Exploring in the Panamanian Jungle

Many people longing for the kind of adrenaline rush that comes from an adventure in the jungle find themselves disappointed when their tour company only allows them to go to the outer edge of the jungle. Ray Smith knows what this is like. That’s why he founded the new adventure travel company Legends of the Wild, which runs trips deep into the heart of the Panamanian Jungle, into an area called the Darien Gap.

The Bushmaster Snake in the Darien Gap
A researcher holds out a snake to a participant

Legends of the Wild combines the love of “pure, visceral adventure” with doing scientific good. Participants go into the jungle with scientists and assist them with their research as they explore the wilderness at the same time. There are two trips currently being offered, The Bushmaster Quest and The Jaguar Expedition. The first is a trip with a herpetologist to find and photograph the Bushmaster Snake, an elusive animal that can grow up to 14 feet long. The second is a jaguar tracking trip that seeks to track and understand the behavior and migration of jaguars through camera traps. These trips are between one to two weeks long and generally have at least six participants.

Participants on these trips are in complete isolation, almost as if they are in another world. Their food is prepared ahead of time and cooked in the jungle, they trek for miles a day, and the only form of connection they have to the rest of the world is a satellite phone in case of emergency. A trip like this is not for the faint of heart, but those who attracted to the idea of it will certainly appreciate the sense of adventure that comes with it. “There’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you finish this trip,” said Smith. “There’s a sense of elation that you were able to do it.”

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