We've retired this feature; questions can no longer be asked or answered, but we're not
getting rid of any old information on these pages, as it might come in handy.
Check out our travel guides for travel inspiration and to plan your trip.

Question

Photos page thumb e873bcb24fecb36fb59e164930cc689b

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

Default photos page thumb

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

Photos page thumb img 0530
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

Photos page thumb open uri20130822 19095 l49mot?1383779149

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

Default photos page thumb

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

Default photos page thumb

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

Photos page thumb 45ede504a59da876115328652ed616c8?1403732705

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

Posted Aug 20, 2011

Photos page thumb photo on 2010 06 12 at 19.11

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

Photos page thumb e873bcb24fecb36fb59e164930cc689b

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

Posted on Jan 01, 2011

Photos page thumb photo on 2010 06 12 at 19.11

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

Posted on Jan 01, 2011

Photos page thumb james1
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

Photos page thumb e873bcb24fecb36fb59e164930cc689b

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

Photos page thumb stringio

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

Photos page thumb 7014e90f8b45c1f380b9ae56824a4771?1383768997

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

Photos page thumb open uri20130421 23171 1e6alj7?1383775710

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

Photos page thumb open uri20130421 23171 1e6alj7?1383775710

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

Photos page thumb b8f087436611d867892616e5bb5d90f3

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

Posted Feb 25, 2013

Also in AFAR Magazine

Small b85f12eed3a92a9160134365cf6cd76a?1344554205