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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.