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Embera Experience

06-06-2017

Archibaldo Kirchman, Expedition Guide, Safari Voyager

Today we had the opportunity to visit an Embera village, one of just seven indigenous groups that live in Panama today.

Local Darien drivers met us at the Safari Voyager in their dugout canoes and took us into to the mouth of the Mogue River, where we were able to experience the beauty of the mangrove forest and all the birds that live there.

Canoeing in Panama

White Ibis, Pelicans, Cormorants, Little Blue Herons, Mangrove Hawks and more can be seen in this wild forest.

After moving up the narrow river for about 30 minutes, the forest suddenly opened up wide around us.

At first, we could hear music and then as we turned a corner, people appeared. Upwards of 30 Embera villagers were on the river shore waiting to greet us, playing their music with drums, maracas and homemade flutes.

Embera Greeting

The children took many of us by the hand and walked us into their village, excited to see the faces of the newcomers.

Embera Village

Formalities began with the presentation of the high personalities of the village.

Later they gave an explanation of their culture, rituals and some of the dances that they perform which help with the healing process according to their doctor, or how they call him in their native language of Cholo, “Jaibana.”

Dance Ritual

The village was filled with children that were so curious about these new people that had arrived. It was special to watch them study our clothes, cameras and everything about us.

They simply had not seen people that looked like us before.

Dance time came and we were all invited to participate. They showed us their moves and we showed them ours. It was a joyful experience.

Dance moves

One of the most interesting parts of this experience was the exhibit of the Embera’s handcrafts. How they made these beautifully colored works of art using just the materials available to them in the village.

Baskets, plates, masks, wood carvings called, “cocobolo” were all on display. All were made by hand and all were absolutely beautiful.

When it was time to say goodbye, everyone walked us back to the river shore and waved as we hopped into the canoes and departed down the river. I wondered when it would be possible to go back and have this marvelous moment again.

Whenever that time comes, it won’t be a moment too soon.



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