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  #1  
Old 14 May 2009
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Crossing the Darian Gap for ONLY 230 dollars WITH BIKE

I know there are alot of info about the darian, but maybe this up to date info is of great use to fellow cheapskate adventurers like myself....
Are you more about saving your money than your time, then try this.

I crossed the Darian gap from TURBO (Columbia) to Carti (PANAMA) for 230 Dollars. This is 500 dollars than the next cheapest way from Cartagena to Carti for 750. On a tour boat (e.g. panama_cartagena_tours_es )

It could be easier than this but when I turn up somewhere I dont like to wait around, I like to go on, even if it is only to the next stop. Which is not always the best course of action but the one that I take.



1st boat
Turbo to Capurgana, on the New Jerusulum, 50 dollars
day and a half, I couldn't go with it.. cargo only.. (I went on a speed boat 20 dollars)
went well ....my bike arrived
...
2nd
Capurgana to Puerto Olbidia 40 dollars
Puerto Olbidia is just across the Panamanian border, 45 min trip
Huge waves, small boat, I was soaked to the skin, so was bike
...
3rd
Puerto Olbidia to the El Arfi in a small boat, 6 dollars,
El Arfi couldnt get to the dock
Went fine.
...
4th
Puerto Olbidia to Carti in the El Arfi, 100 dollars
8 days it was to take, but it took 9.

...
5th
Carti to the LAND in small boat (lancha) 14 dollars.


That is how I did it, and how I saved 500 dollars -thats a hell of a lot of s.

but now knowing what I know I would just call Rafa, the boss of the El Arfi and ask him when he is going to be leaving Turbo for Panama and plan your trip in advance, this way you could get your bike onto the El Arfi in turbo all the way to Carti, or if you have more time, you could go on to Porvenir. He reglarly makes the trip although from turbo to carti would be more than 9 days.

You get to see alot of the Kuna indian villages outside the corrupting reach of the San blas tourists and this for me was good. If you want to see pictures or read more about this journey check out my blog post for the boat trip Argentina2Alaska's Travel Blog at Footstops.com - Free Travel Map & Photo Blog for Travellers

-------------------------------

My bike was a BMWF650, if your is a 1200 or another big bike he will try to charge you more and with a hardly valid reason, weight.
but then its time for your bargaining skills to kick in. Good luck

Rafa (Raphael), Boss on the El Arfi
PH; Columbia 827 2592 or Columbian Cell phone 311 627 8420

There is also another boat called the Cisne that travels a little bit faster than the Arfi but it only goes between Puerto Olbidia and Carti.

If you are staying in Capurgana (real nice village) contact Joey Silver of ¨Cabana Darius¨, he can help you out with boat info and accomodation, a nice guy from hawaii joeysilver@hotmail.com or phone columbia 314 6468 974

Suerte !!
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For adventure, crashs and breakdown stories go to www.footstops.com/argentina2alaska
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  #2  
Old 14 May 2009
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Thanks for the detailed info! I'm bookmarking this for later reference
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  #3  
Old 16 May 2009
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most excellent information
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  #4  
Old 16 May 2009
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Nice 1!

Cheers for that. I'll be up that way Nov/Dec and will make good use of the info.
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  #5  
Old 17 May 2009
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That's 30% of the going rate these days, even though it seems the OP may have missed out on the Islas San Blas. Excellent if you are on a budget. Good Info.
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  #6  
Old 21 May 2009
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Hmmm... I hate to bring bad news, but I crossed the Darien Gap in the same fashion as Ste IRL but had a completely different experience then him. The small cargo boat that I left Colon on had the engine break down while at sea, then the sump pump broke down, then we got stuck on a sand bar dangerously close to land.

