With Ronald Wixman
This trip explores the cultures of Panama and Colombia, traveling along the Caribbean Coast. We begin in Panama, to learn about the Embera, Waunaan and Cuna people. Arriving in Cartagena, Colombia, we’ll have an overview of the people, crafts and cultures of Colombia with the fine folks at Artesanias de Colombia. Then we’ll begin exploring! Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Riohacha, Cabo de la Vela in the Guajira Peninsula await. The Afro-Caribbean people, the Arahuaco, the Wayuu and Zenu people await us with open arms. Join us on a journey to explore the people, craft and cultures of Panama and Colombia!
Day One: Sunday, January 13, Arrive Panama, Welcome Dinner, Overnight Panama City
We’ll stay in Panama’s Old Town and enjoy a delicious Panamanian meal tonight!
Day Two: Monday, January 14, City Tour and Tinajas for Dinner, Overnight Panama City
We pick you up at your hotel around 8am (depending on the location of your hotel). Most days we start with the walking tour of Panama City’s ‘old town’, Casco Antiguo. We visit its four plazas for you to marvel at its spectacular architecture and learn about the rich history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, before heading off to the Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks to watch the ships transit. Enjoy the viewing platforms, four floors of exhibits and a short film about the canal’s history at the Miraflores Visitor Center. We then drive around the famous Cerro Ancon inside the former U.S. Canal Zone and out to the islands down the Amador Causeway for the best view of Panama’s skyline. We will stop on Naos Island for lunch (not included) and we end the tour at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Punta Culebra Nature Center (closed mondays) for a chance to see starfish, turtles, frogs, iguanas and sloths! We provide transportation back to your hotel, or you can decide to stay in Casco Antiguo for sunset, dinner or drinks in one of the many plazas, restaurants or rooftop bars!
Day Three: Tuesday, January 15, Villages, Overnight Panama City
Immerse yourself in the indigenous Emberá culture during this 7-hour tour from Panama City. Journey up the Chagres River in a traditional dugout canoe to the Parara Puru village in Chagres National Park. Meet members of the tribe and learn about their way of life in the forest, witness ceremonial dances and eat a traditional lunch. Round-trip transportation from Panama City is included on this small-group tour, limited to 15 people or fewer to ensure an intimate atmosphere and personalized attention.
7-hour day trip to an Emberá village in Chagres National Park Learn about the native Emberá tribe’s history, culture and modern way of life Travel from Panama City in an air-conditioned minibus and through Chagres National Park in a dugout canoe View a cultural presentation and traditional Emberá dance Lunch included Round-trip transportation from Panama City hotels
At 8 am, meet your guide in the lobby of your Panama City hotel. Climb aboard an air-conditioned minibus and meet your small tour group. Arrive on the banks of Lake Alajuela, meeting some members of the Emberá tribe at Puerto Corotu. Board a traditional dugout canoe and, assisted by a motor, head up the Chagres River to the village of Parara Puru. On the way, visit an impressive waterfall deep in the park. Native Emberá tribe members will greet you upon arrival with a traditional dance and a presentation about their culture, history and modern way of life in the forest. Walk around and explore the village at your leisure, chat with the locals and take photos. Eat a lunch of fresh fruit, plantains and fried fish, then receive temporary traditional tattoos if you like or shop for handicrafts. Step back into the canoe and return to Panama City the way you came. Your tour concludes with drop-off back at your Panama City hotel.
Day Four: Wednesday, January 16, Islands, Yundup Island Lodge, Overnight Yundup Island
The San Blas Islands are located in the Comarca de Kuna Yala and the nearly 400 islands archipelago is home to the Kuna Indians. This trip is a unlike any other. It gives you the chance to mingle with the Kuna on their coconut-covered islands, enjoy the beaches, learn about Kuna culture, and more. This tour is truly authentic and offers you amazing experiences in some of the most remote parts of the San Blas Islands.
Our overnight trip starts with an early flight from Panama City to San Blas where you are met by your Kuna guide who will take you to your cabin on one of the islands in time for breakfast on our first day. Choose to stay for as many nights as you want. Return to Panama City around 8 am on your final day.
