Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | December 30, 2012

Anachucuna and the Little Yate

9 11.58N 77 59.23W
Achutupu, Kuna Yala

12/19 – Puerto Perme

We were travel weary after 24 hours under way and bummed that the Sapzurro stop didn’t work out. A one day trip is nothing for serious voyagers but we had been mostly tied up at marinas for the last 3 months and were getting back in the swing of passage making. We hoped the next stop- Puerto Perme-would provide a nice anchorage.

Coming north from Sapzurro, we skipped Puerto Obaldia, the Panamanian border town. This exposed anchorage has a reputation for having swell and surf so we had requested our Colombian exit zarpe to specify our check-in destination would be Porvenir, a more all weather anchorage in the San Blas where the appropriate officials could be found. It is common for cruisers to traverse the eastern San Blas for several weeks or more without officially checking in. The Kunas don’t care about government technicalities we are told and apparently the officials in Porvenir understand the issue. We hoped that would hold true for us. The plan to skip Puerto Obaldia was a good decision, as the surf was pounding ashore on this day and anchoring, launching and landing the dinghy would have been a nightmare if not impossible.

Puerto Perme and the village of Anachucuna (ann-ah-chew-KOO-nah) was our first stop in Kuna Yala territory (San Blas). This part of Caribbean Panama is inhabited by Kuna Indians, who live along this chain of over 340 islands in an autonomous manner, continuing many of their tribal traditions. Anachucuna is the easternmost village and is actually one of the few settlements that sits on the mainland. However there are no roads here through the dense jungle.

Arrival in Puerto Perme felt like coming into paradise. As we motored around the reef we saw two groups of Kuna huts along the water, then an idyllic palm-lined bay nestled behind a hook of land with fringes of white sand. Other than ulus along the shore-the narrow Kuna canoes carved from a tree-we were the only boat there. We had found a perfect spot.

We were promptly greeted by Control, whose job that day was to paddle out to collect an anchorage fee. This was not unexpected and we knew that villages sometimes charged a small amount for anchoring and visiting privileges. We were surprised to be informed that the tariff here was $50 US. That seemed steep for a jungle spot absolutely in the middle of nowhere. Questions and polite protests were ineffective in reducing the bill. The interaction was complicated by the fact that we were speaking in Spanish, a second language the Kunas use to speak with non-Kunas. Control said the fee was all-inclusive and would allow us to stay indefinitely, to visit ashore and photograph the village. We might have moved on but we were tired and it was a great spot. I would get some photo ops which we read were often prohibited by the Kunas. We decided what the heck. We paid and hoped we were not setting an expensive precedent for future visitors.

With further questions we learned that the fee assessed here for “veleros” or sailboats, is $
20 and a very small boat might be charged $10. Mar Azul was a very large boat in their eyes and would be charged as a yate. I hoped we would not be charged as a mega yacht at each of the many stops we planned as that would put an unexpected dent in the cruising budget.

We pieced together much of the story of life in Anachucuna from Bernardo, a friendly man who paddled out to introduce himself and his sons ages 5 and 6. The cute little boys were content to sit quietly in the ulu and watch the Mar Azul with wide eyes while we talked. Bernardo had grown up here then worked as a chef in mainland Panama for 12 years from the ages of 20 to 32. He then returned to raise a family. He enjoys his life here and is proud of his community. I was happy that Bernardo spoke slower than the Colombians and was easier to understand.

We stayed for 4 pleasant days getting acquainted with Kuna life.


photo update 3/6/13:



Sighting Anachucuna, our first Kuna village


We were all excited to find a tranquil harbor after 24 hours at sea


Surrounded by lush jungle


Bernardo & sons were among the first to welcome us to their village


Ready for our first shore excursion in Kuna territory



  1. Wow…what an amazing experience you guys are having! I can’t wait to see the pictures!

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