Trans Darien Expedition -1960
The first team to go from Panama to Colombia!
Team: Amado Araúz [PA], Reina Torres de Araúz [PA], Richard E. Bevir [GB] and Terrence J. Whitfield [AUS]
Darien Gap Project / February-June 1960
Photos and information by Mr. Amado Arauz [All rights reserved]
134 DAYS TO CROSS THE DARIEN GAP
500 KMS OF TRAILS
180 RIVER CROSSINGS
125 LOG BRIDGES BUILT
3 AUTOMOBILE ROLLOVERS
1 LAND ROVER SERIES 2 [CALLED "LA CUCARACHA CARIÑOSA"] 1 Jeep
TOTAL OF 544 KILOS IN CARGO
1 CAPSTAIN WINCH PER VEHICLE
52 HP ENGINE
47 LITRE GAS TANKS PLUS 3 JERRYCANS ADDING 57 MORE LITRES
THE TRANS-DARIEN EXPEDITION
In 1957, for the first time, there was thought of the need to promote a motor vehicle four wheel drive expedition through the jungles the Darien Sub-Committee was currently investigating. If the adventure was successful, it would provide the best proof that the adjoining regions of Panama and Colombia offered feasible building grounds for the Pan-American Highway and henceforth the financing of engineering survey research.
During the dry season of February of 1960 two custom equipped Land Rovers began the long haul form the City of Panama to ultimately reach Bogota, Colombia in time to participate in the Eighth Annual Pan-American Highway Congress. The Congress was to be place to present the completed project to which the Darien Sub-Committee had so painstakingly dedicated itself. For the first time in the history of the American Highway travel had two motor vehicles successfully crossed the Isthmus of Panama into South America. The project carried the logical name of Trans-Darien Expedition. The crew, Messrs. Amado Araúz and his wife Reina, Otis Imboden, Richard E. Bevir, Terrence Withfield, Ilse Abashagen and latterly José A. Saénz and Bolívar Araúz, accompanied by a crew of eight men were all aware of the importance of the mission and the perils they would have to conquer. The expedition would lead them into very rough trails that cross the jungle region weaving through steep hills and crossing many bridgeless rives and streams. The entire adventure took them four months and twenty days.
Anyone familiar to the tropical jungle can imagine the effects the journey had on the human system in that lapse of time. During some parts of the expedition daily progress was scarcely five kilometers The team crossed 180 rivers and streams and were forced to improvise bridges over 125 of them built mainly form the trunks of palm trees that were hard and flexible. Three serious automotive upsets occurred, with no personal injury involved. The use of the winch for the vehicles was constant and sometimes very dangerous due to the potential breakage of the cable. Among the support team some were accidentally cut and bruised although there was no never any need for an evacuation. Difficult mechanical, logistical and topographical problems were present constantly throughout the journey calling for quick decision making by means of their ability and ingenuity.
The admirable factor of the Trans-Darien Expedition as it progressed was the spirit of the group that was gradually aroused in the eight mountaineers hired by the four crewmen to assist with the strenuous effort.
Arrival at the border: May 13, 1960
October 19, 1959
RICHARD E. BEVIR
Born London, England, April 1930, British nationality, single, six foot one inch, 200 lbs. Educated in England, specializing in modern languages.
Nephew of Sir Anthony Bevir, KCVO, CBE, retired permanent secretary to Prime Ministers of England from 1947 to 1956.
Traveled extensively in Europe from 1946 to 1956.
Served with Special Air Service Regiment on British Army as Territorial from 1951 1956. (Special Air Service as crack unit of behind-the-lines combatants, specially trained as parachutist, frogmen, long range desert operations, and cloak and dagger missions.).
Worked with Holland America Line, London, England from 1949 to 1956 mail boy to public relations officer.
Emigrated to Canada in 1956 to see LIFE employed in various capacities in bushwork, tobacco priming, encyclopedia and shoe salesman, security police officer, tractor operator, driller, ditch-digger, etc
Studied at University of Madrid during winter of 1957/58 in preparation for travel in Latin America.
Hobbies and sports include: underwater exploration (last eight years), non-fiction literature, cricket, poetry, problems and travel.
Personal dislikes: rice pudding, jaywalkers and sentimental moments.
TERRENCE J. WITHFIELD
Born Granville, New South Wales, Australia, October 1932, Australian nationality, single, five foot the, 175 lbs., educated in Australia.
Former electrical contractor and grease monkey (ten years), rugged and determined personality, selected as most suitable likelihood for expedition out of 135 applicants. Has had experience in jungles of Northern Australia.
Good baseball pitcher and all-round sportsman, amateur trumpet player.
Immigrated to Canada in 1957, has been employed in several electrical contractor jobs in Ontario.