May 2012
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Travel – Kuna Yala, Panama – inhabited by the Kuna indigenous people

Kuna Yala is a region in Panama which is inhabited by the Kuna indigenous people. The word Kuna Yala means Land of the Kuna. This region is bounded in the north by the Caribbean Sea, to the south by the province of Panama, in the East by Colombia and in the west by the province of Colon. This region is spread over a land area of 3206 square km. Kuna Yala is an archipelago of 365 islands out of which 49 are inhabited. The population is approximately about 36,500. Agriculture, fishery and tourism industry form the main economic activities of the region. The crops of guineo, corn (maize), sugarcane and coconut are the main farming crops of the region. Kuna language is the local language here. El Porvenir is the capital of Kuna Yala. Mola is a tribal art form that is very popular here.

This region is divided into cities:
• Carti
• San Blas Islands
• Puerto Obaldia
• Rio Sidra
• Norgana
• Playon Chico
• Ailigandi
• Mamsucum
• Mulatupo o Sasardi
• Carreto

Ecotours, fishing, snorkeling, and touring of nearby villages are the main activities of the region. There are many beaches in the island of Carti, Ukupseni and Isla Pino.

Attractions of Kuna Yala and around:
• PEMASKY which means Proyecto de Estudio para el Manejo de Areas Silvestres de Kuna Yala: It is a bioreserve inside Kuna yala which started in 1983. This is a natural park near Nasugandi. This bioreserver preserves the heritage and marine and land ecosystems of Kuna Yala.
• The San Blas Islands are a group of 378 islands out of which only 49 are inhabited. It is an archipelago of Panama. These islands lie off the north coast of Isthmus. To its east is the Panama Canal. It has been home to Kuna Indians which are part of Kuna Yala tribe along the Caribbean coast of Panama. These tribes welcome tourists very warmly into their ancestral home. Their official language is Tule but Spanish is prevalent in schools. Tule is the spoken language of Kuna Yala tribes.
• Dog Islands: These islands are famous for snorkeling. One can find variety of tropical fish in these waters.
• There are tiny islands with beaches that are used for sunbathing or swimming.
• Isla Pelicanos: These island beaches are soft with white sand and clear with shallow water over a coral reef making it perfect for snorkeling. One can see tropical, colored fishes. The waves are calm and gentle here.
• The island of Achutupu: This Island has the best beaches for scuba diving. It is here that off of the coast one can see a shipwreck of a Colombian cargo boat which is a popular dive spot. The beaches have transparent turquoise waters.
• Kagantupu, Wichubwala, and Coco Blanco: These have secluded beaches with white sand and palm trees lined up.
• Thatched Hut Village: A tour through a Kuna village where one can see their huts, lifestyle, and costumes is a must do on these islands visit.
• Mola Shopping: The Molas that are created by The Kuna is great for look out as well for buying.
• Pargue Soberania: This is about 15 minutes away from Panama City and is a hiking place. The hiking trail goes through the rainforests with caves and lakes and bird watching, with fishing also being a part of it.
• The Panama Canal: This canal is about 77 km (48 miles). It is a shipping canal that is in Panama and this canal joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and has been the key for the maritime trade. The traffic is about 1000 ships in early days and present it is about 14,702 vessels a day. This canal has its own measurement system called Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) in tons. It is one of the largest engineering projects of the times. The alternate route is via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.
• Panama Viejo: This was once the gateway city for the Spanish conquest of Latin America. Presently there are ruins of the battles which were fought with the English pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. There is a museum with Spanish exhibits near the site. One need to know Spanish or take a guide for translation for understanding as most of the exhibits is in Spanish.
• Casco Viejo: This is an established Spanish colonial city of 1671. This city was established after the downfall of Panama Viejo in battles and until 20th century, this city was Panama City. Panama bay and other sites depict its history with Spain, France and United States.
• Panama Canal Rainforest: The Panama Canal rainforests are one of the pristine rainforests in the world. The Soberania National Park is about 30 minutes away from Panama City and 45 minutes from the international airport. This is a base for ecotourism.

Best time to visit / climate:
The best time to visit these islands is from April to June and November to December. This time of the year is great for snorkeling and scuba diving, as the water is warm, clear, and calm. From January to April is the dry season and a perfect time for sun bathing.

Location on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

How to get there:
By plane: There are daily flight services from Panama City to El Porvenir via Air Panama. Air Panama also services Achutupu, Corazon de Jesus (Rio Diablo/Nargana), and Playon Chico.
By boat: There are boat options from Colombia.
Sailing boats are to/from Colombia/Cartagena.
Cargo boats leave to/from Carti Island and Porvenir Island (San Blas Island/Kuna Yala) to Puerto Obaldia into Colombia and motorized boats take only 5 to 6 hours.
By land: The road into San Blas Kuna Yala is vastly improving and is accessible all year round. A bridge has been opened, eliminating the need to cross the river in the vehicle. One can drive from Panama City to Carti in the San Blas Islands.

Lonely Planet Panama Panama AdventureMap (National Geographic) Fodor’s Panama, 2nd Edition

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers):
Hotels at virtual panama
Hotels at costaricahotels
Hotels at costaricapages
Restaurants at wikitravel
Hotels at wikitravel
Hotels at

Blogs / Sites about Kuna Yala, Panama

Blogs and reviews at travelblog
Blogs and reviews at travelpod
Blogs and reviews at travbuddy
Blogs and reviews at the lonely planet
Blogs and reviews at blogtopsites

Images and photos of Kuna Yala, Panama

Images at google
Images at travel-images
Images at igougo
Images at galenfrysinger

Videos of Kuna Yala, Panama

Kuna Yala Molas

Kuna yala

Kuna Yala montage

San Blas Panama , Kuna Yala

Kuna Yala (San Blas) Panamá por Marco Simionato (fotos)


Molas Kunas San Blas Islands Panama

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