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  #1  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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California to Cartagena!

This is my first posting here and since I am new to this, please be patient. A quick little background.

I was an avid motorcycle rider in my youth. I started with a small Honda SL 70 when I was 11 or 12, a small street bike when I was 15, a Honda 750 in the late 70’s and then a Suzuki GS 1000 the first year they came out. I even rode from Mexico to Canada back in 1978, on a whim with some buddies. My last real motorcycle was a Yamaha 1100 which I stopped riding when my first daughter was born in 86.

January of last year, I went to the Philippians and spent a month riding around the northern island of Luzon with several friends. I used a Honda 200 for this. It was the perfect bike. We had a great time, for the most part. Wine, women and song!!!

Now I have an apartment in Cartagena, Colombia. I was thinking of purchasing a bike in the states and riding it to Cartagena. Once I am here in Cartagena, I can take a break. Then when I am ready, continue south. I am in no hurry. I was even thinking I could take several trips using Cartagena as my base.

The First series of question I have is in regards to Border crossings. I have a visa to be in Colombia as long as I want to. I was wondering if any one knows how long my bike can stay for. Additionally I am interested in the best way to get from Panama to Cartagena.

I also have a lot of other advice I need, but I will post that as I come up with things.

On another note, I have a large apartment here in Cartagena, on the beach. I would be happy to host some motorcycle travelers who are traveling from North America and swap stories. Could be fun!!
Thanks, Martin
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  #2  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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Well Martin, welcome to the HUBB. It sounds like you have experience of how things work in Colombia. What the law says or one person's advice dictates is very often different to how things actually work out. What kind of visa do you have?

My first bike was imported numerous times with temporary permission on the back of 60/90 day tourist stamps. The period of entry dictates the period of entry for the bike too. With other visas eg; investment and rentista visas, I am led to believe, (we shall soon find out for sure), that an initial period of 6 months is given on importation and that you will then be able extend that by a further 3 months at DIAN. After the 9 months is up, you then have to at least nominally leave the country with the bike.

This is the experience of one person leaving at the Cucuta border control. I intend leaving and re-entering at the Ipiales border control early July. This bike currently has importation permission in some else's name, so we shall see.

You cannot import "permanently" to Colombia

Hope that helps on the importation issue.
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  #3  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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Six Months

Hello Strecher Monkey:

Yes, I am very experienced with “Life in Colombia”

I have a visa valid until the end of 2009. It sounds like I can get 6 months and perhaps 3 months more. That would be great for my plans. I was thinking on a Vstrom. The Vstrom is sold both in the USA, Colombia and throughout SA. I am assuming that it is easy to get parts and service this way.

Thanks for your advise!
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  #4  
Old 22 Jun 2008
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Maimi to Colombia

I will keep my eye out for you. I would think that your best bet would be Avianca as they do a lot of cargo in and out. When are you planning on your trip? What kind of bike do you want to take?
Martin
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  #5  
Old 22 Jun 2008
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@Martin - Not sure if I made myself clear, but I did not mean you should have to leave with the bike permanently. After one day, you can enter again and renew the paperwork. Vstroms, as you probably know, are very popular here with whole moto clubes being dedicated to them. I don't know about Cartagena, but if it's anything like the rest of the Costa Caribe, you'll have no problems getting parts as long they are for a jetski!!! Plentiful Suzuki parts available in the other big cities.

@Patrick - try one of the cargo-carriers like Tampa Air, Girag or Centurian. Costs are apparently $500 - $600, but a mate of mine recently paid substantially more to do the trip in reverse.
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How much does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
For a week, or several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say “forever”? - Pablo Neruda
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  #6  
Old 22 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stretcher Monkey View Post
You cannot import "permanently" to Colombia
100% on that statement.

I have however imported my bike for a 7 month term. The only limitation was MY visa. If you have a visa until 2009, you should be able to get a temp permit for your bike for this long as well.

See here:

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...=colombia+visa


And Martin, careful what you wish for, I might show up at your doorstep. (Isn't there a concurso in Cartegena in February?)

Jeff
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  #7  
Old 22 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtydeeds View Post
100% on that statement.

I have however imported my bike for a 7 month term. The only limitation was MY visa. If you have a visa until 2009, you should be able to get a temp permit for your bike for this long as well.

Jeff
Jeff, that's what I meant about how people have very different experiences with authorities here. Often it seems to depend on the individual, what you are prepared/able to ask for, and to top it all it seems rules and regulations are in constant flux. I was told some time ago about the visa=importation permission rule, and if that still holds true, it's very good news indeed!

Suerte

PS: Jeff, what happened to the Colombiana?
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How much does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
For a week, or several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say “forever”? - Pablo Neruda
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  #8  
Old 22 Jun 2008
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That is very good news and very helpful. It seems like I can have my bike here forever as long as I keep leaving and coming back. The Venezuelan border is only a one or 2 day ride from here.

