LA PALMA’s spectacular setting, overlooking the broad mouth of the Río Tuira, surrounded by densely forested mountains and with ruined colonial forts for neighbours, makes it a worthy capital of Darién Province, however small. Brightly painted houses are cake-layered down a steep slope to the waterfront and the town’s only street, a narrow strip of concrete. The rubbish that clings to the pilings by the water’s edge makes the place less scenic than it might be, and there’s not a whole lot to do other than soak in the views before moving on.
Although you can easily work out how much transport to La Palma will cost, it’s far less easy to estimate what any onward travel is likely to set you back – it will be by boat, and the price of fuel is steadily rising and even scheduled departures are erratic. The opportunities to come into contact with indigenous communities are greater in the Sambú area, but getting there from here can be expensive if there’s no scheduled transport or you can’t find enough travel companions to keep the cost down. While you’re here, check in with the police who can update you on any developments or incidents in the region.