Health & Safety in Darien National Park
Do you have yellow fever and malaria?
It is not common, but locals do get yellow fever once in a while. Malaria is more common on the Pacific side, where migrants cross from Columbia into Panama. Our tours operate on the Caribbean side. Please consult your travel medicine doctor and follow their recommendations regarding yellow fever vaccinations and malaria pills. There is a public hospital in Yaviza, about 30 km from the park, which provides care for the Darien region.
Are there problems with guerrilla soldiers or the Columbian armed group FARC?
Several years ago, the Columbian government came to an agreement with this group, giving them job opportunities and education. They offered a weapons exchange program with food or pay for those people who own a weapon.
What about drug dealers?
The Darien is a big rainforest which covers the whole province. There is no official road at all, but very thick forest everywhere so anyone with knowledge of the jungle can come across the Darien from Colombia. The National Park, where my tours go, is located at Pierre National Park, the highest part of the Darien. Because of its difficult trails and high elevations, drug dealers usually travel by oceans or on the low lands where it is easy to walk. In short, they travel in areas that are very far away from the National Park.
Does Panama provide police protection?
Yes. I take the extra step to fill out paperwork, leaving our full itinerary at the police station. The police will have the full visitors names, passports, and phone numbers. I carry the police phone number just in case. It is very important to know your full itinerary in advance because I get an official letter of permission and the police know where we are going and when to expect our return.
Do I need to be physically fit?
Yes! You need to be in good physical health. This trip is not accessible for those in a wheelchair, with a disability, chronic illness or mental health issues. (Please contact me about day trips or boat tours which may be able to better suit your needs.)
Is it hot and humid in the Darien?
Yes! If you are visiting from a cold climate, please arrive in Panama a day or two before the trip to get used to heat and 100% humidity.
Are snake bites an issue?
About 3 years ago, I did hear about a man getting a snake bite. But, this man was harassing the snake and was trying to pick it up. For this reason, we do not handle snakes. I carry a medicinal plant and we do have treatment at our local hospital. We also wear long pants and higher hiking boots. Prevention and respect for snakes is the best medicine.
Are children welcome?
Yes! I have had families with children as young as 6, and we had lots of fun. When traveling with families, I bring my son Jonathan along, who is studying tourism in college. I hike in front and he hikes behind so we keep your family together and safe.