The eastern provinces of Guna Yala and the Darién are Panama at its most pristine, with spectacular scenery, wildlife, and indigenous cultures that have barely changed since the first Spanish explorers arrived here more than five centuries ago.
The region's riveting tropical nature ranges from the colorful diversity of Caribbean coral reefs to amazing birdlife of the rain forest. The traditional
Guna (formerly Kuna), Emberá, and Wounaan communities that live here offer a fascinating alternative to the modern world. The combination of nature and culture provides the ingredients for unforgettable journeys, on which you might imagine you've traveled back in time or perhaps to the very ends of the Earth. Yet most of the region's lodges lie within a 60-minute flight from Panama City, which is often followed by a dugout canoe trip over aquamarine waters or up a jungle-shaded river. And the flights themselves take you over vast expanses of pure jungle. When it comes to Guna Yala and the Darién, more than in any other part of Panama, the adventure begins with the trip here.
Nevertheless, true adventure has its price, and it's not for everyone. This region's remarkable but remote attractions lie far from the nearest paved road, convenience store, or ATM, and may require that you put up with conditions you wouldn't stand for at home. Tours and accommodations can be expensive; for the cost of a suite in Panama City you may have to settle for a thatched hut. You may also have to deal with insects or less-than-fantastic food, but the prize is exposure to splendid scenery, and unique indigenous cultures. Your adventure may include boat trips to breathtaking islands, jungle hikes, snorkeling over coral reefs, or witnessing ancient rituals. And at night you'll hear only the calls of jungle critters, or the slosh of waves against coral.