Crossing the Darien Gap from South to North

Detailed description and costs

Carriers performing the transport:

RoRo - Willenius Willemsen

RoRo - SC Line - to go with the ship as passenger is possible

LoLo - Seaboard 

Container: n/a


Luis Ernesto La Rota all carriers

Rodolfo Castro SC Line only

Offers for 74cbm, 11 Tons


Prices Luis Ernesto La Rota

Flatrack with Seaboard: $4185 all Costs in Cartagena included

Harbour costs Panama approxm. $900

Transit time: 1-2 days

Frequency: every sunday

Passengers allowed: no


RoRo with Willenius Willemsen: $6385 all Costs in Cartagena included

Harbour costs Panama approxm. $500 (as offered, maybe less in reality)

Transit time: 1-2 days

Frequency: every two weeks

Passengers allowed: no


Prices Rodolfo Castro for RoRo with SC Line

Freight costs for 74cbm $2800

Harbour costs Cartagena $300

Agent costs $200

Harbour costs Panama $100

Transit Transit time 12-14 days via Florida

Frequency: every 2 weeks - Delays of more than 4 weeks possible

Passengers allowed: yes

per Passagier: $500 for 1-2 days

per Passagier: $750 for 12 days

per Passagier: $900 for 14 days

Preparation as per example of Flatrack with Luis Ernesto La Rota as agent

Meeting and explanations, 15min in Luis office

copy of all papers needed, 30min in Luis office

With Sonja (employee of Luis Ernesto) to the harbour and freight registered, 60min

Deliver the car

With car and Sonja to the harbour. Only the driver is allowed to enter the premises

Customs inspection from outside only and paperwork

Car will be parked in the harbour

Sonja pays all bills

Total time 3 hours

Drug inspection 

With Sonja to the harbour for drug inspection thru the police.

All trunks must be open and all items should be unloaded and clearly visible. Have fun at 35 grade Celsius and 90% humidity. 

When everything is prepared the police comes and makes a real in-depth inspection. They had no drug dog. 

They look in every box and corner also inside

However everything is very relaxed and in a friendly atmosphere. Time approxm. 30 min. 

After this all items are stored away again. 

Doors, windows and trunks will be sealed

Then I drive the car on the flatrack

The dockers lash the chassis cross-over with chains and secure it in addition with tension belts.  

After this the job is done and you can only hope that this people are knowledgeable in what they are doing. 

Total time 4 hours

Unfortunately you cannot see how they load the cargo as the ship is not yet in the harbour at this point in time. 

In Panama

buy an insurance for the car (SOAT). $15 for 30 days

Car cannot be collected without insurance

Adress: IS International de Seguros / Av 4 Sur, oder Calle 50, Ecke Calle 60 Este. 

GPS: N 08 59 04.9 W 79 30 55.9 

Taxi to Colon.

Yellow taxis $50.

The large hotels have more comfortable taxis for $90. We negotiated $60. 

Ride approxm. 2 hours

A SOAT can also be baught in the mall next to the Radisson Hotel

At the harbour of Manzanillo

Get the original bill of lading at the office of Seaboard

Go to customs and get your temp import paper. Is half way on the street to Colon on the right. 

Back to the harbour. Collect stamps at different places and pay the fees.

It`s a good idea to hire an agent at the harbour for $20. With him all is done in one hour. 

After this go approxm. 500m to valet parking and deliver the car key.

After 30min they bring your car. 

Drive away and be happy

Remarks and Summary

All costs are for reference only and from November 2015. 


Luis Ernesto offers an all inklusive service and does a great job. His agent fee of $300 is also included and pays off.

In Panama we paid approxm. $100 to get the car out of the port. However normally

the flatrack handling costs are approxm. $900 but they made a mistake and handled us like RoRo


The RoRo costs in Panama of $100 is our best guess.


If you are very lucky you may get a SC Line tour which goes directly RoRo from Cartagena to Panama in 24 hours. In this case the passenger costs are $500/Person. The trip via Florida costs $750-$900 depending on the length of the journey. 

Carrier SC Line Willenius Seaboard
Type of transfer RoRo RoRo Flat Rack
length of transit 12 days 1-2 days 1-2 days
freight Cost in Cartagena $ 2800 $6385 $4185
passenger costs 2 people $1500 n/a n/a
Cost Cartagena harbour $300 incl incl
Cost Panama harbour $100 $100 $900
Agent costs $200 incl incl
Flight costs to Pan for 2 0 $600 $600
3 nights Hotel Cartagena 0 $100 $100
3 nights Hotel Panama 0 $100 $100
div Taxi costs in Cartagena $30 $30 $30
Taxi costs Pan airport to city $30 $30 $30
Taxi costs Pan to Colon $60 $60 $60
Taxi costs Colon harbour $30 $30 $30
Grand Total $ 5050 $ 7405 $ 6005