What IS Tribal Gathering Festival?!
Well, it’s a lot of things. It’s a multi-faceted and complex entity of the festival world. And I’m going to be my very best to put it into words right here by starting with a few of the main aspects!
Before I get too far into it, I think mentioning how the actual festival works is quite important! ???? This is not a normal festival whatsoever. Tribal Gathering is actually just that – a Tribal Gathering. It’s put on by a nonprofit called Geoparadise whose function is essentially to preserve and help indigenous cultures and ancient traditions. This festival each year is a time where they actually fly out different indigenous tribes, shamans, and leaders to come together and share their knowledge with each other and with festival-goers each year. There are tribes from all over North and South America, Africa, Central America, and more.
18 Days of Awesomeness
Tribal Gathering Festival is 18 days of camping, again, on a remote beachside paradise of a jungle in Panama. The first 12 days are the ‘indigenous immersive’ part of the festival, where tribal workshops/ceremonies are paramount and you live, interact, and form relationships with the indigenous tribes each day. But it is important to note that after this first 12 day period is over, the tribes leave! They are only there the first 12 days and they leave before the ‘Dance Celebration” begins, and tribal art and workshops end.
The Dance Celebration is the last 5 days of the festival which are more focused on music and partying than the indigenous immersive part. During this period a new stage, the Lotus Stage, comes to life and plays psytrance almost 24/7! More on this later.
An Actual Cohesive and Cooperative Community
This is a LONG festival. It’s not like the 3-dayer’s where you come in, go hard, and leave. It’s also quite small, with about 1000-1500 people, so you really see people over and over and get to know the community. When you are staying at a place for so long, you really feel like you live there. You live and interact with the community for multiple weeks, running into people and sharing experiences with so many different groups that you seem to slowly become one.
Volunteering is pretty big here and many people take part in different volunteering shifts at the kitchen, bar, front desks, tea bar, and medical tent. Each shift is 5 hours and you will be rewarded with $13 credit on your wristband (which is how you pay for things). This equates to approximately 2 meals or 5-6 drinks! It’s nice to be able to contribute and also to be able to save money by getting meals/drinks for free. Volunteering helps you feel like you really contribute to make the community work. It’s a very different and amazing feeling!
Workshops and Art
The tribes stay in their own little village in the middle of the festival, and are only there for the ‘Indigenous immersive’ 12 day first part of the festival. During these first 12 days people from the tribes teach workshops, hold art classes, and hold all kinds of different experiences to share their culture. The people from the tribes usually do speak english and seem to be very familiar with Western culture, but they grew up within indigenous culture and lifestyle just the same. It’s actually quite nice to be able to communicate so easily with people with such different and ancient knowledge!
Workshops/Talks can be anything from massage to making tribal jewelry and art to learning about how different tribes make cacao or tea or think the calendar should work. There are speakers and workshops all the time for the first 12 days, often from the tribes and sometimes others as well.
I found the 13/28 calendar talks very interesting; there were a few speakers talking about how the calendar should naturally work in a schedule of 13 months of 28 days, and a few theories as to why it was changed to the weird 12 month/random days schedule it is now. Some other of my favorite talks were hearing a man from a nomadic tribe from Mali talk about their way of life and how they learn from/follow the animals of the desert, and a Mexican/Aztec tribe woman teaching us how to make Aztec crafts that represented their beliefs in different human and cosmic energies. So fascinating!
Plant Medicine Ceremonies
For 5 days in the middle of the first 12 days, tribal shamans will hold traditional plant medicine ceremonies in a special area of the festival known as the shamanic realm. Each ceremony will be held around a certain natural plant medicine that the shaman leading the ceremony’s people have used and respected for thousands of years. People must sign up for these at the Hub, and they cost from $50-$100 each for the medicine and the leadership of the shaman for the 2-4+ hour experience (and part goes as a donation to the charity too!). Some of the plant medicine ceremonies that occurred included: Ayahuasca, mushrooms, peyote, cacao, kambo (frog venom), and Bufo (another derived from a frog, I believe).
Tribal Gathering Location/Venue – Caribbean Beachside Jungle
Geohaven Stage / Tribal Village
Tribal Gathering Crowd
Tribal Gathering Atmosphere/Decorations
Tribal Gathering Lineup/Music/Artists
First 12 Days Lineup
Last 5 Days – 2 Stages
Tribal Gathering Camping
Tribal Gathering Camping Amenities – Bathrooms, Showers, etc
Transportation/Hotels/Parking – Getting To Tribal Gathering
Basic Tribal Gathering Directions Written by Me
Food/Drink at Tribal Gathering
Tribal Gathering Food
Tribal Gathering Drinks
Tribal Gathering Price
Tribal Gathering Security
Weather at Tribal Gathering
Tribal Gathering Time
Final Tips – Things I wish I knew before attending Tribal Gathering
- The tribes actually LEAVE after day 12. So if you want to take part in any tribal things, come before then.
- The Ceremonies end on day 8 or so, and begin on day 4 or so. If you want any ceremonies, check the dates they are happening.
- bring snacks. The communal kitchen is awful but many people build fires to cook.
- Getting here is DIFFICULT. the shuttle drops you off somewhere you must walk a few hundred meters up and down hills. SO pack as lightly as you can, or just prepare for a tough walk in and out.
- There are no road signs to get here. See my basic directions written above under ‘transportation’ that in my opinion are better than anything I could find online ????
- Spend as much time as you can with the tribes, do workshops, and attend wellness ceremonies. Don’t get too caught up partying – when else can you be in this close of proximity with amazing indigenous tribes?!
- Face your tent entrance towards the ocean for maximum breeze
- Make sure our tent is waterproof. Surprise monsoons may occur.
- If you don’t think you like psytrance, just TRY IT. Trust me. Get into it and you will have fun! Watch how others dance, find your own groove, and the dance moves will ensue.
- There are lots of naked people around – lots of people swim naked and bathe in the creek naked. It’s such a free place and its awesome to be so comfortable in your natural state!!
- Bring enough cash for everything you may need. Lots of people I met ran out of money and literally had to work volunteer shifts to survive.
- But, work volunteer shifts anyway! They are a great way to meet people, feel as if you are contributing to the community, have a little fun, and also score some free food/drinks while you’re at it.
- Explore the area around the festival site! it is SOOOOO beautiful and you can walk a long way on both sides of the festival along the water.