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Old 7 Dec 2000
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: God's Own County
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The Panama-Ecuador Connection

If you've read any of my travel reports (web address at the end of this message), you will be suprised that brighty can actually generate some useful info to share with other bike travellers.

myself and a german chappie on a xt600 decided to ship our bikes around colombia. the slightly dubious situation in this beautiful country seems to have become worse since clinton's 'plan colombia' moved into action in early september. an ecuadorian friend, ricardo rocco, on a yamaha super tenere was kidnapped and i didn't think my mum would have been too impressed to receive a ransom demand. do your own research and go your own way...

the options (correct as per 20 october 2000):

FLYING TO COLOMBIA: see information below and the stuff supplied by erwin thoma in the october e-zine. 'girag' fly for $250 and 'copa' for $350+ per bike, irrelevant of size/weight. so your xr250 with no luggage costs the same as a fully loaded r1100gs!!!!! passenger ticket to bogota is +/- $180.

SHIPPING TO COLOMBIA: it is possible to ship from colon in panama to cartagena/santa marta in colombia. i saw ads for $180 per person on yachts taking 5 days, visiting a few interesting islands en route. a passenger flight to cartagena costs the same. bike costs unknown.

FLYING TO ECUADOR the only company that flies from panama to quito is called 'girag'. there used to be another company, but they apparently went bankrupt. 'girag' can be found at the cargo terminal of the 'tolumen' airport, which is about 30km from downtown. they fly 7 times per week to bogota and from there 2 times to quito.

as far as i can remember, if you drop the bike off on a saturday, you can pick it up in quito the following wednesday. if you drop it off on a monday, the connections (and time for paperwork etc) are bad and you can only collect it the folowing monday. the bike is strapped to an airline pallet (everything is supplied by 'girag') cost: $250 panama to bogota and $250 bogota to quito, total $500 (the bike merely changes plane in bogota). girag only takes cash dollars. they are very efficient and helpful.

the cargo terminal is about 8km from the passenger terminal. at the roundabout where you turn right to the passenger terminal, you should go left and follow the perimeter fence and the signs for 'american airlines cargo'. the 'girag' office is to the right of the big 'dhl' building.

the customs procedures in quito are relatively easy (once you have found out where the girag office is. apparently, the quito address that girag in panama give you is wrong).

SHIPPING TO ECUADOR: this is the option i chose. after the hassle i encountered, flying would definitely have been better for my humour/sanity.

we shipped 2 bikes and a toyota landcruiser in a 20 foot container to guayaquil. the container was organised by the landcruiser driver. cost $1200 (although $950 can be the going rate). other costs: $50 paperwork, $150 to have the car tied down and $75 per bike for the same!!!!! we did the work ourselves.... would you let some dockworker manhandle your pride and joy????? total costs in panama $1500. the formalities in panama were straightforward. shipping time to guayaquil is about 5 days.

i CANNOT recommend the agents 'schenker/ eurolines' in panama.

VERY IMPORTANT: for and shipping (and flying???): make sure your 'bill of lading' has the magic words 'for temporany importation only' written on it. also, if you are shipping, there is some sort of special code that should be written on it, which allows you to drive your vehicle out of guayaquil port. if you don't have this, you will have to pay a trucker ($30) to drive your closed container out of the dock gates and somebody else to remove the container from the truck, so that you can unload it.

unless you have excellent spanish and plenty of time, you will need an agent in guayaquil. i CANNOT recommend 'walter something or other'. the torture takes 2 or 3 days. (it only took us one very very long day, but we had an inside track: help from ricardo rocco and an official letter from the minister of tourism requiring them to help us!!!!). the customs are very precise: they do everything by the book. the book is huge.

useful facts:

you WILL need a letter from your embassy/ consulate saying you are a tourist and in transit. (there is a line in the customs book that says precisely that!!) we heard that the british and dutch consulates in guayaquil are very helpful, but the american consulate requires hard work: the californian couple we spoke to refused to leave the lady's office until she produced the letter. they were there 3 hours!

the total costs in guayaquil amounted to +/-$300. (this includes about $50 for storage in the port for up to 14 days... so 1 day or 13 days: the same cost)

hence the door to door costs were $1800 for the container.

passenger flights direct to quito cost +/-$300.

hope you find this information useful...
chris bright http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/chrisbright/
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