Crossing the Darien Gap
I just finished crossing from Panama to Colombia in May 2016. If you’re looking to cross here’s what I found and what I did. I hope this helps others who are trying to do the same thing.
I sailed on the Wild Card to save a bit of money, have some fun, and land in Cartagena instead of Bogota. I wasn’t sure I’d get on the ship so I made all the preparations to fly before getting a confirmation from the Wild Card.
Fly or Sail.
If you want to fly you can fly from Tocumen cargo airport in Panama City to Bogota, Columbia. It’s simple:
Contact Leivy Becerra at Air Cargo Pack: firstname.lastname@example.org
She will walk you through all the steps. The cost is $1,000 USD (cash only). You can arrive at 8:00am and have your bike in Bogota the same day. The aduana (customs office) is about 100 yards from Air Cargo Pack.
You’ll need to book a separate flight for yourself. Total cost is about $1400 USD.
Tel: +507 238-4415/ Móvil: +507 67-800117
GPS for Air Cargo Pack: N9 05.114 W79 22.460
If you’d like to sail I suggest going on the Wild Card. But you need to book early as the ship fills up fast.
Cost is $1100 ($1200 for bikes over 1100CC) for 5 days of sailing (includes food). They can only take 3 bikes, so book early. Book early!!
The trip takes 6 days. It’s slow but includes a few days on the San Blas islands. Be prepared for a boat full of backpackers and booze. There is no A/C and not a lot of space on the boat. You’ll either be in your bunk or on the deck. You’ll snorkel, sunbathe, drink, and watch the waves.
The legal process takes a bit longer than flying. Here are the steps:
Step 1 (min 2 days before departure) You will need the bike inspected by from DIJ in Panama City (Dirección de Investigación Judicial) N8 57.970 W79 32.690. After this you will probably be told to go across the street to the ‘Secretaria General’ for more paperwork.
Customs: Min 1 day before departure
Collect ‘bill of landing document’ in Portobelo from Captain Jack’s Bar
Once you have that you can go to customs in Colon for clearance/cancelling your import permit. Aduana Colon N9 20.783 W79 52.735
You will need the following:
Bill of landing from the captain (+ 3 copies)
Passport (+ 3 copies)
Temporary import permit from your arrival in Panama (+ 3 copies
Title documents (+ 3 copies
Inspection documents from DIJ the previous day (+ 3 copies)
Any other documents that you have been given pertaining towards the bike during your time in Panama
After you have completed customs clearance you can return to Portobelo the evening before departure to meet the rest of the passengers and crew for a briefing at 19:00hrs. Loading will take place the next day ready for departure in the evening.