Panama’s Cultural Heartland – The Azuero Peninsula

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Panama’s cultural heartland, the Azuero Peninsula, has a heady mix of indigenous heritage, contemporary Spanish-inspired culture and cattle-raising. The region certainly sits slap bang in the centre of the country, on the Pacific side. The Azuero Peninsula has a rich history dating back to pre-Columbian indigenous groups, with many artefacts and ceremonial sites uncovered by archaeologists. The indians did not survive the Spanish invasion though, and nowadays there is a distinctly Hispanic tradition, best observed in the region’s festivals and colonial architecture.

Day 1: It’s a 4hr shared road transfer from Panama City to Chitre, capital of the Herrera province.

Day 2: On today’s guided excursion you will be introduced to the cultural traditions of the Azuero Peninsula. Visit a family house where grotesque devil masks are made; a local drum maker who uses razor sharp chisels to hollow out cylindrical cuts of wood and call in on a potter who has been spinning his wheel manually for decades. At the home of a maker of pollera dresses - introduced by the colonial Spanish - sometimes it is a man who was does the sewing. In each place you have the chance at trying your hand at the craft yourself.

Day 3: Urracá, 'the Lord of the Wind, Rain and Thunder', was a chieftain who resisted the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, defeating them on several occasions. Exploring  Urracá's territory you visit his statue before continuing towards San Francisco de la Montaña where you visit the church, a 1727 jewel of baroque art with hundreds of hand-carved altar pieces demonstrating a fusion between Spanish Catholicism and indigenous culture. Continue to the San Juan river canyon and La Yeguada lagoon for a short hike through the forest and a swim in the waterfall.

Day 4: Return to Panama City to continue your holiday or to the city’s airport for your international flight.

UK clients arrive home the following day.

Breakfast daily.

4 days from £1,030pp