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Rio Cañas, Ngäbe-Bugle Comarca

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Indigenous peoples are stewards of the world’s bio and cultural diversity. No other place in Panama is this more evident than in Río Cañas.Río Cañas, a community in the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca, is located at the mouth of the Cañas river, on the Caribbean coast of Panama.This unique community surrounded by beautiful beaches, and framed by lush rainforest is a short distance from two exceptional areas of conservation; The Damani-Guariviria Ramsar site, and the Protected Landscape of Escudo de Veraguas Island.

Isthmian Adventures is partnering with Meri Eko Kika, a group of female entrepreneurs from the Río Cañas community, to develop and manage the operations of a community-based, life changing experience for adventure travelers. Meri Eko Kika is a women run association that works with community members to provide the services required for this exceptional experience. The organization includes artisans, dancers, and other female members that offer services such meals, lodging and more.

This is a once in lifetime nature and cultural experience filled with beautiful people, landscape and some of the most unique fauna on the planet.

Río Cañas village maintains a mixture of Caribbean and Ngäbe traditional architecture with postcard views all around. Its people, friendly, curious and proud, welcome visitors ready to share their rich cultural and natural heritage.

The coastal beaches are visited by sea turtles, and the residents have become custodians of those beaches in a partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy (formerly Caribbean Conservation Corporation) in a effort to protect these ancient jewels of the ocean for future generations.

The nearby Escudo de Veraguas Island, is a visual chapter from any of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and home to several endemic species, including the Escudo hummingbird and the Pigmy sloth. The beaches are also visited by sea turtles for nesting, and surrounded by coral reef that offers excellent snorkeling.

This multi-day program focuses on one of the most remote areas of the Isthmus of Panamá. Accessible only by foot or boat, the location of Rio Cañas is often isolated for a great part of the year due to extremely rough seas and weather. Due to these conditions, this program can only be enjoyed safely during two months of September and October, when the winds are calm, the sun is out, and scenery is spectacular.
Traveling from the city of Panama, to where we will finally meet up with our boat and captain for our journey to the village, we will stop at the historical and archaeological sites of El Caño -a Pre-colonial necropolis of indigenous, the Colonial town (post conquest) of Nata de Los Caballeros, the San Francisco de la Montaña Church and finally our destination for the night, Santa Fe de Veraguas. These visits will provide our guests with an understanding of how the Spanish Conquest of Panama affected the native people, pushing them from their fertile lands into the harsh mountains of the continental divide to escape persecution and enslavement.

In addition to our partnership with Meri Eko Kika, Isthmian Adventures also works closely with other conservation organizations and researchers such as, Cristina Ordoñes of the Sea Turtle Conservancy and Josue Ortega, of Smitshsonian Tropical Research Institute, whom is studying the mammals on the islands of Escudo de Veraguas.

Once in Río Cañas, this multiday program, introduces you to the cultural and natural heritage of Río Cañas, its surrounding areas and their people. The locations we visit, the nature we encounter and the people of Río Cañas makes this experience an unforgetable one.


Day 1 – Journey to Vergauas

This morning you will meet your Certified Naturalist and Interpretative Guide at your hotel in Panama City and board our private van for our transfer to Santa Fe. Along the way we will have a typical Panamian breakfast at Delicias Margot, a locals favorite!

The first site we visit along the way is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of El Caño site in Cocle. The location is the site appeared in the January 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine cover as the Golden Chiefs of Panamá.

El Caño is an archaeological gold mine of artifacts that tell a story of a powerful cast of warriors and chiefs that dominated the region prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. As the Spanish conquest marched across the isthmus, they wrote detailed chronicles of encountering warrior chiefs covered in gold to proclaim their rank as they fought them. This was Panama’s pre-hispanic world.

Day 2_ Río Cañas

Early this morning we depart Santa Fe along the newly opened road that will take us over the continental divide, through Santa Fe National Park, following the Calovebora river that marks the border of the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca, eventually arriving in the Caribbean fishing village of Calovebora. Our boat ride takes along the coastline of the Comarca, a landscape of lush green rainforest embraced by rough cliffs and long white sand beaches.

