Inside The Darien Gap [PHOTO ESSAY]

Pirre Mountain Darien Panama

Pirre Mountain in the Darien Gap

Darien Province, Panama

The Darien Gap is a remote, roadless swath of jungle on the border of Panama & Colombia. Enjoy these photos from my adventure into a world rarely seen by outsiders.

When asked what my favorite experience is after 4 years of travel, I usually describe camping on an erupting volcano in Guatemala, or my journey into the Darien Gap. The Darien has an almost mythical quality to it — a dangerous land full of exotic plants, wildlife, and indigenous people. Largely untouched by the modern world.

I spent 5 days inside the Darien exploring its formidable wilderness to discover if these myths were true. My photo essay below should give you a small glimpse into this fascinating & mysterious area of Latin America.

End Of The Road

Bridge Darien Panama

Entrance into the Darien Jungle

This simple footbridge in the town of Yaviza marks the only break in a 29,000 mile road network known as the Pan-American Highway, stretching from Alaska to Argentina. The 100 mile section of impassible jungle between Central and South America is called the Darien Gap.

Piragua Transportation

Piragua Canoe Darien Panama

Local Piragua Canoe

Most of the Darien rainforest is roadless, so long Piragua canoes like this are the primary mode of transportation. Locals with some money are able to afford an outboard motor for it. But most people propel themselves with hand-made wooden paddles — which is difficult due to strong river currents.

Traditional Emberá Home

Embera House Darien Gap Panama

Indigenous Stilt House

The Emberá Indians build their homes up on stilts to protect against animals and flooding. The log ladder serves two purposes, along with providing access to the home, if the notches are facing out visitors are welcome — if they are rolled under it means “do not disturb”.

Senafront Base

Senafront Darien Panama

Panama’s Security Forces

These guys may look like military soldiers, but technically they are Panama’s elite border police. Drug smugglers use the Darien to transport their goods over the border from Colombia. Access to most areas in the Darien without Senafront’s explicit permission is impossible.

Poison Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frog Darien Panama

Please Don’t Lick

The Darien is home to many different species of frog. This is a type of poison dart frog, but I’m not yet sure what kind. If you happen to know the name of this frog, let me know in the comments!

Darien National Park

Darien National Park Panama

Hiking through Darien National Park

The Darien rainforest is a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. With proper permissions you can go hiking and camping inside, as we did. It doesn’t get many visitors these days though, so a machete is useful for clearing overgrown trails.

Big Jungle Scorpion

Scorpion Darien Panama

Watch Out for Dangerous Critters!

There are all kinds of creatures in the jungle that can be dangerous. Like this black scorpion we found while hiking. The Darien is also home to painful fire ants, deadly fer-de-lance snakes, jaguars, bot flies that lay eggs under your skin, wild pigs, and other animals you probably don’t want to meet up close.

Chunga Palm Tree

Black Palm Spikes Darien Panama

Dangerous Vegetation

This tree does not like to be hugged. You’ve been warned hippies! The Chunga Palm (also called Black Palm) is found throughout the rainforests of the Darien. Their long, very sharp, bacteria-covered spines can be pretty nasty if you’re not careful.

Plantain Banana Farm

Village Darien Gap Panama

Riverside Village

A majority of the indigenous people who live in the Darien earn money by growing plantain bananas which are then shipped upriver to Yaviza and eventually sold in Panama City. This is a relatively new development though, as money was not a priority before hunting was banned in the National Park.

Indigenous Tribes

Wounaan Girl Darien Panama

Wounaan Indigenous Girl

This girl along with some other kids came out in the rain to say hello as I stopped at a riverside security checkpoint in the Wounaan village of Vista Alegre. A few minutes after this photo was taken the kids helped me save our canoe from floating away down the river with all my gear inside…

FARC Anti-Government Guerrillas

Farc Rebels Darien Panama

FARC Wanted Poster

Meet Gilberto Torres Muñetón aka “The Calf” a commander of the notorious Colombian FARC guerrillas. Wanted for drug trafficking, arms smuggling, kidnappings, and a bombing that killed 80 people along the border of Panama & Colombia. Wanted posters like this are found all around the Darien.

