Things to do in Darien Province

Darien National Park, Darien Province: Address, Phone Number, Darien National Park Reviews: 4.5/5

Darien National Park
Located in the Province of Darien, this World Heritage Site consists of 1,475,000 acres of beaches, mangroves, swamps and tropical forests.
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18 reviews
Very good

Sergey I
2 contributions
Darien is a great place for a live trip
Feb. 2018
We were on the Islands of Las Perlas and went up on an inflatable boat on the Sambu river. We are travelled along the river on their own, did not buy any excursions. At night, the military came to us and said that permission to visit the area is required. But in the morning in the village of Samba we kindly issued the required paper and we were able to continue our trip
Written August 6, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

1 contribution
Independent guide for Darien?
Apr. 2018 • Friends
we (couple, one speaks fluent spanish) are looking for a local guide to show us around in the Darien for a few days (last week of April 2018).

We are thinking of going to Yaviza/El Real and just "find" one there...but it would obviously be much better to have a contact beforehand.

It seems to be impossible to get up-to-date info on the Darien in general - and much more so when it comes to specific infos, phone numbers, internet concatcs of guides etc.

Can anyone help please?
Written April 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Richard G
Rockford, IL76 contributions
How we visited the Darien
Feb. 2018 • Couples
My wife and I rented a car in Panama City and drove the @ 300 KM to Yaviza. It’s a 4 - 5 hour boring drive. The speed limit on the open road is 80 KPH, but there are many small towns and school zones along the way slowing us down. The road is paved all the way, but some sections (@ 1/2 of the total) are severely pot-holed. There are many (@ 6) police check points along the way. The first 5 only wanted to see our passports and drivers license. At the Chepo check point(I think) the traffic backup was the worst, @ 1/2 hr. At the check point, where we entered Darien Province (@ 50 KM before Yaviza) they took our passports and ran them through their computer system. It is our understanding that, if you are a tourist, and do not have a permit to enter Darien National Park, you will not be allowed to enter Darien Province. You will be turned around at this point. You will not be allowed to proceed to Yaviza. We had a permit, and were allowed to proceed after about 15 minutes. The police never asked to see our permit, all the necessary information showed up in their computer once they ran our passport numbers. The permit application requests all your passport information, so the two are tied together. If you do not have a permit for the Darien National Park, you better double check about entering Darien Province before going. We met our guide (Isaac Pizarro)in Yaviza. Isaac is a licensed guide for Darien National Park. We recommend him highly. We only did three days, two nights with him, but we met other people leaving the Darien who knew him and had been using him for years. He claims 18 years of guide service in Darien National Park. Even the police are on a first name basis with him. My wife accidentally came across his name while researching the Darien on the internet. Isaac was instrumental in assisting us in getting our permits. He knew how to “dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s” with the authorities. Isaac’s license information is: Carné Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá #10962. He prefers to be contacted using “WhatsApp” +507 6245-3606, which is also his mobile number. His preferred method of getting payment for his upfront fees for the permits and deposit is Western Union, which we were able to do on-line and using our credit card. We had some small confusion about what was included or not included in his “expenses” charge. I believe most of the confusion resulted from our limited Spanish and Isaac’s limited English. The total amount of “confusion” was about $60. Safe parking for our vehicle in Yaviza was arranged by Isaac. We took a small boat down the river (@ 1 hr) to El Reale where we spent the night in a private house. Things are getting pretty “rustic” at this point, but our room had an air conditioner and bath down the hall. I don’t think our door had any lock. The next day we loaded up into the back of a pickup truck and drove @ 1/2 hr down a very bumpy road to our trailhead into Darien National Park. Then we trekked @ 5 KM into the park to Rio Frio where a decent lunch of beef, rice, juice and coffee was prepared. Isaac pointed out many interesting aspects of the jungle on the trek in; many different birds, some monkeys, army ants and the unbelievable “green rivers” of leaf cutter ants. The trails were wide and in very good shape in our opinion. Some small muddy spots. Mostly level ground. After lunch and a tour around the Rio Frio campsite we trekked another @ 2 KM to the cascade (waterfall). This place was a slice of heaven. The cascade is @ 5 M high, you can climb up to the top of it and slide down into a nice deep pool. The water is very refreshing, especially after trekking for several hours in the steaming hot jungle. Some type of “water shoes” would have been very useful here. We had to pick our way barefooted @ 100 M up the river (and back) to reach the cascade, and I have very tender feet. After splashing around for an hour or so, we trekked back to the Rio Frio encampment. Isaac asked if we wanted to spend the night in Rio Frio or an Indian village. We opted for the Indian village which is @ 4 KM from Rio Frio, but was very near our pick-up spot for the next day. Rio Frio is a nice “oasis” in the jungle for lunch, but not very appealing for an overnight stay without camping gear. We set out for the Indian village and had a choice of the short, but lots of up & down route, or the longer flat route. We chose the short route and didn’t find it difficult. The “up & downs” were only 50 - 100 M. It took us @ two hours with all our picture stops. The Indian village is amazing. I was impressed by how clean and manicured it was. Very little trash. We were welcomed like kings. Fresh coconuts were harvested and opened with machetes for our drinking and tasting pleasure. Someone was sent somewhere and got cold beer for us. Beds with mosquito netting were prepared for us in the elevated guest house. There was even electricity available to charge our phones. Shower and toilet was available in a separate ground level “guest” bath. Dinner was prepared for us. And the young children came flocking around us, not begging, just wanting their pictures taken with us and their huge smiles. We shared some of our snacks with them. It was really a treat for us. Sleeping in the elevated guest house was difficult with the heat and humidity, but the night sounds of the jungle were comforting. The next morning breakfast was available if we wanted it, but we just wanted coffee. Then it was into the back of the pickup truck for a bumpy ride to El Real, catch a boat back to Yaviza, drive 5 hrs to Panama City. Only 4 police check points. Again, we recommend our guide, Isaac Pizarro highly. He arranged everything for us from our arrival in Yaviza to our return to back to Yaviza. Everything was flawless.
Written February 23, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Berlin, Germany30 contributions
Definitely visit the Emberá La Chunga village in the Darién
Oct. 2017 • Couples
We visited La Chunga for a weekend (2 nights and 2 days). Solarte, of, helped organize the visit. We stayed in lovely huts (with no walls, but good mosquito nets) with Rutilio and Bremilda (Solarte's brother's family). The village is very safe, calm, and full of lovely people and children. Knowing some Spanish will infinitely improve the experience.

