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Central - South America by boat

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about Panama
1. Posted by Djana (Budding Member 11 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hey guys,

Planning to travel Panama and Costa Rica. I heard that from Colon, Panama you can go anywhere by boat. Does this apply to travelling to Ecuador and Peru?

Anyone thinking of doing the same thing?

Thanks all..:):)

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5655 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Maybe if you can get a lift on a yaught, you might be able to get there, but as far as I know connections from Colon are mainly with Cartagena in Colombia, so you have to travel overland from there....Colombia is not as unsafe as people might think...have fun!

3. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1090 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I also think that Colon mainly services Cartagena and then from there, the rest of SA. I know that there are dozens of boats travelling back and forth between Panama and Cartagena, mostly ex- pats funding their SUH WHEAT lazy foot dangling in the ocean lifestyle.

Which leads me to the Darien Gap puzzle. These people can get you around the Darien Gap for about the cost of the airplane, and in much finer style.


4. Posted by becbec3 (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

far away from this place,so i am afraid i can not go there

5. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Go to the yacht clubs in Panama City (Panama Canal Yacht Club) and Colon (beware Colon can be quite dangerous day or night) and post a notice you require passage to Cartagena, a 5 day trip cost 250-300 USD per person one way. Once in Cartagena you are able to take first class buses to anywhere in Colombia, the cities are quite safe for travelers) Yachts do not go to Peru or Ecuador as they are on teh Pacific Ocean side. There are NO passenger ferries: alternate route (by travelers who came from Colombia to Panama)..rough trip, not for faint of heart or whiners....

(I shall send you the url by message, or anyone else who wants it) Also use the website for your best travel resource in Colombia (English with Spanish pages)

Note prices may now be higher than in 2006....prices of gas, food and first class bus transportation here in Central America have increassed 40%+ or more in last 4 months

Going from Colombia to Panama (mostly) overland.

(This is an "approved guide", which means that we think it is quite accurate and up to date. Written December 2006.)

This guide was kindly provided by Kevin of the Black Sheep Hostel in Medellin.

"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.

1. 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.

2. Basic to expensive accomodation is available in the centre of Turbo. Residencia Turbo charges 7000 pesos (3) per person.

3. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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:

1. 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.

2. At Puerto Olbaldia (the town is a military base) get your exit stamp at immigration. In Puerto Obaldia launches to Carpugana cost $30.

3. Get your colombian entry stamp at the DAS in Carpugana by the harbour.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Note that another option to go from Colombia to Panama is to take a sailing boat from Cartagena. Or you can just fly from any major city in Colombia."