The Adrenalist

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Crossing the dangerous Darien Gap



The Darien Gap is just about as rugged and extreme as it gets for the adventurous Adrenalist.

From the tip of Chile to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the Pan-American highway speeds along, uninterrupted, for thousands and thousands of miles. That is, except for one place: the Darien Gap. A section of jungle between Colombia and Panama, so rugged that building a road was deemed impractical. The Darien Gap is a crossing that is home to wild beasts, endless rivers, swamps, and dense stretches of rainforest. Not a fun place to get lost in, to say the least.

That, however, doesn’t mean that intrepid explorers, travelers and hikers don’t venture in. Some of the most epic and famous cross-continental adventures have crossed this short, yet treacherous, passage at the midpoint of their longer journeys. Now, the crossing is opening up to more tourism, and it’s possible for your average adventure seeker to make the voyage. The key is to have local guides, usually Kuna indians, and local knowledge. There are famous cases, from both the 19th century and 20th century, of explorers getting lost and fatally wounded in this wilderness.

The main danger is the jungle itself, full of poisonous snakes, sneaky jaguars, caimans and bugs that will leave your arm immobile and in pain. Make sure you have your poisonous animal bite survival guide handy for this journey.

Those risks, however, just add to the thrill. It’s a small price to pay to visit one of the ultimate untouched places. The Darien Gap is the only gap in the Pan-American in a world increasingly paved over and easily accessed.

If you’ve ever braved the Darien Gap or plan to take on the crossing soon, let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen.

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