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Driving Panama’s Darien Gap in 1960

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine

Given the Darien Gap video above, it seemed appropriate that I (finally) share parts of a March 1961 (pg 366-389) article about a group of seven adventurers who pulled, pushed, towed and cajoled a Willys Truck and a Land-Rover through the rough Panamanian country-side, officially becoming the first vehicles to ever make the Darien Gap trip. The article and photographs were both by Kip Ross.

Wikipedia notes, “The first vehicular crossing of the Gap was by the Land Rover La Cucaracha Cariñosa (The Affectionate Cockroach) and a Jeep of the Trans-Darién Expedition of 1959–60, crewed by Amado Araúz (Panama), his wife Reina Torres de Araúz, former Special Air Service man Richard E. Bevir (UK), and engineer Terence John Whitfield (Australia). They left Chepo, Panama, on 2 February 1960 and reached Quibdó, Colombia, on 17 June 1960, averaging 201 m (220 yd) per hour over 136 days. They traveled a great deal of the distance up the vast Atrato River.” For some reason, Wikipedia doesn’t include the three other members, Otis Imboden, Ilse Abshagen, and, of course, Kip Ross.

You can learn more about the different groups that crossed the Darien Gap at Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darién_Gap

In addition, “The first all-land auto crossing was in 1985–87 by Loren Upton and Patty Mercier in a CJ-5 Jeep, taking 741 days to travel 125 miles (201 km). This crossing is documented in the 1992 Guinness Book of Records.”

View March 1961 National Geographic Magazines on eBay

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