HOW TO VISIT AN EMBERÁ VILLAGE?

by MorganeChrlr
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AN EXCURSION TO VISIT AN EMBERÁ VILLAGE IN PANAMA

When we were in Panama City, we took a guided tour to Emberá Village, with Panama Travel Unlimited. It’s a native village which lives from agriculture, the handicrafts they make, and also from tourism since 1984. There are 8 in the region. The village we visited has around 25 families, 75 people in total.

HOW TO VISIT AN EMBERA VILLAGE?

EMBERÁ VILLAGE

We leave at around 7:30 a.m. with the guide to go to the village. We are the only ones to gpo. Before getting there we stop at a fruit shop. The guide explains us that it’s customary for us to offer fruit to the locals, which they’ll prepare for later. It takes around 1h30 to reach the entrance to the Emberá village. There, we are welcomed by locals in traditional costume, aboard a long wooden boat. We board to arrive at the village about ten minutes later. Personally, I was a little afraid of the voyeurism aspect when going to this type of village. But ultimately I didn’t feel it at all. We can talk with the locals and learn a little more about their way of life and their culture. I won’t lie to you that with the language barrier it wasn’t easy for me, but my friend speaks Spanish well, we were able to chat a little with them. There’s a big main hut with tables and crafts that they make that we can buy. With the guide, we are able to walk around the village and see the exterior of the residential huts. He explains a little about the village. After a few minutes of free time, the locals take all the groups by boat to a waterfall. Everyone goes there! The waterfall itself isn’t incredible, but the boat trip is very pretty! We then return to the village for lunch.
We’re divided into several groups to enjoy the meal while listening to a person from the village. She explains the origins of the village, as well as their customs and how they live. It’s very interesting, and we can ask her any questions that come to mind. After this good meal, everyone gathers in the main hut to enjoy a traditional dance demonstration. At the end, we are invited to dance with them. It’s very nice ! We still have a little time to go shopping or get a temporary tattoo, before returning to town in the afternoon.

Price of the excursion with guide, lunch, fruits: US$12 *

I won’t lie that I was a little afraid of the voyeurism effect when visiting this village. I was finally pleasantly surprised. So yes, it can be touristic, but it’s assumed, and it remains respectful to the tribe. A great discovery!

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO VISIT AN EMBERA VILLAGE?

To visit an Emberá village, you need one day. Generally, tours depart from Panama City.

WHAT BUDGET TO EXPECT FOR THE EMBERA VILLAGE EXCURSION?

The budget described below corresponds only to the day trip to the Emberá village:

  • Transport: The agency picks you up from your accommodation, and drops you off at the same place.
  • Activities: The excursion costs a total of US$120*. Plan to tip the guide if you’re satisfied.
  • Others: Bring some money if you want to buy a handicraft item. Around US$20* or more depending on what you are going to buy.

Count around US$180* for the Emberá village excursion.

MY TRAVEL TIPS TO VISIT AN EMBERA VILLAGE

  • Compare different agencies before choosing one.
  • I read that some people do it without agencies but honestly it’s better with an agency to know where to go and have the right behavior towards the locals.
  • Even though they’re used to tourists, I’ve seen so many people doing voyeurism, or taking photos close to people without asking them. Please respect them as you would respect anyone.

*Prices are as of December 2022.

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