One thing I was thinking about. Why is there not more buying and selling of bikes from one foreigner to another. The price of bikes here is so outrageous; this would make a lot of sense. I am looking at a Vstrom 1000. In the U.S. a nice used one can be had for 5 or 6 thousand. Here new is 18,000 and used is not so much less.

Jeff, you are welcome any time. I am not sure about the concurso in February, But I will look into it.
Martin
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  #9  
Old 22 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
Martin,
In your travels if you happen to come upon any info on shipping by air a motor cycle from Miami to Colombia, I would be very grateful. If you find out about a particular company that is good with bikes for reasonable cost, that would help. Seems very logical since Miami is SOOOO close to Colombia, no?

I do not want to ride through Central America (been there, done that! ) so a more direct path into S. America would be best, and I can't think of a better place to arrive in than Colombia.

Any help appreciated and your generous offer if much appreciated.

Cheers,

Patrick
San Rafael, CA
Hello Patrick:
Sounds like you have done the CA to Panama trip. Several questions. How long is the trip? Was it mostly paved roads?
I am into adventure; however the kind that ends up in a hotel at night. My days of sleeping out side are long gone.
Thanks
Martin
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  #10  
Old 23 Jun 2008
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Hey Patric, that is great stuff. I am printing it out as I write this. Thanks!
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  #11  
Old 25 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
Jeff,
Thanks for the referral! Will look into both companies. I've checked out the Girag site and I know they fly alot from Panama to Colombia.

Martin,
I lived in Guate. and Salvador back in the 70's, (2 years) passed through all of Cent. America as well (not on a bike). Rode a bike into Guate in the 80's, haven't been back since.

The Panamericana is all paved and if you've got good border skills and some luck, you can go from the Mexican border to Panama in a week or less if you want.

As far as these borders go, the best and most recent thread I've found is on ADV rider by Jeff Munnn. He does a fantastic job laying it all out. Only a couple years old and covers everything! A great read and ride report all in one with a TON of good info.

Central America Ride Planning and Road Wisdom - ADVrider


Patrick
Patrick:

I read it all from beginning to end. This is almost everything I will need to know. I feel like I am ready to go!! Thanks a bunch. Any time in Cartagena, look me up.

Martin
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  #12  
Old 25 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stretcher Monkey View Post

PS: Jeff, what happened to the Colombiana?
She is in Colombia, in Med school. We still catch each other on MSN frequently. She is a wonderful woman, but really far away and dedicated to her studies.

Mollydog: There is a thread going over on ADVrider about Girag mishandling bikes, go for a search...
I have flown with Avianca a couple times. They treat customers really well, I would think they would treat freight customers well too.

Cartegenabound: Thanks.

Jeff
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  #13  
Old 25 Jun 2008
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Hi Cartagenabound,
Yes you can do the entire trip to Panama on excellent pavement. I would however suggest that Pat's time estimate of " a week or less " is very optimistic and would mean that you ride very fast for many hours a day and not take the time to enjoy the countries you are travelling through.
A more relaxed pace is recommended. Figure on a minimum of five days to traverse Mexico ( and even that is pushing it in my thinking) and then at least another five to cross CA to Panama. You do not want to be trying to do two border crossings in one day , you will drive yourself nuts trying to beat some of their closing deadline hours and dealing with the bureaucracy at several of them can be very trying. Just relax, go with the flow and you will be able to enjoy the trip. Give each of the countries you need to cross at least a full day. They have plenty of road and scenery to keep you occupied, believe me.
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  #14  
Old 25 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sjoerd Bakker View Post
Hi Cartagenabound,
Yes you can do the entire trip to Panama on excellent pavement. I would however suggest that Pat's time estimate of " a week or less " is very optimistic and would mean that you ride very fast for many hours a day and not take the time to enjoy the countries you are travelling through.
A more relaxed pace is recommended. Figure on a minimum of five days to traverse Mexico ( and even that is pushing it in my thinking) and then at least another five to cross CA to Panama. You do not want to be trying to do two border crossings in one day , you will drive yourself nuts trying to beat some of their closing deadline hours and dealing with the bureaucracy at several of them can be very trying. Just relax, go with the flow and you will be able to enjoy the trip. Give each of the countries you need to cross at least a full day. They have plenty of road and scenery to keep you occupied, believe me.
Sjoerd, couldn't agree more. And for me 5 days from Guatemala to Panama would be way too fast. Waking up to a border crossing each day? - no way!!

If Martin is going to do the trip he might aswell enjoy it. I would say at least a couple of months. If not, why not just ship the bike down? It would save on money, time and risk.
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How much does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
For a week, or several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say “forever”? - Pablo Neruda
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  #15  
Old 26 Jun 2008
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Hi martin
I am living in Venezuela. let me know when you are in Cartagena and we can meet. I'd love to go back to Cartagena. Although I have no bike at the moment, they stole my Dakar about 1 month ago here in Caracas.
I brought it through Central America last year. If you want you can check it here From USA to Venezuela , solo motorcycle trip
claude
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