Upon arrival to village of Rio Cañas, you will be shown your accommodations for the next two nights and invited on introductory walk through the community in the company of your local guide. At noon we will meet for lunch where we will be introduced to authentic Ngäbe cuisine.

In 1502, Christopher Columbus made his fourth and final voyage to the Americas. In his journal he wrote that upon his arrival to the Caribbean coast of Panama, the indigenous people of the area arrived in canoes with fruits and gifts. This afternoon we will explore the Damani Wetlands Ramsar site, a 24,000-hectare protected wetland of international importance, using this same traditional method of transportation, dugout canoe. The people of Rio Cañas are the custodians of this wetland that is habitat to the West Indian manatee.

In the evening we will meet for dinner and then we will join the community for a unique traditional ceremony. The Ngäbe people have known the powerful health benefits of cacao for centuries. For them it has spiritual healing properties and is a large part of many traditional rituals. With our new Ngäbe friends, we will join around a fire for a cacao ceremony, where we will learn more of their history, believes, daily life, and of course, cacao. As we sit around the fire enjoying the hot cacao, each new visitor receive their own special Ngäbe name as part of the tradition.

Day 3_ Escudo de Veraguas Island

This morning after breakfast we depart for a short boat ride to the protected landscape of Escudo de Veraguas. The remote island archipelago is only safely accessible a few months of the year because of the rough waters that surround it. Due to this, the islands remain pristine, a mystical place for the Ngäbe people, where by isolation, the natural wonder of speciation resulted in new endemic species.

We will spend the morning and early afternoon exploring the islands, snorkeling in the coral reef, exploring the inner channels of the islands by boat and and walking some trails looking for the endemic Pygmy sloth and the Escudo hummingbird, and relaxing on the white sand beach where will enjoy a picnic lunch prepared by the women of Meri Eko Kika.

Day 3_ Dances & the Artisans of Río Cañas

After a couple of hours of downtime to rest for the evening activities, we are invited enjoy a demonstration of their traditional dances. The dances of the Ngäbe people are intimately linked to their daily life and their connection with their natural surroundings. This appreciation for their natural surroundings can also be found in their dress, arts, and textiles, and we will spend some time with the local artisans as they demonstrate their work.

Day 3_ Sea Turtles of Río Cañas

Since prehistoric times, 100 million years or more, sea turtles have lived in the oceans of
the world. Chiriquí Beach, situated next to Isla Cañas was described by sea turtle conservationist Dr Archie Carr as one of the most important nesting beaches for sea turtles in the Caribbean.

Historically, turtles were hunted for their eggs, meat, and tortoiseshell trade, which resulted in a massive decline in their numbers by the1990’s. This decline opened the eyes of the Ngäbe communities to their need for conservation. In 1995, Rio Caña residents took the first steps towards protecting the nesting site, an effort heavily supported by Sea Turtle Conservancy.

This evening we will join local guides and volunteers to scout the beaches for arrivals and learn about their efforts to preserve this ancient creatures.

Day 4_ Departure to Bocas del Toro Archipelago – Sweet Bocas

Our last morning in Río Cañas is at your leisure to explore the community or the beach on your own and say goodbye to your new friends. We will depart at 10:00am from the local pier and make our way to the mainland for our transfer to Isla Colon in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago.

Day 4_ Bocas del Toro

Arriving to mainland Panama, we will do short drive to again get back in a boat for a
short 30 min ride to the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. The Bocas del Toro Archipelago, once only inhabited by friendly native that welcomed Cristopher Columbus, went trough many changes.

From pirates, to been part of the Banana Republic to todays position as a main tourist destination in Panama. Visitors are atracted by the great surfing opportunities, amazing beaches, great snorkeling and the lay back vibe of the place.
Upon arrival, after lan introductory lunch to Bocas Caribbean cuisine, guest will have the afternoon free to explore the nearby reefs or just relax in the beach. The guide will help them set up any of the many activities if they choose to. We will meet again in the evening for dinner and discuss the next day.

