Ngabe-Bugle Comarca, Panama

In the Ngabe-Bugle comarca, lives Panama’s largest indigenous group. In 1972 the Panamanian government ruled that Ngabe-Bugle tribes would possess exclusive rights to a portion of land that is partially in Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí, and Veraguas. This comarca (literally translated to county) is where the Ngabe-Bugle have lived for centuries. Many visitors have found this place when traveling from Chiriqui to Veraguas or Bocas del Toro. The road that leads to Ngabe-Bugle is surprisingly well paved and amaze visitors with beautiful landscapes and waterfalls. About 15 miles up the road is the first town of Ngabe-Bugle comarca: Besiko, a small village that began opening itself to tourism about 5 years ago. This village is 45 minutes from Boca Chica.

Discovering Besiko

Besiko is one of the seven districts of the comarca. Here, as in most of the comarca, the Ngabe-Bugle still maintain many aspects of their ancient lifestyle. The naguas that their women wear have became an illustrious symbol of Panamanian culture. Mainly, beacause one of the few ways that Ngabes have found to integrate their ancient lifestyle into the modern economy is to sell traditional handicrafts, like naguas. 

One of the main attractions of this district is: “El Salto del Kiki”, located in the mountain Cerro Banco. This is one of the most imposing free falls in Panamanian lands.

Another famous waterfall is “Salto de la Tulivieja” in the community of Karicho, which is located in the town of Soloy. With a height of 10 meters long and imponent crystal water. For the locals, the journey is normal, some carry heavy things up to the mountains where their homes are. For visitors, expect a rigorous mountain. Bring water with you and some snacks.

Sailing to Kankintu

The tour is through the Cricamola River, where can be observed an abundant and practically virgin vegetation. In this river there’s no people bathing since it is said that there is danger of being attacked by crocodiles and snakes, animals that abound in these places.

Near the mouth of the river are some stalls selling groceries, prepared meals and gasoline. Finally, in Kankintu, every time a boat arrives in town, the locals and visitors show their interest in receiving news or merchandise that they usually entrust to travelers.

Other attractions

Ngabe-Bugle is a place to visit mainly for their islands. This is not the place to go if expecting 5 stars hotels and civilization. Its people is humble and conservative of their customs of hundreds of years, when technology and marketing was not popular. However, many defenders of comarcas and promoters of tourism, to benefit the locals, have pushed its natural beautiful places towards Panama’s tourism and it benefits Ngabes in their economy.

“Escudo de Veraguas”, is one of the places that gained interest because of its abundant flora and fauna and turquoise waters. Also “Peninsula Valiente” in the Ngabe region inside Bocas del Toro. As Bocas del Toro beaches, it keeps the same characteristics of crystal waters and white sand.

Ngabe-Bugle is its preserved natural areas, humble little houses and hardworking people. Get delighted by the view of the sun burning the waves of the beach in front of you.