Embera Village Tours & More

Embera Village Tours & More

Embera Village Tours & More
Cultural Tours • Day Trips
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8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
We invite you to step back in time with us on a tour to visit the Embera tribe who still live in traditional villages deep in the rainforest of Panama. The Embera people are proud to share their culture and traditions with visitors. Spending time on a day or overnight tour with the friendly Embera people will touch your heart and is an experience you will never forget. Our founder, Anne Gordon de Barrigon, is married to an Embera man and began these tours to share the beauty of her Embera family and friends with others. Note: this page is for the tours offered by Anne Gordon de Barrigon's tour company, Embera Village Tours and not for other tour operators who also offer tours to visit other Embera villages throughout Panama.
Panama City, Panama

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Tours and Tickets by Embera Village Tours & More
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(13 reviews)
(72 reviews)
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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335 reviews
Very good

Moscow, Russia2,343 contributions
Mar 2020
In fact, the trip consists of three parts: 1. The Indians meet you on long pies and swim along the river to their village. 2. Arriving in their village, you will get acquainted with the patriarchal way of life and watch a small dance show. 3. Then you will have a water trip up the stream ... if we knew about this beforehand ... at the end of the trip you will find a waterfall with a small lagoon where you can swim.
Written March 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Andy keen
Birmingham, UK1,403 contributions
Mar 2020
Lo.vely coach ride from Panama city to Charro river
Up the river on motorised canoes tothe riverside village.
Welcome, dancing, demonstartions lunch and free walkabout time.
Lovely visit to a sort of living museum.
Embera live sort of like they always did.
Very good visit and a lovely thing to do
Great fun
Written April 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Richard M
Phoenix, AZ453 contributions
Mar 2021
This is one of the best tours I ever took. The Embera have balanced living in a manner they lived for hundreds of years with the modern world, and love explaining the history with you.

The tour picked us up, we drove for about an hour to Puerto de Corotu, on the Upper Chagres River. This is not really a port. It is a small dock for dugout canoes with outboards on a muddy riverbank. Our first stop was the cascade.

The walk to the waterfall is an adventure in itself in the dry season (when we were there). Our guide was super, but he had to hold my wife’s hand most of the time to keep her balance on the slippery rocks and through the creek bed. The walk takes most people about half an hour. It took us 45 minutes each way. It is worth the time. The water temperature is comfortable, and a dip in the pool below the falls is welcome after the walk.

