Panama to Colombia with a Bicycle

panama to colombia with a bicycle

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Panama to Colombia with a Bicycle

There are 6 options to travel across the Darien Gap from Panama to Colombia with a Bicycle.

  1. Take your bicycle (or motorcycle) on a 5 day sailing trip through the San Blas Islands
  2. Fly between Panama City and Bogota (there are other flight options such as Cartagena)
  3. Take local boats between Puerto Carti and Turbo
  4. Take the Speed boat, sleeping on the San Blas Islands on route.
  5. Hike and take boats through the Darien Gap
  6. Paddle between the Darien Gap

Sailing between Panama and Colombia with a Bicycle or Motorbike

This is the option I took to cross between Panama and Colombia. At $550 it is not the cheapest option but it’s not just the transport. The 5 days of sailing through the San Blas Islands were a highlight of my journey.

Some sailing vessels will take bicycles or motorcycles, others will not. Some take them for free, others charge a hefty surcharge.

Wildcard sailing is the company I used to travel between Panama and Colombia. They take bicycles free of charge and also take motorcycles. In fact they have taken several hundred motorbikes across the Darien Gap over the years. My bicycle was safely secured to the mizen mast and my luggage was secured in the dry hold.

Some of the advantages of traveling with a sailing Wildcard Sailing.

  • Free, hassle free transport for bicycle.
  • Arriving by sea there is no need to prove onward travel, so no need to purchase an onward flight ticket.
  • Several days visiting the stunning San Blas Islands
  • Motorcycles can also be transported

Flights between Panama and Colombia

  • This is probably the most common option for cyclists traveling Panama to Colombia with a Bicycle.
  • Flights arrive/depart from Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota.
  • Flights can cost as cheap as $150 including the bicycle transport. Try Copa Airlines, they allow 2 x 23kg baggage allowance. Avianca is the other very popular flight option.
  • Onward tickets are required and many cyclists have been forced to purchase tickets at the check in counter or be refused to board the plane. Others have not. So be prepared or be good at sweet talking the people at the check in counter.

Local Boats between Panama and Colombia

Another cheap option to travel across the Darien Gap is to take local boats between Purto de Carti and Puerto Obaldía and two other boats to arrive in Turbo, Colombia.

  • Cycle to Purto de Carti on the Caribbean coast and ask around for a local boat going to Puerto Obaldía. Should cost around $150US
  • Clear customs in Purto Obaldía (your boat captain will know where to go)
  • Take a boat to the Colombian town of Capugana
  • Find a motorboat to cross into the Colombian port town of Turbo.
  • Total cost is around $200.

Speed boat transport between Panama and Colombia

  • $US300-450 + extra for a bicycle ($50-$100).
  • Depart from Carti (Panama) to Sapzurro (Colombia).
  • This trip usually takes between 2-4 days including a couple of stops to visit the San Blas Islands.
  • Sleeping on the Islands
  • These can be organised in Panama City. Some include the cost of transport from Panama City to Carti, others do not. Ask around.

Following hiking trails through the Darien Gap

This has been done several times by adventurous travellers. All have faced the possibility of meeting drug traffickers, guerrilla groups or Panamanian or Colombian Military. It appears large bribes may be needed to get through making this not only a potentially dangerous route but expensive. You may not be granted your exit stamp from Panama if trying this route which may cause problems when you reach Colombia. But it has been done.

Paddle Across the Darien Gap

Arguably the most adventurous way to travel across the Darien Gap is to paddle. It has been done by several adventurous travellers. Renting or buying local dugout canoes, inflatable packrafts and Sea Kayaks have all been used to traverse the Darien Gap. Best to do it during the Wet Season when the sea is the most calm. Very strong winds during December to April.

Are you Traveling across the Darien Gap? How did you travel across the Darien Gap?

Next : Bicycle Touring Colombia

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Where to buy all the best gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking:
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|  | | | MEC Canada -Bicycle Touring Gear |

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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