Columbia to Panama & Panama Canal??
Replies: 11 - Last Post: May 10, 2013 6:56 PM Last Post By: globespinner
Dec 12, 2012 7:41 PM
I am currently in Columbia and will be looking to travel to Panama by boat in about 3-4 weeks time.
I am finding it difficult to get information regarding this. Does anyone have any recommendations??
It appears a large part of the trip is sailing through rough seas for over 30 hours which isn't meant to be very exciting- just wondering is it a good option to fly to Panama and catch a boat to tour the Sand Blas Islands from the Panama side?? Any suggestions?
Also does anyone know much regarding the Panama Canal- is it worth visiting, is it on the tourist trail or is it just like going looking at a large canal!! I haven't met anyone who has visited it before.
Dec 13, 2012 12:13 AM
1A large part of the trip is on rough seas...maybe,if you are unlucky....and isn't very exciting...yes,that's true.
As for the Panama Canal..it is very much on the tourist trail.At Miraflores you will see large boats moving through a lock...whether that is interesting depends on you I guess ;-)
You can also do a traverse (or part of one) yourself...I didn't do that (it is a lot more expensive than just going to the locks to watch)......
Dec 13, 2012 4:49 AM
2The boats that sail form Cartagena to Panama have to sail across the open Caribbean to reach the relatively protected areas of the coast of Guna Yala. These seas can be quite rough especially this time of year.
Notice on this map that Cartagena is actually north of a good part of Panama.
Another alternative is to find a boat that is sailing from Sapzurro that is going to Panama. These are more frequent during these months as they arrive and look for return travelers. These omit the long open sea portion of the voyage following the coast , including the islands ,and are somewhat cheaper. This does mean getting to Sapzurro where no roads go. As recommended here often check with stuart at http://www.mamallena.com/
Dec 13, 2012 5:02 AM
3Had you browsed thru the FAQ at the top of either CA or SA Branch, you would see info on sailing between the two countries.
You can also take a series of busses and small cargo boats, cheaper, but by no means more comfy or less getting battered by the seas/conditions. This time of year many dont make the run do to the weather.
Dec 13, 2012 5:24 AM
Dec 13, 2012 1:17 PM
5I planned of going from Panama to Colombia and back next month. The airfares are no deal, as you know. Going part of the way on domestic Air Panama to/from Puerto Obaldia would be cheaper in airfare but trying to book Air Panama on line these days is a nightmare. (as has been attested in the "Air Panama is killing me" thread). Going by boat between Cartagena and Panama isn't cheap and sitting on rough seas for so long isn't my idea of fun. But the Captain Jack's Hostel Portobelo website has a list of boats from Colombia. One way is about $500 US
As far seeing the canal: I'm glad I went to the Miraflores visitor's center.
Dec 16, 2012 4:08 AM
This Is a good option if you want to take in the San Blas Islands - they are pretty idyllic. It also gets around the prospect of spending a long time at sea.
It's cheaper than flying and way more fun. In Colombia the journey starts in Cartagena, a beautiful city on the Caribbean coast, but you can arrive via Medellin as well.
Let me know if you need any help sorting it all out.
Edited by: rbnelson
Jan 16, 2013 7:53 AM
7We found the Canal fascinating. We took a rainforest/canal boat tour and also went to Miraflores Locks. We went with Ancon, but other companies do this too. Yes, it was expensive, but we really liked it. The guide was great; we saw monkeys, crocodiles, amazing birds and plants, and he told us about the canal and about the canal expansion underway. We stopped for lunch on an island in the lake. The visitor center at Miraflores Locks was good (although the video is rather ridiculous). We watched two boats go through, and that was enough.
Jan 17, 2013 4:19 AM
8From Medellín you can go to Sapzurro (flying with www.ada-aero.com, generally expensive about 180 US but there are good offers in early February 65 US, or by bus+boat for 70 US) which is a nice spot to stay a few days among virgin beaches and hidden waterfalls.
From Sapzurro there are 3 hours trip boats to San Blas. No departure time: when the boat is full, it leaves.
From Sapzurro you can also go by boat to Porto Obaldía (first Panama town), half an hour, about 14 US, and from there you can take a flight to Panama City with Air Panama for about 70 US.
For about the same price you can fly directly from San Blas (Mualtupo) to Panama City -www.flyairpanama.com-.
I wouldn't advice you a whole boat trip because of the conditions of the sea in this season.
Jan 18, 2013 4:42 AM
9Here's a video of a couple transiting the canal. It looks like some places are worth seeing and others are just a concrete canal.
Jan 22, 2013 6:21 PM
10We've done the full transit twice, and I would do it again. It's one of the most interesting engineering feats we've ever seen. Like one of the previous posters, we went with ANCON and their guide was excellent. We left Balboa in the morning and if you go with a good company they'll even pick you up at your lodging, and they usually provide lunch. We got to Colon that evening and then they bused us back to Panama City. The last time we went the train was also running between Panama City and Colon.
An advantage to doing the tour is you're on a much smaller boat than most people. I imagine a cruise ship passenger wouldn't see much from a large ship, but our boats fit in the locks with the big ships and you can almost reach out and touch the lock walls. I bet people who have gone through the canal and say it isn't a big deal were in big ships.
The tour companies schedule their transits months or years in advance, so you can't just show up and expect a transit or space on the boat. I'd go online and book as far in advance as possible.
If you're even slightly interested in history and engineering, I highly recommend the transit.
May 10, 2013 6:56 PM
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