Embera Village Tours
106 souls of Emberá Puru live in traditional housing on the banks of the Rio San Juan de Pequeni. Here in the jungle the Emberá continue many of their traditions and culture, while incorporating aspects of the modern world. You may visit the village for a day or more, accompanied by Anne Gordon de Barrigon, an American woman who is married to an Embera' man from the village of Embera' Puru. She has a unique perspective as an American who is a full fledged tribe member. The Embera' are beautiful people both inside and out and are very quick to smile and laugh. They will welcome you with warm and open hearts.
Your day trip starts at around 8:30am when Anne comes to pick you up at your Panama City hotel. She will drive you through the Panama country side for about an hour. At about 9:30am you will arrive at the boat ramp on the edge of the Chagres National park. The watershed for the canal. Your boteros will be waiting for you with a dugout canoe. It will take approximately an hour to travel up river depending on the season and water level. Sometimes the river is so shallow the boteros have to get out and push the canoe. You may help if you feel like 'roughing it'.
Around 10:30am after a beautiful ride up river and through the jungle, possibly sighting toucans, sloths or maybe a monkey along the way. We arrive at Embera' Puru and are greeted with a traditional musical greeting. After arriving and getting ourselves settled we are allowed free reign to explore the village at our leisure. Then we will be treated to a short talk about their lives and culture, lifestyle, and crafts. After the talk we are taken on a short walk through the jungle with one of the village elders to teach us about the medicinal plants they use.
Upon our return to the village we are fed a delicious traditional meal of Patacones (fried plantains) and fried fish or chicken. After lunch it is time to listen to their music and watch the women dance some traditional shamanic dances. Next comes shopping time!
They make the most exquisite crafts, woven baskets, plates and masks from palm leaf fibers and carved Cocobolo wood and Tagua seeds. Then the entire tribe gathers for a group photo. They are not shy about posing for a picture and love to be shown the result if you have a digital. If you would like to receive a traditional tatoo now is the time. Don't worry it is a fruit juice dye and lasts only 10-12 days before it wears off.
Sadly it is now time to say goodbye to your new friends. Do not worry they will stay in your heart forever and you are always welcome back anytime.
2013 Prices vary depending on the size of the group:
1 person $250.00
2 people $175.00/ea.
3 people $140.00/ea.
4 people $130.00/ea.
Kids 5-12 half price
Kids under 5 free
Private Tours and VIP tours are also available.
An option is to stop at a nearby waterfall to play in the falls and bathe in the pool they have formed.
If you choose to spend a night or two, (up to 5 nights) you will get a lot more leisure time with the tribe and get to have more personal contact with them. Get to know them one on one. Even if you do not speak their language, (they speak their tribal language, Embera' and Spanish)they find a way of communicating with you. Especially the children who will grab your hand or eagerly jump in your lap.
There is no electricity or running water in the village, other than the river so you will find yourselves bathing and swimming in the river often and the kids will love to play with you while you do.
1 person $250.00
2-8 people $200.00/ea.
Kids 5-12 $100.00/ea.
Kids under 5 free
Ask about group and large family rates
Price includes all meals
If you can fit an overnight in your vacation plans, you should. By staying overnight, you really feel the rhythms of the village. I felt I learned a valuable lesson from observing the slow pace of the women and un-hampered playfulness of the children.
Any one with an interest in weaving and basket making would certainly benefit culturally and artistically by spending time here.