6 Nights, Panama
6 Nights, Colombia
This trip explores the cultures of Panama and Colombia. We begin in Panama, to learn about the Embera, Wounaan and Guna people. We’ll go deep into the Guna Yala region of Panama (formerly known as San Blas Islands) to stay for two days visiting with the Guna people, learning about their traditions and craft, namely their incredible and singular mola art, a reverse applique technique. We’ll visit with an Embera community, deep in the Chagres National Park. And, we will explore Old town Panama (Casco Viejo), two important museums there (Mola Museum and Canal Museum). We’ll travel to the Canal Zone, to learn of the engineering feat connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, changing world trade forever. 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. We’ll visit their very informative Gold Museum, to learn more about the pre-contact landscape, which in this region (Bolivar) were namely the Zenu people. The Zenu are still vibrant in Colombia today. In fact, they weave the now famous “sombrero vueltiao”, the “turned” hat, a symbol of Colombia. After exploring charming Cartegena, we’ll explore further afield, traveling along the Caribbean Coast to Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Riohacha and finally to the lands end, Cabo de la Vela in the Guajira Peninsula. Here, the Wayuu people live, in a land where desert meets ocean, where matriarchal traditions run deep, and the crochet mochila has gained world fame (and sadly copying). In Santa Marta, we’ll meet the indigenous communities of the Kogi and Arhuaco people. Join us on a journey to explore the people, craft and cultures of Panama and Colombia!
Thursday, April 6: PRE ARRIVAL DAY, Meet at Airport, Transfer to Hotel in Casco Viejo
Day One: Friday, April 7, Tour Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Old Town, Mola Museum, Canal Museum, Overnight Panama City (D)
Stepping right outside our centrally located hotel, we’ll explore this vibrant region of Panama City called Casco Viejo, the old town. We’ll enjoy a walking tour and visits to two important museums:
We’ll enjoy a fun regional lunch together, as we continue our walking, learning and picture taking! We’ll return to the hotel for R & R before we step out later for a festive Welcome to Panama Dinner!
Day Two: Embera Villages, Overnight Panama City (B, L)
Today we’ll immerse in the indigenous Emberá culture, enjoying a 7-hour excursion from Panama City. We’ll journey up the Chagres River in a traditional dugout canoe to one of the more remote of the Embera villages deep in the Chagres National Park. We’ll meet members of the embera community and learn about their traditions and way of life in the forest, witness ceremonial dances and eat a traditional lunch. We will also have the chance to view and purchase their exquisite basketry, made from the grass called “wuerregue”.
Day Three: Overland transfer to the Gula Yala region, Overnight in Guna Yala (B, L, D)
Formerly known as the San Blas Islands, the Comarca de Guna Yala is located on the Atlantic Coast of Panama, made up of about 400 islands, forming a long archipelago . Arriving in the Guna Yala, we will be met by locals, who will take us to their community, where we will stay in cabins over the water. We will visit school there, and meet with local children. We have arranged to have a special workshop, to learn about the reverse applique technique of the mola, and to learn about the significance and symbols depicted on the molas, a clothing embellishment for the Guna women, but a huge industry for them, as they sell these stunning works of art to outsiders.
Day Four: Guna Yala Islands Day Two (B, L, D)
Today we will take an excursion by boat, to the nearby community. We’ll walk the streets and meet the Guna people who live in this region. The Guna have their own social and political organization, semi-autonomous from the Panamanian Federal Government. We’ll see demonstrations on the art of the mola, as well as enjoy the vast array of molas that the women make, both for their own dress, and for selling to tourists (us!)
Day Five: Back to Panama City, Canal Zone, Festive Dinner, Overnight Panama City (B, L, D)
In the morning, we’ll drive back across the Isthmus to the Pacific side. Arriving back in Panama City, we’ll check into our hotel before departing to visit the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks, enjoy the viewing platforms, four floors of exhibits and a short film about the canal’s history at the Miraflores Visitor Center. We’ll 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’ll stop on Naos Island for lunch. We’ll return to the hotel, before going out to enjoy a fabulous and fun dinner and show of Panamanian dress and music.
Day Six: Panama to Cartagena, Cartagena City Tour (B, L, D)
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: 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: Santa Marta – Riohacha, Overnight Riohacha (B)
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: 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: 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: Palomino to Cartagena (B, D)
We’ll spend the morning enjoying our pristine coastal environment, before making our way back to Cartagena. Arriving in Cartagena, we’ll have free time to explore, before gathering to enjoy the sunset, view of this walled city, and we’ll enjoy a lovely and fun farewell dinner!
Return Flights or extend in Cartagena
Panama: 6 Nights
Colombia: 6 Nights