Then on to the village, which many visitors described. I will not add to it except to say if you only like fine dining, fine art museums, and “creature comforts,” you will not like this tour. If you like learning the history of cultures, how they actually live, and experiencing a taste of it, then this is a tour you should not miss.
Written March 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for your review, Richard. Your comments a very much appreciated.
Written December 30, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Susan O
Saint Cloud, FL46 contributions
Apr 2018 • Couples
If you believe this is the real deal, guess what.. it's not! To truly see the Embera Village people in their natural habitat, you must travel a great distance. Do your research! This was an exploitation of the people of the village for the Princess Cruise Line to make money. The entire visit was nothing but a sales pitch for you to buy their goods, which quite frankly were not made by these people. Even the homes they supposedly lived in were staged. Take notice of their beautiful white teeth - they looked better than my own! They made you believe they couldn't understand English, but often corrected the Tour Guide when he was translating. And the best part of it all, the tourists bought right into it! Feel free to waste your money on this fake excursion.
Written April 13, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Orlando, FL221 contributions
Jun 2019 • Friends
Calling all of you who want a one of a kind adventure! You will begin the day at 8 am with a personal hotel pick up. Hopefully, you will secure DANIEL as your guide. He is fluent in both Spanish and English. There were only THREE guests on our tour. You travel about 1 1/2 hours in an air conditioned van. You will then transfer to a four wheel drive truck. You can sit in the cab or ride on benches in the truck bed to experience the breeze and the bumps. You then greet your Embera Indian guides who will paddle, pole and push your canoe down the scenic river. Another group of four took a second canoe. There were only 7 guests! The river is quiet and peaceful. You will not get wet and it is flat bottomed. Yes! You CAN go on this adventure even if you are not athletic. The canoe trip takes 30 minutes. You will be surrounded by a national forest with lush, exquisite views. Look to the left and see if you can be the first to see the grass roofs of Embera homes. Men will greet you with homemade instruments playing beautiful melodies that will make you feel like royalty. Ladies will line up to welcome you to Embera Village. Let me tell you so you will not be shocked. Men wear very little. In fact, they wear more tattoos than clothes. Ladies wear colorful skirts but no tops. PLEASE, do not take this trip to gawk. Respect the Embera Indians and their culture. Handcrafts are made and sold by the 30 families who live in this remote village. Their sales are their livelihood. Expect about a 20% discount, if you ask. You will then freely walk about the village where they live. You will be treated to fried tilapia, plantains, pineapple and papaya which they will cook over a wood fire or serve freshly sliced. Delicious! BRING YOUR BEVERAGE. None is sold or offered. Those that can walk up the mountain can venture up with Daniel as he points out various plants and trees. You will also see the schoolhouse. Three Panamanian teachers teach in two classrooms. The children are grouped by ages. Teachers are assigned and if they do not accept, they are fired. They must live there during the week. The children are educated up through fifth grade. They can then stop school or walk two hours to school or board with another family. Those that do this most often return to the vial age after completion. One is now a village teacher! The next event is tribal dancing. Visit the crude toilets/ out house before you begin your journey home. This is an UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE! Ask Daniel to stop at Rico’s for coffee, ice cream and spectacular pastries—most cost $1.00! Do I get a helpful vote?
Written June 14, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cameron, Ontario5 contributions
My family just returned from a Cruise that included Panama...not knowing what to do at this port we decided on the Embrea Indian Village. We all agree that this was the most fantastic experience!!! Although first glance at the canoes was a little worrysome we loved the canoe ride to the breathtaking falls hidden out of the way, then off to the Indian Village where we were greeted by the most amazing hospitable people on this earth, kind, warm and welcomed us with wonderful music, dance and food all wrapped up in a leaf cup, we all could have stayed there for a week, to live with them we truly didnt want to leave them!!!
Not only was this Indian Village a wonderful place to visit, a NOT TO MISS tour for sure, but Laura our tour guide made the day what it was. ...perfect!...it was like she took us to meet her own family!! Laura was very knowledgable and she conducted the tour in a way that made you feel like you were not on a tour at all, not pushed through or rushed, she swam with us at the falls and enjoyed her day just as much as we did!

Thank you Mario and especially Laura for making our day in Panama a day none of my Family will ever, ever forget!!!

Jo-Anne Wade and Family
Written February 9, 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Old Lyme, CT25 contributions
Mar 2014 • Family
We contacted the Embera Tribe directly by telephone at (507) 6709-1233 and spoke with Ivan. You can find information about this village and overnight on their website http://trail2.com/embera/index.php (don't expect them to answer an email-you will need to call). If you contact them directly rather than through a tour agency the price is less-our overnight including the boat trip and all food was $70 per person. Ivan arranged for us to be picked up at the port of Corutu and leave our car there, although they can also arrange transportation from the city. We took the dug out canoe up the river, stopping at a waterfall and swimming. The boat trip was worth the cost alone as it was really amazing in a dug out canoe! We got to the village, had a good fish and plantain lunch, and watched some dancing. Then the 6 other tourists who were there left, and we were alone with the Emberas. Most changed into their more westernized clothes, but rather than feeling like they were not comfortable in their native dress, I felt that these were their "good" clothes and they removed them to keep them in shape for the next event. We went swimming in the river which was crystal clear and very refreshing. It was fun to watch the kids swimming and fishing. Then we went up the hill and looked at the handicrafts, did some weaving with Berta, and got vegetable dye tattoos which is their form of sunscreen. We watched them cook dinner over an open fire and prepare the food with their carved wooden platters and utensils. People drifted in and out to talk with us, and seemed to be very warm and happy people. My husband had a previous foot injury and was treated by the medicine man. He took us for a walk and showed us his medicinal garden and explained the benefits of each plant. He gave us a small piece of wood to chew which fizzed and tingled, and it is their anesthesia. Berta cooked a form of pasta for dinner which tasted great. We spent the night comfortably in tents inside the communal hut. There is a visitor bathroom which was fine (although we noticed someone was probably watching us and turning the water on and off as we went in). The next day we had fish and plantains for breakfast and then watched the tribe gear up for a large load of cruise ship people who were coming for lunch and a dance performance. It was fascinating to be behind the scenes. The tribe borrowed engines and boats from other villages. Everyone from smallest child to the elderly went in the river or their open air showers and got into their best clothes. The women were cooking masses of fish and sweeping the grounds. There is a covered platform at the top of the hill where people were posted to watch for the dug out canoes that bring the tourists. When the boats were spotted the musicians went to the platform and played music as the (in this case mostly older, overweight American) tourists made their way up the stairs. We sat on the platform just behind the musicians. Each tourist looked up, smiled and took a photo in the same place! It was really fun to watch. The tourists were guided into the shady pavillion where we had slept and were handed food and taken care of nicely by the villagers. Everyone pitched in according to their abilities.
This experience is only as good as you make it. If you are willing to take a risk and be outgoing and interested in their lifestyle, they are very willing to share it with you. The overnight is unstructured and you can do what you want and go where you want. Spending the night was an adventure and I think allowed us to see a lot more of what goes on, and really explore the village. After 2 days there, I did not feel like the few hour tourist experience most people have is phony, rather it is like a formal visit. To experience the informal lifestyle you need to spend the night, and swim, eat and hang out with the villagers. During our trip to Panama we went to San Blas, Anton valley, Gamboa, and Las Perlas, and this was probably the part of my trip that I will remember most.
Written March 23, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Liverpool, Canada100 contributions
Jul 2014 • Family
I just got back from my second time going to Embera Pura with Embera Village Tours. You know how sometimes, when you do something a second time, you wonder why you thought it was so great the first time? Well, that's not the experience with visiting the Embera because both times have been incredible. The first time, I went with a dear friend visiting from the States, and this time. my own adult daughter came along. Both of them were very glad they came! And so was I!

