Navigating the Darien’s Rio Turia
Boca de Cupe, Panama
After traveling through the Darien Gap by piragua canoe to visit a remote jungle village, I was forced to leave when security forces kicked me out.
The Darien is a swath of roadless wilderness between Panama Colombia that’s full of mystery intrigue. For years it’s been known as a haven for criminals, drug smugglers, and anti-government guerrilla groups.
Understandably most travelers decide to avoid the area, sailing around or flying over it instead.
But after speaking with a few individuals who had recently made the journey inside, I determined that it was safe enough to attempt a trip. Panama’s elite border security force Senafront has built up a strong presence in much of the region.
While the Darien Gap is by no means danger-free, it’s safer than it was just a few years ago.
My morning started in the village of El Real. I said goodbye to my Brazilian friend Gabriel as he hitched a ride to Yaviza via canoe to catch a local bus back to Panama City.
Unfortunately he did not have the proper permissions to continue further with me.
From here on it would just be myself and Isaac — a local guide from the Kuna indigenous tribe.
Indigenous Stilt Homes Along the River