Travel Panama to Colombia via the Caribbean coast
Travel Panama to Colombia via the Caribbean coast Reviews
Panama City(Panama)-Mulatupo-Puerto Obaldia-Sapzurro-Capurgana Mar 29, 2010
There is not a lot of information about traveling along the Caribbean coast of Panama to Colombia so I hope this will be useful to future travelers. The trip was done late March 2010 and is only part one of the travel to Panama City to Cartagena Colombia. The general thing to do is get a flight from Panama City to Cartagena or take a sail boat from Panama to Cartagena via San Blas islands (generally 5 days) so this is the alternative, less traveled route.
We went from Panama City Panama to Mulatupo Panama by airplane. The Company was Air Panama. I contacted this airline and another national airline to try to get other flights to Puerto Obaldia and another town nearby, but they neither of them were flying to those towns. So we settled on flying to Mulatupo. We stopped in a little airport called Ogobsucun where we paid an airport fee, but I don’t think that was necessary. Then when we landed in Mulatupo and paid another airport fee and took quick boat taxi to the town. We left Panama City at 8:00am and arrived to the town of Mulatupo around 11:00am.
In Mulatupo, a guy named Freddy helped us hire a boat to Puerto Obaldia. We decided on hiring the boat privately for same day travel rather than waiting until the next day for a scheduled boat taxi. We were there before noon and I wasn’t sure what we’d do the whole afternoon and night in Mulatupo. Freddy said the boat taxi generally leaves in the morning and charges $20 or $25 per person. He also said it’s not a sure thing though. A lot depends on the ocean and also the amount of people wanting to go and I’m guessing the general mood of the captain that morning plays a factor too. To me it wasn’t worth the risk, I prefer to move on and hope we could get to Capurgana Colombia before day’s end.
We left Multatupo to Puerto Obaldia on our private boat, but actually it wasn’t private because the captain rounded up other passengers. We stopped at a little island to drop off people and supplies then headed on to Puerto Obaldia. We arrived here about 2:30pm. We had to go through “security” which amounted to a couple soldiers sitting at table under a lean-to. They checked our bags and told us where the Immigration office was. We headed there and had to wait for the officer to finish his lunch break before getting our exit stamp from Panama. We asked around to find someone to exchange US dollars to Colombian Pesos, and everyone said one specific guy, who we found but he didn’t have pesos that day. We also asked around and were told a boat would leave at 4:00pm to Capurgana Colombia.
We waited at the boat dock area and a couple soldiers chatted with us. There is a military base here with about 500 soldiers, who were friendly to us. We ended up leaving after 4:00pm in a boat taxi with several passengers. I didn’t realize there would be a stop in Sapzurro Colombia. It was for over an hour so the sun was getting pretty low in the sky. By the time we left Sapzurro, it was dusk and we’d be traveling in the dark. From Sapzurro to Capurgana was only about 20 minutes from dock to dock, putting us in Capurgana at close to 7:00pm.
I was happy we were able to get from Panama City to Capurgana Colombia in one day! We had to wait until the next day to get our stamp into Colombia. There were no problems not having the exit/entrance stamps with the same date. We didn’t take our bags with us to the office either, only our passports.
Here are our travel costs for the day:
$72.53 each – Air Panama flight. Panama City to Mulatupo
$ 6.00 each – airport fee in Ogobsucun
$ 1.25 each – airport fee in Mulatupo
$ 2.00 each – boat taxi from airport to Mulatupo
$75.00 each – boat from Mulatupo to Puerto Obaldia (both in Panama)
$ 5.00 both – tip to Freddy for helping us from the airport and getting us a boat
$20.00 each – boat taxi from Puerto Obaldia to Capurgana Colombia via Sapzurro
It was over a 12-hour day of travel, but a lot of that was waiting around, which is probably going to happen all the time. The boat trips can be fairly rough, so if you get sea sick, I recommend taking a pill or going a different route.
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Capurgana-Turbo-Monteria-Tolu-Cartagena Apr 01, 2010
This is part two of our travel expenses along the Caribbean coast of Panama and Colombia and part one is in a previous entry in this blog. This leg of the journey is from Capurgana to Cartagena.
Again, I’m writing this to help future travelers who want to take a different route from Panama City Panama to Cartagena Colombia. We left Capurgana headed for Turbo at 8:00am on a taxi boat. We were told they only leave at this time of day to Turbo. It was actually after 8:00 but not too much. The boat ride was rough and not for the squeamish. Our boat broke down on the water and slowed us up 20 minutes or so. We arrived to Turbo approx 11:00am.
From the dock in Turbo, we walked a few blocks to catch a bus to Monteria. We used the service of one of the many pushy guys from the dock, offering their services so we most likely paid more for the bus ride than if locating it yourself. We left Turbo about 11:30am and arrived in Monteria around 4:45pm. Part of the road was very muddy, slowing us up some.
Our goal was to get to Tolu that day but we had trouble finding a bus that late in the afternoon going all the way to Tolu. There were direct minivans going but cost 30,000 pesos. We decided to take a bus Monteria to Lorica (approx one hour), leaving a little after 5:00pm then catch a smaller bus/minivan Lorica to Covenas (approx 40 minutes) and finally a third bus Lorica to Tolu (30 minutes). The workers and passengers on the buses/vans helped immensely in getting the right connecting bus. We arrived to Tolu about 7:30pm.
The next day we took a bus Tolu to Cartagena, leaving at 2:00pm and arriving to the main terminal in Cartagena about 4:00pm.
Here are our costs in Colombian Pesos:
50,000 each – boat Capurgana to Turbo
12,000 both – overweight fees for luggage on boat (I think 12 kgs over)
5,000 both – three large plastic sacks for luggage on boat ride
35,000 each – bus Turbo to Monteria (I think we paid a little extra)
7,800 each – bus Monteria to Lorica
500 each – minivan Lorica to Covenas
3,000 each – bus Covenas to Tolu
At this point in the trip we were exchanging at a rate of 1700:1 for US dollars. I go into more detail of the journeys and our personal experiences in the blog.
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