What to expect during the trek
How are we going to do it? What are we going to see?
Yes you do. Trekking is about hiking, camping, and being self-sufficient in wilderness settings. We will have a few local porters that will carry the group’s communal gear such as large tarps, camping stoves, pots, as well as all of the food. You are responsible for carrying your own backpack with all your essentials, and your own snacks.
We sleep in hammocks in the middle of the jungle, usually by a river. Although in small communities where there are other types of accommodation we may take up the opportunity and stay there if the beds and sheets are clean. Churches and school buildings in remote villages provide excellent hammock shelters.
Park ranger and field stations on the other hand, are usually non-existent or in a sad state of disrepair in some of our countries. So accommodations are marginal at best. In such cases we camp in the backwoods.
We eat primarily dehydrated home-made food. We also eat store-bought, pre-packaged meals, and when we stay in remote villages we try to buy food from the locals because it adds a fresh variety to our menu and contributes to their economy.
If you are a vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions, we ask that you let us know right away. Menu planning for a long expedition in the jungle can be quite a challenge. But we do our best and work with you to find creative ways to produce a menu.
If we spot a wild animal on our journey, we can assure you that we will stop to have a look and even take a few photos. But we won’t actively look for wildlife, and it could very well happen that we don’t see a single animal on the entire trip. That’s because trekking and wildlife watching are activities that don’t mix well, specially in the tropical jungle. When you’re trekking you need to reach a specific destination in a certain number of hours. Whereas when you’re looking for wildlife you have to be very slow, quiet, and patient. We specialize in the former. There are a number of tour operators that specialize in wildlife watching. We can email you a few recommendations.
No you’re not. However, we understand that the idea of trekking in the jungle sometimes conjures up images of people crossing mosquito-infested swamps while gritting a knife between their teeth as part of a survival course or experience. Our treks on the other hand, are similar to backpacking trips in other parts of the world. You will learn certain skills that are specific to backpacking in tropical jungles, such as setting up your hammock and tarp; dressing for the day and night in the jungle, hiking with wet feet, and taking good care of them, etc. However, these are not meant to be survival techniques.
Having said that, we organize a biennial survival course for our guides. If you are interested, we can send you an email when we have set dates. But beware that learning jungle survival is not fun, and you don’t get to see much of the country because you stay put in one area for the entire course. In other words… no trekking.
If you’re into bushcraft, camping, survival, or other jungle-related activities, we recommend you visit www.junglecraft.com.my where you’ll find loads of useful information. Although largely focused on the jungles of Southeast Asia, a lot of the advice and techniques can be applied in the rainforests of Latin America.
Safety questions and concerns
The Darien has earned an undeserved reputation as a dangerous region. There certainly are places you should stay away from when traveling there (just like there are neighborhoods you stay out of in any city) because those places are frequented by irregulars or insurgents. However we coordinate our operations in the Darien with Senafront, our border patrol, and if a given area where we intend to travel becomes unsafe due to security issues or natural disasters we reserve the right to relocate our operation to a different region, or in a worse-case scenario, to cancel it altogether.
If for you security is a big concern, then you will always be looking over your shoulder and will not enjoy your trek. So we invite you to consider one of our other expeditions, which are just as amazing and unique.
Before the beginning of each expedition, every participant must have a valid travel insurance that covers everything up to medical evacuations and repatriation. We have Wilderness First Responder training obtained from NOLS and are able to handle accidents and illness to a reasonable extent. In case of an evacuation, we have a remote emergency coordinator who monitors the progress of each expedition 24/7, and facilitates any extraction operations with the professional agencies in charge. That way we in the field can concentrate our efforts on the patient and let our coordinator handle the extraction procedures. All medical costs will be covered by the participant or his/her insurance company.
There certainly are snakes in the places where we trek. Some of them are venomous. Big snakes are easy to see, but very rare. The little ones however can be so tiny and well camouflaged that you seldom notice them when you walk by. The real danger lies in stepping on them inadvertently, and having it strike back. This is why we ask that trekkers to wear high boots instead of trail shoes, and to wear thick gaiters, preferably snake-proof. We do this for insurance and piece of mind. We’ve never had an incident with snakes. But just like we have never tipped a boat, yet still wear the life jacket, we wear snake protection when going to the jungle.
Having said all this, if you have a phobia toward snakes or any other kind of wild creature, we recommend that you consider joining a trip in more controlled environments than our destinations.
There are several ways of to pay, wire transfer, bank transfer, and credit card. We can certainly discuss which way suits you best. At the time of booking you make a 50% downpayment to secure your spot. Then two weeks prior to the beginning date of the trek you make the final payment.
The downpayment is a prerequisite for your confirmation on the trip, and for us to give you access to all the detailed information you need to prepare for your expedition.
So far we have not canceled a confirmed expedition, and we hope to maintain that record. However, if we ever have to cancel a trip due to climatic, environmental, political, internal operations, or security-related reasons, we will reimburse 100% of the funds you have thus far paid us, including the transfer fees. Unfortunately we cannot take any responsibility for other expenses you have incurred related to a trip with us, such as flights, hotel nights, land transportation, if a cancelation is due to forces outside of our control.
If you have already confirmed your participation with us via a downpayment, and you later need to cancel it, we will reimburse all the money you have paid us so far, as long as this occurs 30 days or more from the start date of the trip.
If your cancellation occurs between 15 and 29 days from the start of the trip, you are entitled to 50% of the total price of the trek. In other words, if you have only made your 50% deposit of the trek, and you need to cancel between 15 and 29 days from the start date of the trip, you can keep the other 50%, as we will retain the downpayment you have deposited. Any cancellations within 14 days of the start of the trek are not eligible for a refund of any kind.
Any time you cancel a confirmed trip with us you assume the credit card commissio
We recognize that these terms can mean different things to different people. So in the interest of simplicity, here go our completely unscientific definitions:
‘Hiking’ involves a walk in a natural setting. It doesn’t explain how long you hike for, but typically it only lasts a few hours.
‘Trekking’ involves a hike lasting several days. It usually entails camping as well. So there’s a higher level of complexity because you have to plan your trip in terms of how long and how fast you’re going to walk, but also in terms of where you’re going to spend the night, and what you’re going to pack to be self-sufficient.
‘Backpacking’ is just a term commonly used in North America for ‘trekking’.
In our experience a hike is an activity that allows you to escape your daily routine for a few hours and lets you appreciate nature. A trek on the other hand, is a journey of self-transformation through nature.