Darien is the eastern-most and largest province of Panama, and borders Colombia. The land neighboring Colombia is primarily Parque Nacional Darien, or Darien National Park and World Heritage Site No. 159, which compromises 1.4 million acres of pristine tropical forest, pure rivers and complex ecosystems. This large swathe of undeveloped rugged terrain is among the largest untouched jungles on the planet and a rich biosphere reserve. With no roads, it is the missing link for completion of the Pan-American Highway which has led to the nickname: Darien Gap. This uncharted territory was the focus of the Darien Archaeological and Terrain Research Expedition.
The province is home to two native tribes: Embera to the southwest and Wounaan to the northeast. There are many remote villages that may only be accessed by trekking and by paddling or motoring dugout canoes up narrow, shallow snaking rivers. These are welcoming Peoples selling wares, such as beaded jewelry and masks and baskets woven from fibers of the Nahuala plant and Chunga palm, to the occasional tourist. If you ask, they may also serve a local catch, like Capybara, a large guinea pig looking creature, grilled over an open fire in their kitchen.
La Palma, capital of the Province, is a colorfully painted rural coastal town on stilts filled with friendly people etching a meager way of life. Smiles are abundant along with music, fried fish, tostones (fried, flattened plantains) and beer. Tourists are rare, but welcomed to this truly rustic frontier town.
Past Expeditions: March 2013