Expeditions

Cultural Preservation

Panama

Location: Jaque, Darien, Panama City, Casco Viejo, Embera Quera
Leader: Eddi Biscomb, Milizabeth Flaco, Terra & Patrick Boone
Dates: Call to customize your trip.
Number of Participants: 6 – 15

Panama is a true melting pot, where cultures, the cosmopolitan urban scene in Panama City mixes with Native Indian communities and rural areas of that are populated with farmers and ranchers alike. Panama is a country that has continually adapted elements from a wide variety of resources while embracing innovation, all the while preserving its past heritage. The country is a blend of African, American Indian, North American, and Spanish – European influences, are expressed in its traditional arts and crafts, music, religion, sports, and cuisine.

The Embera Native Indians are scattered along the banks of the many rivers that cross the Darien. Far from the comforts and problems of modern civilization, they seem to be in harmony with their environment. Proud, peaceful, honest, but distrustful of strangers; they live a day to day existence in which there are few economic pressures. Also culturally distinctive are the territories of the various Indian groups, each with its own language and handicrafts.

Many aspects of traditional culture are well preserved, especially by the country’s Indian peoples and the rural culture of the savannas. The savanna area, or interior as locally called, is blessed with cattle ranches and horsemanship. It is a centre of Hispanic tradition where old folk songs and handicrafts are preserved.

 

Your Cultural Preservation Experience facilitated by the Outdoor Leadership Institute

Safety is of the utmost concern and we provide training and safety standards beyond the required minimum. Our transportation vehicles are properly equipped with first aid kits, UHF radios, satellite communication and are set up for travel and leisure. We cater to our guests in various ways to craft an experience that is a cherished memory. Our guides have years of experience and knowledge of each area you will visit. 

Cultural Preservation: Providing location specific experiences and education  

Panama offers a wealth of distinct cultures located within close proximity to one another. The history of the country holds an abundance of stories. Embera are indigenous people of Panama and Columbia. In the late 18th century part of the Embera tribe migrated from the Choco region of Columbia to Panama. There are seven  indigenous tribes that live in Panama. The Embera are one of the most well known. Approximately 33,000 people identify as being Embera in Panama. Many Embera people live sustainably along rivers deep in the Panamanian rainforests.

Most villages are only accessible by foot or water. The communities are usually small villages of 5-20 thatched roof houses with a communal area for cooking and eating. These indigenous people keep their own government and family structures. The Embera natives retain their own languages, cultures, music, art, customs, clothing and cuisine. A visit to an Embera Village is an incredible opportunity to experience a beautiful and preserved way of life.

Expedition Highlights

This 8-day expedition includes all vehicular, vessel and air transportation necessary while in Panama. An OLI team leader will greet you at Tocumen Airport upon your arrival and you will be assisted until your return to Tocumen Airport for your return flight home. You will follow the transition of Panama and its people throughout history. From the early Indians settling in the Darien region and the establishment of Panama Viejo in the early 1500’s to the country’s transition to a cosmopolitan, thriving global economic hub that supports the growing and ever efficient global economy. Our guides will interconnect the stories and history of the region to tell a story of epic proportions. You will explore the local environments, visiting local villages in one of the most culturally diverse places in the world.

 

Primary Accommodations 

Panama City Hotels, Jaque Base Camp, Indian Village, Casco Viejo

 

What’s Included

• Double room accommodations on hotel nights
• Three meals a day, as indicated.
• Transportation while in Panama by private, air-conditioned motor coach as well as transfers for group as appropriate.
• English speaking guide/interpreter to accompany during the whole touring period.
• Admission and fees to parks.
• Guest speakers at many dinners and lunches.

What’s Not Included

 • Airfares to and from Panama City, Panama, international and domestic.
• Travel/health insurance (recommended)
• Other personal expenses like overseas calls and laundry

• Tips for service providers outside of OLI

Physical Level

OLI requires travelers to be in good physical shape and health. The tour may involve: long days (usually 8+ hours), a substantial amount of physical activity in very remote locations. Being in the sun in potentially hot temperatures, long journeys by bus, and other similarly challenging scenarios. If you have questions or concerns, please email info@outdoorleadershipinstitute.org so we can help determine if the trip is appropriate for you.

Base Trip Price: $2900
Final payment is due 90 days before departure. 

ITINERARY

DAY 1 : ARRIVAL DAY : SATURDAY

Arrival Tocumen International Airport in Panama. You will be met on arrival and transferred to a regional hotel within Panama City. Evening meet and greet with attendees and guides to be followed up with dinner in a local restaurant.

DAYS 2 – 4 : DARIEN : EXPEDITION SUNDAY, MONDAY & TUESDAY

Catch a scenic flight from Panama City to the remote village of Jaque.  Settle into the Imu But Lodge and absorb the vibrant beauty of the empty beach and jungle surroundings. The following day will start with a cayuco ride up the pristine and secluded Jaque River to visit with the native Indian village of Biroquera. You will be exposed to the traditional life of the natives the way they lived hundreds of years ago. The group will spend one night in the village to become fully immersed in their lifestyle and customs. A late afternoon boat ride will safely deliver you back to the Imu But lodge for dinner and lectures. The following morning will be met with a hearty breakfast and one last chance to enjoy the secluded beach of Playa Jaque before you catch a return flight to Panama City.

DAY 5 : PANAMA VIEJO / CASCO VEIJO : WEDNESDAY

Thursday will start with an educational tour Panama Viejo followed by lunch in beautifully restored historic old town of Panama known as Casco Viejo.  After lunch the group will spend a few hours on a walking tour of the area to learn about its rich and diverse history. Dinner will follow at the Amador.

DAY 6 : PANAMA CANAL / PANAMA CITY : THURSDAY

The next day of your Panama cultural experience will take you to the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks visitor center where you will learn about it’s construction and the socio-economic impact on the country.  After an informative visit, the group will then return to the hotel and prepare for a great night out in Panama City. A visit to local hot spots and then end the evening with dinner at one of Panama’s top rated restaurants.

DAY 7 : EMBERA QUERA / PERSONAL ADVENTURE : FRIDAY

Early Friday morning departure for the re-settled native Indian communities.  Learn how the community embraces and maintains their traditional culture while having access to modern day facilities such as higher education for their youth and modern healthcare for their elders.  A late afternoon return to the hotel allows for a few hours of personal time. The final group get together is a bon Voyage for all as we meet at another of Panama’s fine restaurants.

Day 8 : Departure Day : Saturday

Depart Tocumen for home.

 

Itinerary Disclaimer

While we do our best to adhere to the itinerary, traveling to remote parts of the world requires flexibility, and changes to specific interactions and other activities may occur. In addition, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and changes to timetables and transport routes, which can happen with little notice. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time. Each day we will update you on the program and keep you informed throughout the trip.

OLI may cancel a trip at any time prior to departure if, due to terrorism, natural disasters, political instability or other external events, it is not viable for us to operate the planned itinerary. If OLI cancels the trip, the traveler can transfer amounts paid to an alternate departure date or alternatively receive a full refund. In circumstances where the cancellation is due to external events outside our reasonable control, refunds will be less any unrecoverable costs. We are not responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred as a result of your booking including but not limited to visas, vaccinations, travel insurance excess or non-refundable flights.

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