PANAMA – Visiting the indigenous Embera tribe


Visiting the indigenous Embera tribe is a must-do one day trip if you are in Panama city. From Panama city you can visit some village just an hour or two out of the city. This makes it a great day trip to learn about the Embera people and their culture. You will see their way of living, music & dance and you can enjoy their cuisine with a great lunch. It’s quite touristic but you will get a great impression there. I arranged the trip through Panama Unlimited Travel. Pickup at the hotel was exact in time and the whole tour went as planned and offered. Great service from Panama Unlimited Travel.

The Embera People

The Embera people are indigenous to Panama and Colombia and also known as Chocó or Katío Indians. Currently the total population is just under 100.000 covering both countries. Originally the Embera people lived in houses scattered along the river but in recent history started to live in villages. Houses are built on stilts to keep wild animals away and the houses cool inside. The roofs are made of palm leaves. In the old days the houses did not have walls but for more privacy they do build houses with walls now.

After you have walked the village to see the way the Embera people live it’s time for lunch. Lunch is cooked on the spot for you by the local villagers. The lunch consists of fried fish caught locally and pressed fried sweet corn. All this is then wrapped in a banana leaf. There is also plenty of fruit during lunch but this is actually brought there by the guides as there is not enough locally otherwise for the tourists. It is very interesting to see how they cook and the kind of food they eat. The taste is just gorgeous!

When you finished your lunch you board the long-boat for a half hour drive to the nearby waterfalls. If you bring your bathing suit you can take a great dive in the cool clear waters. After cooling down you will be brought back by long-boat and a great day comes to an end.

I really recommend visiting the Embera tribe to learn about their culture and habits. It’s worth spending a day, or even an overnight stay! Browse the below gallery for more images and if you have questions or your own experience please leave a comment.

Background information on this trip

Beside the above this trip might have been to more places. In the table below the full facts & statistics about this trip with links to related posts.

Dates of travel2014.11.12 – 2014.11.21
ItineraryDay 1-5 Amsterdam to Buenos Aires through Panama (Work); Day 6 Panama Embera tribe; Day 7 Panama East Coast Canal & Fortifications; Day 8 Panama City and canal; Day 9-10 Back to Amsterdam
Related postsPANAMA – Visiting the indigenous Embera tribe
PANAMA – 100 Years of Panama canal
PANAMA – Going back to old Panama and fortifications along east coast
Hotel Reviews Quarter 4 – 2014
Facts & StatisticsVisited a new country and capital: Panama / Panama City. Two new UNESCO sites visited: Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá; Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo. Visited the Panama Canal in the 100th Anniversary year.
Tour Operator, Hotels and Airlines usedTook a KLM business flight from Amsterdam to Panama booked during a promotion of KLM. One overnight stay (Intercontinental Miramar) to catch a COPA airlines flight to Buenos Aires in economy. Buenos Aires stayed at the Intercontinental there for some nights. Back in Panama stayed at the Intercontinental Playa Bonita for the remaining days. For the trips in Panama I arranged a car and guide through Panama Unlimited Travel.
GPS Map for your reference[map style=”width: 500px; height:300px; margin:0px 0px 0px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” kml=””]


  1. Hi Chris,
    thank you for your great blog. I am preparing my Colombia-/ Panama trip right now and I have one question: what do you recommend: staying overnight at emberá or just do a one day trip. What happens when you stay overnight?

    Thank you,

    • Hi Karin,
      Personally I found a day trip ok. Maybe if you stay overnight you have of course a longer experience and see more. The day trip is really catered to tourists of course.

  2. Hey Chris, Just went through your website and few of your posts, and I have to say you are an inspiration. Many bloggers travel, but it is especially nice to see someone combining travels with family and business.

    I remember reading your posts on flyertalk for a couple of years now – especially since the Brussels to Capetown business error on Ethiopian. I wasnt able to travel on that one. I thought you did? However, I dont see you talking about that trip on this site.

    Anyway, just wanted to drop a line and say that I enjoy your writing.

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