Crossing Continents – I’ve Got This…

We’ve rolled into Panama City, which marks the end of the line for this continent.

For those of you who don’t know, there is no physical way to drive from Central to South America. There is a 200 mile stretch of dense mountainous jungle called the Darien Gap. It has no roads. This is not a very hospitable place. In addition to being a major narco trafficking route, this is also where FARC is located. FARC is a backwards acronym standing for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Don’t let the pretty girl fool you, they are not very nice. They are rebels and they don’t like visitors. The only way around is by boat or plane, of which we’ll use both. The Sprinter will be shipped on a freighter while Stevie, Kiki and I will fly with Copa air.

The logistics of what we have to do are no F’ing joke. This is without a doubt the crux of driving the Pan-American highway. In order to continue our journey we’ll have to:

1) Have the van inspected by the police, get signed paper work. Then have van inspected by Panama customs, pass drug sniffing dog test (yikes), receive stamped official paper work
2) Have shipping company book us on a freighter that allows flat racks
3) Unload and repack van. Secure most important belongings
4) Deliver van to the port in Colon, load it on a flat rack, hand over keys
5) Take Kiki to the vet for official health certificate (no smuggling this time since we’re flying). Certificate must be signed by 3 different government agencies in Panama City, which will take 5 days.
6) Purchase plane tickets for 2 people and 1 dog and fly to Cartagena, Colombia
7) Retrieve van from Colombian customs and hope nothing was stolen
Total turn time – 7 to 10 days

Don’t worry though. I got this.

Video: Crossing Panama Canal

Track Sprinter Life’s exact GPS location! 

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  1. Tatiana says:

    This is the most beautiful list I've ever seen. This will be my obstacle next December. How much is the van transport going to be? I hope it's smooth sailings for you all 🙂 Woohoo, Cartagena!

  2. Michael Tuohy says:

    Seriously though, you have to admit the chick with the machine gun is pretty hot.
    Would you have been able to cross the gap if you were in one of those trucks you're looking into for the worldwide crossing?

  3. Hey Michael,
    Never trust a woman with an automatic weapon. You know this.
    There is no way to drive across the Darien, no matter what vehicle you have. There are literally no roads. It is possible to cross it on foot, but it is insanely dangerous. The trails, when they are there, require heavy bush whacking. If the rebels or drug dealers don't get you, the poisonous snakes and malaria will.
    For the record, I wanted to go for it, but Stevie won't let me. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. TREE

  4. Stephen Novak says:

    Was that Exile playing in the background? Trying to think of any significance to the Canal or Columbia or shipping, but can't get there. Maybe just the band's name?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would not want to be you over the next week. have fun

  6. WOW, that farc chick is smokin! where is the darien again? I'm so goin

  7. Melissa says:

    you said Bush Whacking… all seriousness though I wish you guys good luck and safe travels…cant wait to find out how you guys fared on the otherside!

  8. John Rich says:

    Good luck! I bet everything will go smoothly. You have prepared well for this

  9. Annette Warwick says:

    I just want to wish you good luck with this major crossing.
    Best wishes,

  10. Sandoli says:

    good luck sprinter. just take it one step at a time

  11. mamatuyas says:

    I'm sending you the Dalai Lama Om Chant. Stick those earphones in and take it
    one . . . . calm. . . . breath. . . . at . . . a . . . time.
    Piece of Buddha-cake.

  12. Anonymous says:

    We love you. Keep sayin it with me….. Adven-ture. Adven- ture.

  13. Alexis Schulman says:

    Yikes. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

  14. this is child's play for you Tree. stop being all dramatic.

  15. Jenica Fonttenaus says:

    Hahaha………that is sofa king crazy! I love you guys. Right about now, those Colombians are thinking: “Geez, these crazy American are always trying to stretch the limits!”

  16. Miin and Niel, Made of Love says:

    GUYS! You're going to love Colombia. Just as you're arriving, we're heading out to Ecuador, but our hearts are definitely here 🙂 Good luck with all the bureaucracy and be grateful for Panama Passage- we had to do it all on our own from Nicaragua where the shipping people thought we were insane because no one ever does it!

    Hope that we catch up to each other at some point. BTW when you're in Colombia, you HAVE to go to Sibundoy, Putumayo. If you want more info, email me at, and well, if you want any more tips! Definitely try to stay at we volunteered there for 5 weeks and it was amazing! (You can check out our Horno de Tambor we built and well.. Jon, the owner, is the bomb!).

    Keep in touch and Universe, bring us together!
    xoox Paz y Amor

    PS Thanks for the sweet comment on Niel's blog!

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