South America Travel Guides

Panama Travel Guide:
Panama (General)
Panama Flights
Bocas del Toro
San Blas Islands
Pearl Islands
Pacific Coast near Panama City
Azuero Peninsula & Pedasi
Santa Catalina & Coiba
Chiriqui Province
Darien Province

Eastern Panama & the Darien


Panama's Darien province is one of Latin America's last remaining real wildnerness areas. Much of the area is known as the Darien Gap - a huge swathe of undisturbed rainforest where there is a gap in the Panamericana highway that would otherwise run from Alaska all the way to Chile. It's a very inaccessible area, and some areas are not safe to visit, but those who do venture here are highly rewarded. It is best to allow a travel agent or tour operator to book a package for this section of your vacation to Panama - it's safer, and logistically much simpler that way.

Darien Province Travel Destinations

Chucanti Field Station - a biological research station open to visitors. Simple guest rooms and rainforest tours are offered make this a good option for both birdwatchers and those travelling on a budget. Chucanto field station is 140 km East of Panama City - 3 three hour hike (donkeys assist with baggage) from Cerro Chucanti on the Pan American highway.

Punta Patino - this is Panama's largest private nature reserve, managed by the Asociacion Nacional Para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (ANCON). This is a coastal nature reserve in the San Miguel Gulf, which encompasses coastal mangrove swamps, primary rainforest and indigenous Embera communities (which can be visited). Ancon Expeditions can arrange flights and a a stay at the Punta Patino Lodge, in addition to extensive 2 week exploration expeditions of the Darien region. Alternatively, Ecocircuitos can arrange road and canoe transportation with lodging in tents.

Darien National Park - this is the largest National Park in Central America - a vaste wildnerness of tropical rainforest. Ancon Expeditions operate the Cana Field Station, which is very popular with birdwatchers, and has basic accommodation and is accessed by small plane. Alternatively, try the Pirre Station which is managed by ANAM and has basic accommodation and various jungle trails - catch a flight from Panama City to El Real, from where it is 3 hours travel by canoe and hiking.

Tropic Star Fishing Lodge - the deep sea fishing is legendary at this wildnerness lodge on the Pacific Coast. Packages are very expensive.

Overland Travel from Panama to Colombia

While it is, technically, possible to travel through the Darien Gap either by motorbike or with a humvee 4x4, it is both dangerous and logistically almost impossible to arrange, so give up on the idea. Panama City is well connected with flights to various cities in Colombia, but there are alternatives to such international flights. From the San Blas Islands it is possible to arrange a boat to take you to Capurgana on Colombia's Caribbean coast. It is also possible to fly from Panama City to Puerto Obaldia, which is almost on the border with Colombia, from where it is possible to make your way to Capurgana via a combination of boat and pick up truck. In reality, it's far simpler to catch a flight.



Darien Photos:
Embera Indians of the Darien Province
Indigenous Embera Indians of Panama's Darien province.


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