Night in Hotel Doña Mara.

Day 5_ Departure

After a hearty breakfast is at Receta Michila, we catch our short flight back to Panama city, where we say good bye to our Isthmian Adventures guide and either continue on to further destinations and adventure travel or make your way home.

Please note, our Río Cañas adventures can be combined with other destinations throughout Panamá, and even neighboring countries, Costa Rica and Colombia. Our sales staff is happy to assist planning your next once in a lifetime travel experience!


2 pax: $2,375.00 plus 7% ITBMS sales

4 pax: $1,485.00 plus 7% ITBMS sales

6 pax: $1,120.00 plus 7% ITBMS sales

8 pax: $960.00 plus 7% ITBMS sales

10 pax: $865.00 plus 7% ITBMS sales

Roundtrip Airfare (Subject to Change): Pax $275.00 ITBMS sales

Plan your experience

Included in Package:

  • Lodging
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner within the program.
  • All land and water transportation within program.
  • Lodging at Field Station.
  • Site guides services and expenses.
  • Administrative Assistant’s services and expenses.
  • Related entrance fees.
  • Services of an in-bound land operator for transportation re-confirmations and tour operations.

Not Included in Package:

  • International airfare.
  • Local airfare.
  • Gratuities and extras in hotels.
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary or package.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Personal equipment.


Local airfare prices change depending on the season and other factors. Isthmian Adventures will

provide this cost based on the dates of the guest request.


Prices and itineraries are correct at the time of printing; however, they are subject to change due to tidal/weather or local conditions, availabilities, or factors beyond our control.


To confirm a reservation we must receive a 50% deposit at the time of booking a tour. The balance of the cost of the tour is due 30 days prior to the first day of the tour.


Cancellations made with more than 30 days notice from the first day of the tour are subject to a full refund of the deposit. Cancellations made between 30 and 15 days prior to the first day of the tour are subject to a 50% refund of the total cost of the tour. Cancellations made within 15 days of the first day of the tour are not subject to refunds. All cancellation requests must be done in writing.

Limits On Isthmian Adventures’ Responsibility

Acts of God and the Like

Isthmian Adventures IS NOT LIABLE for acts of God, fire, acts of government or other authorities, wars, civil disturbances, riots, terrorist acts, strikes, thefts, pilferage, epidemics, quarantines, dangerous incidents at sea, land, and air travel, and other similar acts or incidents beyond its control.

Traveler’s Representation

The traveler represents that neither he or she nor anyone traveling with him or her has any physical or other condition or disability that would create a hazard to himself or herself or others participating on the tour.

Independent Suppliers

Isthmian Adventures purchases transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant services, and other services from various independent suppliers that are not subject to its control. Isthmian Adventures cannot, therefore, be liable for any property damage, personal injury or death that may occur due to (1) any act or omission of such a supplier, or (2) defects in or failures of any aircraft, vessel, automotive vehicle, or other means of transportation that is not under its control.

Optional Activities That May Be Dangerous

Optional activities will be available at some of the places you will visit. Some of these activities carry with them the inherent risk of serious personal injury. These activities include, but are not necessarily limited to: (a) scuba diving; (b) horseback riding; (c) canoe or kayaking; (d) white water rafting trips, among others. You should be aware that your personal safety cannot be guaranteed. Should you elect to participate in such activities while you are on tour, you are, of course, free to do so. However, you must understand that such participation will be at your own risk and that Isthmian Adventures assumes no responsibility for your safety.

Under these terms, travelers under the age of 18 are required to have the consent of the parent or guardian whether they are traveling together or not.

Applicable Law

This agreement shall be construed, interpreted, and enforced in accordance with, and shall be governed by, the laws of the Republic of Panama.

Isthmian Adventures recommends that passengers purchase travel insurance.

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