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How To Get From Panama To Colombia – Without A Sailboat


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Carlye Harney



Central and South America are home to some of the most diverse and breathtaking landscapes in the world. From the lush rainforests of Costa Rica to the majestic Andes mountains in Peru, the region offers a wealth of adventure and exploration. However, when it comes to traveling between countries in Central and South America, it’s important to plan your journey carefully, especially when it comes to getting from Panama to Colombia.


The route between Panama and Colombia presents a unique challenge due to the impassable Darien Gap, a dense and dangerous stretch of tropical rainforest that separates the two countries. While there are no roads connecting the two countries, there are several options available for intrepid travelers looking to make the journey.


In this article, we will explore four different ways to get from Panama to Colombia – overland journey, flight, ferry, and speedboat. Each option has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your preferences, budget, and time constraints before making a decision. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast seeking a thrilling overland adventure or a traveler looking for a quick and easy way to cross the border, there’s a transportation option that suits your needs.


So, let’s dive in and explore the various ways to travel from Panama to Colombia, and discover which option is best for you!


Option 1: Overland Journey

If you’re up for an adventurous and immersive experience, an overland journey is the way to go. This option allows you to explore the diverse landscapes and cultures of Central and South America while making your way from Panama to Colombia.


The overland journey typically starts in Panama City, where you can take a bus to the border town of Paso Canoas. From there, you’ll cross the border and enter into Costa Rica. The journey continues through the beautiful Costa Rican countryside, with opportunities to explore national parks, visit picturesque beaches, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture.


After crossing Costa Rica, you’ll enter Nicaragua, a country known for its stunning volcanoes, colonial towns, and pristine lakes. Take a break in Granada or Leon and soak in the rich history and architectural beauty of these cities.


The journey then continues through Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, where you’ll have the chance to explore ancient Mayan ruins, lush jungles, and bustling markets. Each country offers its own unique experiences and attractions, making the overland journey an exciting and enriching adventure.


As you approach the end of the journey, you’ll enter Mexico, a country known for its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning beaches. Take your time to explore destinations like Mexico City, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen before reaching the final leg of the journey.


Once in Mexico, you have two options to reach Colombia. You can either continue your overland journey through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and finally reach Panama, from where you can take a flight to Colombia. Alternatively, you can fly from Mexico to any major city in Colombia, such as Bogota or Medellin, and start your adventure there.


While the overland journey from Panama to Colombia gives you the opportunity to discover multiple countries and immerse yourself in the local cultures, it can be time-consuming and physically demanding. It’s important to plan your route in advance, consider visa requirements, and plan for transportation and accommodations along the way.


Overall, an overland journey is a unique and memorable way to travel from Panama to Colombia, providing you with the chance to explore multiple countries and experience the true essence of Central and South America.


Option 2: Flight

If time is of the essence or you prefer a more convenient and direct method of transportation, flying from Panama to Colombia is the best option for you. Several airlines offer regular flights between the two countries, making it a quick and hassle-free journey.


The flights typically depart from Tocumen International Airport in Panama City and arrive at one of the major airports in Colombia, such as El Dorado International Airport in Bogota or Jose Maria Cordova International Airport in Medellin. The duration of the flight is generally around two hours, making it a convenient choice for those looking to minimize travel time.


One of the main advantages of flying is that it allows you to easily bypass the Darien Gap, the dense and unforgiving jungle that separates Panama from Colombia. This means you can avoid the challenges and risks associated with navigating the treacherous terrain and potentially unsafe areas.


In addition to saving time and avoiding the complexities of overland travel, flying also offers the benefit of comfort and convenience. Modern airplanes provide a comfortable journey with amenities like in-flight entertainment, onboard meals, and spacious seating.


When choosing to fly, it’s important to consider factors such as airline options, flight schedules, and ticket prices. It’s recommended to book your flight in advance to secure the best deals and availability, especially during peak tourist seasons.


Another aspect to consider is the baggage allowance and restrictions imposed by the airlines. Make sure to check the baggage policy to avoid any surprises or additional charges at the airport.


While flying is a convenient option, it may not provide the same level of cultural immersion and adventure as an overland journey. However, once you arrive in Colombia, you can still explore the vibrant cities, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage that the country offers.


Ultimately, flying from Panama to Colombia is the fastest and most convenient option for travelers who prioritize time and convenience. It allows you to reach your destination quickly and comfortably, ensuring a hassle-free journey.


Option 3: Ferry

For those seeking a unique and scenic way to travel from Panama to Colombia, taking a ferry is an excellent option. While there are no direct ferries that connect the two countries, there are ferry services available that can take you from Panama to Cartagena, a beautiful coastal city in Colombia.


