With 5,970 km², the national park is the largest and best-known nature reserve in Panama. The limits of distribution of animal and plant species meet at this geographical interface between Central and South America. The variety of species is so immense that many have not yet been described. Visit ezinesports.com for north and central America political overview.
Darien National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Darién National Park|
|Natural monument||Coastal region explored by Columbus in 1502; since 1972 under nature protection, since 1980 national park with the mountain ranges of Darién, Sapo, Jungurudo and Pirre, recognized as biosphere reserve since 1983, an area of 5,980 km² with sandy beaches, rocky coast, mangrove swamps and tropical lowland and highland rainforest; extends 80% along the border with Colombia and forms a bridge between the two continents of the New World to the adjacent Los Katios National Park (Colombia); absolutely protected 830 km² core zone and 80 km² development area for tourism; traditional residential area of around 1,000 Indian Choco and Cuna|
|location||east of Santa Fe and the Gulf of San Miguel|
|meaning||a largely unchanged and diverse ecosystem of tropical America with the most extensive lowland rainforest on the Central American Pacific coast|
|Flora and fauna||tropical rainforest with a canopy at a height of 40 to 50 m, wetlands along the Chucunaque and Tuira, mangroves of the genera Rhizophora and Avicennia on the Pacific; among the mammals, giant anteater, jaguar, ocelot, Guatemalan howler monkey, brown-headed clamp monkey, night monkey, the stubby-tailed agoutis species Dasyprocta punctata, whitebeard peccary, Central American tapir; also caiman and American crocodile (pointed crocodile)|
Where the “dream road in the world” ends in the jungle: Darién National Park
Nobody should rely on the effective advertising slogan that you can drive from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego on the Panamericana, the 25,000-kilometer “dream road in the world”. Because east of the Panama Canal, the »Carretera Interamericana«, as the famous »Panamerican Highway« is officially called in Central America, turns into an arduous track and after another 400 kilometers behind Yaviza it becomes an unpaved path. This is where the Spaniards penetrated in the 16th century after Vasco Núñez de Balboa 1513 was the first European to cross the isthmus on foot in a north-south direction from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. This north-south passage through the Isthmus of Panama has been facilitated by the Panama Canal since 1914. To reach the South American continent by land in an east-west direction from Panama is still as difficult today as it was in Balboa’s times. Because in this part of the Darién you still have to struggle on foot through dense jungle on muddy jungle paths over streams and rivers with an average of 28 ° Celsius heat, to finally reach the state of Colombia after ten to twelve days, bitten by mosquitoesto reach a paved road again. That is why the crossing of the Darién is one of the last great adventures in the world among globetrotters.
The largest contiguous tropical rainforest in Central America stretches along the Panamanian-Colombian border from coast to coast like a natural barrier. Tropical rainforest – colloquially the adventurous sounding terms “jungle” or “primeval forest” are used – is the oldest forest formation on earth, because it was not exposed to the climatic fluctuations of the ice ages in the climate-spanning, equatorial and climate-stable zones of the tropics, as in other vegetation zones. With its vegetation forms structured according to altitude levels, it is therefore considered by scientists to be the largest genetic reservoir on the planet. Especially in the dense canopy at a height of up to 40 meters, which is only penetrated by a few giant trees up to 50 meters high, most life develops because of the proximity to light. Epiphytes – species, including bromeliads and orchids belong. They feed on the water flowing along the branches and twigs, and their flowers serve as food for bats, birds and insects. Ferns, mosses, creepers and philodendrons can be found on the floor of the jungle, but above all everything that lost to light in the struggle for survival, including dead branches, leaves and fallen trees. Ants and fungi are responsible for converting this biomass into minerals. While there are around 50 tree species in Central European forests, there are more than 1,000 in the tropical rainforests of the Darién. Thanks to their matting, their dense roots have a high storage capacity, so that the water that drips from the crowns and runs down the trunks is large Part is immediately fed back to the trees and the canopy.
Only a few indigenous people have survived the 300-year colonial rule in this region. A group of Choco and Kuna indigenous people still live in scattered settlements along the rivers. They provide the park rangers and offer their services as guides when crossing the national park. It remains to be seen whether the Panamericana through the Darién will be built in the near future with the help of the World Bank and the last stretch of the “world’s dream road” will be paved with it. Panama and Colombia are pushing, but the US has been blocking for decadesThis project was successful in all international bodies because they did not want a motorway connection to the »drug country Colombia«. In the public language of their diplomats, they turn this national interest into the universal argument of ecological concern for the rainforest and an ethnological commitment to the Cuna and Emberá indígenas.