Day Five: Thursday, January 17, Islands Day Two, Yandup Island Lodge, Overnight Yundup Island
Day Six: Friday, January 18, Panama – Cartagena, City Tour Cartagena, Dinner/Reception/Café del Mar, Overnight Cartagena
We’ll spend the day exploring colonial Cartagena to learn about its history and visit highlights, such as the Gold Museum here, where we’ll learn about the Zenu people. Included today is a special visit to Artesanias de Colombia, where we’ll receive a review of the crafts of Colombia and of course, an expo-venta! We’ll enjoy lunch to experience regional cuisine of Colombia! Our evening is at leisure to possibly dance to the Latin rhythms, so famous in Colombia.
Day Seven: Saturday, January 19, Cartagena – Barranquilla – Santa Marta, Overnight Santa Marta (B, L)
Leaving Cartagena, we make our way along the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Our first stop is in Barranquilla, famous for its Carnival! Our favorite thing to do here, is to visit the amazing Museo del Caribe, to learn of the natural and cultural diversity of the regions we will be visiting. After our Museum visit, we make our way to Santa Marta, where we’ll enjoy a lovely lunch, by the ocean. After lunch, we’ll stroll and visit the historic center of Santa Marta, and we will also enjoy a specially arranged presentation of the ethnographic landscape and resulting craft of this region, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Here, the ancestral Arhuaco, Kogi, Tayrona people lived and still do today. Evening at leisure.
Day Eight, Sunday, January 20, Santa Marta – Riohacha, Overnight Riohacha (B, L)
Today we make our way to Riohacha, land of the Wayuu people. Arriving in the afternoon, we’ll spend time getting to know this community on one of their “Rancherias”, communities where they live. We’ll learn about their culture, way of life and how they have become revered as some of Colombia’s finest artisans, creating the famed (and now sadly copied) “mochila” crochet bags.
Day Nine, Monday, January 21, Riohacha – Uribia – Cabo de la Vela, Overnight Cabo de la Vela (B, L, D)
Today we go deeper into the Wayuu country / region and visit their center in Uribia. We will meet community leaders here, and learn about their cooperative organization to create and promote the craft of the “mochila”. From here, we continue on to the end of the Guajira Peninsula, to a place that can only be described as “other worldly”, where desert meets ocean, where sand dunes rise above the deep blue water, and the Wayuu women wear their colorful dress that blows in the wind. We will enjoy a meal by the ocean, with these Wayuu women. We enjoy our evening at a Rancheria, stargazing and enjoying community, before we retire to our cabins for the night.
Day Ten, Tuesday, January 22, Cabo de la Vela – Palomino (B, L, D)
Today we begin our journey back to Cartagena. We stop midway in Palomino, a beautiful seaside destination, to enjoy the evening. This is an unspoiled coastal region, where walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean, watching the sunset in a hammock, are the “activities”!
Day Eleven, Wednesday, January 23, Palomino – Cartagena, Overnight Cartagena (B)
We’ll spend the morning enjoying our pristine coastal environment, before making our way back to Cartagena. Overnight Cartagena
We’ll spend the morning in our lovely seaside setting, before making our way to Cartagena. Arriving in Cartagena, we’ll go to Cafe del Mar, a favorite spot on the seawall to watch people, the sunset, a cocktail, and to enjoy the view of this walled city.
Day Twelve, Thursday, January 24, Cartagena (B): Free Day in Cartagena
Today, we will have free time to explore as a group or independently. There are more museums, shops, neighborhoods, excursions that we can enjoy.
Day Thirteen, Friday, January 25 Cartagena, San Jacinto and San Basilio Palenque, Farewell Dinner (B, L, D)
On the outskirts of Cartagena, we’ll travel first to San Jacinto to experience the unique rhythms of the “Gaiteros de San Jacinto”, Grammy Award winning musicians and musical genre of Colombia. Then, we’ll go to the singular Afro-Caribbean community of San Basilio Palenque, the earliest community of runaway slaves in the Americas. Led by Benkos Biohio, he led the people to their freedom, established a community and all learned a unique language to keep their conversations internal. Given the singular and extraordinary characteristics and heritage of this community, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage location. We will be honored to meet community leaders, artists and musicians here. Arriving back in Cartagena we will relax a bit before going to dinner to bid our farewells and, “until next time”!
Day Fourteen, Saturday, January 26, Return to Airport for Flights Out (B)
5 Nights in Panama
8 Nights in Colombia
Note: We are offering a 4 night extension in Medellin. Details available on request.