via the San Blas islands....
05/09/2013 - 10/09/2013
As I mentioned previously in my last post, I did not want to fly over to Colombia so the only other option (other than taking a machete, making my way through the Darién Gap and taking the risk of being kidnapped by the FARCs) was to take a boat and sail to Cartagena. The prices are quite steep (between 500 and 550 US$) but so are the flights between Panama and Colombia and besides you get to visit some of the most gorgeous islands in the world, the San Blas islands.
[It is possible to find a similar journey for a cheaper price (350 US$) but this is by speedboat where you go through the islands and by doing this way, you are being dropped straight at the Colombian's border and not in Cartagena.]
So in Portobelo (Panama), we got introduced to Ariel and her crew Hannah and Max who were going to be responsible for us for the whole trip (6 days). Ariel owns the boat but for this trip she had also hired a captain who has sailed on all the seas of the globe, Chris, a South African national.
So in the morning of the 5th of September, the 4 crew members and us the 8 passengers raised the anchor and started to sail aboard a nice sailing boat called One World. More information about the boat and crew can be found here.
During the first day we were supposed to refill in gas in one bay nearby but unfortunately due to technical issues of the gas station, we had to stop for the night there instead of sailing overnight to the islands. Anyway not a problem as the next morning we were leaving the bay at 6am and a few hours later, we would reach the first islands and had a first gasp on this piece of heaven.
The first days were therefore dedicated to do some snorkelling in the reef around the islands,fishing, making a campfires, sailing to different places and swimming around the boat when we could. In the last two days, we started our journey from the islands to Cartagena and arrived in the morning of the 10th September, in the Cartagena canal, with a view on all the skyscrapers of the new part of Cartagena.
The whole journey was just fantastic, the crew was very friendly and professional, and our whole group was a good mix of European culture with the British, Irish, Italian, Swiss and French countries being represented, all getting well along with each other!
And if I had to choose a highlight of this journey, this would probably be when we stopped in the middle of nowhere to swim around the boat. At that time we were right in the middle between Panama and Cartagena with no coast in sight. We were swimming in the most blue water I have ever seen, with 2000 meters under our feet.... A truly amazing experience.
And here are a few pictures taken from this trip: