Spedizione moto Colombia – Panama
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Colombia > From Colombia to Panama
From Colombia to Panama
There are a few ways to get from Colombia to Panama, none of them easy and cheap. You can take a sailboat from Cartagena, you can go overland using little boats (the adventurous route), or you can just take a plane. Each will cost a few 100 dollars at least.
It is possible and fairly safe to cross the border to Panama (mostly) overland, as opposed to taking a plane or a boat from Cartagena. The area around the border is called the Darien Gap.
It is important to remember though that the inland area (the Darien Gap) around the border is dangerous due to guerilla and paramilitares presence, and we recommend strongly not to explore the inland area. The route below is safe though.
- Take a bus to Turbo. Especially on this route, its safer to travel during the day, avoid the nightbus (which is fine on most Colombian roads but not this one). From Medellin buses depart at the caribe terminal each hour and cost 45,000 pesos ($20). Journey time is 9 hours. From Cartagena you have to go to Monteria and change there to get to Turbo.
- Basic to expensive accomodation is available in the centre of Turbo. Residencia Turbo charges 7000 pesos (3) per person.
- Take a boat to Capurgana. The harbour is a few minutes walk from Residencia Turbo. Boats depart at 9am, but arrive an hour before to get a ticket as boat gets full, and to check in with immigration. Dont get your exit stamp here. Price is 40,000 pesos ($18) to Carpugana. Ride can be bumpy and takes 2.5 hours. Put backpack in binliner as can get wet.
- Capurgana. Get your exit stamp at the DAS in Carpugana by the harbour. Accomodation is available here from 7,000 pesos ($3) per person. Hotel Uvita on the harbour is very nice for ($5). Nice resorty town to stay in for a few days. If you want you can continue on to a small town called Sapsura, it’s the last coastal town before Puerto Obaldia in Panama it has nice white beaches is quiet yet touristy look up a guy named Chile he speeks fairly good english and has some cabins for rent or you can pitch your tent on his land, there are also some hotels in town.
- Take a launch over the border. In Carpugana launches to Puerto Obaldia cost $30. Price is for the whole boat, regardless if theres 1 or 4 people. Not many locals continuing on to Puerto Olbaldia so look out for other travellers if you are travelling alone.
- Puerto Olbaldia. At Puerto Olbaldia (the town is a military base) get your entry stamp at immigration. You will be asked for an exit ticket but can get around that by saying you have an e-ticket and havent printed it out yet. Basic accomodation is available at Pension Conde for $5, and food is limited. Nothing to see or do here, but you may get stuck waiting for the next flight. Flights get booked so arrive a few days before in Puerto Olbaldia to make a reservation at the office there, or make a reservation at the Panama city office.
- Flight to Panama city. From Puerto Olbaldia Aeroperlas flies to Panama city at 9am Wednesday and Sunday. Cost is $57. Journey time is 1 hour. Again you have to go through immigration at the airport, but can blag it.
The same trip can be done the other way round:
- From Panama city Aeroperlas flies to Puerto Olbaldia at 9am Wednesday and Sunday. Cost is $57. Journey time is 1 hour. Reservations should be made in advance.
- At Puerto Olbaldia (the town is a military base) get your exit stamp at immigration. In Puerto Obaldia launches to Carpugana cost $30.
- Get your colombian entry stamp at the DAS in Carpugana by the harbour.
- Boats to Turbo depart at 7.30am, but arrive an hour before to get a ticket as boat gets full. Price is 40,000 pesos ($18) to Carpugana.
- From Turbo buses depart hourly and arrive at the caribe terminal in Medellin. Travel is safe during the day.
Below information provided by a guest of the Black Sheep Hostel in Medellin, James. August, 2006
The bus to Turbo cost 49 000 pesos. It took about 8 hours. The bus was stopped and searched twice by the army and we arrived after dark.
Turbo doesnt have a terminal, and according to locals on the bus there are no cabs besides the occassional one that is dropping someone off from another town. So it is important to have some idea of where you are going. A kid named Elgin took me to the Residencias Turbo for a little change.
Residencias Turbo is an absolute dire dump. I am talking post apocalyptic type conditions here. Easily the worst place I have stayed. And, for 12000 pesos a night it was not even that cheap.
There is apparently a boat direct from Turbo to Puerto Obaldia but I did not inquire further becuase the Das office was closed anyways so I couldnt get a stamp.
The boat to Capurgana is a decent speedboat with life jackets, padded seats, and a rain canopy. It cost 44 000 pesos. Capurgana is really nice. I was stuck there for a while because the DAS office guy was taking a nap or something.
It should be noted that it is posted at the DAS office that to exit to Panama you need proof of Yellow Fever vaccination and sufficient funds. But the guy didnt ask me anything. I was asked to show funds in Panama City when I got off the plane and the guy just looked at my credit card for two seconds and that was good enough.
