Panama: Darien National Park
Darien National Park, or Parque Nacional Darien, is designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site No. 159. The site compromises 1.4 million acres of pristine tropical forest, pure rivers and complex ecosystems. This large swathe of undeveloped rugged terrain is among the largest untouched jungles on the planet and a rich biosphere reserve. With no roads, it is the missing link for completion of the Pan-American Highway which has led to the nickname: Darien Gap.
The province is home to a native tribe known as the Embera. There are many remote villages that may only be accessed by trekking or by paddling or motoring dugout canoes up narrow, shallow snaking rivers. These are welcoming peoples selling wares, such as beaded jewelry and masks and baskets woven from fibers of the Nahuala plant and Chunga palm. If you ask, they may also serve a local catch, like Capybara, a large guinea-pig-looking creature, grilled over an open fire.
From UNESCO: Forming a bridge between the two continents of the New World, Darien National Park contains an exceptional variety of habitats – sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, swamps, and lowland and upland tropical forests containing remarkable wildlife. Two Indian tribes live in the park. Learn more and help to preserve the incredible, irreplaceable lands of Darien National Park.