The island of Ukupseni — or Playón Chico (“little beach”), as it’s known in Spanish — is a tiny isla off the Caribbean coast in Panama’s beautiful Guna Yala territory (formerly known as the San Blas Islands). Ukupseni has long been a draw for adventurers looking for a beautiful and remote respite. This stretch of Central America is home to the Guna, one of the seven indigenous groups of Panama. Throughout the region there are fifty-one Guna communities. Eight are on the mainland and 43 are on islands.
Ukupseni has a population of 3,000 Guna on the extremely small, 0.75-square mile island. which is only accessible by plane (one flight a day) or by four-hour boat ride. Due to its remoteness, the fishing village largely exists as it has for hundreds of years. Narrow dirt roads wind through thatch-roofed homes. Children fly kites after school through the streets. Women dressed in traditional, explosively colorful headscarves and kaleidoscopic beads sew on porches. Men fish and chop wood. Smoke from cooking fires mingles with the thick rainforest humidity and sea air.
Greenspot Travel is an a ecotourism company that arranges indigenous-minded tours, mostly in Central America. Recently, through Greenspot Travel, I stayed the Yandup Island Lodge in Panama. This modest but beautiful ecolodge, owned and operated entirely by the Guna, exists on its own island just a 10-minute boat ride from Ukupseni. The campus features 10 “over-the-water” bungalows, its own private beach and surrounding coral reefs, and terrific seafood pulled from the surrounding water. The retreat also offers a variety of half-day excursions, which include exploring deserted beaches, snorkeling, and touring mangroves, as well as visits to the Ukupseni community.
While there is much to be said for spending a day on your own island and plucking a lobster out of the sea for your dinner, what you really need to do to truly experience the area and culture is meet with the Guna people who call Ukupseni home. The Guna are a beautiful community, rich with tradition. They are believed to be the second smallest group of people in the world and were the first autonomous indigenous territory in Panama. They also have the largest per capita number of albinos globally.
In the photo gallery below you’ll find a closer look at the Guna of Ukupseni and Yandup Island Lodge.
There’s a new easy way to get a Southwest Airlines companion pass
You don't even need to get on a flight
The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is now more attainable than ever. The coveted Southwest Companion Pass is a benefit offered to frequent flyers, allowing the pass holder to designate one person as their “companion,” allowing them to fly with them for free (excluding taxes and fees) on any Southwest flight. The flight can be booked with both points and cash, and the pass is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which it was earned, as well as the following calendar year.
Previously, the only way to qualify for a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass was to fly either 100 qualifying one-way flights or to earn 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. Once the companion pass is earned, it can be used an unlimited number of times during its validity period. Due to a new deal, getting a pass is currently easier than ever. From now until March 11, anyone who signs up for a new Southwest Rapid Rewards Consumer Credit Card from Chase has the opportunity to earn the Companion Pass.
5 reasons you need to invest in a Rimowa suitcase right now
With a rich history of making fantastic luggage, Rimowa is one of the best luxury luggage brands around, and strongly worth your investment. Regular travelers have likely already noticed that Rimowa is the luggage to own. Its iconic design is seen everywhere across business class thanks to being built to last, offering excellent style, and providing plenty of space for everything you could need on your journey. If you’re short on time, know this much -- you need Rimowa luggage in your life. However, if you still need some convincing, read on. We’re here to highlight all the best reasons why Rimowa suitcases are worth it so you can be confident that you’re not wasting your time on inferior luggage that will need upgrading soon.
This is the excuse you need to visit the Woodstock Inn and Resort
Feeling a little restless? It might be time to plan a nice getaway for you, your loved ones or your family. And there's no better time to visit the winter wonderland that is Vermont than right now. A peaceful and charming getaway is just steps away with this deal that we found on Gilt.
You can visit the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont by purchasing discounted credits through Gilt. You can buy a $300 credit that can go towards the room and resort with a 16% off discount. That means you can grab this $300 credit for just $250. Interested in escaping to a quiet and serene resort? Click the button below to learn more about this inn and why it will make a great weekend trip.