Darien Gap Jungle Expedition

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I am forming a group of Toyota Land Cruiser BJ70 series explorers who want to cross the Darien Gap from Panama into Colombia. We want to stick with Toyota 70 Series BJ diesel Land Cruisers, as parts could be shared, increasing mechanical survivability. The Darien Gap hasn't been traversed via truck in recent history, and the potential exists for hazards such as guerrilla or smuggling activity, in addition to what is considered a very difficult vehicle expedition through the jungle. There are no paths, the terrain is extreme, and there will be extensive river crossings. It is expected to take approximately one month. The trucks will need to be highly equipped and extremely capable. My trip will continue on to end at Cape Horn at the southern tip of Argentina and Chile. Anyone interested, please contact me.
 
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I am interested in forming a group of 4x4 enthusiasts who want to cross the Darien Gap from Panama into Colombia in 4 wheel drive trucks. Very interested in finding other Toyota 70 Series BJ diesel Land Cruisers, as parts could be shared, increasing mechanical survivability, although any make of vehicle is welcome. The Darien Gap hasn't been traversed via truck in recent history, and is currently considered impassible. It will be extremely treacherous, and hazardous, as there is extensive paramilitary and cartel activity in addition to what is considered an impassible vehicle expedition through the jungle. There are no paths, the terrain is extreme, and there will be extensive river crossings. It is expected to take an extended period of time. Vehicles will need to be highly equipped and extremely capable. My trip will end at Cape Horn at the southern tip of Argentina and Chile. Anyone interested, please contact me.
Sounds like a great trip. Send us as much video as you can before your disappearance. Thanks. :cheers:
Your sarcasm is duly noted. Some of us find adventure in following the path less traveled. Thanks.
 
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spotcruiser

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I wish you the best. Seriously. Challenging terrain and wild animals is one thing; challenging human beings with no conscience and modern weapons is altogether different. People have made it through. Good luck.
 
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Current planning for Darien Gap run will be during the dry season starting in December of 2016. I will be in Costa Rica starting in August and making runs to Yaviza for reconnaissance and to secure local guides on the Panama side. During this time frame I will also fly to Turbo to scout local guides in Colombia to identify the best location to enter the Atrato River, or if the swamp can be traversed (unlikely), where on Route 62 would make the best point of entry.
 
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Ballsy......easy to be negative but I won't be.....if you pull it off then you will go down in motoring history (modern day Blashford-Snell). An immense challenge in many respects and not just the driving across the gap......not for me but I'll be following. BTW we'll be doing part of the Pan-Am this year (North America - Prudoe Bay to Central America) and completing the southern Americas after that. Good luck!
 
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Considering that the last people that attempted motoring the Darien Gap did not have GPS, accurate topographical maps, google earth, satellite phones, EPIRBs, reverse osmosis, and dehydrated foods, I would suggest that we should have an easier trip. Especially if we have local guides on both sides. That's not to say that it's not still dangerous. It is, and it shall be. But to do something few others have done has a human attraction all it's own that is difficult to diffuse the value of.
If you don't mind telling me, how will you be getting your vehicle to South America? As this saga unfolds, it's easy to see that any number of variables could derail this Darien Gap project.

For a number of reasons we are going to container our truck back to the UK for a 6 month break. However, many people have heard of this ferry "the San Blas" that goes from Colon to Cartagena - this 'ferry' is a myth and doesn't exist. Therefore most go by container. When we return we shall do so at Guayaquil Ecuador as I don't fancy Columbia and Venezuela at the moment. A good source of info is the FB PanAmerican TRavelers group (where getting across the Darien is a daily question it seems), HUBB and Overland Sphere...
 
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I've heard container shipping is a PITA and can be quite confusing. Have you done it before, and is it difficult? Also, approximately what is the cost?

Yes it is a PITA - my first time but plenty have done it....you will need to do your research. There are lots of local rules for importing/exporting and various taxes/charges. Typical around the Darien (recently posted on PanAmerican Travellers Assoc FB group is approx USD2000 for a 20' FCL or a little more for a 40' which you can share with two trucks and halve the cost. Shipping agents will do most of the hard work for you. Given the cost to go around the Darien was one of the reasons why I may as well go back to the UK.....I can get there for about the same from Houston. I can then regroup, do some other travels, catch up with family and return to SA when I'm ready. Actually, the US is one of the most difficult countries to bring a truck into.
 

Rigger

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Wow! An ambitious undertaking, for sure. Best of luck to you, Allen.

The Darien was crossed in 1961 by men in Chevrolet Corvairs. I enjoyed the Youtube videos of their journey.
 
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Wow! An ambitious undertaking, for sure. Best of luck to you, Allen.

The Darien was crossed in 1961 by men in Chevrolet Corvairs. I enjoyed the Youtube videos of their journey.
That's actually a half truth. The corvairs were preceded by a bull dozer, and were pulled through with 4 WD chevy work trucks. One was abandoned before the Colombian border, the other two at the Colombian border, which is actually less than half the way to the exit of the Darien. Ahead of them lay the Atrato River and the Atrato Swamp, neither of which could have been crossed by a corvair. Very few have actually crossed it and come out the other side on Route 62 in Colombia.
 
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Rigger

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Thanks for those replies. The videos (which sound like Chevrolet commercials) never told the whole story.

I'm looking forward to following your adventure.
 
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Wow! An ambitious undertaking, for sure. Best of luck to you, Allen.

The Darien was crossed in 1961 by men in Chevrolet Corvairs. I enjoyed the Youtube videos of their journey.

I thought the Corvairs trip stopped at the Panama border with Columbia - that is on the Panamanian side of the swamp/river and Darien. Not sure that counts as 'crossed' as the really difficult bit was still to be done. Good for 2 wheel driven cars though.....specially back in the day
 

Rigger

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The vids of those Corvairs crossing the rivers are actually pretty funny.
 
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I thought the Corvairs trip stopped at the Panama border with Columbia - that is on the Panamanian side of the swamp/river and Darien. Not sure that counts as 'crossed' as the really difficult bit was still to be done. Good for 2 wheel driven cars though.....specially back in the day
Exactly. They've been found abandoned right at the Panamanian/Colombian border. The Atrato River and Swamp were still ahead of them. No way they could have gone any farther. Surprised they made it as far as Palo de las Letras.
 
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Have you watched the Expedition Overland vids on Youtube? They tried to get advice/support to do this in early 2015, but no go.

These guys had lots of local support, freeze dried food, and guns.

Hope it all works out.
I don't think the Police checkpoints at every country between the US and Panama are going to let any of us in with guns. Starting with Mexico. :/
 
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I've often wondered about the fuel for such an adventure. Those guys in the stock CJ7s with mud tires and winches seemed to have plenty.
 
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Fuel: helicopter out to create fuel dumps at designated positions along the way. Or helicopter into wherever you need fuel (ie not pre-arranged) on basis of current location - you may not actually know your route or even be able to use it. Could be done using fuel bladders....could also use the empty bladders as flotation for river crossings later
 

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