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Rio Gatun

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My Day with an Indigenous Tribe, the Embera Indians Colon  Panama

My Day with an Indigenous Tribe, the Embera Indians

We trekked in a hand-carved canoe on Rio Gatun into the rainforest to meet one of Panama's most intriguing indigenous tribes, the Embera Indians. Native to the Darien region of the south--reputed to be one of the most dangerous places in the world--some small tribes have established villages in reclusive areas in the forest within reach of Panama City with a guide.

We met the chief and the tribe, learned about their customs, and discovered how they carve canoes and thatch huts as well as bead jewelry and weave baskets. We were personally invited into a family's hut, ate fried fish caught from the river, and played with a pet toucan (who was hankering for our fish). The rainy afternoon continued with listening to drumming by one of the boys, visiting a school, and exchanging questions. The chief carved a wooden charm as a present. It was sort of an adventure to simply share a day in their authentic culture and sustainable way of life.

Our local guide, Rudy of Rudy's Tours, offered a private voyage to the village. As a personal friend of the tribe, he offers intimate knowledge, translation, and special access. An exceptional guide, Rudy is happy to customize itineraries. This roundtrip tour includes a pickup from your hotel, a scenic drive, and a canoe ride. Travel from Panama City to the village takes about an hour.