Scouting trip to Darien

This weekend I did a scouting trip with my motorbike to Darien, Panama. It was different than expected. The area along the pan-american highway is relatively well developed, the houses have nice gardens, there are schools, and the main roads are in good condition.

Crossing from the Province of Panama to Darien.

My goal of this drip was to reach the end of the pan-american highway. From the capital it is about 280km straight ahead. The road condition is good with the exception of the part between Lake Bayano and the entrance to the Darien Province. The highway ends in a village called Yaviza.

Yaviza

Yaviza is a small village on both sides of the Chucunaque river. In general it is very relaxed. The inhabitants are Embera indigenous and black people who came mainly from the Colombian province of Choco. To the Colombian boarder it is about 30-40km of dense rainforest.

The center of Yaviza from the opposite site of the Chucunaque river.

There are almost no tourists in Yaviza. The Panamanians completely ignore the region east of the capital. They always travel to the “interior” which refers to the region between the capital and the border to Costa Rica. They only travel to the east for work if they have to.

There is another village further down the Chucunaque river called Real de Santa Maria – or just “Real”. You can travel there by boat in about 30-40 minutes. Once every 10 years the village gets completely flooded. As far as I got it, hiking trips to the national park start from Real. There is no official accommodation in Real.

Yaviza is located where the Chucunaque river and the Chico river join.

In Yaviza there is also a ruin of a fortified house. Those houses were built by the Spaniards in Darien for protection from Indians and Pirates.

A fortified house built by the Spaniards between 1760-1785.

Puerto Kimba

Another place I visited is Puerto Kimba. It is a small port at the La Iglesa river that can be reached from Meteti. At Puerto Kimba you will see a parking lot with many cars. Those cars belong to the inhabitants of Darien’s capital La Palma. La Palma can only be reached by boat and is at the river mouth of the Chucunaque river. The boat ride takes about 30min and costs $4 USD. However, I could not visit La Palma because it was a holiday and it took forever unit the boat was full.

Rolling hills on the road to Puerto Kimba. This is the condition of the main roads in the Darien Province.

What I learned from this trip is that Panama is much more extent than I thought. From Yaviza to Panama City it is about 280km and to Costa Rica it is more than 650km.

Seguro que si!

Exploring the Mines of Rio Tinto, Spain

During my tow-month stay in Seville I did a scouting tour with my motorbike to the Rio Tinto river. The river is known for its reddish color which is caused by microorganisms that process sulfur and iron ore. The microorganisms produce sulfuric acid which makes the river very acid and “normal” life impossible. The spring of the Rio Tinto river is located in a mining area. Since 3000 BC different cultures like the Tartessos, the Romans, or the British have exploited the area and left their traces. The goal of my trip was to get an overview of the region and to have fun with my camera and motorbike.

Overview of the area around Nerva and the Rio Tinto river. The open-pit mine Cerro Colorado is still in operation. The towns Nerva and Minas de Riotinto are literally located in the middle of the mining area. The historic open-pit mines Atalaya and Peña de Hierro are no longer in operation. Peña de Hierro can be visited. The train station is where you can take a train along the Rio Tinto river towards the coast (Huelva).
The colors along the Rio Tinto river are amazing. If you have a car or a motorbike you can explore the region around the village Berrocal where the river passes. There you can find some awesome photos. Along the river you also find old train stations and ruins of former mines. Berrocal is about 30min south of Nerva on the way towards Huelva.
As of today, the open-cast mine of Cerro Colorado is operated by the Atalaya Mining corporation and produces copper and silver. The pit is about 230m deep and located just outside Nerva. This photo has been taken during blue hour at an official viewpoint.
There are several lakes that have different colors. Unfortunately, several are not reachable since they belong to the Atalaya Mining corporation. The two lakes depicted above are separated by a dam. The left lake is called Embalse del Agua and the right one Embalse de Gossán. This location is easily accessible.
In the region between Nerva and Seville it is common to see burned woodland. Most of the fires are man made. In 2004 a mayor fire burned 26,500 hectares. The photo above shows a victim of an artificial fire in 2018. The tree caught the sunlight very beautiful and the plantations in the background build a nice contrast.
The region along the Rio Tinto river is a paradise for people who like to explore lost places. Man left traces from around 5000 years of minding. The ruins above are located close to the train station between Nerva and Minas de Riotinto. I guess it shows a former train station where trains got loaded.
Exploring the entire area is very rewarding.

I also published a video about the trip on Youtube (in German):