Two Destinations that Offer Natural Places that are Unique in the World
Sport fishing, indigenous traditions, wild nature, beaches and ecological activities. Two tourist destinations that stand out for their beauty framed by marine and wild life are Guna Yala and Darien. The charm of both lies in
Sport fishing, indigenous traditions, wild nature, beaches and ecological activities.
Two tourist destinations that stand out for their beauty framed by marine and wild life are Guna Yala and Darien. The charm of both lies in the conservation of their habitat to preserve their identity as isolated paradises.
The place of origin of the gunas (1938). Since 1953, they have exercised their indigenous autonomy with the Kuna Congress (CGK). It limits with Darien to the south, to the north with the Caribbean Sea, to the west with Colon and to the east with Colombia.
The region is made up of 365 islands surrounded by pristine waters. This exotic destination has turned into a very important one in the country , which is why they opened the Secretariat for Tourism Affairs, that deals with sustainable tourism.
How to get?
Taking a plane it is more comfortable. Flights are only during daytime and depart from Marcos A. Gelabert Airport in Albrook. It takes about 20 minutes, and the airline Air Panama flies to this destination within the country. There are cases in which helicopters are rented (private flights) that will land in El Porvenir, capital of Guna Yala, the only place with an airport.
If you opt for the land route, it is recommended to go in 4 x 4 cars on the road that you take to go to Puerto Carti. Although, is better to use the transportation service offered by tour operators. They will pick you up and drive you back to your residence or hotel, and their cost ranges from $50.00 (round trip).
The Guna people live in a very humble, calm but happy way. Men work in agriculture and are increasingly engaged in tourism. At night, the community meets in the House of Congress with the Saila, the highest authority in the community. During the meeting is discussed if there is something to solve, or if a community work should be done collectively.
Women, in addition to taking care of the home and children, seek to generate income with their handicrafts, especially molas and beads. They try to put their wares in each tourist hut to attract customers. Children play in gunas playground: the sea. They are allowed to go out to play with their friends in the open air, to keep them away from technological attachment.
The gunas prepare the products they obtain from the sea such as fish, shrimp and lobsters with accompaniments such as rice, “patacones” and yucca.
Their most emblematic dishes are: Tulemasi, a popular soup prepared with coconut milk, tubers, bananas, accompanied by boiled fish and lemon, and Moe, guacho with pumpkin, yucca, fish and sometimes chicken.
Some of the islands are almost intact:
– Cayos Holandeses (Dutch Cays): a group of uninhabited islands, located in the extreme northwest of the archipelago (the most distant), some of them are considered among the most impressive.
– Senidup Island: it is located 40 minutes from the port. It is ideal for young people. They have cozy cabins or dormitories for groups with facilities such as electricity and bathroom with shower. Nearby is a restaurant and volleyball court. In the surroundings you can camp and practice snorkeling. They also offer trips to Isla Perro.
– Isla Diablo “Niadup”: it enjoys having a large beach, where they have private cabins and the like, but with shared bathrooms. Its name is due to the gunas beliefs about the existence of a friendly devil.
It is the main ecological lung of Panama. It occupies 13% of the national territory and is 206 km from the Isthmus capital. This province interrupts the Pan-American route thanks to the Darien Gap, an impassable region of Latin America. Land displacement between Panama and Colombia does not exist, unless life is at stake in the bowels of its jungle.
In the Darien area there are large mangroves and forests: cloud, pygmy, montane and premontane. In large part because it is a very dense and rainy area. Its main settlers are indigenous people, Afro-descendants and settlers.
How to get there?
At the Albrook Terminal you must take a direct bus to the Meteti Station. Every day they leave every hour and a half, and the trip lasts five hours. There are also commercial or private flights (especially to Bahia Piñas). One of the most popular direct flights to Darien, arrives on Jaque Airport, coming from Marcos A. Gelabert Airport, Albrook. This last destination can only be reached by plane or boat.
Some destinations to visit:
– Yaviza: the road ends in this town, to get to other places you have to go by boat or canoe. Their houses are Afro-Antillean style and some are colonial. Here is La Casa – Fort of Yaviza or Fort San Geronimo de Yaviza, command post of the Spanish pirates. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
– La Palma: it is the capital of the province. It is located on the shores of the Pacific, in the extreme part of the peninsula. Upon arrival, you will see colorful houses and hostels elevated above the seashore. Not far from the town is the Fort of San Carlos (18th century) in Boca Chica.
– Jaque: 38 kilometers (24 miles) from the border with Colombia, Jaque, a town located within the Darien Gap. Suitable only for those looking for extreme tourism adventure.
– Sambu: this community is located two hours from La Palma. The houses are made of reeds suspended about 5 feet from the ground, to avoid flooding. From here tours are made to Playa Muerto, where in addition to finding a cultural display of the Embera ethnic group, you can join the adventure of artisanal and sport fishing.
Darien National Park
It is the largest of the National Parks of Panama, and in turn the largest protected area in Central America and the Caribbean (created in 1980). It is located in the eastern part of the country, bordering Colombia. In 1981 it was declared a Humidity Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
You can get there by plane from Panama City, to the nearest community, El Real, or reach this point by traveling by road to Yaviza.
Things to Do
• Go on a Mogue “tour” and visit an Embera village, located on the banks of the Mogue River. You can buy handicrafts, body paintings, watch their traditional dance while having lunch.
• Take a trip down the Tuira River or the Chucunaque, the largest in the country at 231 kilometers long, the main tributary is the Tuira River, the second largest that connects with the regional areas.
• Learn the entrance fees to Guna Yala per person. $5.00 nationals and $20.00 foreigners. The port tax in Carti is $2.00 per person.
• Visit Cayos Holandeses, the most distant group of islands surrounded by impressive corals, white sand beaches and crystal clear water.
• Relax watching birds, especially the Harpy Eagle. They can be seen nesting in the jungle area of Garachind. More information at www.ecotourdarien.com