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Is it possible and safe to drive from Cancun, Mexico to Cartagena, Colombia? - I might add, we'd be traveling with an 18 month old child.

Posted on Dec 31, 2010

10 Answers

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You can't do this.  Once you got to Panama, you'd have to ship your car and then either fly or go by ship past the Darien Gap.

Posted Jan 08, 2011

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Ann Abel
AFAR Contributor

When I was in Cartagena in September, people who lived there told me it wasn't a great idea to drive outside the city.

Posted Dec 31, 2010

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My family is from Bogota. As a foreigner you want to stay in the main cities and in the main areas there. Outside of the cities there is little protection from the army and you disappear.

Posted on Aug 22, 2013

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Impossible, there are no roads across the Panama-Columbia border.

It IS possible to catch buses the ENTIRE way between the Yucatan and Panama.  EVERY little village, town and city along the way is connected to EVERY OTHER one.  The driver will gladly take you over the roads, for something like two dollars an hour (and you'd have to pay me a few hundred dollars an hour to white-knuckle-drive it!)

Cars--who need 'em ;-D)

Posted Jan 12, 2011

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Oh, I forgot to add--the drivers know the best places to stop and eat. They know how to fix the bus when it breaks down. Your fellow passengers on the bus will teach you sooooooo much about the culture you've come to see/learn about/enjoy. Let's not even get to the little wide-spot-in-the-road outside of Leon, Nicaragua, where local gals carry buckets of homemade hot tamales wrapped in banana leaves onto the bus.

Cars do not give you independence--they give you isolation. Ditch the wheels and enjoy the ride

Posted on Feb 25, 2013

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You can drive to Panama and then ship your car to Colombia.

Posted Aug 20, 2011

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I'm afraid it's impossible.  The Darrien gap in Panama still has not been penetrated to connect the northern and southern parts of the Pan American highway.  The only way is to trudge through the jungle on a 4X4...hardly fun, especially with a toddler. 

Posted Jan 01, 2011

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Thank you Christopher. Glad to know it's not possible. Was rather hoping it wouldn't be!

Posted on Jan 01, 2011

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LOL....that's funny!!  Sounds like a nice cruise that encompasses Cartagena might be the better mode of transport...

Posted on Jan 01, 2011

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James Sturz
AFAR Contributor

And not only would you have to trudge/bushwhack through the Darrien Gap as Christopher says, that area also still has guerrillas. With a toddler in tow, definitely not.

Posted Jan 01, 2011

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Thanks James. I figured that was the case, but had to ask because the adventurous hubby was thinking it was possible.

Posted on Jan 01, 2011

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I have a friend right now who is driving from Alaska to the tip of South America - in a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud! He will use the ferry from Panama to Colombia, which is the standard way to close that gap, and apparently easy enough to do. However, this same friend drove his Silver Cloud across Russia and China, and has no hesitation about attempting anything, as nearly as I can figure. He says there is no point in having his car and not using it, but he takes care of it like a baby. I do agree that this would be a hard trip with a toddler, but we took our kids on some pretty wild adventures, and they have all thanked me for it as adults. Just plan a lot if your husband really wants to do it.....!

Posted Jan 18, 2011

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My friend Charlie did this drive a few years ago. (He shipped his car from Panama, but picked it up and drove through Venezuela.) You can reach him at charles_ragsdale@hotmail.com

Posted Feb 06, 2011

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While this probably isn't helpful to Lisa, I get asked this question so much I wanted to add to the answers. There is a track on the coast that is wide enough and maintained enough to take a bike or motorbike on. I haven't done it myself, but I've heard about it enough times that I'm 90% sure it exists. Also, you can hire a guide to walk through the Darien Gap, and enough people have done it, but of course, it got it's reputation for being one of the most dangerous places in the world for a reason, so it's your risk...happy trails!

Posted Nov 11, 2012

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ALso, there is no ferry service between Panama and Colombia. The only way to get a car across is to ship it. Many tourists take one of several sailboats that make the journey from Panama through the San Blas islands to Cartegena. That seems to be the most popular and safe way to make the trip without a vehicle, and might be a good "adventurous" option for the husband ;)

Posted on Mar 12, 2013

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The natural barrier (jungle) between Panama and Colombia has not know road access - impossible by known roads ---

Posted Feb 25, 2013

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