The Darién gap crossing Part 2
So the ultimate test to this expedition would finally begin after leaving the indigenous village and attempting to cross through the most extreme parts of the Darién Gap by foot carrying my 27kg backpack containing a sleeping bag, hammock, video equipment and food.
Fortunately I, secured a guide with experience crossing the route on foot. Still, no level of preparation was going to take away from what was to come.
At the start of the trek, I would have to pass the first river crossing while over-cumbered by my huge backpack, which I regualrly hoisted on top of my shoulders. Slightly off balance by the weight, I trod carefully through the murky waters, unable to see beyond the surface for obstructions. Worse yet, the water flowed fast, and I could slip at any moment.
The river crossing was tense. There was a high possibility I could have dropped the backpack, losing the entirety for the journey, or even fatally falling or being swept down which often happened to the unprepared . After making the river crossing, there was no time to rest. I would have to keep up with the guide who was as fit as anything and a product of his envoirenment. Now tension ensued from the pressures of the crowded forest with low-hanging branches and debris everywhere—forcing me to crouch and find narrow gaps to pass through while pinned down by the heavy weight of equipment in my pack.
At every turn, the guide would keep a lookout for dangerous smugglers and paramilitary groups that have a track record for robbing, kidnapping and killing people in the area. I also also became a product of the envoirenment and hyperaware of dangerous insects of all kinds and the patient ambush predators of the countless pitviper species of the region crawling or waiting inches away from me after coming across a huge cobweb I could have easily walked into face first if looking elsewhere not the worst outcome but an uncomfortable one at the least..
Nearing The End of the First Day on Foot in the Darién Gap
I would would be faced with many more river crossings to come, including rapids with water aggressively crashing into the rocky stream. River current levels were awfully unpredictable, but I could only trust the guide’s judgement on whether a current was too strong or not to pass.
After being battered by torrential rainfall while sweating buckets from the formidable trek, we finally reached a river we deemed too dangerous to pass due to its strong current. Therefore, we both set up camp nearby using a mixture of modern camping and bushcraft techniques to set up our shelter and sleeping arrangements.
Summary and Next Objective of Expedition
This concluded our first day on foot in the Darién Gap, having walked 15 miles and crossed 6 rivers in one of the wettest and most hostile places on the planet.
Due to the premature stoppage on day one of the trek, we had more ground to cover than expected for day two before reaching the border to enter Panama. Feeling exhausted and fatigued, I needed as much rest as I could get. Day two would only rise in risk and difficulty as the terrain becomes more mountainous and the area being the prime spot for criminal activity and dangerous wildlife.
The area we were about to enter was the deepest point into the Darién Gap. Far away from any civilisation with nothing but wilderness miles away in every direction, making it one of the most lawless parts of the rainforest where you can easily get lost—leading people never to make it passed the border or neither do they make it out.