where to - how much ?
Panama to Colombia is the obvious route, certainly not the only but probably the easiest as so established.
The options in Panama city are either source container and arrange all yourself or go via an agency who has more of the paperwork organised and can sorta point you in the right direction.
Many people take one of these options and all have differing stories as to how easy (or difficult) the process is.
For our part we used an agency: 'SeaBoard' utilising their very friendly and well spoken (english) representative called Vanessa Degracia.
We paid for a 40ft container (2 cars in that) $1890, further port costs in Colon at point of loading came to maybe another $15
There are definate advantages to using seaboard once you arrive in Cartegena, much easier processes and less port hassles.
Often people will use an agent to handle their paperwork in Cartegena, this will add couple hundred dollars to your costs and it may (MAY) save a little hassle but will not (WILL NOT) save any time.
We handled the importation processes ourselves and it was time consuming because of their systems but certainly not difficult, can't remember exactly the costs, but about another $150 (remember all these costs are for 2 vehicles, so cut em in half to get your personal cost).
The process for us was :
1) get Bill of Lading from port.
2) take the BOL to customs office to arrange inspection.
(the above 2 processes took maybe 1 n 1/2 hrs with a taxi ride between the offices)
3) next morning opened container and obtained customs inspection (2n 1/2 hrs with waiting)
4) back to customs office wait 1 hr (some waited for 4 or 5) for paperwork.
5) go n buy insurance (cannot get without temp import papers)
6) back to port and exit with vehicle after couple more checks, minor but time consuming.
in total we spent an hour n half the first day and then all of following day but we had 4 n 1/2 hrs delay getting insurance because their printer wouldn't print and then they insisted on lunch break !!!!
i know of many people that have crossed in last 6 months, the cheapest price i know of was $1500 most will use an agent and pay between $1800 and $2000 (for 40ft HC 2 car container.)
some things to consider . . . . . .
flight costs, hotel costs, taxi costs.
try to time your container operations to be midweek and with minimum of delays to avoid too many hotel/hostal costs.
It is easy to delay container despatch after loading for a few days (as we did as we decided to sail from Colon to Cartegena instead of fly).
Container arriving on a Monday or Tuesday will mean minimum storage delays. You get 3 days for free but if container arrives on friday 2 days get used over the weekend when nothing takes place.