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Crossing from South to Central America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Crossing from South to Central America

1. Posted by tvisneskie (Budding Member 5 posts) 9y

I am looking for some options to get from Equador to Panama as I would prefer not to travel through Columbia. The obvious answer is a flight but the flights look pretty expensive. Does anyone know if it`s possible to travel between the countries via boat? Any suggestions at all? Perhaps a discount airline?

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 9y

I reckon it's possible to do Guayaquil-Panamá by boat, but I don't think you will find regular service being offered on that route, so you'd have to get passage with a freighter or smt. Won't be quick; won't be too cheap, either.

What's wrong with Colombia, btw? It sure makes your travels WAY easier.

3. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 9y

Agree with Bentivogli. If travelling by day and between cities, there really should be no problems more than travelling in other countries. Just keep away from some areas and don't travel at night, although this is even less a problem than for example Guatemala. It's basically the name Colombia which makes travelers scared.
Boats from Cartagena to Colon might be much easier to find.

4. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 9y

There are a few Yacht Clubs in Cartagena where sailing captains will take passengers at approx. $250.00 a head via Panama's Carib. Coast and San Blas Islands to Colon. Don't expect to be offered a job on a yacht, also by late May or early June few will be sailing due to rainy season.

Your other best option is Copa Airlines from Ecuador, surf for their site on Google and check daily for specials to Panama one way. (half price RT)

Here's advice from Capt. Steve below, mostly about the Panama side, though, there are NO ferry services, Colombia is a great country to visit, the people are warm and friendly to visitors. Bad Press again. Just be aware.

"if i had a hole in my scone for everytime i've typed out this message i'd have a crumpet which would be delicious hot buttered,

so heres the scoop

your best option will be a private sail boat going to
Cartagena from Panama.
quite a few yachts take passengers, the going rate is i
think about 250 us per person for 5 days (though if
you're really lucky u might hitch a free lift, though
obviously paying for your food).
in my personal opinion 250 is well worth paying, given
that you'd otherwise presumably be spending at least
25 bucks a day for food and bed, and you are unlikely
to get an airline ticket for less.

also the sailboat is likely to pass thru the Kuna
Indian region of the the San Blas which is truly
beautiful and special and well worth much more cash
which is after all nothing we can take with us :-)

so how to find the boat ?
best bet is Panama Canal Yacht Club, located in Colon
(admittedly somewhat of a dive of an ugly urban
jungle).
pretty much any cab driver will take you to the club
for a dollar.
so go there as soon as you can, put up a notice on any
boards you can find, stating that you wish to go to
Cartagena and your email address. also, obviously,
look to see if boats are advertising for passengers.

also invest some time and maybe money in hanging out in
the yacht club bar, talk to as many people as possible,
buy a few cervezas, and you may well get an invite from
someone who was not particularly looking to take people
for cash.

a word of caution, sailboats do not have a lot of
space, do try and think about whether you want to be
squashed up with your captain, cocrew. (i speak from
the experience of the longest 33 days of my life
pounding across the storm ravaged north atlantic
delivering a falling apart yacht with an inebriated
irascible captain !). also have a look at the boat
before you go, maybe get some advice from other
sailors, possibly ask for a contact reference from
previous passengers ?

whilst you are loitering in the yacht club also ask if
any boats are looking for linehandlers to transit the
canal. the regulations require 5 people & so many
boats need extra hands. transiting the canal is an
interesting experience, one overnight stop on Gatun
lake and you'll get bed and board for free. so if you
are in Panama city earlier in yr trip visit the Balboa
Yacht Club and see if boats heading towards the
Caribbean need linehandlers, if u luck out u might
find a boat going thru that will continue to Cartagena
:-)

ok, think that covers it, only other viable alternative
i know of is to find a local trading schooner that will
take paying passengers, i know this is possible but
don't know how,

i don't think the Darien Gap overland is really easily
economically feasible right now, notwithstanding
safety issues there, but someone else might like to comment"

by Capt. Steve, Bocas del Toro, Panama