Panama is renowned for its ancient tribes living in pristine jungles. The problem is to visit these tribes you need to take a tour, as finding them on your own can be difficult.
I completely avoid tours when possibly, but luckily I found a tour company that was founded and operated by Anne Gorden, an American woman who is married to an Embera Villager. This meant she had inside access to the culture.
Embera village, is far enough away from Panama City that it’s not flooded with tourists. To reach this village is a one hour drive from Panama City, followed by a one hour canoe ride. The village is located inside the protected Chagres National Park. Considering it’s only 2 hours away from civilization it feels very secluded.
The entire tour was designed to financially assist the Embera people. Our canoe was piloted by two men from this tribe and part of our tour fee was donated to the tribe.
As soon as the village came into view it was a magical moment. The tribe stood there to greet us and were extremely welcoming.
I was smitten with how social the tribe members were. Families were the core dynamic here, and teenagers took care of young children, and in turn those younger children helped with the babies. All this while having fun, the children were laughing, and playing, something that is rarely seen in today’s technology obsessed society.
It was a welcome journey into a simpler time, when people were not distracted by the latest toys, or by trying to “get ahead”. Here people helped one another, and everyone was a true equal.
I loved how happy everyone was. One young boy was completely distracted by a soccer ball and was having a blast by himself.
This is one of those tours that should absolutely be done when visiting Panama. Going to see the Panama canal was underwhelming compared to this experience.