Favourite travel experience | Matt Maynard

We asked some of our most well-travelled contributors, interviewees and partners about their favourite moments on the road – the experiences that sparked their love for travel or have stuck with them over the years.

Here at battleface, travel is what gets us out of bed in the morning.

The thrill of landing in a new destination, of immersing ourselves in a foreign culture, of pushing ourselves to our physical limits and expanding our understanding of this wide, wonderful planet we all share.

But we can’t do any of that right now.

So, instead we’re going to bask in the warm memories of our favourite travel experiences and daydream about that happy point in the future where we’ve beaten this pandemic.

Matt is a freelance writer and photographer based in Santiago, Chile, who covers environmental issues as well as adventure sport and travel from across South America and beyond.

The star fighters were attacking. Or at least that’s what it sounded like.

The high-pitched gurgling of the black oropendola bird was like a Star Wars ray-gun effect being strangled out of a 1980s synthesiser. Every few seconds a lightening-yellow tail feather flew out of the great guayabillo tree some 40 metres above the remote dirt road. The long pendulous nests dangled from thin branches like knitted Christmas stockings.

It’s a gift of a sighting. But suddenly, after five days of remotest travel in the Darién province, something even rarer happens. An open-top Jeep with a half-dozen white tourists came rolling along the track. It’s early May 2017 and the weather in Panama at the start of the monsoon season was as unsettled as the recently brokered peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Their activities have been known to spill over the Darién Gap border.

But just for a brief moment – with the tourists’ binoculars trained on the giant guayabillo birdhouse – the scene resembled any exotic safari. And then the men with guns arrived.

Matt’s guide Isaac Pizarro negotiates jungle terrain in a retreat from a SENAFRONT border police encounter

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