The ferry journey typically departs from the port city of Colón in Panama and arrives at the port of Cartagena in Colombia. The ferry ride takes approximately 18-24 hours, depending on the weather conditions and the specific ferry service chosen.


One of the main advantages of traveling by ferry is the opportunity to enjoy stunning views of the Caribbean Sea along the way. From the deck of the ferry, you can witness the vast expanse of the ocean, with its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking coastal landscapes.


Some ferry services offer onboard amenities such as comfortable seating, restaurants, bars, and even entertainment options to make the journey more enjoyable. Make sure to check the facilities provided by the ferry company when booking your ticket.


Before embarking on the ferry journey, it’s important to consider factors such as scheduling and availability. Ferry services may not operate daily, so it’s advisable to check the departure dates and plan your travel accordingly.


Additionally, it’s recommended to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your spot on the ferry. Some ferry services also offer package deals that include accommodation and transportation upon arrival in Cartagena.


Traveling by ferry provides a unique experience and allows you to witness the beauty of the Caribbean Sea and its coastlines. It’s also a great opportunity to meet fellow travelers and exchange stories and experiences.


Once you arrive in Cartagena, you’ll have the chance to explore the city’s vibrant culture, colonial architecture, and delicious cuisine. From there, you can continue your journey to other destinations in Colombia, such as Medellin or Bogota, using other modes of transportation like buses or flights.


While traveling by ferry may take longer compared to flying, it offers a scenic and memorable experience. So, if you have the time and want to enjoy a slow-paced journey with stunning views, a ferry ride from Panama to Colombia is a fantastic option.


Option 4: Speedboat

If you’re an adventurous traveler looking for an exhilarating and fast-paced journey from Panama to Colombia, taking a speedboat is a thrilling option. Speedboat services are available that can transport you across the Caribbean Sea, providing a unique and memorable experience.


The speedboat journey typically starts in the coastal town of Turbo, located in northwest Colombia. From Turbo, you’ll embark on a high-speed boat that will take you through the San Blas Islands, an archipelago consisting of over 300 picturesque islands with pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters.


As you glide through the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the natural beauty of the San Blas Islands. The speedboat ride offers panoramic views of the lush green islands, stunning coral reefs, and vibrant marine life.


The speedboat journey from Turbo to the San Blas Islands usually takes around 3-4 hours, depending on weather conditions. Once you reach the islands, you can opt to spend a few days exploring their beauty and immersing yourself in the unique indigenous culture of the Kuna people, who inhabit the islands.


It’s important to note that the speedboat journey from Turbo to the San Blas Islands is just one part of the overall journey from Panama to Colombia. After spending time in the islands, you’ll need to arrange further transportation to your final destination in Colombia.


While the speedboat option offers an exciting and adventurous experience, it’s crucial to consider a few factors before making your decision. First, check the weather conditions and sea conditions as the journey can be rough during certain times of the year.


Second, make sure to choose a reputable and reliable speedboat service that prioritizes safety. Safety precautions such as life jackets and emergency equipment should be available on board the boat.


Lastly, be prepared for the limited facilities and amenities available on the speedboat. There may be few or no restrooms, food, or refreshment options, so it’s advisable to pack snacks and water for the journey.


Overall, taking a speedboat from Panama to Colombia offers an adrenaline-filled adventure through the stunning San Blas Islands. It’s an ideal choice for travelers seeking a unique and thrilling experience while traveling between the two countries.



Traveling from Panama to Colombia presents a unique challenge due to the impassable Darien Gap, but there are several options available for intrepid travelers. Whether you prefer an overland journey, a quick flight, a scenic ferry ride, or a thrilling speedboat adventure, each option offers its own set of benefits and considerations.


An overland journey allows you to immerse yourself in the diverse landscapes and cultures of Central and South America. It offers the opportunity to explore multiple countries along the way, providing a rich and enriching experience.


Flying is the fastest and most convenient option, allowing you to reach your destination quickly and comfortably. It bypasses the challenges of navigating the Darien Gap and offers a direct route between Panama and Colombia.


A ferry journey provides a scenic and leisurely way to travel, offering stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. It’s a perfect option for those who enjoy a slower-paced journey and want to witness the beauty of the coastlines.


For adventurous souls, a speedboat ride is an exhilarating choice. It offers an adrenaline rush as you zip across the waters, and the opportunity to explore the breathtaking San Blas Islands along the way.


When deciding on the best option for your journey, consider factors such as time, budget, comfort, and the type of experience you are seeking. Each option has its own trade-offs, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons based on your preferences and travel priorities.


No matter which option you choose, traveling from Panama to Colombia is an exciting adventure. Both countries offer stunning landscapes, vibrant cultures, and unforgettable experiences. So, pack your bags, embark on your chosen journey, and get ready to create lasting memories as you explore the wonders of Central and South America!