The Darien Gap Project

The Darien Gap Project will involve visiting the Colombian choco department which is the least explored region of Colombia due to its notorious past; and lack of attention given to it by the past and present governments. The latest figure on population was around 500,000 people where 82% are from an Afro Caribbean heritage, 12.7% are of Amerindian descent and the remaining 5.2% are of white heritage or mestizos.

About Expedition

Quibdo is the capital of the chocò region where half of the population are said to live and work. The rest are in small communities scattered throughout the region where a majority are on the coast such as Nuqui and surrounding towns of Quibdo. So my main intention of this trip is to travel through Colombia from Jurado to Jaque in Panama documenting my trip on a daily basis. Wholly un-supported where I will be raising awareness for conservation and indigenous communities rights I will be travelling over a number of different landscapes from primary rainforest to high valleys and wetlands. In so-called red zones which are high in illegal activities noticeably narcotrafficking, the areas are controlled by non-governmental groups mainly in the past the FARC group who are now in peace talks with the Colombian government, although this is a great step in the right direction, other groups have snapped up once FARC controlled areas, from them. The area is known for its dangers mainly from the illicit activities people do. I have spoken to a local guy in-country and again he has expressed his concerns for this type of travel in an area not many people know of. The most info I have got from a local guy in Colombia.

Expedition Map

Expedition Video

The Plan

Map Plan
So my trip will begin from Jurado in Colombia travelling north through the choco department of Colombia. into the Darien Gap which finally leads into Panama and finally the endpoint will be in Jaque I will be following the Pacific coast of Colombia. I aim to make it a wholly solo project and documenting it on a daily basis on my return. I will be providing an educational perspective of a region in that part of the world. The trip as a whole will be around 50 miles in total which covering 3-5 miles a day which would take around 15 days. I will add another 5 days to that to be sure.

The reasoning behind me doing this trip on a personal level as with my others I try and aim to push myself to my very limit, of my capabilities as an explorer. With a larger aim such as raising awareness for a cause such as the indigenous people rights as recently, indigenous communities have been in the news especially for bad news. The tragedy and genocide of the previously uncontacted tribe on the Brazilian and Peruvian border where greedy, selfish, illegal gold miners had violently killed them. As they encroached on their territory. You can read about it here. As well as working with international organisations such as survival and the size of Wales on previous expeditions.

The Conclusion

Darien Gap 1 Darien Gap 2 Darien Gap 3

The 3rd and final attempt which was the only success I had done a number of reccy trips to both sides of the border over the space of three years 2017 to 2019 sourcing local people and resources and getting an actual feel for the region. Having had to attend the Colombian embassy in London they said it was impossible and dangerous even if I got to the area. There would be no local support as the military police have little to no powers there or presence.

The 2 failed attempts failed for a few reasons active fighting north of the start point to Migracion Colombia retaining my passport and escorting me on a boat the following morning bright and early.

Fast forward to the year 2022 after this year, I WAS 30 AND I VOWED TO MYSELF I NEED TO CROSS BEFORE I PASS 30. I literally trained and put everything into this from leaving my home address and giving it up I said to myself I have no job no place to live and drilled this in my mind so why can't I do this? I also committed everything to it when on the ground there I contacted people I had maintained contact with through the previous attempts and it was all or nothing now. As I arrived in Jurado I was welcomed and remembered by a number of people I had spent time with in the past and regularly communicated with when I was in the UK. The same place is still controlled by the groups (armed groups) but all outside sources stated the ELN (Ejercito Liberacion Nacional) were in charge and the previous year I was partying with them in the street for me to arrive here in 2022 August to reconnect with a local man and fixer to tell me the clan del Golfo are now in charge. This goes to show the fluidity of the region with a lack of government offices within 100 miles.

So The Darien crossing happened after several days of waiting around for permission to be given and for me to be given the rules to follow by the organisation in charge, in the area of the Gulf clan I of course agreed and explained I would do anything to get this expedition ticked off. The trip took over 10 days if including my waiting time in Jurado. Guides were sourced the trip was a 3 pronged approach I would need individuals to grant permission that was ticked as long as I paid, and then the next step was to get to the interior of the Darien to an indigenous community, we asked a number of village leaders most refused apart from one and that was agreed then we had to get some transport there. Another issue as they felt they could be a target if I was a target it was arranged and sorted eventually but when I was introduced to them I felt they were nervous but were happy to get me going. I said my goodbyes to my local fixer and off we went. To attend a village and be asked tons of questions but as we set off I was given a space in the boat for my rucksack the rain was heavy as always in the choco. I put my rain cover over it it was green they laughed and said it looks like the military it’s a problem luckily the other side was black and they were more content due to groups that may assume we were military and open fire. That was the daily life of the locals' problem resolved and we continued.

As we arrived at the village 3 hours later I was told I would sleep in a community member's house the boatman brother's house, I set my hammock up they explained that in the morning I would be introduced to a trusted individual and then I would head into the jungle and into the unknown this now was the Darien gap pacific coast crossing actually underway. To follow on with this please click here.

Any Help!

If you would like to help out in any way you can, I do appreciate it. In the middle of Latin America literally, a fiver could help out immensely.

- Daniel Eggington