Travelling North from Colombia the next country is Panama, but the two are separated by what is known as the Darien Gap. This is an area of dense jungle controlled by guerillas and drug cartels, the only way around it to avoid a potential kidnapping is to fly or go by boat.
For the same cost of a one way flight you can take a 5 day boat trip from Cartagena in Colombia to Panama, across the Caribbean Sea via the stunning, tropical San Blas islands.
The company we chose was Sailing Koala, after reading several good reviews online and our crew was Captain Mike, Edwin and Margareth.
We met up at the docks in Cartagena, stocked up on supplies and set sail for our first night and full day of open sea, not knowing how long it would take.
The crossing was fairly smooth, although a few of the group felt ill and in 33 hours we reached paradise. The San Blas consists of around 350 islands, all owned by the native Kuna tribe. Although part of Panama they govern themselves and have their own laws.
The islands were absolutely stunning. White sand, palm trees and turquoise seas. Only a few of them are inhabited and the islanders make money by selling coconuts and crafts.
We spent 3 amazing days sailing between the islands, eating food prepared by our Captain Mike, a Colombian who trained as a chef in Italy, and his second in command Edwin. The locals would come by to sell us lobster and beers and we’d eat dinner on the islands before returning to the boat to sleep.
An absolutely fantastic experience that we’ll never forget and the best way to cross the Caribbean.