Travels around the world 2009-2024
Exploring our beautiful planet

Hasta Luego Central America

May 14, 2019  —  Panama
Isla Bastimentos - Bocas del Toro Archipelago - Panama
Isla Carenero - Bocas del Toro Archipelago - Panama

My trip to Panama started with a visit of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago where I stayed one week to explore beaches and the jungle on some of the islands. I explored the islands of Colón, Caranero and Bastimentos.

After the archipelago, I headed to the mountains, in the region of Boquete. I wanted to visit the mountains of Panama before the rainy season, but I didn't get the chance. In Panama, the rains usually start progressively around mid April. In the mountains, even if the rain is not continuous, the summits are often covered in clouds, and the hikes are more complicated because of the mud.

I stayed 3 days in Boquete hoping for the sun to show itself, but without any luck. I turned back, and I decided to come back only after my trip to South America. According to my clever calculations, I should be passing by again in the region during the dry season... two years from now.

Roads around Volcan Baru - Panama
At around 6h in the morning, the view was clear. However, an hour later the clouds were once more hiding the superb landscapes.

Even if the rainy season has indeed started in the mountains, the Atlantic Coast still has some days left before the rains build up for real. After leaving the mountains, I went to Santa Catalina. Then, I explored the Azuero Peninsula during a few days.

The landscapes were very nice, but everything was extremely dry. The region had not seen rain for at least 4 months. The heat and humidity were very difficult to tolerate, and I started to dream about mountains and of colder temperature. At that moment, I have been in Panama for about 3 weeks.

Playa Mata Oscura - Azuero Peninsula - Panama
Around Pedasí - Azuero Peninsula - Panama
Parque Nacional Sarigua - Azuero Peninsula - Panama
Lake Bayano - Panama

After the peninsula, I drove a few hundreds kilometres to get to the end of the world. My destination is Yaviza, at the end of the Pan-American road in Central America. On the way, I enjoy the very nice Bayano Lake and then, I stop a few days in a cute hostel located in the jungle. At this place, I relaxed during the day, but at the start of each night, I went hunting for frogs and I managed to get some superb shots of these small creatures.

Road to Carti - Panama
Road to Carti - Panama
Yaviza - Panama

Here you go, I am in Yaviza, a small remote village located on the edge of the Darien Jungle. It's the end of the road in Central America, and I can't drive on to Colombia. Between Yaviza and Colombia, there is a region called the Darien Gap. It's a wild and unfriendly area where the most useful means of transport is a dugout. It's also a dangerous region due to the presence drug trafficker that smuggle their merchandise.

Yaviza - Panama

There are many options to cross the Darien Gap, but for each of them, it's necessary to return to the capital or to the province of Colón. The motorbike can be shipped using a container ship that sails between both countries, or on a sailboat that offers a week-long tour via the San Blas islands.

Another option, the one I chose, is to put the motorbike on a plane, and to fly to Bogota. But before flying to Colombia, there are still a few nice sites to visit in the country. I retrace my steps and I drive back to the capital.

Panama city - Panama

Back in the capital, I settle in a small house for a week. I must renew the motorbike insurance and temporary import permit. I also begin the process for shipping the bike in a cargo plane.

Panama City is well worth a visit of a few days; the skyscrapers are impressive, the historic centre is a mix of diverse architecture, and there is the famous Panama Canal, a colossal engineering achievement.

Panama City - Panama
Casco Viejo, the historic centre.
Agua Clara Locks - Panama Canal - Panama
The new locks inaugurated in 2016.
Costa Arriba - Panama

During my last week in Panama, I visited the Colón Province. Several ruins of ancient Spanish Forts, notably in the village of Portobelo, can be visited. They testify to the power of Spain after the conquest.

Portobelo - Panama
Panama city - Panama
Cargo Terminal.

It's the end of the first leg of this trip. On May 14 2019, I went to the Tocumen Airport where the motorbike was shipped by cargo plane to Bogota, Colombia. It was a fairly busy day, but everything went smoothly. The motorbike was shipped with Air Cargo Pack.

Hasta Luego Central America, see you soon.

Panama city - Panama
Panama city - Panama
Panama city - Panama
The cargo plane for the bike.

The service offered is very efficient. To give you an idea, here is how the day unravelled:

7h45 I go to the Tocumen Airport.
8h at custom, I cancel the motorbike import permit.
8h15 the bike, with all my equipment, is loaded on a platform.
9h00 the warehouse boss drive me to the passenger terminal.
11h50 I fly to Bogota, with only a shoulder bag.
13h30 I arrive in Bogota.
13h45 I went through immigration and I am now in Colombia.
14h at the cargo terminal, my motorbike is already in the warehouse.
14h30 with an employee, we go to custom to get the temporary import permit for the bike (sadly, it took almost three hours to get it).
17h45 I arrive at my Airbnb with the bike, and my friendly hosts welcome me.
18h15 quiet evening on my balcony, in the heart of Bogota.
Bogotá - Colombia
When I arrive, the bike is already in the warehouse.
Bogotá - Colombia
View from my balcony.

Statistics on the first leg of my trip

trip length 425 days - 1 year, 1 month and 29 days
additional days in Quebec 224 days - 7 months and 12 days
number of countries visited 8
distance as the crows fly - Quebec - Yaviza 4,300 km
distance driven since Quebec 47,474 km
number of oil change 9
front tire used 4
rear tires used 5
punctures 6
major problem with the bike 1 (in the United States)

End of the first leg

This journey continues in the new section South America 2019-2023.