Colombia – Panamá
La Meil – Carti
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 for the 22nd of June
I will be traveling with the group from Cartagena to La Meil (next to Sapzurro) 2 days before the trip if you’d like to join.
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.
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 finish 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 finish 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 breakfast (Lunch when we go via Cartí) 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 Capurganá, Sapzurro and on some islands.
The first night we camp on a deserted island. Tents and matts provided. The second night we stay in a Kuna hotel in a Kuna village.
BTW: The islands we stay on are mosquito free.
Immigration & Kuna fees:
In Colombia check out is free and is done in Capurgana, by you, with our guidance. On the Panamanian side we take care of all island fees and your stamp into Panama.
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, etc. San Blas is USD.
Sapzurro and Capurgana are still pesos, make sure you take enough for however long you will be there before we leave. There are no cash machines in Capurgana, Sapzurro nor San Blas. The last place to get out money is Turbo, though I suggest getting your money sorted in Cartagena or Medellin beforehand.
In USD you need enough for anything you might want to buy in San Blas and your travel after the trip.
Payment for the trip should be in dollars and in cash. We only use Pay Pal to take deposits. We can take pesos if necessary, however you’ll get a better rate of exchange from a “Casa de Cambio”.
A safe amount (more than enough) of money to bring (including travel from Cartagena) would be: $300,000 pesos & $100 usd. You can always trade out your pesos with a traveler going in the opposite direction.
Cartagena – Sapzurro:
This is a two part journey and takes 1.5 days. The first day is two journeys in bus or van (I suggest vans as they are faster) of around 5 hours each between Cartagena and Turbo, changing in Monteria (around 75,000pesos). The second day is a 2.5 hour boat ride between Turbo and Capurgana (55,000 pesos + weight of your bag – 500pesos per kg over 10 kgs). In Capurgana you make your stamp out of Colombia and take a boat to Sapzurro (15min – 7,000pesos).
In Turbo I suggest Residencia Florida for accommodation (3113272569). John gives a warm welcome and will help you organize your boat for the next morning. (15,000 for dorm, 30,000 for shared private, 20,000 for one person in private)
The boat leaves at 8:30 every morning. To prepare for the boat; Make sure your bags are protected by bin liners (plastic bags). These can be brought at the dock for 1,000 per bag. Have sun block ready. Hint: the most comfortable place to sit is at the back of the boat.
Total travel to Sapzurro, including accommodation in Turbo = around 160,000
Travel group: I generally travel with a group leaving from Cartagena 2 days before the trip starts. In this case the cost is the same but everything is organized by me which makes it easier. Also we travel in a group which is cool. On the second day travel is short and we have time to check out the villages and beaches of Capurgana, Sapzurro and La Miel, before we leave the next day.
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!
Make sure you get your exit stamp from Capurgana before heading to Sapzurro!
Pesos conversion is around $1=1800/1900 pesos
Medellin – Capurgana – La Miel:
There are three ways to get to Capurgana from Medellin.
No 1: Fly direct with ADA: http://www.ada-aero.com/ cost about $150 usd
No 2: Fly to Apartador (near Turbo) stay the night in Turbo then take the ferry from Turbo to Capurgana in the morning. Total cost about $85 usd
No 3: Take the bus the day before. Stay the night in Turbo then take the ferry from Turbo to Capurgana in the morning. Total cost about $60 usd
You can also do an overnight bus from Medellin to turbo and go directly to the ferry. To do this you should leave Medellin around 8 – 9pm
The boat leaves Turbo – Capurgana every morning at 8:30am. Try to book your ticket as early as possible and get a seat at the back. Protect your things with bin liners (sold on the dock) and have your sunscreen handy.
Stamp out of Colombia in Capurgana ( Important: only stamp out if it is the day before the trip)
Then take a boat from Capurgana to La Meil (14,000)
Miramar – Portobelo/Panama City:
Miramar to Panama City is two busses and takes around 4.5 hours. The first bus passes through Portobelo and Sabanitas on its way to Colon. If heading directly to Panama City you want to get out at Sabanitas and catch the “Panama – Colon Express” bus to Panama City. Miramar – Portobelo = 3.50, Miramar – Sabanitas = $4.50, Sabanitas – Panama City = $3.15.
Total cost of busses between Miramar and Panama City: $7.65
Portobelo: We suggest you stop in Portobelo after the trip to relax and see one of Panamas (and UNESCOs)great historic sights.
Portobelo Hostal & Captain Jack’s bar are situated up a small hill above the very picturesque town of Portobelo The hostel is clean and comfortable with friendly staff, a lively bar and a nice view over the bay. Hostel Portobelo. Normally $11 per night, our guests are offered a special of one night at half price and a free cold beer!
Cartí – Panama City: (windy months)
Our trip finishes around 2 in the afternoon on the 3rd day of the trip. From there it is a 2.5 hour jeep ride to panama City ($30). There are no buses. There is also a fee of $2 for entering Cartí, and a $6 fee for leaving Kuna Yala. Total cost = $38
Other options… you could hang out in San Blas after the trip (as long as you’ve brought enough money).
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.
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