Panama to Cartagena

Info on Sailing from Panama to Cartagena, Colombia, and other options

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The Stahlratte, the boat we sailed to Cartagena
The Stahlratte, the boat we sailed to Cartagena (View on flickr)

There is no road from Panama to Colombia, so many cyclists choose to find sea transportation, probably out of a purist desire to avoid an airplane. It is nice to have the continuity of traveling on the earth, although not necessarily cheaper or better.


It does turn out that while there are not regularly scheduled services to Cartagena, you can probably get there just fine. Trying to get there for free on a yacht from Colon is probably possible, but won't work for most people. However, there are a number of boats that make the trip, charging US$275 to $350, and there are hostels that arrange the connections. So if you really want to sail, you can probably do it.


Caveats: The trip is rough, and most people are seasick. Some boats do not provide food, so you need to provide your own. Some boats are disreputable or poorly run and you might get a scare or something worse. Some boats charge extra for the immigration paperwork in Colombia. Know what your payment covers.


In Panama City, the hostel that seems to do all the arranging is Zuly´s.

In Cartagena, the hostel doing the arranging is Casa Viena.

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Panama to Cartagena, Colombia

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on the way to the ship
on the way to the ship (View on flickr)

Muddy road from Panama City to Carti, Panama on the way to the San Blas Islands
Muddy road from Panama City to Carti, Panama on the way to the San Blas Islands (View on flickr)

Here is the story of our trip from Panama City to Cartagena, Columbia – starting in a 4x4 vehicle from Panama City to Carti, Panama and then taking the 100´ sailboat the Stahlratte to Cartagena.

We got picked up at at the Hotel California in Panama City at 5:15 in the morning and threw our bikes and gear up on the roof rack and squeezed in the back with 7 other passengers, all who were going on the same sailing trip from Panama to Columbia. I, more than Randy, thought it would be great fun to take a long sailing trip. I have always thought I should try it to see if I might want to sail around the world after I finish biking half way around the world.

As we rode in the back of the jeep I was very grateful to be in the truck and not trying to ride, push or throw my bike along this route. The road was flat at first and paved until the turn off at El Llano, but that’s where the real road started. Other cyclists before us have ridden this and described this section as having 100 hills and many 20% grades. It was very impressive and I think I would have died trying to ride it. It had been raining the night before and the rain carved eroded mud-lined tracks that zigzag down the steepest parts. The truck would slide from side to side trying to find a hold in the red mush we sloshed through. Other trucks ahead and behind us also had moments of uncontrolled maneuvering. One 4x4 vehicle we passed parked at the creast of a hill was overheating from the taxing travels through the Kuna jungle. After we arrived at the end of the road, a trip which took about 4 hours, I was very happy with our decision not to have ridden this ride. Our newly cleaned bikes appreciated it too.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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