The least populated, more extensive and wild of the provinces of Panama, Darien is available to the visitor to explore and rediscover it by step.
It is inhabited in its majority by KunasEmbera y Wounaan natives; Darien shares its territories with the Comarca Embera y Wounaan [reservation] region
located in the Cemaco (1 area) y Sambu (2 area). It is geographically located in the oriental extreme side of Panama, bordering with Colombia.
Darien is know internationally because of its famous Tapon that ends the Interamericana Road and avoids the total union of the America. Its
rivers and coasts are also part of its natural attractiveness.
You can visit Darien by plane or boat. Its population is composed by afro-darienitas that share is economy together with the natives of the area that
have lived for centuries and are now live testimony of the cultural heritage of Panama.
Darien National Park:
Darien is a protected area and has a National Park, recognized in 1981as a Cultural Worldwide Heritage, UNESCO declared this park a Biosphere Reserve of
Humankind and in 1983 was named in the category of Biodiversity Reserve because of its extraordinary biological diversity and its incredible genetic value
as well as for the indigenous tribes that still maintain and practice their ancestral customs.
This marvelous tropical rainforest of 579,000 ha (1,400,000 acres) is situated in the eastern part of the country, bordering on Colombia and is the
largest protected nature area of Central America and the Caribbean. Its prodigious nature includes mountain ranges reaching 2,500 m (7,500 ft) and
navigable rivers [TuiraandChucunaque].
The forests of this park house many extraordinary plant species that are unique in the world as well as some
extraordinary beautiful animals, like the Jaguar (Felisonca ) and the Harpy Eagle (HarpiaHarpyja).There are six hundred thousand hectares that included
the Comarca Embera y Wounaan and the Corredor Biologico of Bagre mountainous region inside of the National Park Darien.
Darien National Park along the pacific coast.
This community is the closest point to adventure into the Bagres Biological Corridor, a natural corridor surrounded by immense tropical
forest with more than 15 waterfalls. Adventure through lush, pristine jungle and swim in the rivers with the locals.In the community of La Chunga Village,
it is the main point of going to to see this big bird the Harpy Eagle National bird of Panama.
Playa de muerto:
Station is an enchanting place of unparalleled beauty, surrounded entirely by nature. The cabana, with its wondrous seaside views, is a special place to
relax and remove oneself from stress, and is the area's biggest attraction. At Playa de Muerto, one can fish in kayaks made in the traditional Embera
fashion. This hidden station is one of Panama's most beautiful natural wonders.
Playa de muerto: Here at the station you will be able to observe a large variety of the Park's fauna, including birds (tucans, momtus, Harpy eagles,
and colibris), mammals (felines such as manigordos and ocelots), monkeys (spider monkeys and howlers), reptiles (boa constrictors and bejuquillaverdes),
amphibians (the common frog and tungara toad), and a large variety of butterfly species.
The station's numerous nature trails offer opportunities to witness a variety of trees reaching up to 40 meters high (such as the cuipo, ceiba, espave,
and [naked indian], among others), as well as the chance to bathe in refreshing waterfalls surrounded by pristine jungle.
How to get there:
The Playa de Muerto Station is located in the Darien Province of Panama, approximately 4 hours along the coast (25 kilometers) away from the town of
Garachine by boat. Trails traverse the Darien National Park just inland from the Pacific Coast in the direction of Playa de Muerto.
In Panama City, head to Albrook Airport and fly to destination [Darien-Garachine.] Upon arrival in Garachine, ask for professional guide Solarte Barqueno
or my brother Rutilio Barqueno, who organizes trips to the La chunga village and Samburiver and other locations within the Darien National Park. To get to
Playa de Muertovillage , there are only two methods: by boat or trail (in the direction of the Casa Vieja Station) which lasts approximately 4 hours of
walking under the direction of a specialized guide.
The Casa Vieja Station offers newly installed cabins with seaside views and a max. capacity of 10 people. Visiting this beautiful and remote station
inside of Darien National Park, (for groups with a minimum of 2 to 10 people).
Note: Prices per person are more affordable for larger groups, with a minimum of 3 to 10 people.
The package begins at the town of Garachine and lasts until the return to Garachine.
La Chunga Commnunity
The touristy Embera Village of La Chunga (La Choon-guh) is about an hour upriver. It's along the banks of the Rio Chunga, a slugish but no less scenic little
river that empties in to the Sambu. LaChunga is a kind of black palm with shop spines used by the Embera-Wounaan to make decorative baskets.The community of
La Chunga is located an hour from the Wounaam-Embera Comarca through the Rio Sambu.
