The Oreba Chocolate Tour in Bocas del Toro not only highlights cacao cultivation and chocolate production, which is quickly becoming one of Panama’s most coveted exports, but also lets visitors experience life in an indigenous Ngabe community. With its lush greenery and native chocolate making demonstrations, the tour is just over a year old now and receiving rave reviews just about anywhere you look. Just as some of the world’s best coffee comes from Boquete, Panama people are starting to discover that some of the world’s best chocolate comes from Bocas del Toro.
In the Oreba Chocolate tour, local guides who are cacao farmers in the community describe and show the entire process of organic shade-grown cacao, explaining every step of the way including growing, harvesting, fermenting, drying and ultimately roasting and making chocolate.
The tour, which is completely run and managed by the indigenous Ngabe farmers in the community, takes travelers through an adventurous hike that weaves in and out of jungle and cacao trees, and because the tour takes place within the protected shade grown farms of the locals, there are always many animals to see along the way. Being able to spot poison dart frogs, sloths, and toucans is not uncommon.
The highlight of the tour has to be the chocolate demonstration where local Ngabe women in traditional dress teach each visitor how to make chocolate the way they have been doing it for centuries. This all takes place under a traditional thatched roof rancho tucked away in the mountainous cacao farm which makes the chocolate-making demonstration even more special. The tour concludes with a traditional Ngabe meal consisting of some of the most delicious vegetables, local roots and chicken around.
There will be plenty of chocolate and cacao products to buy at the end of the tour and the products are much cheaper here than in any store. 100% of proceeds go the community and portions of the proceeds go directly towards education and health care for the community, so after you have indulged yourself with delicious chocolate, you can feel good about supporting the local indigenous community as well. There is no doubt that for tourists and locals who are in Panama seeking something different, informative, adventurous, and delicious, the Oreba Chocolate Tour should be at the top of your list.
The tour is located in Bocas del Toro and is just 15 minutes from the boat dock in Almirante.
Please book ahead in Bocas Town at Hostel Heike or Casa Verde or by calling 6649-1457 for Spanish and 6411-5670 for English. Depending on bookings, tours run twice daily starting at 9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. from the Bocas Marine Tours boat dock in Almirante. The tour runs about 3-4 hours.
Transportation is included to and from Almirante (on the mainland, a 15 minute boat ride from Bocas Town) and 15 minutes away from the Oreba Chocolate Tour in Rio Oeste Arriba.
Oreba Chocolate products can be bought at Super Gourmet in Casco Viejo and Bocas Island.