Introducing Darién Province
Mention that you’re going to the Darién to anyone and you’ll no doubt be greeted with everything from fear and panic to horror and disbelief. Bad press and grave misconceptions about safety in the region would have you believe that the Darién is a no-go zone of Colombian guerrillas and narcotraffickers, but while the dangers of the province shouldn’t be underestimated, they should at least be contextualized. There are certainly regions that shouldn’t be visited unless you’re looking to get kidnapped. However, these are few and far between and easily avoided by anyone with the slightest regard for personal welfare.
Home to a 576, 000-hectare national park, southern Darién is where the primeval meets the present and the scenery appears much as it did a million years ago. Even today, the local Emberá and Wounaan people maintain many of their traditional practices and retain generations-old knowledge of the rainforest. Parque Nacional Darién is also one of world’s richest biomes and is home to the legendary bird-watching destination of Cana. But while the south is home to Panama’s most spectacular rainforests, the north is home to its worst scenes of habitat destruction. Although most news items focus on the spilling over of Colombia’s civil war into Panama’s borders, the real battle lines surround the province’s rapidly disappearing forests.
With the right planning, the Darién offers spectacular opportunities for rugged exploration and is best approached by travelers with youthful hearts, intrepid spirits and a yearning for something truly wild.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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