Security Checkpoints

Senafront Soldier Darien Panama

Senafront Soldier

Private Wilson here guards a Senafront checkpoint on the road into the Darien. The Panamanian Government is trying to re-claim the jungle from smugglers, bandits, and paramilitary groups. So there are plenty of camouflage uniforms & machine guns around.

Fishing The Turia River

Fishing Darien Panama

Fishing with the Kuna

One day our Kuna guide Isaac took us hand-line fishing on the Turia River outside the village of El Real. This was our catch that afternoon, some of which we proceeded to cook up and eat for dinner. The rivers are absolutely full of fish! Throw your line in and 1 or 2 minutes later there was something attached to it.

Kuna Indian Woman

Kuna Woman Darien Panama

Mariana with her Mola Handicrafts

This is Mariana, our guide Isaac’s mom. She stopped in to say hello with her husband and show off their handicrafts, like this Mola bag. The Kuna are just one of 3 major indigenous groups that call the Darien jungle home.

Darien Gap Flooding

Flooding Darien Panama

Rainy Season Flooding

Flooding is a big problem during the rainy season in Darien Province. I experienced this first-hand when trying to leave the area. A river broke its bank and submerged the road, forcing everyone to pay for boat rides over to the next dry section of land about 300 yards away.

Plantain Farmer

Local Man Darien Panama

A Mixed Population

The Darien isn’t only populated with indigenous people. Panamanians and Colombians have moved into the area to start plantain banana farms, cattle ranches, and logging operations. This local farmer ended up hitchhiking with us in the back of a truck, his horse trotting along behind.

Jungle Consumption

Village Darien Gap Panama

House in the Jungle

The heat, humidity, and plant life of a rainforest will destroy anything in its path. Like this old house. Sunlight is prime real estate, and everyone (and everything) wants in on the action. If left alone this building would quickly get eaten-up by the jungle.

Swollen Turia River

Turia River Darien Panama

Turia River Highway

This is the mighty Turia River, a main artery of transportation in the Darien Gap. The river is dark & swollen from heavy October rains. We slowly motored up the river for 5 hours heading to the village of Boca de Cupe, where I was soon expelled by Senafront soldiers who feared for my safety.

Canoe Ride in the Rain

Village Darien Gap Panama

Local Kuna Boy

Heading back to the village in a Piragua canoe after a rainy afternoon of fishing. This is my guide’s son in the front of the boat. The relaxed pace of life, interesting things to see, and complete lack of tourism are why Panama’s Darien Gap has been one of my most memorable experiences to date.

READ NEXT: Untamed Wilderness: Hiking The Darien Gap

Have you ever heard of the Darien Gap?

THANKS FOR READING

Hi, I'm Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for over 4 years. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my travel adventures. Join thousands who receive exclusive email updates and click the green button below...

Comments & Questions

72 Comments

  1. Been there done that
    July 29, 2015

    Unless you are a darn fool, stay out of “The Gap”. I spent two years down there in 1982 and 1983 when Noriega was taking over Panama. You can talk about adventure all your life, but when you are dodging AK-47 bullets and hiding behind a Mahogany tree until you can throw a few rounds of your own, that’s enough adventure. I am sure things have changed, but the Cartels have long memories. Stay out of there and let this tree hugging crap alone, unless you want your family to receive your head in a basket.

    Reply
  2. Ursula
    July 19, 2015

    I have enjoyed reading about all these adventures. I own a house in the Darien, in Jaque, which is the last chartered town before getting to the Columbian border 30 kilometers away. There are no roads so we fly down to Jaque.
    We spent eight years running the famous Tropic Star Lodge in Bahia Pinas which was an amazing experience and during this time decided to be the only foreigners to build a home in Jaque. We have made many wonderful friends over the years with the Wounaan and Embera indians of the area and have a good basket collection. Have hiked and fished and loved the area.

