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Details and Itinerary

Itinerary

DAYS 1- 2: ORIENTATION & MODERN PANAMA

We begin the trip by visiting the bustling modern Panama city to learn about the country in context today.   Upon arriving, we settle into the cozy, private bed and breakfast that serves as our base for the first portion of the trip. One full day is dedicated to touring the historic and beautiful Casco Viejo by bike and visiting the engineering marvel, the Panama Canal and Miraflores locks.  Our time in the city will give us an idea of the history of Spanish rule into modern times.

DAYS 3-5: THE EMBERA PEOPLE & TROPICAL RAIN FOREST

Traveling two hours out of the city brings us to the Charges National Park, a land of tropical rainforests and rivers, and home to communities from the indigenous Embera tribe.  Here we share an amazing cultural exchange with the Embera people and enjoy the beauty of the Charges River.  We stay in simple housing owned by the community.  The Embera are a native people whose customs and lifestyle depend upon the river.  They carry on their rich traditions today, extremely different from the modern Panamanian culture we saw in the capital city.  One day we spend working alongside locals on a service project that they prioritize.  We also spend a day engaged in fascinating cultural activities not experienced by many outsiders, including body painting used in traditional Embera celebrations, learning about medicinal plants, swimming in the popular river swim spots and a visit to a beautiful waterfall.  

DAYS 6-8: KUNA YALA ISLANDS

An early morning jeep transfer picks us up and transports us a couple hours drive to the Kuna Yala Islands off the Caribbean coast. The indigenous Kuna people have autonomously governed the islands since the 1920’s and have maintained their distinctive dress, music, dance, and legends. We stay on a rustic and gorgeous private island surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters with a owned by a Kuna family.  Our group spends the next several days engaged in educational service projects and cultural exchanges with an elementary school on the nearby Carti Island. Previous projects have included: constructing a library, teaching English, and designing a mural. We attend a Kuna tribal council meeting, compete in dug-out canoe races, and attend workshops on traditional cooking, mola weaving, and dancing.  A snorkeling excursion around the coral reefs, island hopping, as well as time to enjoy the tropical scenery and beaches makes this a not-to-be-missed destination. We leave the community of the Kuna Yala Islands feeling a connection with the people and the spectacular landscape surrounding them.

DAYS 9-10: PANAMA CITY & TRAVEL HOME

Return to Panama City for our final night, dinner out, and celebration. We engage in reflection activities to help us in bringing home our new ideas about the world.