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Jungle chocolate seminar
Along with coffee, shrimp, pineapples and melons, chocolate is one of Panamas delicious exports. The cacao trees thrive in the rainforest environment of the Caribbean coast, especially in the province of Bocas del Toro. Visitors to Bocas, if they can tear themselves away from the beach (or the bar) have the opportunity to see the origen of the chocolate they munch or the cocoa or hot chocolate they quaff by taking the Oreba Chocolate Tour.
The tour starts with a pleasant trudge through the jungle where the cacao trees luxuriate in the humid shade. A plus at this point could be a sighting of a toucan, a sloth or a poison dart frog. Your tour guide, who will explain the growing, harvesting, fermenting, drying and ultimately roasting of the beans to make the final product, is a member of the Ngäbe indigenous tribe which completely manages the tour and it may be gratifying to note that all the proceeds of the tour go to the community, including education and health care.
The Red Frog Resort
Travelers to Bocas del Toro will likely spend a day at Red Frog Beach but may be unaware of the nearby resort that includes the 42 luxurious accommodations nestled on a hillside.
Resort amenities include a 2-hour zipline ride, beachfront restaurant, nature paths, a waterfall spa, marina village, and a weekly activity schedule.
Oceans Group International took over the development in 2008. “We modified the resort plan to emphasize nature-based tourism”, says Marketing Associate Jarissa García.
Guests encounter playful Capuchin monkeys, slow-moving tree sloths, squawking parrots, giant morpho butterflies, vibrantly colorful frogs and other wildlife.
The most fascinating part of the tour is when the women of the tribe, wearing their traditional dress, teach you how to make chocolate the way they have been doing it for centuries. Then a typical Ngäbe meal is served including local roots and vegetables.
After being prepped with all this knowledge and experience, you have to buy some additional Oreba chocolate products which are available at the Super Gourmet store in Bocas Town or in their branch in Casco Antiguo in Panama City.
The tour can be booked in Bocas town at Hostel Heike or Casa Verde or by calling 6411 5670 (English) or 6649 1457 (Spanish). Tours normally run twice daily starting at 9 30 a.m. and 1: 00 p.m. from the Bocas Marine Tours dock in Almirante.