Panama City

PanamaPosted by Malin Tue, May 17, 2011 18:26:33

Our main reason to go to Panama City was to arrange the shipping of the Patrol around the Darien Gap. Before arriving in the City we got an email from Nordsued and they had got a quote for a 40 foot high cube container, and we decided to share the container with them. In Panama we stayed with Panama Passage and it was great to meet up with overlander’s that we had met before and to meet others for the first time.

People were traveling both north and south so we had some good days exchanging information, tips about good places to go to, and of course shipping info. We had all got different quotes from the same shipping agents and it turned out that we all had different experiences because of different vehicles, sizes, and shipping methods. Here is a video from Adventurouspirits from their and PanAmNotes loading into a container. Luckily the Patrol and the Land Rover is smaller and we therefor had more space around our vehicles.

Compared to a normal border crossing shipping a vehicle involves more paper work, but we were able to handle it all our self. Our vehicle is now in a container in the harbor waiting for the ship.

Besides arranging shipping we did a little bit of sightseeing in Panama City.

The Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal is a must see when you are in Panama. It was interesting to see the big ships being lifted up in the Locks to be able to pass through from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea. In the museum at the Locks we learned that Panama is well suited to host the canal because it get so much rain that it is no problem to run 14.000 ships through the Locks and the canal every year. And talking about rain, we had our share of it. During our 9 days stay in the city we had rain every day and there was some really heavy showers.

This is from our drive on the Causeway and afterwards some streets were flooded.

Casco Viejo was interesting to walk through with some nicely renovated buildings and others that were still just ruins.

We were told that when we walked down to the Casco Viejo we should follow the Pedestrian street and not go to much to the left or right because then we would end up in the neighborhood of Santa Ana or Curundu.

Some of our traveling friends ended up walking in Curundu looking for a hardware store, and they were stopped by a police man that pulled them into a store. There he called them a police escort that drove them the remaining 300 meters to the store. One police man came with them into the store and two were standing guard outside. They bought the things they needed and was driven down to the pedestrian street where they could walk safely back home.

We did not see much of Panama, our focus was on shipping the car to Colombia and continue our drive south. The shipping had been talked about so often and been on our minds for a long time and it will be great to have done. Panama kind of feels like a half-way point in our trip, especially since we have to ship the car, it is the end of Central America, and the journey will start again in the north of South America. Colombia here we come!


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Boquete and Vulcan Baru

PanamaPosted by Malin Sat, May 14, 2011 00:03:31

In Canada we had a problem with a leaking brake hose, but every now and then we filled up with a little brake fluid and it was not too bad. Then the leak stopped and we just made ourselves a mental note about fixing the brake hose one day along the road somewhere.

While driving on these steep roads, and pushing it a bit because we wanted to get to Boquete before it got dark, we got a brake warning light on the dash, and discovered a rather serious leak in the brake hose. Filling up with brake fluid and driving very slow the last 30 km we got to Boquete without any accidents, and started looking for a place that could help us with a new brake hose. The challenge is that this brake hose is longer than the stock one because of the 5 inch suspension lift. We had to have a new one made after our spesifications.

Our host at the Pansión Topas recommended us a garage. We went over to talk to the mechanic. He did not have the parts that we needed, but he recommended us a place in town to get a new hose and he would put it on for us. The shop in town did not have the parts we needed. We went back to the mechanic, and for some gas money he would drive to David (about 40 km away) and get it for us. He said he would be back at 2-3 o’clock in the afternoon, and he would then call us at the Topas. At 3.30 we had still not received a call, and we drove to the garage where they were all sitting in front of a television watching Barcelona versus Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal. Except the mechanic himself. Apparently he was still in David. We guessed he was also watching the match there before returning to the garage... So we called it a day, drove back to the hostel, and returned to the garage the next day. Next day the mechanic was back with his Barcelona cap on, and he had been able to get a brake hose for us.

The Patrol has a really tight fit for the left brake hose, and it took a bit of a struggle to get to the upper part of the hose loose. The new one went in, and Espen was skeptical as it went in a little too fast. We drove the car out, and tested the break. The new hose was leaking as h…! Back in the garage. He finally got it right, and we made a mental note of doing things ourselves if you want it properly done. We had a short test run in the valley and decided it was okay.

One of our reasons for coming to Boquete was that we had read that it was possible to drive up to Vulcan Barú, the tallest mountain in Panama with 3474 meters. We had also heard that it was pretty rough, and our host said that only a Unimog with portal axels could drive up there. We wanted to give it a try. Vulcan Barú is in a National Park and the information at the ranger station told us it was 13,5 km to the summit.

First the road was a nice gravel road, but then it became rougher and rougher with big rocks and no room to navigate as the road had dug into the terrain.

Every now and then we stopped and walked a bit to see if it was worth driving on. After 4,5 km we stopped to reconsider. Because of the brake hose we had started quite late in the day, and we realized that we wouldn’t get up there before dark. The 4,5 kilometers had taken us two hours, and the road kept getting rougher. On top of that, dark clouds came in and covered the mountain. Espen was also wondering about the brakes, and he suspected that there was still air in the system. We decided to turn around.

On our way down the rain started and we could hear the thunder up around the summit, and we were actually really happy about not camping up in that dark grey cloud. Another time…

After one more night in Boquete we were on our way to Panama City where the process of shipping the car will start.


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