In this article I explain as much in detail as possible how to travel by fast boats from Panama to Colombia. This article is not about hitchhiking, but about paying for the boats.  Hitchhiking is definitely also possible but might take way longer especially because it’s not so frequented by private sailing boats, more by touristic sailing boats which will cost 500 Dollar or more. This way which I describe will cost way less – maximum 200 Dollars, I got it even cheaper with a bit of luck.

If you want to know more about the Darién-gap and why it is dangerous for refugees, you can read here in my blog: About the Darién-gap

General Advices

1. It is possible and it’s not dangerous, you just need time and might get quite wet, so raincover is a must I would say.

2. The trip should definitely cost less than 200 $, you can even get it for less than 100 with a bit of luck or time. I’ll explain the costs below.

3. Speaking Spanish helps (like everywhere in Latinamerica), but you will also solve it without.

4. The route is from Panama City to Carti (San Blas Port), then with one or several boats to Puerto Obaldia where you check out of Panamá. Next boat to Capurgana in Colombia to get your passport stamped again and then you take a ferry to Necocli or Turbo from where you can take buses or hitchhike.

5. This whole trip can take 2 days if everything works very well, but I would at least calculate 3-4 days. Especially if you try to save money.

6. Of course you can also hitchhike on this route but I don’t know how long this will take because normally all the boats along the coast take money (except for the police). For hitchhiking you should frequent sailing boat marinas which are located in other places.

Now let’s come to the route:

Panama City to Carti

There are Jeeps which cost 30 $ from Panama City to Carti.
But you can also take a bus from the bus station Albrook to El Llano for 2,5 $ and from there you take a Taxi Collectivo or you hitchhike which worked perfectly fine for me.

Carti to Puerto Obaldia

This is the longest part which is also most expensive and complicated, because there are many options:
There are two different boats which drive every 5 – 10 days from Carti to Puerto Obaldia.  If you contact them with anticipation, this is the easiest way! It should cost 100 $. Contact me, if you want their contact.
If not with them, you have to work your way along the coast. If you find a boat to Armila, Caledonia or Coetupo, that’s perfect because from these places it’s not far to Puerto Obaldia. But not every day a boat leaves to these destinations. As Carti is only the port and people live on the islands, staying there over night is quite expensive.
But from Carti it is easy to go to Narganá, which is already 1,5 hours in the right direction. In Narganá people were super friendly to me and sleeping there is cheaper than at Carti. (Hostal Noris 15$)
Normally the boats from Carti along the coast stop in Narganá and there’s also boats starting from Narganá. Just ask your way through.
It can happen that a boat from Carti does not stop at Narganá. So happened to me. But then I got an even better option.
Two cheaper options:
1. There are merchant boats which travel from village to village. This is cheaper, maybe you can even hitchhike it. But they take several days or even longer than a week. If you have time, I think this must be amazing because you get to know the little villages along the coast.
2. The border police sometimes travels from Narganá to Puerto Obaldia and then they also take guests – for free!!! I went with them and so I saved around 80 $ 😍 For this option ask your way through to the border police station in Narganá.

Puerto Obaldia to Capurganá

Important that you first get your stamp to leave Panamá! You need a copy of your passport at the migration but there’s a copy shop in front.
Boats to Capurgana take around 20 min and leave quite often. You pay 20 – 25 per person if you go with others. And ~40 if its only you.

Capurgana – Necocli or Turbo

The last boat you have to take!
There are several ferries, quick and cost 85.000 COP.
Important again that you first get your stamp to enter Colombia. Often the electricity fails, so you might have to wait at migration office a bit.
If you have to stay in Capurgana, Marlin Azul is a quite cheap hostel.

Enjoy the trip, it’s an amazing experience and I met super nice people 😊

1 response to “With fast boats from Panama to Colombia – without plane”

  1. Adrian avatar

    What an interesting article and super useful tips if you want to travel more sustainably an avoid taking planes! Thank you and it seemed like you had an amazing experience yourself! ☺️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.