NOTE: The reason we need to ship our bikes is that there is no road that goes from Central America to Columbia. It is called the “Darien Gap” a stretch of 100 miles of thick jungle and no roads. Everyone heading south needs to either take a boat or fly to get around this.
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Coordinates: 7.90°N 77.46°W
Map of the Darién Gap at the border between Panama and Colombia.
The Darién Gap (Spanish: Región del Darién or Tapón del Darién) is a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest separating Panama’s Darién Province in Central America from Colombia in South America. It measures just over 160 km (99 mi) long and about 50 km (31 mi) wide. Roadbuilding through this area is expensive, and the environmental toll is steep. Political consensus in favor of road construction has not emerged. Consequently there is no road connection through the Darién Gap connecting North/Central America with South America and it is the missing link of the Pan-American Highway.
The geography of the Darién Gap on the Colombian side is dominated primarily by the river delta of the Atrato River, which creates a flat marshland at least 80 km (50 mi) wide, half of this being swampland. The Panamanian side, in sharp contrast, is a mountainous rain forest, with terrain reaching from 60 m (200 ft) in the valley floors to 1,845 m (6,053 ft) at the tallest peaks (Cerro Tacarcuna).
We met up with 5 other bikers. Two from Germany. tony the father, Pablo his son. Then Duncan from Seattle, Mark from Olympia both on KLR’s and then Jay from SF on his 650GS.
Rolled to out the road toward Carti. Was a winding road with tons of very steep hills.
Had to pay $9.00 to ride through the Kuni area to get to Carti.
But of course you always have to be aware of the road hazard, like this wash out that was barely marked.
Rode down into Carti which is just a little concrete pier that people catch small boats out to the island on. But we spoted the Stahlratte just off the pier.
Then we rode out through all the people to the end of the pier. Took our bags and gear off and loaded it into the Zodiac for transport out to the Stahlratte.
Mark started up a conversation with some Panamians who were out to Party in the islands….
Ludwig the German Captain then moved the boat bow into the shore for loading…..
It is by far the biggest boat to make the passage to Columbia with Bikes for Columbia.
ready for the next step.
We were all sort of finding out the system of how they load the bikes…. all a bit nervous to have our bikes hoisted aboard.
James’s R1200GS was first as we all watched…..
Then my 800GS.
Others onboard also watched…..
The young German guy was really funny….
His dad just could not watch
All loaded up and we took the Zodiac out to board the ship. we needed to get paperwork done, paid before we headed back to Panama City.
Ludwig the captain of the boat.
All our gear on the boat.
Bikes on Deck waiting to be lashed down.
All sorted out and tied down. They will cover them before they head out.
Met with the captain and got all paid up. $450 for the shipping of the bikes.
We headed out to the San Blas islands…. Had a great lunch on board.
Locals coming aboard to talk to Ludwig…… and Ronnie
This big boat was moored right next to us…….
Locals coming aboard to sell stuff to people onboard, and charge there cel phone
Leaving in the carved out wooden canoe.
Finally we headed out in a small boat back to shore to get a jeep back to Panama City. Was a bit of a long wait as Ludwig had “arranged” the transport.
We take the boat up a river to a “pier” which was just a dirt clearing and off the boat we got. There were some jeeps loaded, but no one seemed to know if more Jeeps were coming or ? it was about 4:30. The bugs were biting and we did not want to be stuck here…..
These guys were all talking away. We ended up in a jeep that should hold 6 but we had 7 …. it was cramped but we did not want to get out…. with no alternative transport for the 2-3 hour drive back to Panama City.
It was a long drive back…. You can see James is not real happy 🙂
The steep roads also had some washout areas….
You can see I am hanging on as we made our way back out to the main road.
Some great views but a much better road while riding my bike
Was dark when we got back to Panama City. We had dinner again with Frank and Petra! it was great meeting both of you. Hope we see you again!!