The Embera-Wounaan comarca is an Amerindian tribe of eastern Panama. This is an indigenous area located in the Districts of Pinogana and Chepigana, with “Union Choco” as its capital. With an estimated population of 31.284 inhabitants, the Embera live in the jungle of the Darien Province and some inhabit the land along the Chagres and Gatun rivers. Embera means “good man” or “good friend”. Wounaan means “people, person or village.” They speak a dialect called Embera, a binding language and practice shamanism.
A fact many people ignore is that Embera-Wounaan are actually two comarcas. For years they were known as just one comarca, but recently was discovered than they divide internally into the two subgroups Embera and Wounaan. However, both groups share the same customs and love for their blessed lands.
They are very peaceful and engaged in selling their craft and showing their culture and folklore to the entire world. Emberas are characterized by their painted skin. The dye comes from the Jaba fruit. In addition, the Embera Indians are considered as the most beautiful Indians of America.
Embera-Wounaan comarca is part of the Biological corridor “El Bagre” and their main life consists on the nature around them. They are always close to water sources and practice agriculture, fishing and other activities for subsistence. In their way of living, they are semi–nomadic and live independently in one or two small family groups. They build their shelters along the banks of rivers that serve as roads and their source of livelihood. Their houses are raised platforms on stilts several feet above the ground. Inside, they sleep on mats made from tree barks and use hammocks for children.
Emberas are good hunters, either for fun or for eating. The most common hunted species are deers, peccaries, armadillos, agoutis, monkeys, and various birds. Agriculture, however, is the most practiced and most important activity they do, in which are grown mainly plantain products which they trade, as well as corn, rice, etc.
The most touristic-oriented location Embera Quera is a destination that promises fun to its visitors. Here, locals offer a tour through their main rivers and share with visitors their customs and day to day activities as food, dancing, handicrafts and often many foreigner women, opt to get painted like an Embera.
Another touristic location in which is located the famous “Cueva del Bayano”. In Piriati reside the most famous body painters amongst the Emberas, so visitors can also get a professional paint in this region.
Bayamon offers a jungle excursion of a lifetime. It consists of a 1 to 2 days hike through virgin rainforest before arriving at Playa Muerto, a remote Embera village located on an exquisite black-sand beach on the Pacific coast of Panama.
The village women's group can help coordinate guides for jungle and waterfall hikes, river spearfishing trips, hikes to other villages, classes on how to make traditional food and artisan work, traditional body painting, and presentations of Embera dance and music. The same activities can be done in Cerro Naipe through their tourism group.
A magical place in which its habitants venerate the nature around them which provides them with food and plants for healing. A region in which, away from city noises and overpopulation, visitors find themselves amazed by the exuberant and imponent green and the stillness, yet strong flow of the rivers. An untouched paradise, is how many would describe Embera-Wounaan.