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“Unique experience”

Embera Village Tours & More
Book In Advance
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$175.00*
and up
Private Emberá Village Day Tour
Ranked #13 of 153 Tours in Panama City
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: 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.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children
Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
391 reviews
130 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 178 helpful votes
“Unique experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 29, 2013

I took the Embera Village tour through my cruise ship, Holland America. It was a great trip that transported us to a way of life that was very unfamiliar to me. The Embera men with their long boats that seated about ten of us met us at the river to row us to their village. They were in native dress and barefoot and several times during our ride needed to get into the water to get the boat past the low spots. When we arrived there were Embera women and music to greet us. We were entertained with dances and music and browsed around the handicrafts that they had made. As we listened to the chief (through an interpreter) explain about his village and answer our many questions, we enjoyed a bit of grilled talapia and grilled bananas served up in a sturdy leaf. It was a very informative and interesting day. (Our trip was 6.5 hours including the bus trip from the landing point through Panama where we saw and learned about the country.)

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
Thank tlynn63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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224 reviews from our community

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English first
St. Petersburg, FL
Level Contributor
19 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“A different life”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 24, 2013

We took this trip as an excursion from Holland America Cruises. It was wonderful to meet a group of people who live almost completely without the things that we find so vital. They were colorful, happy and gracious. Their basket weaving and carving is amazing. We bought 3 pieces before we left.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
Thank travelots60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
149 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 126 helpful votes
“One of the best and most informative tours”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 7, 2013

I took this tour as a day trip and was very pleased and happy that I did. I wasn't quite sure what to expect especially since lunch was included and i wondered how lunch would be served. I didn't think the Embera would have paper plates or utensils and we were told to bring our own water or soft drinks since they were not available in the Village. My friend and I were picked up very early and after dealing with gridlock and the rush hour traffic we headed towards the river and the dugout canoe. All told there were about 12 of us, with just enough seats in the canoe for all.
We were met by one of the Embera and the dugout had an outboard motor so our trip up the river was about 40 minutes or so to get to the village. It is really an amazing way to travel, so close to the water and to see how pristine the river is on the way to the village. If we saw animals or birds they would stop to quiet the motor so we could see the fauna. It was loads of fun and since i'd never been in a dugout canoe a totally new experience.
On arrival to the village which is well above the water line we were met by a group of musicians who played for us as we got out and climbed a short staircase into the Village. While we were there a large group of teenagers who were touring also were there and staying for a few nights. They were watching and playing with the children of the village who were playing soccer in a large earthen square and having a grand time.
Annie who is the owner of the tour company but also married to one of the Embera Villagers gave all of us a little bit of the history of this village and of how they are living in Panama now. She then had one of the Villagers give a talk on the crafts and for each craft there was a crafts person who demonstrated how they were made and the materials they used to make them. The Villager would speak in Spanish and then Annie would translate into English.
We had a little time to check out the tables that were laden with all sorts of items, from baskets and woven masks, large and small, to assorted jewelry and although they no longer weave the fabrics themselves the designs and colors are their own. It was also explained that after lunch if anyone wanted to they could have a temporary tattoo done with one of their designs and natural colors which would last about 4-5 days.

Then it was time for lunch. We climbed up a ladder into a thatched roof hut and sat down to a really delicious lunch of fish and fried cassava with fresh pineapple and papaya for dessert which we ate with our fingers and to clean our hands afterwards they set out simple bowls of water with basil which removed any grease from our fingers. The food was served in large leaves which were folded over into little purse shapes and which held the fish and chips. It was a really very clever and quite beautiful way to serve food. Then it was back to the main area where there was time for shopping, afterwards the Villagers danced a native dance for us with most everyone participating and with their own music and instruments. There was also a walking tour for anyone who wanted to take it to learn about the native plants near their village and how they were used. There is a very basic latrine which uses palm materials for walls and roof and has cement walls

All too soon it was time to leave since it would still take some time to return to Panama via the dugout canoe and then van. It was an exceptional tour and it was so much fun to have Annie take us so we could meet some of her in-laws.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank judytraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
85 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“A day to remember!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 7, 2013

I saw this tour offered by the cruiseline, but I knew the experience would be much better if we were able to do this on our own. After a bit of research on the Net, we booked this tour at Emberavillagetours.com after several email with Ellie, their exec tour coordinator. Communication before the tour was always prompt and clear.

Our tour was supposed to visit a village up the Chagrès river, but when our guide David Blank pick us up, he said we would have to visit another village as the water level was too low in the Chagrès. So we went up the Gatun river to Embera Quera.

The experience was great, with cookie cutter agenda as everyone else's review: ride to the village in a dugout canoe, welcome by a group of dancers and music, presentation by the 'chief', chances to chat with everyone, even if there is a bit of a language barrier if you are not sufficient in Spanish. Then we walked around the village with an herborist, saw the school, the new 'hotel' huts they are building. Lunch was amazing, patacones (boiled plantain that are smashed, then fried) with the best tilapia ever. David had brought amazing fruit to complete the lunch. We went to see the handicraft market, and each family was proud to show us their work. The baskets are very fine - do not expect to find souvenirs here, as these are collectables pieces (a small round baskets was $85 US). But they had nice carvings, some jewelry.
After a quick dance show which ended in everyone dancing with them, we slowly made our way back into town.

David was great, laid back, knowledgeable, not intrusive but helpful.

But I mostly appreciated the understanding of the owner as my Mom who was suppose to come with us, hurt herself on the trip and was unable to attend. They only charged up for a deposit, which was much appreciated, as while this day is unforgettable, it is also a bit pricey.

So thank you Ellie, Anne and David for making this day an unforgettable one for us!

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank mcdess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
23 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Don't miss it”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 17, 2013 via mobile

All tours from Gatun Lake must be thru the cruise lines and this is worth doing. Wear clothes that can get dirty and wet. Their handicrafts are so well done that you will want to take some cash to pick some up.

Helpful?
Thank Tazz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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