The indigenous Ngobe community of Rio Oeste Arriba is located at the foot of the Cordillera Central, a mountain chain that stretches across Panama. In the middle of a beautiful valley, the people of Rio Oeste Ariba live in a traditional manner. Besides the exploitation of agriculture, the main attraction that the community offers is a cacao tour where you’ll learn everything about the cultivation of cacao, the chocolate production and how the sales are organized.
Guided by an experienced (English speaking) guide you’ll go on a hike through the cacao plantation and experience the chocolate production in its purest form.
The region where Rio Oeste Arriba is located is very beautiful. Therefore, the region is also perfectly suited for, among other activities, nature photography. The wonderful valley, the inspiring image of the Cordillera Central Mountains, and the attractive nature give you the opportunity to take great shots. The journey through the bamboo forests with lots of wildlife will allow for a unique experience with the local community of Rio Oeste Arriba. Another interesting activity may be birdwatching, because of the high amount of rare birds. Also other forms of local wildlife, such as frogs, sloths and toucans can be spotted in the bamboo forest.
made in panama
The cacoa tour
The cacao tour is much more than a journey through a cocoa plantation. Led by an experienced naturalist and botanist you will learn everything about the cultivation of cacao, the medicinal fruits that grow there and are used by the community on a daily basis as well as the animals that live on the plantation. Furthermore, the guide tells you everything about how to take care of the cacao plants and the existing threats. At the end of the hike you will experience the production of chocolate in the purest form. The women of the community will take you through virtually all steps of the chocolate production process. From opening the cocoa fruit, the removal of the seeds, the roasting process, the traditional kneading with sugar (or not) that ultimately leads to the creation of the chocolate. During this process you are invited to taste the cocoa as well as the chocolate in the end and experience the taste of 90% pure chocolate
After the hike the Ngöbe community will cook you a traditional lunch and there is the possibility to buy handicrafts as well as the high quality cacao products
Costs: $ per person
Including transportation and traditional lunch
Duration: 4-5 hours
Consisting of cacao tour, lunch and waterfall hike
To experience the tour, please contact us for a booking.
An impression on what to expect from the Cacoa tour
about the cacoa
More than 30 Ngöbe indigenous families are united into the Oreba Cooperative and work together to ensure that only the highest standards are achieved to produce 100% organic cacao.
The proceeds of the tour are distributed amongst the community with assigned percentages that go directly to the local school fund, future projects (for tourism and for the farms), back to the producers themselves and to all of those that collaborate with the tour.
how to find us
By car – If you’re travelling by car, head up north on the , take a turn at the 60-kilometer mark where you will see a sign of the entrance into the community of Valle Risco. From this point, drive carefully since it is a bumpy road. After little less than a mile on this road, take a turn right and follow the road for about 5 minutes. When you see the houses built on the hillside you have arrived at the Rio Oeste Arriba community.
From Bocas del Toro/Almirante – When you are staying at the archipelago of Bocas del Toro the easiest way to reach the cocoa plantation is by taking a taxi boat from . The boat trip will take approximately 25 minutes during which you will be amazed by the stunning views and sometimes even accompanied by dolphins. Arriving at the dock of Almirante, a small bus will pick you up and bring you to the community of Rio Oeste Arriba (when you have made a reservation in advance).The Oreba Headquarter is located at the end of the main road, up the hill. Ask for Salomon Quintero, the leader of the community.
BOOK THE TOUR.You can book the tour directly via this form, calling us or by contacting one of the following hostels/hotels:
- Hostel Heike (LINK?)