So I arrived in Portobelo Monday at middayand wanted to check out my options to get to Colombia. There was the cheaper way, with a boat that takes you right at the border and through the San Blas islands, or there was the sailboat option. The first costs about 279$, but is a shorter trip and afterwards I would have needed two days to travel by land. The second one was 450$ but included 3 days in San Blas and 2 days at sea to arrive in Cartagena. Because of the time of the year, the sailboat I was recommended to go with cancelled its trip because of lack of passengers and the other boat was leaving on September 11th or later. However, benefits of traveling alone, there was one leaving the next morning and I could get on the boat with them. The owners were Turkish and have been bringing backpackers back and forth between both countries for nearly 3 years. So the Swedish couple, the two Americans, the German sisters, the Brit, the Aussie and I all slept on the boat and left early Tuesday morning for the San Blas islands. The chain totals 378 islands, of which 49 are inhabited by the Kuna natives. Their arts and crafts are very colourful and the women dress with various patterns. They also wear beads on their calves and arms and have a gold nose piercing. The men fish and when you arrive by sailboat they pass by in their wooden canoes and sell what they have caught. So the first night we bought 14 lobsters and they were soooooooooo delicious! The second day we went to a bigger island, where there was the main village (the island near where we were docked had maybe 3 huts on it with people living there). Our captain needed more diesel and we went to see this little man who makes amazing bread! The indigenous are starting to get used to tourists, most of them do not really say hi or smile, but you get the occasional laugh or hello. We are told that in 5 years, the islands will have a different vibe, as tourism is increasing significantly with the years. The second night, we had fish and lobster which was delicious and we played drinking games and there was a bonfire with music. It was a lot of fun, we were with other travelers, some coming on other sailboats, others just taking an overnight trip on the island. The next island we visited, called Limon, was my favourite. There was not much there, a few inhabitants but the coral reef was much nicer, so we snorkelled a lot (or schnorkelled ahahaha). The colours were amazing and we saw many fish! That night was a quieter one, as we had two days at sea coming up. Those were a little shakier than the 3 first days. No one got sea sick, which is impressive considering the size of the group, but below deck was enough to make you dizzy. Most of the nights we were able to bring mats out on deck and sleep outside, other nights we alternated because of rain. Below deck, with 11 people sleeping could get a little stuffy and hot. So the captains alternated and it was two days none stop sailing, until yesterday we finally arrived toCartagena.
All in all, anyone that needs to cross fromPanamatoColombia, I do recommend this trip. The flight might be 130$ cheaper, but it would be how much you would pay for a two day trip fromPanama cityanyway. It is worth it, an amazing experience.