    Reply
  3. Lenteja
    June 6, 2015

    Thank u so much for the ammazing story! It was so inspiring to read a story from someone who has actually been in this famous not-to-go spot! I will live in Colombia from August in Santa Marta that is really close to Panama and I wanted to see if it is possible somehow to cross to Panama overland! Do you know any tips for the opposite direction adventure?

    Reply
  4. Kyer
    May 31, 2015

    WOW…just WOW!!!!! LOVE YOUR ADVENTURES!!!

    Reply
  5. Charlie David
    May 27, 2015

    This is one of the most elusive borders in the world! It’s every extreme travelers dream. Well done brother.

    Reply
  6. Rachel
    May 11, 2015

    Awesome photos Matthew! There is a great TED talk about the guerillas in Colombia which I’d recommend watching.

    Reply
  7. Ken moss
    May 11, 2015

    I walk thru the gap in the mid 1970s. Took about 3 weeks, I had no idea there was nothing but jungle and Indians ahead. I was completely unprepared for the adventure and think it was the closest to dying I’ve ever had, including the 7 guns Ive had held on me including one to my head for a few hours in Columbia. The jumping off point was a construction camp with American engineers and a large number of Panamanian workers. They were building a cement bridge and on the other side of the river was a dense green jungle. The Americans invited me into their camp facilities which were air conditioned units with satellite TV and an open free kitchen ANDA hot showers. They told me it was all Indians in there and they were canibals so ” not wise to go thru”. I’d never been off the grid so it stopped me and made me think. I was a fugitive at this point wanted for murder as I had found out in a Time magazine in Belize a few weeks earlier thru a photo of Abbie Hoffman, of the Chicago 7 and I arm in arm with the caption “two fugitives from justice”. That was a shock that set me to take a trip before heading back for trial and to face the music. I had been cleared of charges while in LA, gave my Rolls Royce convertible to my lawyer as partial payment and headed to Belize to recover from losing my self made millions which I lost on my airline. The first price breaker in the USA, I had bought a DC9 to make air travel cheap for folks, a misguided venture ahead of its time. Anyway there was a fellow who was hanging around the camp , an adventure who was a New Jersy house painter who approached me and said he wanted to go thru and had asked thousands of folks but nobody would do it with him ( he did have a lousy attitude ) . He said it’s the Darien Gap, which meant nothing to me. We can make it he said do you have a gun? No. A machete, no. Drugs, no well you can’t have any of mine! I was a long haired ex hippie type just thru the economic ringer but recently on the Jonny Carson show for my airline. So I was looking fairly straight. Anyway we decided to go for it. I was in no hurry to go back to LA and by then had ripped up my passport and thrown it in the river running, very slowly thru Belize City on a full moon night. It took us 3 weeks of walking, each long day led to the next Indian village. It was not a park it was just a path thru the jungle. Each night we’d reach the next village, no electricity, no stores, no hotels just jungle Indians Kunas very friendly and isolated. Communal shelters, dirt floors rice, plantains occasionally we ate, or at least I did eat monkey. He had some cans of tuna. I was very unprepared in my sandals and shorts. Every night we would scan each other’s bodies to remove the ticks, my record high was 37- nasty blood sucking buggers! Pop them and your blood would shoot out of them. To remove them you’d hold a cigarette or match hot behind them, they would back out of your body and then pop them between your thumb nails. I saw a live snake must have been 16 feet long slithering across our path and each ISO,aged village had several snake skis doubled over and slit open that were the nat length, and they were thick too! Eventually we got to the swampy area, that was a real nightmare and the Indians were not as friendly. I had joined us up with a team of 6 smugglers that were going I to Co,Umbria I think they were bringing in guns and ammo, I couldn’t even lift the backpack made of wood and vines two of the smugglers were carrying. I could write a lot more but I wont. I’ve been thinking of writing a book which would cover much of my stories as everyone encourages me to when Ive been drinking and start telling stories. I made 30$ million of today’s money in 2 years back in ’69 when I was 26 years old, lived in India for 9 moths, lived with a film actress in Hollywood. Met lots of celebrities, Fonzy, Travolta, Jonny Carsom. Peter Lawford, Bernie Cornfeld, Roman Polansky etc etc. Been a millionaire to nothing 5 times and now just travel the world for going on 4 years. Thought I would sell my story at 99cents for 5 stories, all true! I have about 50 outrageous tales. It’s been a very eventful life I’m now 70 plus and stable with a wife of 30 years. Very strange.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      May 11, 2015

