As much as I love the city and all its urban goodness, I have an immense longing to explore the natural world. I dream of someday photographing the untouched natural beauty of places like Guyana, Borneo (what's left of it), and the Patagonia ice fields. But a new location caught my attention a few days ago, when I came across this article on Dark Roasted Blend.
The fact that I can barely find any suitable photographs of the Darién Gap for this post is a good indicator of its remoteness. The Darién Gap is a 160km long by 50km wide area of undeveloped land separating Panama from Columbia. It is a geological barrier between Central and South America, and is a land entirely devoid of roads. Because it is the only way to pass between the two Americas by land, the Darién Gap serves as the single missing link in the Pan-American Highway. Because of environmental and disease-related concerns, government attempts at completing this last stretch of highway have failed time and time again. Thus, transcontinental journeys have been forced to use four-wheel-drive trucks and similar vehicles to complete their passage.
Though the gap itself lacks any roadways, life still exists within its boundaries. The Embera-Wounaan and Kuna Indians live within the region, often traveling by dugout canoe. Geographically speaking, the gap is divided. On the Colombian side, a flat marshland and swampland dominates the scene. Panama's share, however, is a lush and green mountainous rain forest. At one time, the gap's forests had immense cedrela and mahogany cover, but logging efforts have all but removed these trees.
It is the prospect of largely undeveloped geographical contrasts that draws me to this region, but because of external conflicts, I doubt I will ever be able to experience the gap's offerings. Kidnappings are common in the region due to the heavy presence of three Colombian rebel groups. Travelers and explorers, if lucky, are released within a reasonable amount of time. But ten documented murders of U.S. citizens exist, which is enough to deter me for now.