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By Gabriela Pedrotti
The archipelago of Bocas del Toro is a destination blessed by many things: the warm waters of the Caribbean, lonely islands with white sand and turquoise water, exceptional flora and fauna typical of the tropics and the warmth of its multi-cultural people. The picturesque wooden houses lining Isla Colón’s narrow streets give the illusion that time has stood still. The setting, music, customs and cuisine all provide an enriching travel experience and the resulting tourism improves the welfare of the region’s residents.
“Geotourism,” a term that has recently come into vogue, describes the involvement of local communities in the travel offer, thus providing tourists with authentic and enriching experiences that promote sustainable development, protect the environment and preserve a population’s cultural richness.
The people of Bocas del Toro, and many tour operators there, have pioneered measures to develop tourism in a conscientious and sustainable manner.
Bocas offers many “geotourism” activities: trekking through the dense jungles of Bastimentos National Park to see monkeys, reptiles, amphibians and birds; diving into the waters of the Caribbean to appreciate the colorful coral reefs teeming with marine life; visiting the islands that make up the archipelago and discovering idyllic beaches where starfish can be seen and where pods of bottlenose dolphins gambol.
For the more adventurous, there are alternatives such as spelunking the depths of Bocas del Toro’s caverns inhabited by large colonies of bats or visiting the Ngobe indigenous community living in the area of Valle Escondido in San Cristobal to share in their customs.
Bocas del Toro offers options for everyone. If you are the type of person who is conscious of your footprint and enjoy authentic experiences, I recommend supporting local operators that practice sustainable travel. For more information, visit GoBlueCentralAmerica.org where you will find comprehensive information on destinations and service providers working under this modality.