Excursions from El Otro Lado, Panama


The word Portobelo conveys memories of the colonial times
Historic tour of Portobello
This emblematic village was crucial to the Spanish Empire during their colonial period. Learn more of the magic and adventure of this historic town in the company of one of our guides who will show you the ruins of the colonial forts that protected the city, the historic Royal Customs House, the Church of the Black Christ and other points of interest declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Visit to Fort San Fernando
One of the elements that are truly unique to El Otro Lado is a seventeenth century battery, barracks and lookout of Fort San Fernando complex. These were constructed to protect the ships and property coming or leaving Portobelo Bay against the pirates who cruised the Caribbean. Part of its structure remains intact, with towers and long guns still vigilant. Rarely can one be so close and yet still touch and relive the history. We recommended the views from Casa Fuerte.
Congo Dance
The Congo dance is a typical Portobelo tradition. With its rhythmic drums and vocals, accompanied by clapping of hands, it is perhaps the most authentic manifestation that has remained since the period of colonial slavery. Despite the mistreatment of slaves, these men and women never lost their sense of zest for life and the need to celebrate. To watch the Congo Dance is to witness a free spirit who comes in touch with his ancestors, giving life and expressing movement. It is both contagious and beautiful.
Zaracunde Dance
Recounts the events, when as victims of abuse and slavery in colonial times, the black cimarrones, or runaway slave, fled to the mountains. The musical structure is based upon the touch of a single drum accompanied by the singing of a solo and a chorus of voices answering in unison. In this solo, or “cantalante”, the chief, whose name is Pajarité, is called. The dress of the dance is made of dried banana tree fronds that form a skirt, with a bib and mask of the same material. They also carry a “motet” or basket full of gourds.
Dance of the devils
The Devil’s Dance is a morality play presented in dance; a traditional and ancient enactment that symbolizes the transition to freedom of the Afro-Caribbean slave. Their costumes are hand-made, and with the huge and grotesque masks, are inspire by animals and mythical characters. Through passionate dancers, the interactions portrayed are between good and evil, the sacred and the profane, the beautiful and the ugly, life and death. El Otro Lado offers this exciting Afro-Panamanian event, so characteristic of this region, via special evening presentations
Art Workshop:
In collaboration with The Portobelo Bay Foundation, El Otro Lado will organize an art workshop with a young local artist who will teach you to prepare a handicraft of wood, and paint it in Portobelanian expressions. If you want to give free rein to your creativity, learn something new, and create a unique piece that is 100% Portobelo, let us help. Besides, memories are experiences that you will keep forever.
Visit of the Embera Tribe
At the headwaters of the Chagres River, and in what is today the Chagres National Park, there are several settlements of the Embera tribe. The day trip offered by El Otro Lado begins with a 45-minute drive to the Chagres River, where a canoe, manned by Embera natives, awaits to take you upstream to the village. There, guests receive a talk about the culture and lifestyle of the Embera, listens to their music, and enjoys their dance presentations.
Panama, two oceans
Visit to the Biodiversity Museum, to the observation deck and the new locks of the Panama Canal, Gatun.
All of this amazing culture is accessible from El Otro Lado, Panama.

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