I booked a day tour with Garceth after reading reviews on Trip Advisor and through the Cruise Critic roll call for our cruise, was able to organize a group of 10. Garceth met us at the ship terminal in Colon at the arranged time holding a sign with my name on it. We got into a comfortable van and drove about 45 minutes to a tributary to Lago Alajuelar. Because it was the end of the dry season, we had to walk about 15 to minutes, basically in the river bed, to get to the waiting dugout canoes. There were 2 villagers in each canoe, one up front with a long pole and one in the back to operate the 15hp motor. Six of us were in one canoe and 4 of our group, plus Garceth, in the other. As the river level was so low, the villagers had to get out of the canoes numerous times to walk us over gravel bars (if they had kept the motors running they would have broken the shear pins that hold the prop to the motor shaft). It took about 1-1/2 hours in the canoes up the Rio San Miguel to get to the Embera village.
Pictures that others have posted are accurate. The villagers were friendly, the lunch was great and there are a lot of handicrafts available for purchase. The chief, although uneducated, is very intelligent. There was a presentation with a question and answer period. Garceth interpreted for us as the chief speaks Embera and Spanish, but, not English.
There was another small tour group at the village at the same time. A member of this other group is an anthropologist living in Fiji. I asked him if he thought this was authentic. He felt it was and the fact that they had some interactions with the outside world that generated some revenue was a good thing.
Overall, we spent about 2 hours or so at the village. We were concerned about the amount of time it would take to get back to the ship. As it turned out, the canoe ride was only about 45 minutes long as we were going downstream with the current. Consequently, if you are going on this excursion when the water levels are higher, there would be a significant reduction in the amount of travel time and there might not even be any hiking between the van and the dugout canoe.
It was a phenomenal trip. It was surreal that night at dinner in the main dining room on the Celebrity Equinox. Think about it, juxtaposing the elegance of a luxury cruise line dining room with a longhouse in a primitive village. Life is interesting.