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Alternative Darien Crossing (The Elusive "Pacific Route")

posted Nov 26, 2013, 4:51 PM by Paul Gareau   [ updated Nov 26, 2013, 4:52 PM ]
Nicholas Carleton posted this info to panam-riders on 11/25/2013

From Panama City, you can ride east on the Panamericana until you reach Meteti (230 KM). To do this, you need to pass through two Senafront checkpoints (kind of like their border patrol) - each of which will turn you back to Panama City if you are not prepared. Before leaving Panama City, you will need to write a letter (like a permission slip) to pass the Agua Fria checkpoint (180 KM from PC), as well as the checkpoint at Meteti (230 KM). This letter needs to be signed and stamped in Panama City before leaving (e-mail me for info on this). Make 3 copies of this letter (and passport copy). Each checkpoint will take one, and you should keep one as well. From Mateti, follow the path highlighted in red on the PDF link i attached. The full route goes 125 KM to Garachine. If you want a shorter route, you can catch a boat from La Palma or even closer from Puerto Kimba - stopping in La Palma (zoom in on La Palma on google maps and then look east).

From La Palma you would catch a boat to Jaque (on the coast of Panama just before getting to Colombia). From there you can either take a boat to Jurado or go straight to Bahia Solano (the former option taking much more time, as boats don’t make the trip from Jurado on a regular schedule. Both options are shown on the map I made). From Bahia Solano, you can take a boat to Buenaventura ($77 for a 26 hour ride) and continue from there. This is the easier and more common route. I plan on riding from Bahia Solano, however, as I prefer to ride as much as possible and “skip” as little as possible (within certain parameters of course). There is a seasonal road (not on google maps, but on actual paper maps of Colombia) that leads SE from Bahia Solano to the main highway near Pereira. From there, you can head in whichever direction you choose.

Costs of some sections of the boat trips:
-La Palma to Jaque $50
-Jaque to Bahia Solano $100
-B.S to Buenaventura $77

This amounts to $227 total. My total crossing will cost me only $130-140, as it skips the last leg and shortens the first leg. Not bad considering many pay $550 to get across!

Good luck and let me know if there are any questions. A lot of this info was gathered from cyclists who have done similar routes, but were not part of this google group, as well as from people I met who live in the areas (Peace Corps volunteers, etc.).

I will be documenting my trip on my blog at

The map is here: