3 Great Places to Disappear in South America


If you follow travel related news, you might have recently heard the story of Garret Hand and Jamie Neal. These two travelers from the US ended up “missing” in Peru last month. After a frantic search by friends and family that made its way all the way to the mainstream media, the couple was found safe and sound on a boat in the Peruvian Amazon. They had simply been having such a great time, in this remote corner of Peru, that they had completely forgotten to call home.

Well, if this sounds like your type of South American adventure, I have a few more remote places that would be great places to “disappear” for awhile.

The Darien Gap

Note: I said these are great places to disappear, as in remote with little internet access or connections with the outside world; I did not say safe. If you go to the Darien Gap, you will definitely disappear… but you also might not come back.

This 125 mile of land sits at the border between Panama and Colombia. It is a landscape of mountains and jungles, rivers and swamps. The Pan-American Highway which stretches over harsh landscapes from the very tip of Patagonia in Argentina to the very top of Alaska has only one break – the Darien Gap. No roads, no real settlements, and controlled by rebel groups – this is a place where you seriously might disappear for good.

Laguna San Rafael National Park

This national park in Chile showed up on the Forbes list of “Most Remote Places in the World” for good reason. Located at the very end of the world, the Laguna San Rafael National Park is huge with over 6,720 square miles of wilderness. Glaciers fill the valleys and the only way in is by ships and small boats.

If is wasn’t remote enough, adventurers and mountaineers head into this region for weeks at a time to test themselves in the pristine wilderness. Imagine camping on a glacier, hundreds of miles from a reliable internet connection. Stay here long enough and you really will have disappeared.

The Jungles of Suriname

Suriname isn’t necessarily remote but it sure is unknown. Even if you do get the chance to call home, when you tell them you are in Suriname, there is a good chance they are going to be wondering how you got to Africa.

Suriname is one of those tiny countries above Brazil on the Caribbean coast of South America. It is an old Dutch colony but the country actually has an incredible mix of cultures and in the capital city, it is quite normal to hear people speaking everything from Dutch to Hindi to Sranan Tongo (a local Creole language with lots of English, Dutch, and Portuguese influence).

If you truly want to get lost, head south and into the jungle. As you travel the roads will slowly go from paved to dirt to mud trails and eventually end at one of the rivers. From there you’re only option is to hop a boat and continue deep into the jungle. The only people you run into now are the descendants of African slaves who escaped to these deep forest communities. This area of Suriname is slightly more connected to the outside world now-a-days thats to a mini-gold rush happening in the country’s interior but you’ll still be one of the few and possibly the only tourists this far south.

Couple Travel Tips

  • Have an adventure and get a little lost; it’s all part of the fun. You probably should warn your family back home that you’ll be out of touch for awhile though.
  • If you really are considering going to the Darien Gap, reconsider, and if not, your “safest” option would be to team up with one of the 4×4 jeep trips that occasionally attempt the journey.
  • Make sure you have excellent travel insurance if you plan on going off the beaten path. The cost of an airvac out of the middle of the jungle could definitely put a damper on your trip.

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