A century ago the first Embera families arrived to the beach at the mouth of the Rio Playa Muerto and settled down to form a community. Then, in the 1950's, outside loggers and rubber collectors came to extract the areas of its rare hardwoods like mahogany, cocobolo and other native species.. This created jobs and the handful of houses blossomed into a village. Worried by the environmental degradation caused by the logging, the Darien Nation Park was created in 1980 and named an Unesco World Heritage site. This move was welcomed by the Embera for defending the forest that sustained them. Unfortunately, it also meant the end of the income that they community needed to develop.
Sine then the communities has grown to 34 houses and and 107 people. Today its inhabitants are dedicated to fishing, artisan work, and farming the land. Its remote location and difficult access have allowed the Embera to continue practicing the customs and traditions of the generations that came before them, but this has also inhibited access to jobs and income for community members.
Come not only to learn about the area’s history but also to be a part of developing its future. Ecotourism helps provide the Embera people not only the opportunity to share their culture and love of the natural world around them, but also the ability to be work as wardens of their environment from which they live. With no local employment available nor an accessible market where they could sell their crops, the community of Playa Muerto has been sustained through the years by the occasional cruise ship or trekking tour coming to spend a few hours or days in the tranquility of the beach-side paradise. The modest income gained by the community’s guesthouse and the sales of artisan work have allowed for more of the village’s youth to return from working abroad to take part in the growth of the community.