Summit of Mount Pirre.

Darien National Park

The remote area known as Darien Gap is located on Panama-Colombian border. The name comes from Panama's Darien Province and the gap in the Panamerican Highway. Because of the Gap, you can't drive from Central to South America. The border area is protected by huge Parque Nacional Darien on Panamanian side, and a smaller PN Los Katios in Colombia. Inside the parks is Pirre Range, an isolated mountain ridge stretching across the border. Its highest peak is Mount Pirre (1500 m), one of the most inaccessible mountains in Central America.
The first view of Pirre Range from Rio Chucunaque, Darien Province.
Kids in a riverside village, Rio Chucunaque, Darien Province.
Local kid, El Real.
The gateway to Pirre Range is El Real, a small village accessible by air or by a two-day bus/boat trip from Panama City via Meteti and Yaviza. From El Real, it's a 12-km hike to Pirre Station, a park ranger outpost in the foothills. Rich tourists often fly directly to Cana well inside the park, but you can't get from there to the highest part of Pirre Range. kid
Local kid, El Real.
View from Pirre Range towards El Real.
Forest around Pirre Station has never been logged.
Mountain stream, Pirre Range.
A reasonably good trail climbs from Pirre Station through beautiful mountain rainforest to a ridgecrest just above 1,000 m. From there, the trail is completely overgrown, and very difficult to follow. But you have to keep climbing into the cloud forest to see the numerous endemic species of those mountains. trail
On the trail to the summit.
camp camp
Our little camp on the ridgecrest.
Leafcutter ants (Atta sp.) carrying flower petals.
Darien National Park is the most biologically diverse place in Central America. It has a spectacular mixture of northern and southern species, plus a lot of unique plants and animals: at least five mammals, seven birds, twelve reptiles, and three frogs don't occur anywhere else. ants
Leafcutter ants (Atta sp.) carrying flower petals.
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Anolis lizards.
Urania leilus moth emerging from pupa.
Of course, you can only see a small part of this diversity on a short visit; even finding all endemic birds and mammals takes a lot of effort. But every day and night you spend there brings a lot of interesting encounters. Darien is not always a confortable place, but it is never boring. moth
Urania leilus moth a few minutes later.
Zamia manicata, an endemic cycad, Pirre Range.

Part 2: Pirre Station