We love total culture shock and the trip to the Embera Village Panama was about as good as it gets. This tribe and presumably many others in the area of the Chargras River and the National Park live just as their ancestors did hundreds and probably thousands of years before them. The photos speak for themselves.
We arrived one day, spent the night in a raised bamboo and grass hut and awakened to a very loud rooster crowing on the ground immediately below us. We took our siesta as is customary with the tribe in mid-afternoon in hammocks in our hut. Some of the homes are shown below.
The tribal botanist who was filling in for the medicine man gave a tour along paths through the jungle. He showed us plants for treating cancer, a natural Viagra and a plant to rub on your body that will completely get rid of all body hair. The botanist and a fellow member of the tribe talk in the photo below.
The hair removal elixir is applied to the skin shortly after birth and at intervals afterward. We witnessed firsthand that at adulthood, the Embera have no body hair and their skin is soft and supple. They report that the elixir will remove body hair in adults if used every four months. Stay tuned. We may try to bring it to market!
How to Book This Tour
Stephanie found this tour on the internet at www.EmberaTribeTours.com We had a sensational guide named Jorge Sanmiguel. Jorge (pronounced Or Hay) is passionate about the Embera Tribe and puts a tremendous effort into taking care of the tour group. Jorge is originally from Columbia, South America. His native language is Spanish but he speaks fluent English. If you want to make sure you get Jorge, he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. A photo of him is shown below
In case anyone is wondering, the bathroom was very clean. Not quite the 4 Seasons but it was better than the woods at least for most of the tourists. We had read that the restroom consisted of digging a hole in the jungle, so we were pleasantly surprised.
Stephanie nor I had ever seen a sloth. This one had a baby who hung on tight while the locals picked up and carried the sloth to a tree. It was a very odd looking animal that hissed and growled but was not very threatening.
The sloth had a face only a mother could love! It had pretty hair and Stephanie wanted to get a brush and comb it’s hair.
The Embera’s were perfectly comfortable with their bodies and had no issues with the tourists taking photos. Only a portion of the tribe took part in greeting and entertaining the guests. Everyone in the tribe had duties that were assigned in the morning as per a morning meeting with the chief.
Upon arriving at the village, the people entertained us with dancing and singing. They make handmade jewelry, baskets, masks, slingshots and other items that are on display for purchase.
This was our canoe driver going to the village. He spoke a little English and was real curious as to where we were from. The Embera people are truly respectful, gracious and humble people and were a pleasure to hang out with. We only wish we spoke Spanish well enough to have a conversation with them. We would have learned so much more!
This lady cooked and served the tour group chicken and plantains served in a giant palm leaf. The fresh free-range chicken was very good!
The kids are friendly and curious about the outsiders. I swam with the kids in the river next to the village for about an hour. They are typical boys who love to play and compete with each other.
I decided to take the plunge and go topless with the rest of the tribe. I couldn’t get Stephanie to join in though.
The sleeping accommodations shown above were not too bad. A floor mattress and mosquito net kept it comfortable. Due to the higher elevation than Panama City, it must have been 15 degrees cooler at night and a little chilly actually. Take this trip if you get the opportunity. I guarantee you will talk about it for a lifetime.