Craft and Culture of Panama & Colombia: April 6-18, 2023

Craft and Culture of Panama & Colombia

April 6-18,  2023

6 Nights, Panama
6 Nights, Colombia

$3,845 per person, double occupancy, $500 Single Supplement

Panama Segment only: $2,285, Double Occupancy, $300 Single Supplement

Colombia Segment only: $2,385, Double Occupancy, $250 Single Supplement

Trip Summary



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!



  • Explore Panama City
  • Stay in Old Town Panama (Casco Viejo)
  • Visit the recently inaugurated Museo de la Mola
  • Take a mola making workshop and learn about the mola as an ethnographic expression of the Guna people
  • Travel by boat to indigenous Embera and Wounaan communities
  • Spend two nights in the Guna Yala, formerly known as the San Blas Islands
  • Explore Cartagena
  • Visit the Gold Museum
  • Travel to Barranquilla and Santa Marta
  • Learn about the Kogi and Arhuaco people
  • Spend time in La Guajira, home of the Wayuu
  • Learn about the rituals, life and rancherias of the Wayuu
  • Visit other communities of the Caribbean Coast
  • Extensions available to Medellin or other

Trip includes:

  • Accommodations
  • Expert Guides and/or Academics
  • Comfortable / Secure Transportation
  • Welcome and Farewell Dinners
  • Breakfasts
  • Meals according to itinerary
  • Water on Van/Coach
  • Airport Transfers, according to itinerary
  • Entry Fees




Itinerary at a glance

Day One: Thursday, April 6: ARRIVAL DAY, Meet at Airport, Transfer to Hotel in Casco Viejo

You will be meet at the Tocumen International airport (PTY) and transfer to our beautiful and centrally located hotel in the Casco Viejo, Old Town of Panama. In fact, our hotel is called Hotel Central!

Day Two: Friday, April 7, Tour Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Old Town, Mola Museum, Canal Museum, Overnight Casco Viejo (B, Regional Snack, D)

Stepping right outside our centrally located hotel (in fact it’s called Hotel Central!), 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:

  • Museo de la Mola (New Museum!)
  • Museo Canal de Panama (The fascinating story of the building of the Panama Canal)

We’ll enjoy a fun regional lunch together, as we continue our walking, learning and picture taking in charming Casco Viejo. We’ll return to the hotel for R & R before we step out later for a festive Welcome to Panama Dinner! We’ll begin to hear the rhythms of the region and see the dress, including the famed “poyera colorao”.

Day Three: Saturday, April 8, 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 “werregue”. Some people think this is a form of voyeuristic tourism, but we have come to learn, that it is a way for the Embera people, chosen by the Embera themselves, to maintain their culture and heritage, without becoming lost (their cultural identity) in the city or other regions of Panama. We can review this and our impressions, before and following our visit.


Day Four: Sunday, April 9, 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 . We will make an overland 2 hour drive, crossing from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, arriving in El Porvenir, the jump off spot to access the Guna Yala Archiplelago. We’ll board our boats / lanchas, that will take us to the island of Icodub. Arriving in the Guna Yala, we’ll be met by locals, who will take us to their community, where we will stay in over-water cabins. We’ll 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 Five: Monday, April 10, 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 Six: Tuesday, April 11, 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 Seven: Wednesday, April 12, Panama to Cartagena, Cartagena City Tour (B, L)

Flight from Panama to Colombia: Will advise on FLIGHT NUMBER and AIRLINE, to coordinate our transfer

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! In the evening, we’ll step out to the famed and beautiful Cafe del Mar, one of the best spots, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, on top of one of the old walls of Cartagena. (not included, but we’ll gather there!) I can almost feel the breezes now. Energy permitting, we’ll visit one of the fun salsa, cumbia bars so famous in Cartagena, such as Havana Club!


Day Eight: Thursday, April 13,  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! In fact, we’ll visit the Museo Casa del Carnaval, to learn about this colorful and festive tradition in Barranquilla. We are inviting some of the special wood carved mask makers to join us there, to give us a demonstration and expoventa!  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 craft of this region, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Here, the ancestral Arhuaco, Kogi, Tayrona, Kancuamo people lived and still do today. Evening at leisure.



Day Nine: Friday, April 14, Santa Marta – Riohacha, Overnight Riohacha (B, L)


Today we make our way to Riohacha, land and capital of the Wayuu people. Arriving, we’ll spend time strolling on the seaside malecon, where the Wayuu women set up stands to view their beautiful dresses and mochilas. We’ll enjoy lunch on the beach, before traveling a short distance to a “Rancheria”, their communities and where they live. We’ll learn about their matriarchal 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 Ten: Saturday, April 15, 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 one of the great master artisans and teachers “Conchita. We’ll learn about their cooperative organization to create and promote the craft of the “mochila”. From here, hop into our Toyota 4 x4’s , to travel to “lands end”. the very tip of the Guajira Peninsula. Cabo de la Vela 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’ll enjoy a meal by the ocean, with these Wayuu women. Our evening at a Rancheria is to stargaze, marvel at the place we are and with the people of this region. It’s a special and singular place. We’ll retire to our hammocks on the beach or to our cabins for the night.


Day Eleven: Sunday, April 16, 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”! Our meals at the Hotel are included, Lunch and Dinner.


Day Twelve: Monday, April 17, 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!


Day Thirteen: Tuesday, April 18, Return Flights or extend in Cartagena



Panama: 6 Nights

Colombia: 6 Nights



Photos From This Tour














« | »