The first time, I was blown away by the warmth and genuineness of the people - and this time, I was blown away by the warm welcome back they gave me! Everyone, from the elderly to the youngest kids, greeted me with a hug and a "Bienvenido!" It was amazing.

This tour begins with an hour mini-van ride from Panama City (they pick you up where you live or are staying) and then an hour+ ride in a dugout canoe. The water level is very low this year because there hasn't been enough rain. On the first visit, we were a a group of 6, and it was raining (which was great for the river level!) so we nudged over some low spots, but were basically fine. Coming back downstream after the rain, we practically flew over these same places. This time it was different. It hasn't rained for over a week now, and the river level was extremely low. Plus, there were 9 of us plus our (fabulous!) guide, Archie Kirchman. So the dugout was low in the water to begin with, and when we got to the really low places, the men had to get out of the boat and help push. They actually loved it because it was very hot in the relentless sun! We were able to go downstream without a similar exodus, but we were scraping bottom in a couple of places. That said, we all really enjoyed the ride - esp. when we were traversing some small rapids when the boat swayed and seemed like it would take on water. Exciting, but it didn't get us all wet.

Of course, the best part was once we arrived at the village. There, we learned about the Embera culture from Erito, the man from the village who is responsible for welcoming visitors. He demonstrated how the baskets are woven, how the fibers are dyed, how the tauga nuts are carved, and, best of all, how they use several dances to help with spiritual healing. Actually, the best best part was when we all trooped up to join them!

There were tables with gorgeous crafts - baskets, carvings, jewelry, masks, and even slingshots for those young ones in your life. I had bought several things last time, and was warmly welcomed back by the family who had sold them to me. The wife, who did the weaving, is named Flor and has a 7-month old son, Brody, who is darling. (I got to hold him last time!) It feels good to know the person who made the wonderful mementos. Plus all of the money goes directly to the artisan, so the price is lower AND more helpful to the families.

Lunch is the most delicious tilapia you will ever eat - it's fresh, not farmed, savory and succulent. Patacones, yummy green plantain "fries", served in a palm "dish" and fresh fruit for dessert (Archie brought pineapple, and bananas up from Panama City)

This time, the kids took us up to their school where they proudly told us about their class. The school is a multi-grade primary school that goes to 5th grade. Then, if they want to continue their education, they must go to Panama City and live without their families, as they adapt to traffic, stress, noise and everything else that the city brings.

