do you drive to S. America thru Panama?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean do you drive to S. America thru Panama?

1. Posted by ana belen (First Time Poster 1 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I'm planning to drive to S. America from the US, but I've heard that the PanAmerican Hwy. dissapears for a while somewhere in the thick jungle of southern Panama. Does anyone know how to get a vehicle to "the other side" of the continent? Is there a ferry to Colombia/Venezuela? Does it cost a lot?
Thanks for any advise, tips, suggestions.

2. Posted by Kingwindle (Respected Member 302 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

The only way through land as you say is the darrien gap i think it is called. It is filled with dense jungle, some very dodgy characters so i have heard, in terms of drug activity. This area is very dangerous and would be silly for an American to go there!

I know that to get your car to south america you have to get is ferried across from panama to maybe ecuador. This is an extremely expensive thing i think.
I am basing my comments on something i read a while ago so its not the best advice but i know it is definately a ferry.


3. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

4. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hi Ana,

It is true that the Darian Gap area of Panama is thick rain forest and that the Panamerican (Intercontinental) Highway ends approx. 70 kilometers from the Colombian border. A car ferry did exist at one time - from Colon, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia, but it is no longer available.

Between SamSalmon's link and these two, you will see some options on how to handle the transportaion problem.

Kingwindle is correct with his comments of the Darian Gap being "dodgy" - as there are FARC guerillas moving across the Panama-Colombia border with regularity. Though beautiful, it does have a certain amount of danger attached to it.

Good luck with you plans!

5. Posted by marlis (Travel Guru 1167 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

maby you should contact shipping agents in Panama,
like Danzas(?)
The ship Sailboats,so why not a car to Catagena/Colombia,or to Guayaquil/Ecuador.The can put a car easy in a container.
Darien is very special,so if you have the time you can fly to a few safe places,but dont go to close to the colombien border.
Very interesting and unusual are the San Blas Islands.
be VERY careful in Colon!not only at night!
sunny greetings

6. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Colon Panama to Cartegena Colombia via Container. You may not accompany your vehicle, you must fly from Panama to colombia: view Take special precautions driving alone in Colombia!!! Especially outside Cartagena and between there and Baranquilla/Bogota/Medellin

I would advise against driving alone in Colombia, and it is now impossible to drive the Darien Gap by any means.
May 04, 2005

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind American citizens of ongoing security concerns in Colombia. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued March 3, 2004.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Colombia. Violence by narcoterrorist groups and other criminal elements continues to affect all parts of the country, urban and rural, and border areas. Citizens of the United States and other countries continue to be the victims of threats, kidnappings, and other violence.

Violence has decreased markedly in most urban centers, including Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla, and Cartagena. Nevertheless, since the year 2000, 32 Americans were reported kidnapped in various parts of the country, including four in 2004. No one can be considered immune on the basis of occupation, nationality or any other factor. A number of kidnappings are committed by terrorist groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The FARC are suspected of being responsible for holding captive three Americans since February 2003. The U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped Americans. However, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to, or strike deals with terrorists, so the U.S. government’s ability to assist kidnapped U.S. citizens is limited.

Violence in Cali and the surrounding areas remains high, much of it related to the illicit drug trade. Much of rural Colombia also remains extremely dangerous due to the presence of narcoterrorists and Colombian government operations against them. While family members are allowed to accompany U.S. government officials assigned to Colombia, in-country travel by U.S. officials and their families is subject to restrictions. Travel by air is allowed to all major cities, but urban and intra-city bus transportation is off-limits to official Americans. U.S. citizens should not travel by road outside of urban areas at night.

As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at U.S. travelers can also get up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. or Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for Colombia and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at

For more information driving from Mexico to Panama join teh very informative (RV ers who do it every year and have written a book) Yahoo User Group: the moderators are very helpful.

I belong to hospitality clubs with members (usually natives) throughout Latin America will message you now that info. Natives and long term residents like myself know the security situation where we live and can advise you pro or con.

7. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

A bloq by several adventurers who drove to and from South America in 1995-1996, there are no more ferries and much the info. may be outdated now, but will give one a general idea..lot of hassles anyway.