Panama – Colombia
Carti – La Meil
4 days in San Blas – $350
We also offer free camping in La Miel after the trip. See the “Volunteer – Work” Page.
Next trip planned to leave: 6th of July.
Trips leave around every 3 – 4 weeks
Our trip is 3 nights and 4 days in San Blas, including food, accommodation, snorkeling, immigration and an unforgettable adventure!
Our goal is to always leave on the date set, however it is important to keep in mind that occasionally, due to weather or numbers, we may have to delay.
San Blas – Colombia & back to Panama:
If you’d like to experience this amazing adventure through San Blas, visit the border towns where we finish and come back again there is a way. A short boat ride from Capurgana to Obaldia and a flight to Panama City and you’re back in Panama for around $100
Please read this information before booking:
April/June – November/December (Rainy season)
Rainy season is actually a very comfortable time to travel in San Blas. The seas are calm and most of the weather passes right over the islands. When it rains it generally only lasts a short time and we always have some sunshine.
In the rainy season we start our trip in Miramar. Check below for travel details.
December – April/June (Windy Season)
For these months there is a strong wind almost constantly from the North-East. In general the sea is rougher and sometimes we may have to delay. On the upside it is the Caribbean summer and because we travel along the coast most of our trip is protected by islands and reefs.
In the windy season we start in Cartí. Check below for travel details.
We take care to provide a tasty menu including some of the local cuisine as well as a good douse of gringo food. We also take good care of our vegetarians! I’m a vegetarian myself some days. Just let us know in advance of any dietary quirks and we will be more than happy to accommodate.
Food is included from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day.
It´s also a good idea to bring snacks, lounging around on islands can be hard work. Some extra snacks never go astray.
Drinks are not included. You are welcome to bring whatever you desire to drink on the islands, alcoholic or non-alcoholic (rum is a usual preference and goes well with coconut,, otherwise known as “coco loco”). It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of water; this can be purchased in Panama City, Portobelo, Miramar and on the first island where we stay the night .
The first night we stay in a Kuna hotel in a Kuna village. The second night we camp on a deserted islands. Tents and matts provided.
BTW: The islands we stay on are mosquito free.
Immigration & Kuna fees:
We take care of your stamp out of Panama as well as your fees for staying on the islands of Kuna Yala. On the Colombian side check in is free and is done in Capurgana, by you, with our guidance.
It’s a funny thing that almost everybody runs out of money in San Blas. We seem to forget how much we like to do things like drink beer, buy snacks, eat lobster ($4-6 a pound from the locals) and buy random things like kuna art, molas, wrist bands, ect.
There are no cash machines in San Blas, Sapzurro, or Capurgana. The closest place to take out money after Panama City is Turbo, though I recommend taking enough pesos to make it to the next big city.
Once you are in Colombia you need pesos. You get a better rate if you change in Panama City, however, you can also change dollars for pesos in Sapzurro or Capurgana. Sapzurro and Capurgana are truly worth some time if you have it, don’t cut your stay short because you didn’t bring enough dough.
Payment for the trip should be in cash. We only use Pay Pal to take deposits.
A safe amount of money to bring (including travel to Cartagena) would be: $300,000 pesos & $50 usd (not including travel to San Blas)
Money Exchange in Panama City:
Euro Cambio: Calle Ricardo Arias (off Via España, near Via Veneto)
Tel: 209-1016 / 209-1095 These guys give an above market exchange rate (that´s a good thing!). There are also other Casa de Cambio in this area.
Another one that’s easier to find is Eurix. Situated on the bottom floor of the Veneto hotel on Via Veneto. Tel: 2098080 Email: www.eurex.com.pa
Getting to Miramar:
To get the boat from Miramar you need to stay the night before in Portobelo. On the morning of the trip we catch the bus from Portobelo to Mirmar, which costs around $3:50 and takes just over an hour.
To get to Portobelo you take the Panama-Colon Express bus ($3.15) from the terminal in Panama city, get off in Sabanitas and take the Portobelo or Costa Arriba bus. The bus to Costa Arriba goes past Portobelo so make sure you ask someone to tell you when to get off ($1.50). Once in Portobelo take the only road to the right and follow the sign pointing up the hill that says Captain Jack’s.
Total cost of buses from Panama City to Miramar = $8.15
Portobelo Hostal & Captain Jack’s bar are situated up a small hill above the very picturesque town of Portobelo one of Panamas most interesting historical sights. The hostel is clean and comfortable with friendly staff, a lively bar and a nice view over the bay. Hostel Portobelo. $11 per night.