The boat to Puerto Obaldia cost me 25 000 pesos and took under an hour.
Puerto Obaldia is bad. Just bad. Safe, but it is barely a town, and I am very lucky there was a plane the next day. Planes go Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. There is one hotel that is not too bad, besides the rats. It is called Pension Cande, and a room costs five dollars.
The Immigration official is called Mr Bass, and he is an idiot. He was playing baseball all saturday (the day I arrived) and the next day made me wait over an hour while he was standing around the beer fridge with his buddies at the corner store shooting the shit. He stamped me through quick enough without any questions really, besides where I was going to stay. I had to buy a tourist card in Panama city at the airport. I paid $20, which I believe is not the proper price.
The plane to Panama City cost $58.72 with tax.
If you are going to do this route, you should make sure you change your money to some American in Medellin. I had a little bit that got me by, but I had to use my visa to pay for the plane ticket (you don’t pay until you get to Panama City). Pesos will not be accepted after Capurgana, and the rate I got to change them in Panama City was a disgrace to the good people of Colombia.
The whole thing took two nights. It is very important to time it so that you don’t have to wait too long for a plane or you will cry it is so boring in Puerto Obaldia. It would have been nicer to spend the second night in Capurgana and then come over on the boat in the morning before the plane, which leaves at 10, and was not full. The same guys who took me over the day before were dropping people off before the plane. Sailing boat from Cartagena
Note that another option to go from Colombia to Panama is to take a sailing boat from Cartagena. I (el flaco) sailed to Panama from Cartagena in January 2008. The only way to find a boat is by contacting Casa Vienna, there is an excellent guide on the boat trip on their website http://casaviena.com/index2.html The boat owner pays a flat fee to the hostel to find him passengers, so there is no point in finding a boat owner yourself. Access to the yaght clubs is barred so you can’t read any notice board. I paid $300 dollars. Take sea sickness pills, they are cheap to buy even if you don’t use them.
On arrival at Panama I was dumped at a small beach resort near Isla Grande, there were only two buses a day with a three hour wait. Fortunately I managed to hitchhike out. It would have been better to land at Portabelo even if you need to pay more.
January is the worst month to sail, July is the best but any month is fine. I would pick November so that you could watch the Miss Colombia stuff that goes on for one week.You have to wait for a boat going to Panama, then wait three days while the boat owner sorts out the exit permission for his boat (called velero in Colombia). Immigration is a formality for passengers with no fee to be paid. Flying back is easy use Aires through a travel agent or using their website when you are in Panama.
There is excellent travel information for Panama city at Zuly’s website (a hostel)http://www.geocities.com/zulysindependentbackpacker/ Flying.
Or you can just fly from any major city in Colombia.
First posted by Peter on May 27, 2008, 20:31. Last edit by Peter on May 27, 2008, 20:31. Edit this | History.
gringitadepaseo says on Sep 4, 2008, 11:53:
Boats from Panama to Colombia – Colombia to Panama by San Blas
I am several months in San Blas, doing a thesis on Kuna Yala and I have known and
continuous knowing Captains, some of whom performed with passengers travel between
Panama and Colombia, most between Cartagena and Porvenir or Portobelo.
Also I traveled once to Cartagena from San Blas, and again between Portobelo and Capurgana,
where I am right now.
There are about 15 boats that make these trips, among which one is around, some captains
bad, bad, but others friendly, and some very good … always consult with passengers and the
captain know personally.
There is a big business in hostels Panama and Colombia, where charge $ 20 per person … The
result is that we must pay to the master … $ 20 more.
Of course, if hostels are concerned about contact with good captains … well, but not, the only
thing that interests them are the $ 20 although the boat did not resist the crossing and the
captain is a drunk and drug addict. That is the truth. Of course in hostels say they do not
charge for it. Of course.
I know very bad adventures of these passengers.
The best is approach where are the boats and ask people for the masters. I can not
recommend going into the Club Nautico Cartagena because there not want to passengers and
has a boat owner who only wants for he … said that besides passengers…..
In Portobelo there are always too many boats, not recommend going to Puerto Lindo, there lie
a lot and people waiting and waiting, some returning to Portobelo when know the trap.
I have traveled with two captains, boat Staratte and Twyla
The first very good, the second is also very very good, the Captain, the ship and the route I am
sure is the best, wonderful.
Only I know a sail boat that makes the route of the merchant boats and is the sailboat Tuyla ,
captain Javier (Spain) i wos com from Portobelo until Capurgana in Colombia…nice, very nice!!!
I leave the addres of this Finally, if I write me I can give you other addresses of good captains
… see you soon.
address of the sailboat tuyla is:
To put out to sea
For the other boats or some advise ……write me
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