Sunday, 12 January 2020

Panama...to the Darien Gap

After taking the first flight of the day from Bocas back to Panama City, we met up with with our old friend Carlos Bethancourt, head guide at the Canopy Family.  Carlos would accompany us for the remainder of the trip and was driving us to their base in the Darien, Canopy Camp.

We broke the 5-hour journey at the Avicar restaurant in Torti - undoubtedly one of the best places to see up to ten species of hummingbirds! We didn't see ten but we had a good selection of hummers and other birds in the garden.

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, male

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, male
When their throat catches the sun...amazing!
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Black-throated Mango, female

Black-throated Mango, male

Black-throated Mango, female
Long-billed Starthroat, male

Some of the other visitors to the bird table weren't too shabby either...

Blue Dacnis, male - what a colour!

Baltimore Oriole
After an hour watching the hummingbirds, we continued on our way to the Darien. We'd visited here in May for the Harpy Eagles but I hadn't expected to be returning quite so soon. The Darien has a bad reputation. It's a 50 mile wide, almost impenetrable, break in the Pan-American Highway separating Panama from Colombia. The Colombian side certainly has more problems - for a start it's patrolled by FARC, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (People's Army). Recognised as a terrorist organisation by the Colombian Government, they've certainly employed many unconventional practises in their time including (but not limited to), drug smuggling, kidnapping and murder of civilians. FARC aren't immediately active on the Panama side but there's no way of knowing how far you have to travel into 'The Gap' before running into them!

But I should stress, it's as safe as it can be in Panama and we never experienced ANY problems at all. Crossing The Gap is just not recommended and would be a foolhardy exercise!

But we wouldn't be heading deeper into the region for a couple more days. For the time being we could relax and get a good night's sleep at the wonderful Canopy Camp.

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