Southern Explorations



© 2005-2014
World Wide Explorations, Inc.
Website design and programming
Media for Vibrant Change

Articles About Panama Tours And Travel | The Embera-Wounaan People of Panama

Numbering approximately 20,000, most of the Embera and Wounaan people live in two separate areas of Darien Province. Though linked through similar customs, the tribes speak different languages and are separate tribal entities. Both migrated from the same area of Colombia.

Return to Previous Page

More About Panama's Embera-Wounaan

Development Encroaches on the Embera-Wounaan's Comarca
The Embera and Wounaan people lived unprotected until 1983 when the Panamanian government designated a 740,000-acre Comarca Embera-Wounaan in the vicinity of remote Darien National Park. The comarca is divided into northeastern Cemaco and southern Sambu districts. Union Choco is the capital of Cemaco and Rio Sabalo is the capital of Sambu.
The lands of the Embera-Wounaan are continually threatened by settlers, logging operations and immigrants crossing the border from Colombia. Some Embera families have re-located to the riverbanks of the Chagres on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal and cater to tourists. It is here that most visitors on Panama tours will see the tribe since Darien Province is quite remote.
The Comarca Embera and its supporters are fighting to stop development that would disturb the traditional way of life such as the long-planned completion of the Pan-American Highway that begins in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and ends in Patagonia. Referred to as the Darien gap, this controversial fifty-four mile stretch will be the final link in the 12,000-mile highway. A ferry route around the gap has been proposed to eliminate the environmental and indigenous concerns that have stalled the project.
Meanwhile the Embera and Wounaan continue to live their timeless lifestyle, traveling by boat through the Darien as they have for centuries, using the many channels that cut through their land as trading routes. The women wear colorful skirts and flowers in their hair.
The two tribes are known for their fine weaving including naturally dyed baskets and jugs woven from a combination of palm species that are sold throughout Panama and abroad. Another of their emblematic crafts is the carving of seeds from the tagua tree into small rainforest animal sculptures. These are favorite souvenirs for visitors on Panama tours.
Two of Southern Explorations' Panama tours, the eight-day Panama Family Adventure trip and the eleven-day Panama Highlights trip, visit an Embera community along the Chagres River.


The International Ecotourism Society Leave No Trace American Whitewater Ecuadoran Rivers Institute Adventure Travel Trade Association KEXP 90.3FM Seattle International Galapagos Tour Operators Association Washington Wilderness Coalition Headwaters Institute La Pagina en la Puerta (The Page in the Door) Cascadia Wildlands Project
International Rivers
National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth 2009 National Geographic Traveler -  Tours of a Lifetime 2011 World Wildlife Fund - 50 years of environmental conservation




General Panama Articles
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
The Birds of Panama
The Red Frogs of Panama
The Magnificent Coral of Panama
Surfing in Panama
Surfing the Caribbean Coast of Panama
Surfing the Pacific Coast of Panama
Snorkeling & Diving in Panama
Snorkeling & Diving in Pacific Panama
Snorkeling in the San Blas Islands
Snorkeling & Diving in Bocas del Toro
Panama's Marine Turtles
Saving The Marine Turtles of Panama
The Leatherback Turtles of Panama
The Hawksbill Turtles of Panama
The Olive Ridley Turtles of Panama
The Green Turtles of Panama
Whale Watching Around Panama
Whales on Tour in Panama
Indigenous Peoples of Panama
Indigenous Panama
The Kuna People of Panama
The Kuna Yala
The Embera-Wounaan People of Panama
The Ngobe-Bugle People of Panama
The Naso People of Panama
Panama's Islands
The Caribbean Islands of Western Panama
The Caribbean Islands of Central and Eastern Panama
The Pacific Islands of Eastern Panama
The Pacific Islands of Central and Western Panama
About the Panama Canal
French Dreams of a Panama Canal
The French Building of the Panama Canal
Working and Dying on the French Panama Canal Construction Project
The American Building of the Panama Canal
Working on the American Panama Canal Project
Diplomacy and the Start of America's Control of the Panama Canal
Diplomacy and the End of US Control of the Panama Canal