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Community Encounters

Story by Vapues Travel

Posted: August 18, 2023

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to really know a country, then there’s no better way than to spend a little time with the local and indigenous communities who call it home.
Community tourism gives something back and creates opportunities for local people, but also offers an authentic, engaging and sometimes unpredictable experience for travelers. Delicious food, unique customs and unexpected friendships can form the kinds of memories which really stay with you far beyond your flight home.
Panama and Nicaragua are home to numerous indigenous tribes, each with their own fascinating history, as well as tiny rural villages where little has changed in generations.
At Vapues Travel, we work with a diverse group of community organisations and villages to provide unforgettable homestays and day-trips for our adventurous travelers.
Take a look at some of our favourite community experiences.


Take a day away from the city in the beautiful Chagres National Park, and meet the indigenous Embera people who have lived in this part of the world for centuries. You'll be picked up from your hotel in Panama City and taken to the shores of Lake Madden, before travelling up the Chagres River by Piragua (canoe). Along the way you might see some of the area's wildlife, such as monkeys, sloths and toucans, and on arrival you'll be welcomed by the Embera villagers. Over the next few hours you'll learn about local customs and the tribe's relationship with nature, and enjoy a freshly prepared Embera lunch. In the afternoon you'll make the return journey to your hotel, in time to enjoy an evening in the city.


El Chile is an indigenous community that is home to 'Telares El Chile' - a weaving workshop where local women became ambassadors for one of the most representative community traditions. You'll learn about the history of this remarkable group of women with a bilingual local guide, and they'll invite you to get involved in the weaving process, making products as purses, backpacks, carpets and bedspreads. After visiting the community and meeting some of the other traditional artisans, you'll take a short hike to 'Cerro El Chile' viewpoint, giving you a 360-degree view of the valley and mountains. Before heading back to Matagalpa, you'll share a traditional lunch with a local family so that you can learn about their lives and share your own stories.


With the valuable assistance of the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO) we developed a new community experience, allowing our clients to meet the isolated Naso community, the last monarchy of Mesoamerica. Have a look at this brand-new tour.

Get in touch with our team to talk about adding an authentic community experience to your tailored travel proposals.