We had been going up river about an hour with jungle on each side when we heard a single drum announcing our arrival. In minutes we were at a landing where a dozen or so villagers stood to greet us. Four musicians played drums, maracas and flute and sang. When we got on shore, sarong-clad children looked up at us with big eyes, wordlessly took us by the hand and one by one led us down a dirt path. We were visiting a village of Embera Indians, one of the highlights of a voyage in a yacht of Panama Marine Adventurers.
The yacht, named Discovery, has lived up to its name, having created a voyage of discovery for travelers who want to know the real Panama and its people. Panamanians are as colorful as the wildlife, their music as flavorful as their native foods, a blend of African, Caribbean and Spanish with dash of Chinese and European.
Discovery carries 24 passengers, Captain Rafael Munoz, 6 crew, and 2 naturalists. There are 8 queen and 4 twin cabins. The draft is shallow so the vessel can venture where few passenger vessels can, carrying clients in comfort into the shallow waters of Panama’s rivers and tributaries. There are two zodiacs, 8 kayaks, and snorkeling gear on board. The salon is the dining room and main gathering area.
Panama is just 9 degrees north of the equator, a thin strip of land that shapes the waist of the Americas. The country offers access to many different cultures and worlds, all within reach of each other in just a few hours. Mention Panama and most people think of the Panama Canal that draws ships and visitors from around the world. But there is more to see in Panama besides the Canal.