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Men, Mud and Motorcycles

Crossing Panama's Darien Gap by Motorcycle

Ron Merrill and I were the first to cross the 200 mile Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia by motorcycle.

The PDF document "Men, Mud, and Motorcycles" has the original logs of this expedition.

The Rokon two-wheel drive motorcycle  is an off-road workhorse. A drive shaft goes through the steering column with a chain drive to the front wheel. With the back wheel pushing and the front wheel climbing, it can climb up a tree until it flips over. In other words, it can go where the rider can't.

Click of image for large view.

At the time of this trip (1974), the Pan American highway ended a few miles south of Panama City at the Bayano River. A dam and bridge was under construction that will cross the Bayano Lake when completed.

During one of our attempts we started too early in the dry season. Mud made travel impossible. We left our bikes at a farm, hiked to the Bayano River and got a ride down river. We came back about a month later when the jungle was dry.

We had to go upstream to float our dikes across the Bayano River. The first three pictures is before we crossed. The last is on the other side. Out of the water, the bikes started with one kick.

The first picture is at the Santa Fe International airport. The second is a swimming break.

The town of Yaviza. - Last photo, our tent.

From Yaviza we rode our bikes up the Tuira River toward the Columbia boarder.


At Paya we put our bikes back together for the trip over the mountains.

On the Panama/Columbia boarder. The polls are future road survey stakes. Camping in someone's house.

From Puesto De Bijao, Columbia, we rode our bikes through the jungle the easy way.

Turbo, Columbia

Bayano bridge and lake 5 years later, 1980.

Text version of jungle adventure.

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