Also this time, I had made 40 small bracelets for the kids, who were very excited to receive them. Even more exciting was the soccer ball we brought. We also brought up paper, colored pencils, toothbrushes, foam airplanes (think balsa wood airplanes made of plastic), plastic flutes (I hope the parents don't curse us!) and some bottles of bubbles. Erito was so excited to get these! If you decide to go up to the village (and I STRONGLY encourage you to do so!), school supplies are always welcome. The school is staffed by 2 teachers from Panama City who are assigned by the Ministry of Education and who travel upriver every Monday, and return home on Friday.

I really encourage you to go on this tour with this tour company (Embera Village Tours - www.emberavillagetours.com) It is run by a woman who married an Embera man when she was an animal trainer for a film in which the Embera starred. She is a full-fledged citizen of the community, and I trusted her tour to be both more insightful and more beneficial to the community than others might have been. Plus the guide, Archie Kirchman, is knowledgeable and lots of fun.

You will be so glad you went! And if you go back, they will know you. How wonderful that is!
Written July 5, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

San Diego, CA79 contributions
Apr 2014
Everyone is friendly. All the women basically very young girls are fully covered. The village we went to exists soley for tourists to spend money there. I expected a lot more. Too much money. Didn't see any authentic cultural things other than a few dances.
Written May 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for posting a review on our page. It appears that you did not take your Embera Village tour with our company, Embera Village Tours owned and operated by myself, Anne Gordon de Barrigon and my Embera husband, Otniel Barrigon. There are many different tour companies that offer Embera tours and there are 6 different Embera villages to visit within an hour drive of Panama city. It sounds like you went to one of the closer villages. None of these villages are set up "solely for tourists to spend money there". The Embera people truly live in these villages, although, I agree that the closer villages do seem more "touristy" and there is less interaction between the visitor and the Embera people. In the closer villages you may encounter 5 + other tour groups there at the same time. In my husband's village, that of Embera Puru, it is the most remote village in the area and we are often the only group in the village and because they receive the least amount of tourists, they are not bored with tourism and are truly eager to meet, curious about the visitors and enjoy sharing their culture, history and lives with the visitors. True, tourism is their sole source of income, but it helps preserve their beautiful quality of life, puts a value on maintaining their culture and history as well as enabling them to continue living traditionally as they prefer to do. In my husband's village, all of the women, of all ages are topless, other than nursing mothers or those cooking for protection. Some of the closer villages have had much more outside influence (missionaries and a few tour companies) to cover themselves, which is a sad thing, in my opinion. I am very sorry to hear you were disappointed on your tour to visit the Embera people. I am sure that you did not go with our company and it is too bad you did not, as I am sure you would have had a much more positive experience. Sincerely, Anne Gordon de Barrigon Co-owner Embera Village Tours
Written May 4, 2014
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Tokyo, Japan315 contributions
Mar 2012 • Solo
My dissatisfaction isn’t with the Embera village or the people living there: the village was quite interesting, and the people living there very friendly. Rather, the problem is with the tour operator, in particular the lack of even basic facilities. She charges $250 for a one-night stay. For that money, your sleeping surface is a very thin sleeping mat (5 feet long, less than 2 feet wide) on an open, dirty floor with cockroaches running around you. No pillow. No towel. No shower. No soap. Filthy toilet.
The food is abysmal: lunch – a fish head and some fried banana; dinner – a stewed chicken leg on rice. No vegetables, no drinks (not even soft drinks). The only other thing was some fruit which we brought ourselves.
I wouldn’t mind roughing it like this if I’m charged $20 a night. Or I wouldn’t mind paying $250 a night to have decent food, reasonable bed, and basic facilities. But charging $250 for rock-bottom end conditions – this is a disgrace. To provide a plastic sheet under the mattress to keep out the cockroaches, to provide normal matteresses, decent food, a soft drink or juice with it, towels and soap - all this would cost her very little, but she chooses not to do so.
A visit to an Embera village is worthwhile, but go to one of the other villages in the area, and avoid this tour operator.
Written March 22, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