Getting to Cartí:
To get to Cartí you take a jeep from Panama City. This you can book through us or through the hostels in Panama City. The jeep is $30, there is a $6 fee for entering Kuna Yala and a $2 fee for entering Cartí. Total = $38
Hitting San Blas earlier:
For those who have more time you could go to San Blas earlier and meet us there. To do this you need to make your booking beforehand and keep in contact with us by phone. It’s ok,, Kunas have phones.
La Miel – Cartagena or Medellin:
To make this journey you need to stay one night in Capurgana, stamp out of Colombia and book your boat to Turbo the day before.
La Miel – Capugana: You can either catch a boat all the way for 14,000pesos or walk 20mins over the hill to Sapzurro and catch the boat for 7,000.
Sapzurro – Capurgana: there are ferries for 7,000p . Or, for the braver, there is a challenging but rewarding hike between the two bays, which takes about 1.5 hours and has incredible views.
Capurgana to Cartagena or Medellin is one full day of traveling. If you need to you can do this the day after the trip making it five days in total from Panama to Cartegena or Medellin. I suggest, however, that you spend at least one extra night in the area and more if you have time.
From Capurgana to Turbo there is a ferry that leaves every morning at 7:30. The ferry costs 55,000p. They weigh your bags and anything over 10kgs is 500p (25c) per kg. Make sure you check the weight, these guys are quick!
From Turbo you can catch a bus and head for Cartagena, via Monteria or Medellin and arrive that night. The price for these journeys varies depending on the buses you catch. Turbo – Monteria – Cartagena costs around 75,000 pesos and Turbo – Medellin costs around 60,000 pesos.
We suggest you take some time to explore this area, it’s one of Colombia’s true hidden gems. The beaches are amazing, there are great jungle trecks, hidden bays, beaches where turtles lay eggs and there’s just enough tourism to make it comfortable without being intrusive.
Pesos conversion is around $1=1800/1900 pesos
BTW: Turbo is not as bad as the guidebooks make it out to be. I’ve passed through more times than I can count and had no problems. Also, Capurgana and Sapzurro are probably some of the safest places you’ll go to on your travels. It’s the Gapster you’re taking on,,,, not the Darien!
Respect for the Kuna
Coconuts are not free property in San Blas,,, they are the property of the Kuna and they consider it a grand felony to take them without asking. If you want a coconut just ask the Kuna. They might charge you 50c but they’ll cut it open for you, saving you from bashing it against rocks, or risking your own fingers.
Taking photos in San Blas can be a touchy subject. Some Kuna will charge if you want a photo, some will ask for a photo and others really don’t like it. The family we stay with are fine with photos. In fact the kids will take more photos with your camera than you. In my opinion it’s a matter of respect, particularly in the village where people are living their day to day lives. If you don’t know the person it’s best to ask before taking a photo.
Stuff for the kids:
If you’d like you can bring gifts for the children. Rather than sweets we suggest things like; books, pens, balls (volleyball, basketball, soccer ball) any kind of game or medium for interaction, you can also bring clothes.
Let’s face it, this is an area where drug trafficking is prevalent and there are no shortage of police with sniffer dogs making random checks. If we get stopped and someone on the boat has drugs everyone goes to jail. No drugs on board the boat! And that includes Marry Jane.. Rum on the other hand is legal and very merry.
Nothing is expected of you except to enjoy yourself, have a good time, and wash your plate. However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to get involved you’re more than welcome to help us out with meal preparation or pitching the tents.
Separate your things. Put what you will use for the trip in your small bag. This is the bag you will keep with you for the trip. You’re big bag with everything you don’t need for the trip will go away into dry storage and you will not have access to it for the entire trip until the end. Think carefully about what you’ll need to bring.
Here are some ideas of what to put in the day pack:
- Change of Clothes
- Swim suit
- Camera (fully charged)
- Ipod or MP3 player to play music on the boat.
- A sarong and or sleeping bag to lie on. Nice to have but not necessary if you don’t.
- A warm jumper/sweater.
- Some dollars to by drinks, coconuts, kuna art ect.
- Sun Block/after sun.
- Good spirit.
Please confirm date with us before booking any flights. We need a certain amount of people to leave so there is a small possibility we may need to delay the trip a day or two. Although we are always in sight of land our trip takes us out to sea and to a very remote part of the world so there is always an element of unpredictability. If at all possible we advise you to leave a few days slack in your travel plans.
- December 2009