All along the Rio Sambu we will have the opportunity to see traditional indigenous homes made out of local materials. Amindst the mangroves we will come
across the La Catigua trail â€“ constructed on high to facilitate walking. There we'll talk about the mangroves and their unique role in the local ecosystem.
Rutilio andother brother Solarte indigenous-style constructed New Bungalow named La chunga, with double beds. The site has a cabins with rustic
furniture for open-air relaxation; nearby there is a small eatery with refreshments and first-aid equipment. The organization Travel Darien Panama has
showers for tourists that many actually work , and rather scary-looking latrine.
Houses are palafita-style, built on pillars or pilotes that rise approximately three meters above the ground. These conical structures are known as [Bujia]
(literally: large house) and are generally constructed along the rivers of the region.
Regional traditions are unique, with distinct dances involving the imitations of animals and birds inhabiting the surrounding jungle. One of the most
striking features of local tradition is the use of a natural face paint derived from the [Jagua] fruit, whose dye can last for up to 8 days once applied to
Women wrap parumas around their bodies and wear brightly colored necklaces called chaquiras, which are adorned with beautiful floral decorations. Men are
predominantly nude, often wearing only taparrabos to cover their genitals.
Skilled individuals craft local animals using the nearly flawless tagua vegetable ivory as well as materials rendered from cocobolo trees.
Breakfast and lunch will be outdoors and consist of fruit and tropical juices.
Note: Normally the indigenous accommodations don`t have electricity. It is toilet is latrine
Various aquatic animals may be seen during our time on the Rio Sambu, including migratory and tropical birds. Upon arrival in La Chunga, we'll talk about
the life and livelihood of the indigenous community, including music, dance, and traditional foods like shrimp, patacones, and native fruits and vegetables.
Optional: Horses are available for short outings along the outskirts of the community.
A police station assures security 24 hours per day.
The village is about or located a 45 minute from Garachine town until upriver Sambu and the a 20 minute walk down a wide, flat path from where the boat
lands. Those who slip into the village ahead of a tour group may see woman taking off their blouses and bras and men kicking off their jeans to look
appropriately native of their visitors.
Tours Sambu up River and La Chunga Community.
Community (Nearby along of the coast Pacific Ocean)
The Rio Sambu makes for a memorable boat ride. Its wide, muddy mouth opens into the Ensenada de Garachine town, a cove that in turn opens into the Pacific Ocean.
The mout is about midway between Punta Garachine to the south river and Punta Patiâ€“o to the north. The river is bordered by and intricate tangle of mangroves, behind
which rise lush green towering trees. It is a beautiful singt Even though there are settlements along the banks and many small fishing boats plying the whater, there
is not doubt you are in mother natures living room here.
It's easy to spot bird sailing over head or hanging by the water as you motor upriver, particulary such water-loving fowl as herons, egrets, frigate, birds, pelicans,
and cormorants. You'll probably see at least a couple of hawks perched high a top the tallest tallest trees. Toucans and parrots are abit harder to spot, but there are
around and the occasional splash and burble in the rivel will set your mind wondering exactly what is lurking in there.
The organization Travel Darien Panama also organize most up to Sambu River to Rio Tigre village ontil to last Pavarando community.
Popular items include Cocobolo (Rosewood) figurines, tightly woven baskets and bowls, and tagua nuts (also Known as ivory nuts) carved in the shape of forest animals.
Playa de Muertos Community
Playa de Muertos is a small Embera village (pop. 230) located inside the Darien National Park, just two hours away from the town of Garachine by boat. The village satellite
community of Garachineis located along the southeast of Darien's Pacific coast the foot of a small range known as the Serrania Sapo.
Playa de Muertosis a unique town of Embera Chocoe indians located outside of the comarca Embera - Wounaan. It is a remote community not often visited by Panamanian or foreign
tourists, but with a very organized infrastructure to receive visitors. Emberaindians gather to perform their popular dance, which is very different from that of the Choco-Wounaan
(although the two groups actually belong to the same race and culture).
Playa de Muertos offers restaurants, lodging, surfboard rentals, handicrafts, and baths with running waterfall under the security of the national police. The village has a large,
white sand beach and crystalline waters, with waves reaching up to 6 to 8 feet high.
The village is surrounded by an immense forest of exuberant trees and the Darien National Park, making it an ideal place to witness some of the wonderful local biodiversity.
The village also offers spectacular views of the CerraniaSapoa beautiful waterfall, and untold adventure into the Darien jungle. Playa de Muertos(literally, Beach of the Dead)
was named during the time of pirates and the Spanish conquest, when perished mariners washed ashore during the battle in the Pacific between the English and Spanish. Beaches to
the south of Playa De Muertoinclude Playa el Fondeadero, Playa los Corales, and others.
