We had to be at the Ferry Xpress terminal at midday in Cartagena to complete the Aduane formalities and have the vehicle sprayed against taking any pests to Central America!! We met all the fellow overlanders there too.

Quite a collection! Besides the Belgians, Andre and Monique who we had already met, we made lots of new friends. John and Linda from Alaska need a special mention. John has been building his own motorhomes for years and they are pictured here besides their latest

– a wooden hut on a flatbed truck!


After hours of standing and sitting around we eventually boarded the ferry at 7pm!

At least the day wasn’t wasted, we’d made lots of new friends. We’re all from the same mould, with the spirit of adventure and wanderlust in our veins. image

Michelle entering the vehicle deck of the ferry at last!

We’d covered a total of 15676 kilometers in South America before boarding the ferry! What a wonderful time we’d had. So sad to say goodbye but new adventures lay ahead!

The ferry trip was lovely. We enjoyed everything; our cabin, our meals and doing something different!

At 2pm we entered the harbour at Colon. Then the next long wait began…. By the time the car was off the ship and the customs red tape over, immigration had closed! It had to be re-opened to stamp our passports!

At last around 7pm it was all over. It was already dark and collectively we approached the harbour security for permission to camp in the safety of the port. It was too late to go searching for a safe place to camp that night.

We didn’t spend any longer in Colon than we had to. We needed to buy new provisions in Panama City and try get a roadmap of Central America as none were available in South America!

We had downloaded free GPS maps of Central America from Open Source on the internet. It was the first time we could put them to the test. They worked! Thank goodness, Garmin maps of South America had been dreadful.

Panama City was huge and modern. Large skyscrapers everywhere. We found paper maps of Panama and Costa Rica, restocked with provisions and got out of the city after a cup of good coffee. We wanted to camp on the Pacific Coast that night.

You’d never believe it! Two other couples we’d met on the ferry were in Santa Clara too. Not a great campsite but safe! Hot and humid though.

We decided to get away from humidity of the coast and headed further inland early the next morning.

In Santiago we stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s!! Not only for the burgers, which we did enjoy, they serve good coffee and have free wifi too.

There we met a young couple from Brazil, Roy and Michelle, in their Landover, which they’d converted themselves and created a great overland vehicle with everything you could imagine to undertake a world trip.

They were heading for Alaska, then across the Berring Straights to Asia, continue through Russia, the middle east, into Africa and maybe even visit us in two years time in SA!
We wished them lots of luck and continued towards the town of David.

But on the way we were drawn back to the coast. We found Playa Las Layas thanks to exact gps co-ordinatates supplied by Life Remotely, a wonderful source of information on overlanding in Central and South America. A blog written by Kobus Mans, a South African, his wife, Jessica and Jared McCaffree from Seattle.

You can’t keep us from water!!

After a peaceful nights sleep wild camping on our own (no mozzies), we “abluted” in the warm Pacific. Much better than a cold shower.

On our way to Boquete, we found Panagas. We refilled our Chilean gas cylinders for only $4.40! And what good service from the friendly and helpful staff.
Thank you to Life Remotely for the co-ordinates once again. They had also supplied the details on how to get our accurate GPS maps downloaded for free.

Boquete, a lovely town filled with coffee shops, restaurants and plenty of craft and gift shops and lovely homes.


It’s about 40 kms inland from from David, high up on the side of a Volcano. There was nowhere to camp at all. After some enquiries the owners of a coffee shop suggested we wild camp further up the valley next to a metal bridge….


After a disturbed night of noise from traffic on the bridge and heavy rain, we awoke to find “organ pipes” on the mountainside.

A castle ruin…

And a silky waterfall……

The valley was stunning. Everything was crisp and clean after the rain.

We had heard of a hot spring nearby and went in search.

After an awkward drive on a terrible gravel road we crossed another metal bridge and were directed to the “hot spring” on a private farm.


It looked more like a duck pond! The farm was in a bad state of repair and we certainly didn’t want to stay there.

It was getting late so we returned to the second metal bridge and wild camped on a farm road next to the river.


The bad weather continued so we decided to move on. Maybe off the mountain it would improve, so we returned to David.

We needed ice and petrol so stopped at a garage. We left the front of the vehicle unattended while putting the ice in the fridge.
Ready to leave again we wondered why half of the map on the front seat was missing! We thought it must have torn and part of it drop out the car when we stopped. Strange…..

It was still early enough to cross the border and the weather might be better further on we hoped. But we needed to get our papers in order for the border, so stopped for coffee.
To our dismay we discovered why half the map was missing… my TAB and Solveig’s Kindle which we’d left charging while putting the ice in the fridge were also missing!
A taxi had also been filling up next to us. The driver must have grabbed the oppertunity while our attention was elsewhere.

Solveig had over 100 books on her Kindle and I’d used my TAB for our blogs and Facebook postings. Not to mention the many photographs taken with the TAB. All gone!
Ever since then it’s been so much more difficult to write and edit the blog on a Note 4 smartphone! We had ourselves to blame though!!!

So without any further delay we left Panama right there and then. Fortunately the border crossing was easy and the weather improved too……..

Author: Ian & Solveig's Overland Adventures

Although we never achieved our original goal of reaching Norway overland through Africa, our experience was so unexpectedly rewarding that we've not been able to settled down again! So we added new destinations to our lust for adventure. We hope that you will join us in sharing new exciting places and encounters with the amazing people we meet along the way.

2 thoughts on “Panama”

  1. As ever fascinating stuff, great pics and awesome descriptions. Sad about your tab and kindle….the challenges of travel!

  2. Great adventure so far , pity about the kindle and Tab , but great to see your blog still up and running , it takes me out of this place completely and such a pleasure to enjoy some of these things with you . Take care .

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