At Puerto Obaldia the cargo boats usually can not use the dock to unload because there is no protective harbor and the dock is usually in a state of disrepair from the last storm. This means that you have to unload your bike while at sea with the boat rocking in 4 ft. waves off the side of the ship and into a lancha that is 6 ft. lower. If you are lucky like me you will get the lazy ass lancha captain who refuses to go get tires from the dock and wants to lay your bike on a couple of 2x6 wood planks.

The crew on the cargo boats will not care about your bike. Expect to have multiple broken parts when you arrive. Three of my turn signals broke, an oil temperature sensor, and my rotor was smacked against the concrete on a dock.

The DAS in Colombia refused to stamp my passport when I arrived in Turbo because there was a stamp that I was supposed to get in Capurgina that no one told me about. Capurgina, Colombia is right next to Sapzurro, Colombia which is right on the remote border with Panama. Even know I had written permission from the Colombian police in Sapzurro the DAS guy in Turbo would not stamp my passport and told me that I had to go to Cartagena first (without a stamp) and pay a $220 U.S. fine.

To cross the Darien Gap by myself again I would pay the $750 that the established sail boat captains in Portobello charge. If I had two friends that I was riding with then I would do the cargo boat option again. If you do the cargo boat option just make sure that you are prepared for things to go wrong/bad. It took me 14 days to get accross and originally I thought it would only take 5 days.
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  #7  
Old 23 May 2009
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Sounds like an adventure to me, some are just more fun than others. That's why I go to have them all

You are one of just a few I have read about that made it like that.
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  #8  
Old 24 May 2009
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Awesome i will do the same and report back in 2 months time.
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  #9  
Old 9 Aug 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyde View Post
Awesome i will do the same and report back in 2 months time.
How did you get on?
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  #10  
Old 18 Aug 2009
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In Cartagena at the moment. Im now going to move 2up with a lovely lady ive met... How does this happen?? So my priority is to see a welder to modify my rack and pannier design.
Ride to Turbo? do i have to go via Medillin?
Im looking into work here to help replenish the coffers, teaching English most likley but if this fails i will be giving Capt. Rafa a call in the next week.
Any advice?
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  #11  
Old 18 Aug 2009
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How was the crossing? Did you manage it for $230 USD?

If you're looking for work, I'd encourage you to look online. If you don't have a laptop, that would be an expense. But once you get one, and build up some work, you'll be able to earn wherever you are in the world. I lived like that for the last 2 or 3 years until I retired last month. :-)

A few places I'd suggest checking out:
Mahalo Greenhouse (writing work)
Rent A Coder: How Software Gets Done -- Home of the worlds' largest number of completed software projects (some copyrighting / research work)
DoMyStuff.com - Outsource your life (all sorts of stuff)

This is probably off-topic for this thread, but you asked. :-) We can always move to another thread if you want to discuss further.

I'm curious to know how you got on with the crossing. I'll be down there myself in a couple of months I reckon.
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  #12  
Old 18 Aug 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyde View Post
In Cartagena at the moment. Im now going to move 2up with a lovely lady ive met... How does this happen?? So my priority is to see a welder to modify my rack and pannier design.
Ride to Turbo? do i have to go via Medillin?
Im looking into work here to help replenish the coffers, teaching English most likley but if this fails i will be giving Capt. Rafa a call in the next week.
Any advice?

The road to Turbo is mostly dirt and there are many pot holes. I rode it 2-up and you just have to be careful not to bottom out too much and bust your fork seals. Make sure to bring your camera because that road is very beautiful.

Keep your wits about you in Turbo because it is a very rough port city. It is not a place where I would want to spend anymore time then I absolutely had to.
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  #13  
Old 7 Sep 2009
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OK.. contacted Rafa today. He is leaving Turbo, Columbia on the 25th Sept 2009.
$250 for bike and person to Panama. 8 Days....

After reading Stephens blog this could take alot longer!! And you should bring some food... not Bananas!

