A journey on 2 wheels...

I sept 2007, Calixte Leblanc and Alain Denis set off on a motorcycle journey, rock climbing, mountaineering, surfing from Jasper Alberta to Costa Rica - central america. One year on a Suzuki Dr 350

January 18, 2009

How did we get to South America?

Along the journey south, many people asked us, " How will you get across the Darien Gap?" Can you ride your bike? - NO!!!
Crossing the Darien Gap would be a death wish, or the craziest adventure you could ask for.
A Gap between the North & South Panamerican Hwy - a 57-mile (92 km) stretch of some of rugged, mountainous jungle terrain, guerrillas, drug smugglers, poachers, and jaguars rule this vast no-mand's land.

But it's been done!!! ...

The first motorcycle crossing was by Robert L. Webb in March 1975. Another four wheel drive crossing was in 1978-1979 by Mark A Smith and his team. Smith and his team drove the 400 km (250 mile) stretch of the gap in 30 days using five stock Jeep CJ-7s. They travelled many miles up the Atrato River via barges. Mark Smith has released his book Driven by a Dream, which documents the crossing.
The first all-land auto crossing was in 1985-1987 by Loren Upton in a CJ-5 Jeep, 741 days to travel 125 miles (201 km) all on land. This crossing is documented in the 1992 Guinness Book of Records. In addition Upton returned in 1995 and became the first to drive a motorcycle, a two-wheel drive Rokon motorcycle, all on land through the Darien Gap, 49 days.

We spend 2 days researching our best options to cross into Colombia. Choice # 1 was to ride to Colon and find out if a boat was going threw the San Blas Islands and eventually to Turbo Colombia or Cartagena. After calling a the *www.hostelwunderbar.com*
to find out if we could get on any boats. They told us that NO boats where going at this time cause of rough ocean in Jan and Feb.
Most captains take these 2 months off holiday. The chances of getting stuck on some islands were high or loosing our bikes and ourselves at sea wasn't inviting.
It was by far the cheapest way to get into Colombia, but not the safest so we started to research and call the *Cargo Flight* option... A way out of the budget way to go, but much faster and safer.

It was disappointing to miss the chance to sail the Caribbean sea and visit with the Kuna Indians in the San Blas - ( one of the last unknown and unspoilt paradises of this world. It consists of hundreds of small tropical islands which are only inhabited by the Kuna people, the local indigenous group - crystal clear waters & untouched beaches)

We called Girag, a shipping company which many bikers use to send their bikes to Colombia by plane. Fast, efficient, safe but also came with a high price of $900 for each bikes! ( cash!)- Angela found tickets for us with Aires.aero for $250 a total of $1150.
It was either bite the bullet or risk our bikes, lives and what could be the end of the trip on some deserted island eating coconuts for the rest of our lives.
So we pulled out the good old visa card and booked our tickets. We now needed to run to a bank machine and get out $1800 for the bike payment. Sometimes the machines don't give you that much. We needed to make 4 transactions of $500 each. Paranoid that someone could be watching us withdraw all this money (in a bad neighborhood of the city) we started walking at full speed back to our Hostel so we could safely put our money away.
Now relieved that we no longer needed to ride to Colon or spend hours finding a way to get to Colombia. I made a killer sheperd's Pie, filled our stomach, watched a movie and called it a night.
Tomorrow will be a long day since we need to ride to the airport without getting lost! - get our bikes to Girag cargo terminal by 9am and catch our flight at 11:30am.

2 comments:

Andres said...

Hey guys!!!
It sounds like alittle bit difficult getting to south america.
I hope everything is ok and that are enjoying my country.

best wishes from all Gauyd´s team.

Jassim Alsaady said...

I'm really happy to get to your blog. Its a joy to read it, and Inspiring, as I'm planning my own trip.

I'm getting soon a BMW F800GS. Quite excited planning times. I'll be posting a blog as well.

Thanks a lot