You will find a tranquil village of 250 indigenous people of the Emberá tribe, living along the pristine shore of the Pacific Coast in one of Central America's most remote corners.
Playa Muerto lies in the secluded Darién National Park that protects parts of Central America’s last intact rainforest. The village’s fascinating setting between lush green mountains and the deep blue ocean is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Proud of their cultural heritage and their wonderful homeland, the people of Playa Muerto receive the rare visitor with great joy and genuine curiosity. If you decide to stay for a while, you are bound to discover a natural and social paradise.
For more in-depth information on the Emberá and the Darién continue reading here.
The Community of Playa Muerto
Key Facts for Visitors
As the community of Playa Muerto receives only a handful of visitors a year, the “tourist infrastructure” is very basic – which makes for a more authentic experience anyway. Still, the adventurous traveler will find everything he could wish for.
There are three places to stay overnight. A beautiful beach bungalow, two basic wooden beach huts, and one big dormitory hut for bigger groups or shared sleeping. Mattresses and sheets are provided, and they all have separate bathrooms with toilet and cold water shower. Read more.
The village is self sustainable, so the food is basic but fresh, and it can be very tasty. Mostly it will be rice, fish and vegetable which your hosts will cook for you over a log fire. The water comes from a spring in the jungle. To be on the safe side it is still recommended to have it boiled for you.
See the Where to Stay page for housing prices. Cooked meals can be bought for between 3.00$ and 4.50$ per person.
The village is solar battery-powered only, providing basic lighting. So bring your flashlight and headlamps. You can charge your devices at the grocery store of Jaqueline for a few cents.
Most Emberás, with the exception of some elders, are fluent in Spanish. Few speak very basic English. To visit Playa Muerto on your own, you should know at least a few words of Spanish.
Communication to the outside world
There is sometimes a very slow Internet connection right next to the school. If you are lucky it is good enough for making a call or sending a text message. There is one solar-powered public telephone - that sometimes even works! ;-)
Playa Muerto is a true paradise for children. The beach, the ocean, the river and the forest make for a perfect playground. It’s a rare delight to see the roundabout 70 children playing happily together every day, as the elder take care of the younger in such a natural, loving way.
There are no healthcare services at the village. The most basic medicines like paracetamol can be bought at the local kiosk. And there is the forest with its healing plants that many villagers still know how to use.
The bad reputation of the Darién Province with respect to safety fails to take into account that most parts of the area are absolutely safe. This is especially true since the Colombian FARC Guerilla is not active anymore. And anyway, Playa Muerto lies secluded and far away from the more troublesome areas. There is a permanent (and friendly!) police post at the village, just in case.
Things to do
Go hiking in the rainforest – and stay over night in the jungle if you like.
Play with the waves - maybe with a wooden boogie board.
Go for a walk or run at the 1km long beach.
Enjoy a relaxed swim in the calm river mouth.
Go with the locals when they use harpoons to hunt shrimps in the river up-stream.
Savor delicious tropical fruits straight from the trees.
Let the kids take you to their hidden waterfall and take a dive.
Try riding one of the small traditional dugout canoes. If you have enough balance and courage, you can follow the natives to go fish in the ocean.
Watch the villagers craft beautiful “artesania” and buy some for home.
Join the locals in their daily soccer and basket-ball games.
Hike along the coast to discover beautiful deserted beaches.
Watch the men and women as they artfully paint their bodies and preform their traditional dances.
Enjoy pure bliss sitting on the beach, while the sun sets over the ocean, the kids play in the sand and the adults are chatting away with giggles and laughter.