanian folklore. In the nearby town of Santo Domingo, friendly women teach the art of sewing and embroidering la pollera, the beautiful national costume, with folk music in the background.
Visit Farms and Ancient Petroglyphs in the Province of Coclé
Further inland, at the very centre of the country, lies the province of Coclé where, in Coclesito, there’s a very special place called La Granja Alternativa. Participate in the daily workings of this tropical farm: harvest fruit and make jam, grind sugar cane to prepare a natural drink, knead bread, feed animals, fish in a small manmade lake, walk trails, practice on a zip line and participate in a variety of other activities that will make your stay very fulfilling.
Also in this central province of Coclé is a site known for its pleasant spring-like climate – the picturesque village of El Valle de Antón. Surrounded by beautiful orchids, fruit, vegetables and other tropical plants, the village is located in the heart of an extinct volcano crater and known for its hiking trails and a colourful craft market where you can buy gifts and souvenirs.
El Valle de Antón is the trailhead of one hike to the beautiful Chorro Del Macho waterfall and to the Piedra Pintada, a huge petroglyph with pre-Colombian symbols still not deciphered by archaeologists. Legend has it that the markings represent a map of Panama. You should also visit a local orchid farm, where you can see the famous orchid of the Holy Spirit, Flor del Espiritu Santo, Panama’s national flower.
Finally, round-out your agritourism adventures in Panama at a little place called Rincón de la Biodiversidad, a working organic farm. During the harvest season, 12 to 15 varieties of organic leafy greens are grown here, along with fruits and vegetables. This farm is a proud supplier of a famous restaurant in the capital city known as Manolo Caracol.