      Ken, that is the most amazing comment I’ve ever received. Thank you so much for sharing your story here! I’d love to buy you a drink in person one day and hear more. You should definitely write a book! :-)

      Reply
  8. RODOLFO
    May 9, 2015

    Hi Matthew
    This is just to express my full satisfaction after having seen your amazing photos regarding the Darien Gap.
    From about july 1999 up to march 2000 ,I had set out to make a trip embracing the whole South America territory as I have started in the border between Argentina (my own land) and Brazil ,all the way up to Venezuela,and Colombia,only by highways and sometimes by hitch-hiking.
    As I was in Colombia I was told and encouraged to attempt another trip to Panama to which I regarded to be an intermediate point so as to go forward to Costa Rica and so on until reach the USA.
    Unfortunately when I was about to crossborder Colombia to Panama ,found myself in big trouble as I was suddenly adviced not to go beyond Colombia border as some political turmoil was in progress between Colombia and Panama,finally I was bound to resign and remain in Colombia.
    During these days I had also tried to make some arangement with colombian Trail trace guide men who wre supposed to lead me safe and sound to Panama with proper documentation .If I had gone with them I would nowadays be not alive to write this,for later was cleared that such a people were colombian smugglers traficking with drugs and the like.
    But something too much important was left behind ,I could not enter the Darien Gap which I was strongly longing to reach.
    Now thanks to your website gently displaying such excellent photos I can enjoy these places and still hope one day to be there .
    Thank you very much for your photos deployment.

    Rodolfo ( Bs As Argentina)

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      May 11, 2015

      Hey Rodolfo, thanks for sharing your experience! Glad you enjoyed the photos. I too have heard conflicting reports about the Colombian trail guides. Some say it’s ok to go with them, others say they are dangerous. People still disappear down there on a regular basis — and cartel smuggling is still a big problem.

      Reply
  9. Drew
    May 5, 2015

    What year were these photos taken?

    Reply
  10. Robert Lim
    March 26, 2015

    Just watch the Movie of ” Indigeneous” and get to know this place. Anyone can tell me how real the content of the movie I just mentioned. Thanks.

    Reply
  11. ria
    February 18, 2015

    amazing photos! we are heading to South America this summer (had been there twice, but only Brazil, Chile)… if anyone else is interested to join I would love to connect with other people and try to make it somewhere into the Darien… please contact me if you are looking for two more people for this trip. It looks absolutely breathtaking!

    Reply
    • irenee
      February 20, 2015

      Hi!
      Great pictures of the Darien!
      I also went there for one month and a half last year and did some survival there, meeting wild animals and indians.
      It was an amazing trip! I give a lot of info on the gap on my webpage (map, tips for check points, indians language etc…)
      http://some-choice.com/en/darien-gapjungle/
      I invite you to take a look :)

      Reply
  12. Darby of GreenTravelAntics
    February 11, 2015

    It sounds like there are plenty of dangers in visiting the Darien Gap, but also lots of possible adventures. It really is off the radar, I don’t know many people whose goal is to visit. Most of my friends don’t even know what it is; I have to explain why I need to fly or sail into Columbia from Panama.

    Reply
  13. Jakob Gibbons
    January 1, 2015

    Wow, these photos and stories are insane. I’m about to backpack from the US to Colombia, I was thinking of just taking a boat from Colon or somewhere since the Gap is basically unpassable, but now I’m wondering if it might not be worth the trip to head down there for a few days and then just backtrack if I have to. Very inspiring man!

