Beaches and Snorkeling on the San Blas Islands
Enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the warm Caribbean ocean. Explore the fascinating and colorful underwater world of coral and marine life. Guests can swim in front of their cabanas or at a nearby golden sand beach or from many of the nearby private uninhabited islands. A favorite island is the island of Cainora, where white sand and coconut palm shade is perfect for children as well as adults. The snorkeling off-shore is rated as the best ever by guests.
Up River Exploration
For nature lovers this boat ride is an unforgettable voyage into a tropical world of beauty and mystery. From the river banks, luxuriant growth arches over the river as you embark on your winding journey. Mango, breadfruit and palm trees towering above from the dense rainforest casts mirrored patterns in your path. In the midst of a tranquil moment, sudden flashes of color dart through the trees. This is the home of peccary, monkey, tucan and many other species of Kuna Yala’s exotic animal and bird life. Take your field glasses! Below the river surface, crab, fish and other forms of water life go their separate ways.
Take a hike to the spectacular Cascada and cool off in its refreshing crystal clear waters. Learn about the surrounding tropical cornucopia of nature´s gifts, its plants and healing herbs used by the Kuna medicine man to cure ailments.
Arts and Crafts of Kuna Yala
The artistic women on the island of Achutupu, adjacent to the resort, are well known for the exceptional quality of their world renowned molas. Guests visit this community usually on their first morning to witness the inhabitants’ traditional daily life and to see how the molas are made. The womens’ talents are not limited to the mola as additionally their creativity finds expression in the originality of bird and fish-bone necklaces and bracelets. It is also obvious in the colorful daily dress which distinguishes the Kuna woman which features the mola blouse. Scarves in intricate patterns as well as beaded leg and arm bracelets are additional expressions of their beautiful craft.
Both men and women in Achutupu display their prowess in the weaving of "hats" palm-straw and baskets. Traditional Kuna music and dance performances are also presented at the Lodge.
Kuna Culture Panama
The Kuna are one of only a few indigenous peoples in the world to have successfully preserved their traditional, centuries old culture. This is reflected in a virtually autonomous form of government and in formal observances and rituals. The leaders of their local communities, the sahilas, also compose regional assemblies and the Congreso General. They establish community rules and have the responsibility to see they are observed. In socialistic style, both men and women are obliged to perform duties of a communal nature or pay a fine. Achutupu’s airport was built in this way, as was the recent dock extension. Women brush and clean the earthen streets.
There are number of public celebrations throughout the year. Among the most prominent are the elaborate rituals which mark the rites of passage for females, from birth to puberty. All of the community takes part, the fiestas last for several days and much chicha fuerte, a fermented corn brew, is consumed. These are the only times that liquor can be consumed. It is forbidden to bring in alcohol from the outside.
Kuna religious beliefs are based on the teachings of their ancient prophet, Ibeorgum who stressed the need for each individual to contribute to the wellbeing of the whole. The chapman, medicine man, is another revered authority in Kuna society. His power is unquestioned by those who seek his potions to cure sickness, to banish the cause of their fears or to ensure a happy marriage. In Kuna belief, natural objects are endowed with spirits, good or evil; they avoid certain places in the rainforest said to be inhabited by marauding ghosts.
As the Lodge is in the heart of traditional Kuna culture, guests have the opportunity for a truly authentic cultural experience.
A visit to Achutupu’s historic cemetery gives guests a unique insight into Kuna views of life and death. It is up-river in an undulating, elevated mainland location at the edge of the rainforest (burial is impossible on the low lying coral reef occupied by Achutupu’s community). The funeral corteges arrive here by canoe, and then wind their way through dense growth until, finally, scattered palm roofs come into view between the trees, the open shelters over the graves.
In the Kuna burial ritual the deceased is interred in a hammock suspended between two upright poles in a previously prepared excavation. The self- supported protective covering becomes a flat platform upon which are placed floral decorations and personal items in homage to the loved one. Here is a baby’s toy, there a sports trophy, over there a favorite cup. A plate of food on a side shelf is for the traveler, now on his way to a final destination. A flag mounted outside a particular tomb denotes that it houses the remains of a respected community leader. You will leave the green tranquility of this hallowed setting with many images to store in your memory.
If you are in need of a place to relax, free of pressure from the outside world, then Akwadup has the answer. What is better than to lie in a hammock among the palms, reading a favorite book or taking time to savor a cooling drink in the shade of the thatch-roofed bohio.
At sunset take your steps to the shoreline to admire the sky’s brilliantly colored panorama. After dinner, look up from an inviting hammock and star gaze, as there is no ‘light pollution’ here and under a clear night sky the shining firmament can be seen in all its glory.