As the owner/operator of Emberá Village Tours, I would like to explain the circumstances of this review. First off, I was saddened and very sorry to hear that this client was not happy with his tour. It is very important to me to hear any and all feedback about our tours, both positive and negative. It is also very important to me that each and every guest of ours has a wonderful visit to the Emberá community and if something has not met your standards then I would like the opportunity to hear about it so we can rectify the situation for the future and make any and all changes to avoid repeating disappointing a future client. Let me explain the pricing of this tour. This particular client went alone. The price for a single person on this tour is $250.00, and if two or more people go on the tour the price is $200.00. I do understand it is a costly tour, especially when you were traveling alone and did not have anyone to share the expenses of the tour. In the interest of complete transparency, the village charges me $125.00 for the overnight stay for one person. That covers their gas for the outboard motor (they pay higher prices as they must pay a middle man as they have no access to a gas station), food, and then what is left over is spread amongst all the people in the village who participate, adults and children. Then I paid an overnight guide $150.00 for his time, (I often go as the guide myself, but had been on an overnight tour with two ladies the night before and met and greeted this client as he arrived to the village.) and from the math you can see that we have already passed the $250.00 price for the tour, and so I donated the use of my van and the fuel, plus the fruit for the tour. So as much as I would love to lower the price, I have lost money on this tour from the start. I feel the price is for the experience and this tour does not have a profit margin. If I had any profit on your trip, I would gladly refund it to you. I think he was expecting a more “luxurious” sleeping situation. Sleeping in the Emberá village is rustic. It is glorified camping. I know it is not super comfortable for most people. I have searched for longer sleeping pads, knowing that most visitors are taller than the average Panamanian. However, these pads are made for shorter Latino bodies and I have never found longer ones in Panama. I am still looking. I will be adding more information about the sleeping accommodations to my standard information for the overnight tour to eliminate any false expectations on this tour in the future. This overnight tour is about sleeping and living like the Emberá people, it is not a hotel. I also understand that you thought we provided towels. We did send you a list of things to bring on the overnight tour, and a towel and personal toiletries were on the list. As you know, we do provide sleeping pads, sheets and mosquito nets. I will consider adding towels to the things we provide, knowing that traveling with a towel is not always feasible. I do provide pillow cases and suggest people use their towels or extra clothes as a pillow, I have never had this complaint before. There were showers just below the bathroom, three of them, although normally, I and the guests bathe as the Emberá do, in the river. It is great fun. The toilet is a pit style latrine with palm material walls, roof and cement floor. It is not fancy, it is very basic, but I saw myself the Emberá woman cleaning the latrines the morning you arrived. It was as clean as it could have been, given what it is. No marble floors and fancy linens in the Emberá village. :~) I am very sorry to hear you did not enjoy the food. Literally every other person I have ever taken on this tour, for the day or overnight has raved about the food. Many have commented on it being the best meal(s) they have eaten in their entire trip to Panama. I am surprised to hear you were served the fish head. Usually, they keep that for themselves and offer you a filet instead. Some guests have chosen the head out of curiosity. You could have asked for another piece. I apologize for the fish head. The Emberá, and for that matter, most Panamanians, are not big vegetable eaters. In the village we eat Emberá style. They do not eat many, nor know how to cook vegetables. They do not grow them nor have refrigeration to keep them fresh in the tropical heat. I also explain in the list of things to bring that you need to bring your own drinks and water, and any snack food you may want. I have seen other tour operators bring guests out for overnight tours and they all use the same style of mattresses or hammocks. I did provide you with a sleeping pad, mosquito net, a hammock and sheets. Using regular mattresses out there is problematic to get them up the river in a dugout canoe and storing them for the 2-3 times a month we use them is tough as things in the jungle humidity get ruined very fast. I appreciate your disappointment and am very sorry you were not happy. I have been offering Emberá Village Tours for 6 years and this is the first time I have had a complaint of any kind on this tour. I will take your suggestions into consideration, such as towels, soap, etc. I would also love to know what I can do to make this disappointment up to you in the future. If you choose to come back to Panama, I would be happy to offer you a free day tour of your choice as compensation for your unpleasant experience. If there was any profit on this tour, then I would be happy to refund you this profit margin, after expenses. Unfortunately, as I have explained, there was no profit for our company on this tour. For me it is more important to offer the Emberá experience to anyone who is interested and to give the Emberá people the opportunity to share their lives and culture with others and a source of income, than it is to have a profit margin. For me Very sincerely and respectfully, Anne Gordon de Barrigón
Written March 24, 2012
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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