Now we are that point of our adventure where there is a gap between North and South America. The entire network of roads in North, Central, and South America connect, except for a 150 km gap between Colombia and Panama known as the Darien Gap – aswath of roadless jungle essentially impossible to drive through! That means we have to ship our vehicle around the Darien Gap to get from Panama to Colombia.
There was much excitement when we heard about the new vehicle FerryXpress making the process easier, cheaper and faster. Unfortunately just a few days before we wanted to book this ferry they informed us about operational issues with loading vehicles (only passengers, bikes and motorcycles can be transported). From El Valle we drove straight to the Balboa Yacht Club in Panama City. This is where the overlanders meet to organize shipment. Luckily we met Sarah & Erdem
who were in the same situation. Do we wait until FerryXpress continues to operate or should we book container shipment immediately since the holidays are coming up? Sarah & Erdem were already longer at the Balboa Yacht and had contact with the FerryXpress and different shipping agents. From the FerryXpress side it did not sound very promising – their answer was maybe in January?! We all agreed that waiting so long is not an option so we decided to book a container shipment immediately. Luckily our two cars fit in a 40′ container. We could not only save some money by sharing a container but so much better to go through the shipping process together. Thank you Sarah & Erdem!
We had some time before we had to start the shipping process and decided to visit the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal serves as a maritime shortcut that saves time and costs in transporting all kind of goods. The 80-kilometer waterway communicates the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in one of the narrowest points of the Isthmus of Panama and of the American continent. It was very impressive and interesting to learn about the Panama Canal and to see how the ships transit.
Visitor Centre Panama Canal
these locks operate as water elevators and raises the ships from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake.
big ship approaching the locks
the trains are helping the big ship through the narrow locks
this vessel was lowered 16.5 m in two stages, allowing it to transit to the Pacific Ocean
driving around San Felipe – the old town of Panama City
Panama City, view from the Fuerte Amador
Crossing the Bridge of the Americas – a road bridge in Panama, which spans the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal
Puente de Americas
From seaport to seaport….
#BlueVisionExpedition and #Nonurbia a.k.a. Mr. G. and Her Majesty are prepped up for a journey through the Atlantic from Panamá to Colombia. Photo by Erdem
Some paperwork had to be done in Panama City. We had to re-organize our car by removing all the items from the roof into the inside and everything from the front into the back and also pack our backpack during the shipping process. The next day we followed our shipping agent to the seaport in Colon to do more paperwork and pay some fees and to drop off the car. It was a long day for Sarah and me just waiting around since only Erdem & Ivan (=the car owners) were allowed to access the seaport and deal with papers. After a long day all the task were finally done except of the container loading. Unfortunately the seaboard marine does not allow the drivers to load the cars into the containers themselves. So there there was this very awkward moment… when Ivan had to give away the car keys to foreign hands and I almost cried when I saw our Mr. G driving away without Ivan. We basically only had a document in our hand and had to leave our car behind for at least a week. With a strange feeling we left the seaport with only a few items in our backpacks. We really did not look forward to be away for a week from our car but it was part of the journey.
We’ve gotten our vehicle shipping figured out we’ll need to get ourselves across the gap as well. Flying is too expensive. The 5 days sailing trip via the paradise of San Blas Islands was very tempting at first but the month of December is the roughest time to sail. So we decided to skip the paradise but at the same time the sea sickness. We opted for the cheapest which is staying in a hostel. A very friendly taxi driver dropped us off at the Captain Jack’s Hostel in Portobelo (45 minutes outside of ugly Colon), where we stayed for 5 long nights. Then we finally could board the FerryXpress for a 18 hours passage to the other side to meet up with our vehicles.
seaport Colon, Panama
cruise ship in Colon
wide open ocean
Bocagrande, Cartagena, Colombia
seaport in Cartagena, Colombia