The trip to the village takes several hours by boat and foot from the nearest town of La Palma. Getting to La Palma from Panama City is also long and somewhat adventurous if you rely on public transportation, but it's part of the experience.

We enjoyed the hospitality, hiking through the jungle with Rutilio, seeing exotic animals and plants, getting to know the Emberá culture, and spending time with the children. It's a unique experience in one of the most remote places in the world. We thoroughly recommend it.
Written November 19, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

paris9 contributions
Off the beaten path in La Chunga village
Jul. 2017 • Couples
We stayed 3 nights in La Chunga village with Solarte's brother family (Travel Darien Panama). The trip to go there is an adventure on its own, with 2 buses and 1 boat then 1 night in a pension in La Palma, then more boat, then a 30 mins hike in the jungle to finally arrive in this Embera Comarca village in the jungle. We were my husband and I the only tourists there. What a unique experience to share the daily life with this very nice family. We enjoyed taking our bath in the river by the village and trekking in the jungle to discover the fauna and flora. We had a great guide who explained us about the medicinal usage of plants and also about the animals surrounding us. We liked the simplicity of the lifestyle and the interesting conversations on cultural differences. We hope to return to spend more time to discover the Darien.
Written August 27, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

41 contributions
Visit La Chunga
Mar. 2015 • Friends
We just returned from our second vist to La Chunga. Not much has changed in almost 3 years - the journey to get there is difficult, beautiful scenery, and wonderful people. They will welcome you and show you traditional music, dance, and crafts. They have built 2 home stay accommodations in traditional style. If you are looking for immersion this is the place. Solarte has a new website: Go visit this unique place and help support the village.
Written March 17, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

California172 contributions
A Tropical Beauty Not for the Faint-Hearted
Mar. 2014 • Business
Parque Nacional Darien compromises 1.4 million acres of pristine tropical forest, pure rivers and complex ecosystems. It is among the largest untouched jungles on the planet, and a World Heritage site and biosphere reserve. .

Our expedition spent two weeks trekking the Jungle terrain, encountering Embera Indians (an indigenous people), cutting our way through dense forest, climbing rocky mountains, sleeping in hammocks and bathing in shallow rivers. This is not for the faint-hearted, nor for someone who cannot handle high humidity, strenuous hiking and complete isolation from the world. I found it invigorating, and would go again someday. And, I would recommend exploring with an expedition as the area has many dangers.

See more pics and read more about our expedition:
Written May 6, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

4 contributions
Visit villages in the Darien, Panama
Aug. 2013
I have just come back to Panama City from a trip to Sambu in the Darien. It was amazing. Quiet, remote, unspoilt, rural. I flew with Air Panamafrom Albrook airport (wed and sat $46 one way). The plane was tiny, so you need to book (at Albrook). You don't need a permit and you don't need a guide, unless you decide to visit a village like La Chunga when you get there.

To arrange this go to the Villa fiesta hotel in Sambu (at end of airstrip) rooms $25 a night (with aircon) or place next door has rooms for $12.

At the villa Fiesta hotel (and shop) you will find Ricardo (who speaks English) and Telma (who doesn't). He will guide you or will find someone who can. Tel 333-2512 to speak to the but be aware the phone no is the public booth outside the shop!

If you go to la Chunga you can do a homestay (approx $25 a nights, meals inc) its amazing. A real jungle based village with a traditional lifestyle. There is a Peace Corps volunteer living here who can talk to you about village life but be respectful and don't abuse their time! Take treats like beer, chocolate or nice food as a thank you.

From here you can do a jungle trek, swim in the river, visit houses, get a temporary juice tattoo, watch women weaving baskets, help with coffee planting or just chill and watch the world go by.

Be aware, this isn't some planned excursion of trip. Things will not be laid on for your convenience and people will not come to talk to you and try to sell you things. Expect rural simplicity and you can't go far wrong!

There is also apparently a boat from Panama City to Sambu but I don't know where from. If you call the number above Ricardo can help.

Strictly adventurous souls only!
Written August 26, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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