    Reply
  14. Merrill Ludvigson
    December 21, 2014

    I spent about seven months in the army in the area in 1945/46. The war was over by the time I came the area but we were to operate a radar Station 8 for one hour a day just upriver from Pinogana to make sure it would be available if needed. Our transportation was a 30 foot piragua carved from a single mohagany log with a 22 horsepower Johnson outboard and would really travel on the river. Our supply boat could not get past El Real so we would have to meet the suppley boat and bring our supplies to Station 8 by piragua.

    With little to do we found many activities to eliminate boredom, like exploring the area, catching alligators (small ones), enjoyng our pets like monkeys, dogs, etc., joining the locals in some of their activities in Pinogana. Th only villages we visited were Pinogana, El Real and Yaviza. Yaviza was the most interesting. It even had a small store where I once bought an Orange Crush. It was the most busy because the Indians upriver from Yaviza would bring bananas in their piraguas to the banana boats. Some of us appeared in a newsreel because we helped them to get from El Real to Yaviza. This newsreel can be found on YouTube by searching for ‘1946 bananas indians.” I am the second person in the piragua taken by the movie cameraman who we put up front so he could see the river ahead on the way to Yaviza from El Real. All the other scenes were take in Yaviza except for a few taken a short distance above Yaviza at some indian homes. The people in the villages were Africans who, I was told, who were brought to Panama by previous countries who tried to build the canal but failed because of diseases but were not returned to there homes. The indians lived in family groups upriver from the villages – apparently where the bananas were. Though it seemed there were bananas everywhere.

    Jungle living was interesting. Most of our mail was dropped from airplanes. We has wonderful pets, like Gussy, our spider monkey was very friendly and loved by all of us. She had probably been brought from birth in the compound because she would never leave the compound. If you tried to take her out you had a fight on your hands. She was terrified of the jungle. She could not peal her own banana. Someone always did it for her.

    That was a wonderful experience.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      May 11, 2015

      Wow Merrill! Thanks for sharing! I love hearing all these wonderful (and crazy) stories about the Darien. It really is a special place, even today. I can’t wait to go back.

      Reply
  15. Joe Ski
    November 6, 2014

    Great story and photos. Having been to Panama and Colombia I have always been fascinated by the Darien. How close to Colombia had you traveled before being turned back by Panama’s Security Forces?
    Stay safe,
    Joe

    Reply
  16. Vikki Kauffman
    October 19, 2014

    Absolutely stunning photos. Thank you for sharing a peek into this mysterious area.

    Reply
  17. Juergen | dare2go
    October 19, 2014

    Thanks for sharing these truly amazing photos and insights with the world! I was always wondering about this region, not much news is really getting out. We had to ship our vehicle around the Darian Gap, as do thousands of other travelers every year (thankfully it looks like the will be a ferry from the end of the month onwards).

    Reply
  18. Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    October 19, 2014

    Matthew, these are such amazing photos!

    Reply
  19. Raven
    September 26, 2014

    Fantastic essay! I’m just wondering what you photography setup is? I’m a photographer as well I’ve yet to decide on good setup for traveling. I’d love to bring my whole DSLR kit but it’s way to heavy and would be quite the financial risk.

    Reply
  20. Brian
    September 16, 2014

    I am traveling to Panama Oct 3 – 10th. Where is the headquarters located to check in and ask for permission for hiking through the Darien?

    Reply
  21. Jack Wise
    September 12, 2014

    Sorry to bother you again, Matthew, but I forgot to ask a question. I have looked for, but have not found it anywhere. What was the Darièn Gap called in the 1940’s? I was under the impression its current name was named after some recent (1950’s?) explorer or trekker to the area. Today, the Spanish name for the area is “Tapòn de Darièn” or simply “Tapòn”. Have you found anything different? Thank you for taking time to reply to my comments.

