The Long Riders' Guild

Through the Darien Gap Jungle

Pack Horses of the British Trans-Americas Expedition .jpg The Darien Gap is a dangerous jungle which divides South and Central America.  The majority of the area is rain forest and impenetrable swamps. In 1971 the British Trans-Americas Expedition led by Colonel John Blashford Snell spent 99 days traversing the green hell. Twenty-eight horses were used by the BTA expedition to help them cross the Gap. These horses were equipped with old style aparejo pack saddles, constructed of stiff, thick straw covered by zebu hide.
Colonel Blashford-Snell recalled, “Through the jungle we moved in a long straggling column. Our sweat-soaked clothes rotted on us. Leather equipment grew mouldy; the best jungle boots fell apart. Our prison, for that is what it was, was illuminated by a dull green light. Great trees rose up like pillars reaching for the sun. Vines hung down in a tangled mass to catch projecting horse loads and to trip the unwary. Visibility was rarely more than 30 metres and all the time, day and night, the jungle resounded to the drip, drip, drip of the condensed humidity and the occasional crash of some giant tree falling. When the rain came it usually fell in torrents, turning the track into an instant quagmire. The thick black mud, ravines and dense jungle were augmented by fast flowing rivers, patches of poisonous palms and stinging plants. All these problems combined against us.”

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