Things to do in
Chagres River

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Chagres River: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chagres National Park Hike and Embera Village Tour

1. Chagres National Park Hike and Embera Village Tour

Begin your full-day excursion with an hour-long drive from Panama City to the Chagres National Park. Established in 1984, the park comprises 334,000 acres of forest, lakes and rivers. Enjoy a traditional piragua boat ride on the Chagres River, followed by a half-hour walk through the jungle to a waterfall that’s hidden from civilization. Enjoy some free time at the waterfall to swim and relax, and then head back to the boat. Continue to an indigenous Embera village, where you’ll learn about their culture. Listen to a speech by the cacique or chief, while enjoying some seasonal fruit, then a live performance of traditional music and dance.

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Panama City: Embera Indigenous Village Experience

2. Panama City: Embera Indigenous Village Experience

Following pickup from your hotel, you will travel to Alajuela Lake where you will board a piragua, a traditional indigenous canoe. From there you will head to the Mono Waterfall where you can swim and refresh yourself. Following that, head to Tusipono Embera, a small traditional village located on the bank of the Chagres River in the middle of the rainforest. There the Emberas will show you their traditions, including their way of dressing and how they elaborate their handcrafts. They will then perform their traditional dances and music, before you are provided with some time to interact directly with them. You'll finally enjoy a local lunch as prepared by the Embera community, before being returned to your tour starting point.

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Panama City: Panama Canal Eco Cruise and Embera Village Tour

3. Panama City: Panama Canal Eco Cruise and Embera Village Tour

Begin your tour with hotel pickup. Follow the Panama Canal north to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the canal. Begin your 90-minute cruise from a boat on the waters of the canal and Gatun Lake, riding along the canal near the ships passing through. Enjoy an up-close view of the abundant wildlife on the shores. Visit the famous Monkey Islands where you can see capuchins, howlers, and tamarins. Once you finish your canal and lake boat ride, head 1-hour northeast to the rugged and remote Chagres National Park. Once you arrive at Puerto Corotu on the banks of Lake Alajuela, the indigenous Embera people will be waiting to take you up the Chagres River aboard their version of a motorized dugout canoe. From the canoe, witness pristine rain forest that is protected as part of the Panama Canal watershed. Discover one of the most biologically diverse national parks in the world, home to jaguars, harpy eagles, tapirs, monkeys, sloths, and hundreds of bird species. Arrive at the indigenous village where the hosts will be waiting. Learn about the local way of life with a cultural presentation and take the opportunity to explore the village. Enjoy a light lunch of fried fish, plantains, and fresh fruit prepared by the locals. Browse for traditional handicrafts and receive traditional temporary tattoos, which will fade away after a few days. Hop back in the canoe and begin your journey back to Panama City.

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Guided Embera Indian Village Tour

4. Guided Embera Indian Village Tour

On this guided tour of an Embera Indian Village, get a glimpse into the lives of people most tourists of Panama City will never experience. You will begin your day with complimentary pick-up at your Panama City hotel. Your bilingual guide will outline the day to you as you travel north towards Lake Alajuela. Upon arrival you will step aboard traditional dugout canoes, which will carry you up the Rio Chagres. As you travel up the river you will take in the fascinating sights of the dense jungle that surrounds you. Upriver, you will disembark and enjoy a short hike to a beautiful waterfall in the midst of the rainforest. Miles away from civilization, take in this breathtaking tropical paradise. Here you are encouraged to take a swim in the refreshing waters just beneath the waterfall. After your dip, you will be taken to visit the village of the Embera Indians. The Embera Indians are one of seven indigenous tribes in Panama. The welcoming people of the Embera tribe will welcome you at the pier and gladly give you a glimpse into the traditional lives they still lead today. You will also be visited by the village chief, who will be happy to provide you a brief explanation on the history of the tribe, its traditions, culture, beliefs and way of life. A traditional lunch of fish and plantains will be prepared for your enjoyment by the Embera women. In the afternoon you will be treated to a traditional dance and have the opportunity to purchase some of the tribe’s handicrafts. The sale of these local products directly benefits the village and helps to pay the school fees for the village’s children. If you are feeling particularly daring, one of the villagers will be happy to paint a temporary Embera tattoo on your arm or leg. Authentic and socially conscious, this tour is a must-do for any travelers looking to explore the road-less-travelled in Panama.

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Panama: Panama Canal Tour through Two Locks with Lunch

5. Panama: Panama Canal Tour through Two Locks with Lunch

Experience the wonder of the magnificent man-made maritime passageway of the Panama Canal with this attraction ticket. Enjoy watching the ship as it is lowered at two separate locks. Have a delicious lunch and some refreshing soft drinks.  Disembark from Isla Flamenco in Panama city and take in sweeping views of the city as make your way to the canal at the north end of the Gaillard Cut, where the Chagres river flows into the canal. Admire the serpentine curvature of the Gaillard Cut which was carved through the continental divide. Uncover the history and geological value of this region as your boat travels along a 13.7 kilometer route to the Pedro Miguel locks. Pass through verdant landscapes of rolling hills and forests as you drift along. Appreciate the continuous work that is required to maintain this passage. Observe the Panama Canal expansion project, an engineering feat that is set to double the capacity of the canal. View the Bridge of the Americas which crosses over the canal. Enter the Pedro Miguel locks where the ship is lowered 9 meters and released into Miraflores lake. Venture across Miraflores lake to the Miraflores locks where the ship is lowered 16 meters in two distinct steps. Continue sailing to the small town of Gamboa. Disembark in Gamboa and board a bus back to Isla Flamenco.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Chagres River

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What people are saying about Chagres River

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 42 reviews

So fun! The village is a real indigenous village and the food they serve you is so amazing. The hike and boat ride are so much fun and it is amazing to see the jungle up close and swim in the river. The guides were also so fun and friendly. Would go again!

Excellent organized, english punctuality, excellent trip! I'd like to thank again to my guide, very well informed and disposed to share the information.

Dan the guide is attentive to all who took part in the trip. A gracious host and considerate of the those we visited.

My guide was wonderful. He was very knowledgeable and I would definitely recommend him

This was an awesome day trip. Dan was our guide and he went over and above!