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Panama River Tour & Cultural Encounter: Chagres National Park

Explore Panama’s Chagres National Park for a spectacular whitewater rafting trip and cultural encounter. Raft on this virtually off-grid section of Changres National Park, and encounter monkeys, sloths, river otters, iguanas, and tropical birds along the way. Camp on the riverbanks, then spend a day with the Embera native people for an immersive cultural exchange. Discover the wonder of Chagres National Park and the living cultural heritage of the Embera people on this Panama river tour.

USD $322.00

Per Person

Meet the Embera Indigenous Community on this Panama River Tour

Set out on the Chagres River in Panama’s Chagres National Park for a spectacular overnight Panama river tour and cultural encounter. Raft still waters, class II, and class III rapids on this virtually off-grid section of Panama’s Changres National Park. Accessible only by river rafting, this stunning natural landscape is rarely seen by human eyes, and boasts dense tropical forests, crystal clear water (due to low sedimentation), and 300 species per hectare!

On this overnight Panama river tour, encounter monkeys (howler, spider, white-faced capuchin, and Geoffrey’s tamarin), sloths, river otters, iguanas, tropical birds and plenty of fish. Camp on the Ghangres riverbanks alongside the Embera native community.

Spend the day with the Embera native people for an immersive cultural exchange. Eat traditional meals, tour the village, and explore the jungle with your Embera guide. Discover the wonder of Chagres National Park and the living cultural heritage of the Embera people on this Panama river tour.


  • Disover the spectacular biodiversity of Panama’s rainforest
  • Explore the off-trail wilderness of Chagres National Park accessible only by raft
  • Camp overnight at the indigenous community of Embera Village
  • Enjoy an all-inclusive package

Tour Information

Duration: 2 Days 1 Night
Start/End location: Panama City, Panama
Availability: Year-round
Miscellaneous: The difficulty level of this tour is set at “Moderate” – this tour is available to travelers 12 to 70 years of age in good health. 
Travelers under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.


Your Panama river tour begins with 05:00 am hotel pick-up and transfer via all-terrain vehicle past the Cerro Azul mountains to the remote village of San Cristobal. Here, enjoy a typical Panamanian breakfast, then venture into Chagres National Park.

Hike 2 hours along scenic trails to the Rio Piedras, a tributary to the Chagres River. At Rio Piedras, you’ll get outfitted with your rafts and safety equipment and begin your adventure downstream past class II and III rapids, and into the untouched jungles of Chagres National park.

Stop for lunch along the Chagres River, before continuing onward past granite canyons and white-water rapids! End the day near Madden Lake. Here, motorized canoes called “piraguas” will take you further downstream toward Embera Indian Village. Camp along the riverbanks for the night.

The second day, after breakfast at camp, spend the morning with the native Embera community to learn about their customs, beliefs, and lifestyle. Learn about how the community upholds their traditional way of life, and why they migrated to the Changres River from their original community in the Darien Jungles.

The Embera will display their handcrafts and dances, and may invite us into their homes to learn about their construction techniques and domestic life. The Embera will also invite travelers into nearby jungle, to demonstrate how they live and thrive off the land.

To end your journey, a “piragua” will return you to the nearest road, where a driver will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in Panama City where you will arrive at approximately 20:00 pm.

What’s Included

  • Round-trip transportation from Panama City
  • Rafts and gear
  • Bilingual guides
  • All meals
  • Lodging and camping gear
  • Food and catering

What to Bring

  • Swimsuit or athletic wear for rafting
  • Sneakers or light boots with good soles
  • Cap/Hat and sunblock
  • Light jacket or windbreaker
  • Towel and dry set of clothes

Important Notes

  • Panama’s dry season lasts from late February through early July. During this time, the Rio Piedras may be too low to raft, in which case travelers will hike 3 hours directly to the Chagres River
  • Travelers should refrain from bringing any valuables (e.g. cameras, cash, credit cards etc.) that may be affected by water contact
  • All guides are trained in white-water navigation, first-aid and CPR


Chagres River, Panama

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Chagres River, Panama 9.206917, -79.641094

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What Happens After I Book?

After you book your experience, you will receive a confirmation email from us confirming that your payment went through. You will then be connected directly to the tour operator, in case you have any further questions. We are also happy to answer any questions about the tour, or travel in general in your country of destination.

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