Blogs from Archipielago de San Blas, Kuna Yala, Panama, Central America Caribbean


The San Blas islands are an archipelago located in the Kuna Yala district in the Caribbean sea off Panama, however they do stretch all the way down to Colombia. Only around 15% are inhabited, with the rest comprising of a small piece of sand and some coconut trees, just above sea level. They represent to me the typical picture post card snapshot that you have in your head of the Caribbean, with aquamarine water, eye-burning bright white sand and the green of coconut palms. Underneath the water lies the world's third largest reef. On our first stay in Panama City a few months back, we had found a good company to do a trip with out to the islands, and it made it easy for us to arrange as we burnt our way down south from ... read more
Isla Achutupo
Mojo enjoying the sun at Isla Achutupo
One of the many small islands

Due to not wanting to further increase my risk of something horrible happening to me while travelling I decided to book myself onto a sailboat and cross the ocean from Colombia to Panamá rather than taking on a border crossing through a jungle (see mum - responsible travel decisions). Although choosing a boat is usually something that would involve a lot of research and reading of reviews (especially considering the $550 price commitment for such a venture), a Canadian guy that I had met in Tryona National Park called Jeff happened to be heading the same way and I opted for the guarantee of at least one amusing person on my boat and booked my trip over in a matter of minuets. The name of the agency was Bluesailing and they organised getting stamped out of ... read more

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! We were sailing to Panama, albeit a day late due to a cockup by the captain of the boat we were supposed to be going on. But the Almande was a fairly large boat with two French seadogs, Loic and Franck, to keep her on the right path to the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. There were 9 of us on the boat; Vicky and Ed were a couple from Essex doing a similar trip to ourselves (always a wonderful thing to meet likeminded people); Jo and Jade an Anglo-Australian couple who were both big characters (if you are an 18 stone, tattooed, ginger beared, Australian bloke with a girls name you are going to be an awesome person, you don't really have a say ... read more
If I could come back as anything....
Sailing is a hard life.
This occurred every morning.

Road miles to date: 20,371 After a respite in an empty house making use of rare luxuries including an oven and a washing machine, we left Puntarenas and went in search of a new rear tyre and a superior pump. We headed to the Costa Rican capital of San Jose where we spent the day combing the area before we finally got a tyre that fit the bike from possibly the only BMW garage in Central America and found a pump the next day. Believing ourselves to finally be fully equipped for any future troubles, we set off towards the southern coast of Costa Rica in search of some tropical wilderness. As we climbed higher into the mountains, mist and rain closed in on us and the temperature plummeted. Riding higher, the bike began to splutter ... read more
Fixing the rear wheel, Panama
View from the road, Panama
Ship on the Panama Canal

Bonjour, Nous vous avons délaissé quelque temps. Nous étions en octobre retournés dans les Sanblas au Panama. Nous en avons profités pour visiter une rivière avec un ami Kuna, la rivière Sidra avec de belles petites chutes ainsi qu'un cimetière Kuna sur la route. Nous avons remontés la rivière à pied dans la forêt tropical pendant 4 heures. Par la suite nous l'avons redescendu en se faisant glisser dans les petites chutes et en marchant dans le peu profond de la rivière. Pour y parvenir nous avions été transportés par une chaloupe qui se nomme une lancha au Panama. C'était une belle journée pas trop chaude et magnifique, nous avons picniqué sur place devant les chutes. Bonne journée... read more
un cimetière
les lèvres de Marilyn Monro
dans la rivière

So we arrived in Portobelo, a small port village at the Caribbean side of Panama, from where we hoped to sort out a place on a boat to get to Colombia. Unorganised as we always are, we left everything for the last moment. However, lucky as we always are we still managed to catch a boat the next morning. After contacting Captain John we got picked up from the main wharf and taken to the boat where we got ourselves a pretty sweet deal: helping out on the boat and sleeping on the floor in return for a discount of the usual $500 rate. We thought this was the deal of our life... ... It wasn´t... Our duties involved sweeping the floor, changing the bins, and helping out in the kitchen chopping the vegetables and washing ... read more
San Blas

10 July 2012 began with a couple of unexpected challenges. First there was the heated argument over the phone with the hostel owner about the last minute hidden insurance and tax charges. These were not mentioned in the “balance to pay” email we received and so were a complete surprise when we were settling the bill. It ended with the arrogant owner admitting “this happens a lot and other people pay” then he declared that he had Leigh’s credit card number and so he could easily deduct the disputed amount. An unfortunate end to a lovely stay! The next challenge proved to be changing our Colombian dollars into US dollars in order to pay the balance of our yacht fare. Leigh walked for an hour in the heat and visited four banks to discover each had ... read more
On our way
Selection of confiscated vessels at the Cartagena Naval Base
Cartagena at night

Hi everyone, Our group has finally split up, with some people going home and some people travelling to other destinations. Now I Alana and myself have to write this blog by our selves. We will try to keep it short and sweet. Northern Columbia was the place for goodbyes. After months of traveling together it was time to part ways and so we hugged and cried as the sun set on our last moments together. See you guys some time in the future and thanks for all the great memories) From ten people down to three, it was just myself, Alana and Frances left. However, on the wind you could hear the faint cries of Jess and Chris calling 'meet us in Costa Rica on the 26th' and we knew that our wolf pack would soon ... read more
Leaving South America behind
Photo 15
Photo 20

Limited transportation choices from Panama City to Cartagena, Colombia has most travelers choosing between flying one hour(US $400) or sailing five days (US $500). Sailing is the more economical and romantic choice for sailboats include food, lodging, three days of island hopping and swimming amongst the 365 San Blas Islands, and two days of open sea sailing. There are lots of sailboats to choose from. We went a little higher end and paid $550 for a large 41 foot catamaran. Luckily or trip included only three other passengers so our trip departed with plenty of room for our five day passage to Cartagena. From Panama City it was a three hour drive to the coast through thick mountainous jungle. The road was rough, up, down and around which our driver could care less about slowing down. ... read more
Our Sailboat
Kuna Indians

In the whole time we have been travelling i dont think we have had such a disasterous trip.... Disasterous but fun! So we had booked to do a 3-night camping trip on a remote island in the San Blas islands of the Kuna Yala territory, Panama. It is an archepeligo of around 365 palm fringed islands, give or take a few that disappear at high tide. Its the kind of islands that you picture when someone says "Deserted tropical island paradise"...... Well!?!? We had met our fellow travellers at the hostel in Panama city. Two couples, Bruce and Laura from Canada and Julien and Tasha from Reunion Island and South Africa. We all got along really well. The trip started early in the morning and we headed to the Kuna Yala (Native indian territory not governed ... read more
Chillin at the accom in Carti

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