Darien is one of the few places left in Panama where there are still virgin, desolate beaches.
General tourist facilities:
Accommodations: there are five indigenous-style cabanas, with double beds. The site has a cabins with rustic furniture for open-air relaxation; nearby there is a small eatery
with refreshments and first-aid equipment.A police station assures security 24 hours per day.
Optional: there are special sites for tents or hammocks.
Basic services: the cabins have potable water; hygienic service is shared by the five cabins. All cabins have gas lanterns for nighttime use.
Optional: tourists may carry flashlights for personal use.
Food: various types of traditional Panamanian cuisine.
Breakfast: cooked local vegetables (yuca, name, otoe) accompanied by boiled eggs and fresh shellfish prepared in tomato sauce and natural herbs of choice. Breakfast is accompanied by a cup of coffee or natural tea (sweetened teas are available upon request). Bread and pancakes are optional.
Lunch: Seafood (including fish of the day, fresh shrimp, and lobsters when in season) or meat (chicken, beef, or pork), accompanied by boiled or mashed potatoes. Traditional Panamanian meals include a plate of rice and beans or other legumes (porotos, lentils) and fried plantains (patacones). Lunch is accompanied by fresh orange juice, lemonade, or coconut water. A sampling of delicious tropical fruits may also be available.
Dinner: served at sunset, dinner includes a light plate of vegetables with cooked meat and fresh orange juice or lemonade. This will be followed by chicheme, a delicious treat of cooked corn, with or without coconut milk, natural fruits, and drinks.
Optional: vegetarian meals are available upon advanced notice. Options include native vegetables and legume accompaniments such as beans, poroto, lentils, and guandu. These meals come with an accompaniment of fresh coconut juice, orange juice, or lemonade.
Marine tour: Along the trip from Garachine to Playa Muertos there is a beautiful panoramic view of the Cerro El Sapo (1,225 meters), as well as desolate sand and rock beaches and various maritime and migratory bird species. Caves, wondrous rock formations, coastal mangroves, and the Rumaldo and Casa Vieja deltas are also visible along certain stretches of the trip.
The Villa Grecia CommunitySambu inside Comarca Embera y Wounaan (2 are)
The Embera village of Villa Grecia (Villa-Grecia), is located inside Comarca Embera â€“ Wounaamup the river that gives it its name, welcomes visitors and in fact has become a tourist destination for the area. It`s about midway between La Chunga community or Sambu and Puerto de Indio Villages
It takes about a half hour by boat from either Samburiver or Puerto Indio village to get to the mouth of the River Villa Grecia. It's a potentially bumpy boat ride on the ocean entrance bocas de Sambu get up river . The Villa Grecia is a beautiful river, in slightly spooky, Conradian sense. It's swampy, still, and serpentine, with towering black mangroves on either side, but on the river and the trails around the village birders might spot white ibises, wilets, whimbrels, mangrove black-hawks, roseatespoonbills, red-throadted caracaras, laughing, falcons, black oropendolas, orange-crowned orioles, and other gorgeous birds.
The village is near bocas sabalo river when the mangroves give way to plantain fields. It is a located 2 hours walk from Puerto de indiofrom where or by boat [Canoa] puts in to Paraiso (Villa Grecia Paradise), as a welcome sign in the village puts it.
The Embera established Villa Greciacommunity in the late 1960. It's a relatively pretty little village thar caters to tourists, putting on tradicional dances and opening handicraft stalls when tour groups arrive, but it feels relatively tradicional, given that the Embera do not tracionally live in village at all.
It's possible to spend the night in Villa Grecia in relative comfort. There is a huge version of a Tambo, a tradicionalEmbera open-sided thatched-roof hut raised on stilts about 15 feet off the ground, where visitors can pitch tents and relax in hammocks. It is breezy up there and has an eavesdropper is view of the surrounding villages, as well as vista of the forest-covered hills in the distance. If you stay here, down yourself in insect repellent and be prepared to be awakenedearly by rooters and crying babies.
Primary forest stars 4 hours from the villages. An hour hike from here leads to a Harpy Eagleor can you birds watching nest bird National of Panama Simbols. An hour hike in the apposite direction leads to the nest of crested eagle. You'll need guide to show the way in either case.
The big festival in these parts is held on january 31, the anniversary of the building of local school in Puerto de Indio Village.
Villa Grecia Community has showers for tourists that many actually work , and rather scary-looking latrine.