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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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Old 3 Jun 2010
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Panama to/from Columbia ALERT

Three items for travellers going to/from Panama-Columbia:
1. There are no longer two choices of company to fly your bike to/from Panama to Columbia. Only Girag now takes bikes. They dramatically raised their rates (at least for Panama-Bogota) from $650 to $900!!! I paid $650 in November 2009 for Panama to Bogota
2. Girag did not do the customs requirement, as promised, upon leaving Panama. Consequently, when I returned to Panama, they wanted to charge me big money because I/Girag had not done the proper paperwork when leaving Panama last year. Do the customs paperwork yourself when leaving Panama for Columbia.
3. If flying your bike back to Panama from Bogota, be aware that the police may do a VERY thorough inspection of your bags that are on the bike. My police inspection took over two hours and they looked at EVERY little item, even my dirty laundry. They even sniffed the nozzle on my aerosol can of WD-40 lubricant. Fortunately, they did not try to spray my fake can of Athlete's Foot Fungus that had my "stash" in it.
Hope this info helps.
motomon at pobox dot com
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Old 4 Oct 2010
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Chris, thanks for the update, please remember to spell Colombia, not "Columbia"
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Old 5 Oct 2010
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Smuggling ingestible substances out of Colombia in a motorcycle qualifies as extreme idiocy. Recently they've required a mechanic to accompany bikes to customs inspections--the better to disassemble bikes whenever they get the urge. The OP was lucky.

Girag's normal price is about $900. It was $900 last November, for example, when Copa was flying bikes and charging $600. They do not normally represent that they'll do your customs stuff for you; instead, they insist that it's not necessary. Sometimes the customs people themselves agree....but if you return you'll regret the absence of exit paperwork. The aduana booth is at the entrance to the freight section of the airport; you'll pass it on your way to Copa or Girag. Get receipts and stamps and whatever else they'll part with, and save it faithfully for your return trip.

Note that even at $900 for the bike and several hundred more for a personal ticket, it's not much more expensive for a single person than shipping by boat. I'll leave it to someone else to say something clever about the relationship between supply, demand, and pricing.

Hope that's helpful.

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Old 7 Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by motomon View Post
They even sniffed the nozzle on my aerosol can of WD-40 lubricant.
When we shipped our bike from Colombia to Panama in May 2009, the narcotics police officer at the airport even sniffed our riding boots!!! They really are thorough.
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Old 7 Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by Margus View Post
When we shipped our bike from Colombia to Panama in May 2009, the narcotics police officer at the airport even sniffed our riding boots!!! They really are thorough.
I bet he'll never do that again. Ever.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting GERONIMO!"
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Old 7 Oct 2010
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Ditto for the boats, we had Colombia's finest onboard for a couple of hours just after we left Cartagena for Panama. They went through everything (ie all the luggage that had been secured for the trip incl our panniers) and even had their sniffer dog under the floorboards of the boat. The boat'c captain had a suspicion we'd be boarded by customs which wasn't surprising as we were hideously overweight having 9 people on a 6 berth boat:


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Old 10 Jul 2011
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Columbia National police search - standard practice

We shipped our camper from Cartagena to Colon in August 2010.
We (and other vehicles on the same boat) where searched thoroughly
once inside the port facility and just before loading.
This is standard procedure - apparently.
It was time consuming but otherwise no problem
Rob Blackwell
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