We spent two amazing days exploring the biodiversity of the Panama Canal and learning about the culture and traditions of Portobelo before we stopped at Guna Yala. Guna Yala means the land of the Gunas. In 1924, the government of Panama recognized this area as the first Indigenous reservation. We call it “Comarca,” and those on the reservation are the protectors of the beautiful archipelago formed by more than 360 islands and islets.
In this region, tradition and culture have been maintained for the last 500 years. Guna people were originally from the Darien Jungle. During the Spaniard exploration, enemies of the Gunas formed alliances, and the Gunas were pushed to the north.
On National Geographic Quest, we had the amazing opportunity to explore this archipelago. We landed on a remote island where only eight families live: the famous Hollandes Keys. This island is surrounded by a big coral reef, and we had the opportunity to swim in the clear, pristine waters. We snorkeled around the coral reef and saw different varieties of coral.
In the afternoon, we repositioned the ship to a different island where Gunas awaited us with handicrafts for sale, including Molas (handmade textiles), bracelets, and many other items. In the late afternoon, we enjoyed a performance.
We finished the day with a beautiful sunset and continued toward our next destination, the beautiful country of Colombia.