    Reply
  22. Jack Wise
    September 10, 2014

    Hello, Matthew,
    Your photo essay is extraordinary! It helped me tremendously as I am writing a novel in which the last 30% or so deals with the Darien Gap area in 1943. I would love to be able to go down there and look over the area on which I am writing, but at 69 years old and partially handicapped that would be nothing short of foolhardy on my part. I have been to Colombia many times as my Colombian wife’s family is in Cali. The setting for my story takes place along the Panamanian-Colombian border north of Capurgana along the coast as well as inland. I just wanted to let you know that in addition to your photos being beautiful, they have given me a basic feeling for the area and I am thankful!
    Jack Wise
    Montrose, Colorado

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      September 12, 2014

      Glad to hear Jack, happy that these images are helping you complete your novel. Good luck!

      Reply
  23. MICHEAL
    June 29, 2014

    Thanks for the excellent photos about this interesting area — thankfully there are such areas left in a world that is being ever more infested and destroyed by humans. Whatever keeps it wild seems ok to me. Thankfully we have people like yourself who can appreciate and share it with others.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      July 4, 2014

      My favorite places are often these types, those that haven’t been overrun with tourists or aren’t written about much. I agree, there are less and less of them every year.

      But it can be a dilemma, because when I write about them, it entices more people to visit, thereby creating those situations.

      Reply
  24. David
    May 31, 2014

    Do you know of any plans of extending the Pan-American Highway through the Darien gap?

    Reply
  25. Emily
    April 6, 2014

    What an adventure of a lifetime!

    Reply
  26. Ryan Huffman
    April 1, 2014

    Hi, I am a student in college and I have to do a report on Panama and I chose to do the Darien Gap…could I use your photos for my presentation slideshow as long as I properly credit them? Sweet photos btw, glad to see that someone is still getting away from modern society to learn about the less well-traveled parts of the world.

    Reply
  27. Anthony Edwards-Stork
    February 13, 2014

    AWESOME!

    Reply
  28. An
    January 21, 2014

    I have to do a project on the Darien Gap and I wanted to ask you what would be the best time to visit? I could not find any up-to-date climate graphs anywhere so I really need help with this. I loved your website so far! Keep up the adventure!

    Reply
  29. Omar
    January 4, 2014

    Did you make it to Colombia Matt ?

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      January 5, 2014

      No, I wasn’t trying to cross Omar. Crossing overland is almost impossible these days. You’ll quickly get arrested, unless you completely avoid all villages, which I wouldn’t do unless I had military training in jungle survival. It is possible along the coast though.

      Reply
  30. Hawkins Dale
    January 4, 2014

    Love the photos. Particularly the children.

    Reply
  31. Meredith Swartwout
    October 27, 2013

    Wow, that frog was a really cool find! It is not actually a poison dart frog, but most likely an Atelopus varius, one of two species of “golden frogs” in Panama (Atelopus varius & Atelopus zeteki “La Rana Dorada”). Frogs from the genus Atelopus are all disappearing in the wild, so it is awesome that you were able to see one.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      October 29, 2013

      Interesting! Thanks for letting me know Meredith. That info makes it even more special. :D

      Reply
  32. Anders
    September 30, 2013

    Great photos Matthew!

    Visited Panama couple of years with the family and I wanted to go back and visit the Darien Gap. Your photos and story inspired me to look into it again, it looks a “little safer”, but as you say, everything changes all the time.

    Reply
  33. The Guy
    March 21, 2013

    What an amazing tale and great pictures. It seems to be such an incredibly dangerous place yet going through the jungle sounds like quite an adventure.

    I love the wildlife shots especially of that frog. I can’t remember the name of though although I have seen them in zoos before. I remember they are incredibly dangerous, I think they are one of the, if not the most poisonous thing to man.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      March 25, 2013

      Yup, some of these guys can be dangerous. I guess in captivity they loose most of their toxicity. It comes from their diet in the jungle.

      Reply
  34. Janeth
    March 14, 2013

    I just keep reading these over and over. I love the photos and information.

    Reply
  35. Jessica
    March 13, 2013

    WOW what incredible photos Matthew!!!

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      March 13, 2013

      Thank you Jessica. It’s difficult to take a boring photo in a place as enchanting as the Darien.