I will be negotiating this initial price as im riding 2up and could well be joined by another KLR. To be continued...
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  #14  
Old 8 Sep 2009
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You're riding 2 up on a KLR? How are you managing? I'd be keen to see pics, just in case I were to meet a Colombian for example! :-)

Good luck with the crossing, let us know how you get on, I'll be down that way in a month or two on an 01 KLR.
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  #15  
Old 5 Sep 2012
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UPDATE



I just arrived in Panama city after about a fortnight of Darien gap crossing coming from Colombia...

Basically, I phoned that guy Rafa from Ste IRL's post about 10 days before I wanted to go and he told me he was going to leave from Turbo in 10-15 days, so I started making my way for Medellin.
About five days later I phoned him back and he was like, yeah well it'll take another 10-15 days before I head out but there's some guys leaving in three days. Perfect!

So off I went to Turbo (which really isn't that dangerous or anything, it's just noisy and dusty) to look for that ship... Which turned out to be a barge in pretty lousy shape... Anyhow, the guy was like yeah I can take your bike to Panama (Carti, last island of the San Blas archipelago) for $400. No way! We agreed on $250 (which was, considering what you get and the fact that it is absolutely no extra effort for them at all to take you there, still too much but WAY cheaper than any of the other options).
The negative part is that they take a LONG time (9-12 days) and after the first five days it gets pretty tedious. Also, despite the fact that most of these marinero guys have really good spirits they can be a bunch of idiots sometimes (namely when they get drunk). The trip is not without risk, albeit mainly damage to the bike. In my case, though, there was no damage done to the bike at all as it stayed on the boat all the time and just had to be hauled into one other boat which was a dinghy to get to the dock of the Carti airport (where the road starts).
MAN, was I happy to be there.


Anyhow, some details on the process of this whole thing:

- Go to the Turbo docks and discuss price and conditions, odds are there ought to be a barge leaving within the time span of one week. If you want to know in advance, aforementioned Rafa is a good enough guy to talk to I had the impression. Do take into account that sea voyages are always delayed and long so if you don't have a fortnight to spare don't consider it...

- Take a room at Residencias Florida, owner John's a nice guy. Price 20000 pesos but you can get it down to 15000. Parking space at 2000/24hrs.

- Bare in mind that you will not be able to go on the same boat as the bike up until the first town in Panama, Puerto Obaldia. This was freaking me out a little so I asked to get a copy of the responsible's ID but he avoided me and pretty much refused to do that, so I called Rafa and asked him if that guy's OK. He told me yes. Bike arrived so I guess he's OK. Boat was called Compañerita, the guy was Mauricio.

- You'll have to do customs process in Turbo at DIAN which is situated on the outskirts of town in the military base. Wear your helmet when going.

- Take plenty of cash

- You then take a lancha to Capurgana when the boat with your bike left (the lancha only leaves at 9 am and costs 55000 pesos), where you have your passport stamped for exit.

- Take a lancha to Puerto Obaldia, 25000 pesos, do customs and immigration, join your beloved motorcycle on barge and enjoy the ride. Take a hammock if you can... And lots of books and stuff to pass time.

- After about 10 days you'll arrive in Carti, where you then go by lancha to the dock of the ariport. I paid $15.

- Once on tierra firme they'll charge you $20 to use the dock at the barrier. Ridiculous. I had only $10 left so reluctantly they agreed to let me through. After about 20kms of riding on the very slopey but paved road there's a Yala Guna border post, they'll charge you $6 pp and $3 for the bike for the use of their territory. Idiots. I had no cash anyway so they let me through.


Luckily my card worked when I got to the first ATM in Panama Now starting to make my way up to Costa rica.
It was a great adventure, for sure.


By the way, coming down the other way I suppose your best bet would be to go to the Colon docks, there were plenty of Panamanian boats doing deliveries all the way down to Puerto Obaldia. That would mean waiting there until someone can take your bike to Turbo from there.


Lots of luck to all you low budget rides out there and hope this helps!



Shadi
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