      Reply
  36. Grace
    March 10, 2013

    Awesome! I finally see the story in photos. I remember you telling us about this in Colorado.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      March 11, 2013

      Are you going to be at TBEX in Toronto this year Grace? I have a few more crazy stories for you… ;)

      Reply
  37. flipnomad
    March 6, 2013

    hoy sh*t… ‘thought it was so dangerous to be in this place? kudos man for this great adventure and nice to see that you got out of this place safely…

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      March 7, 2013

      It used to be more dangerous than it is now, yet it’s still important to be careful. Even with permission I was restricted to certain areas. The soldiers won’t let you go anywhere too sketchy — they kicked me out of a village called Boca de Cupe. But the situation there is always changing.

      Reply
  38. Claudia
    March 6, 2013

    Beautiful pictures and inside information, I love your travel reports, thanks Matthew

    Reply
  39. TammyOnTheMove
    March 5, 2013

    Looks amazing. I love jungle trekking and because the Darien gap is not your typical tourist destination makes it even more appealing. Do you need a guide to trek in the NP or can you go by yourself?

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      March 5, 2013

      They won’t let you into the park without a guide, and before you can even get close you’ll need permission from Senafront to get past the roadblocks. It’s doable, but takes time & patience.

      Reply
  40. Stephen
    March 4, 2013

    Cool! Thanks for bringing this to us. Definitely a place few of us will ever get.

    Reply
  41. Stephen S.
    March 3, 2013

    Had to be such a crazy adventure mate. I would love to spend some time in this wilderness.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      March 5, 2013

      It was. Every day was full of new things to see and learn about. I could have spent weeks out there without getting bored.

      Reply
  42. Andrea
    March 2, 2013

    Beautiful photos! I especially enjoyed seeing the colours of the scorpion and frog

    Reply
  43. Samuel Jeffery
    February 28, 2013

    F*&^ing Phenomenal!

    Reply
  44. Maria
    February 27, 2013

    Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my! Forget those guys you got chunga trees, poison frogs and who knows what in the water!!! Seriously, amazing photos – took me back to when I was kid and basically glued to all things National Geographic. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      February 27, 2013

      Ah yes, you just reminded me Maria. The rivers are home to Crocs & Bull Sharks. :D

      Reply
      • Maria
        February 27, 2013

        Crocs & Bull Sharks too? Wow! Creepy, crawly and cool! You give it all, don’t you? *laugh*
        Always look forward to reading your posts.

        Reply
  45. Dave @ Travel Transmissions
    February 26, 2013

    Good to see a traveler willing to get into some real adventures. Sounds like a great trip and I’m glad you brought back some really great photos. I especially liked the girl in the rain…sweet!

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      February 27, 2013

      I think I’ll definitely have a hard time trying to top this experience.

      Reply
  46. Mike (Nomadic Texan)
    February 26, 2013

    Photos are way too cool. Heading to Ecuador in 9 days. Would love to visit their Amazon areas, but not this trip!

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      February 27, 2013

      That sounds great Mike! I’d love to make it down to the Amazon eventually.

      Reply
  47. Ali
    February 26, 2013

    Fantastic photo essay! Really enjoyable read with great photos!

    Reply
  48. Clint
    February 26, 2013

    Awesome photos! The Darien Gap has been on my radar for years. I have explored a lot of Panama but have yet to venture there.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      February 27, 2013

      Not the easiest place to travel to, but well worth the effort. :)

      Reply
      • Rick E.
        December 23, 2014

        I would love to take that kind of adventure. Even a short distance into the Gap would be a rewarding, experience. Unfortunately, I have only been to Central America twice and I am going back this January of 2015. I would definitely need to have a guide and a little bit more knowledge before I even attempt a small portion of the Darian. I want to get away from all the tourist and see a part of the world people have less seen. Your photo diary was an inspiration.
        Rick

        Reply
        • Nils Sens
          February 11, 2015

          Hi Rick,
          Now it’s February. Did you make it to C.Am.? Would be cool to see your photos!
          Nils

Leave a Reply