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The Road to Nowhere….

Chunks of road... gone...

While I was gone due to a friend’s medical emergency in Belgium in late November/early December, the rains came down on Panama. And down, and down. So much so that by the time I had returned, many parts of Panama were underwater. Floods in the low-lying areas, mudslides, landslides and massive erosion in the highlands. The extent of the damage and havoc was, in a word, devastating.

Phil, Andiamo’s new captain, was back in Panama City on a break between trips when I got back. The plan was to go to Andiamo to complete some maintenance projects before our next trip which was scheduled about five days later. It was not to be. On December 8th, the Carti road became impossible to pass, and the bridge connecting the Interamericana over the Rio Bayano was literally underwater. The road was closed, flights were cancelled because of the horrific weather, and access to San Blas was now impossible. It would remain so for a solid 10 more days.

Here's where an entire section of road collapsed down the hill...

When the weather finally started easing up, we began looking for ways to get Phil back out to the boat and Andiamo’s trips back on track. We managed to charter a flight to get him and the group booked for a trip out to the boat on the day the trip was to start. Since then, we have had to resort to utilizing Air Panama and when not available, our own charter flights. After a bit of a rocky start getting our trips’ logistics transitioned over to air vs. land, we got a fairly decent system and fairly regular flight rhythm in place. In fact, it’s so efficient and cost-effective, that word got out among the Kuna, their lodges, and the hostels in Panama City, and they are utilizing the available space on our charter flights as much as possible. Air Panama’s flights to El Porvenir were booked solid and there didn’t seem to be any relief in sight (After note: since then, availability with Air Panama has vastly improved, and we are now able to use their scheduled service considerably more than air charters.).

So until further notice, we will be using both scheduled air service when it’s available and when necessary/feasible our own charter flights to get our groups in and out of San Blas. The other option than involves getting driven out to Miramar on the Colon coast via SUV or van, and then shuttled out to San Blas via an hourlong lancha ride (After note: While weather and sea conditions back in January kept us from recommending and/or utilizing this option earlier, conditions are now MUCH safer and calmer for this route, and can now recommend it as an option, though we prefer flying as the first option still for the slightly higher cost and less travel time).

People who are booked on our sailing trips don’t need to worry about anything, we will take care of the arrangements for you, and you will be updated via email. We will be updating our groups directly via email with all available options until the road is indeed oficially opened. If you have any questions in the meantime, please email info@theandiamo.com

We will continue to update the site and the FAQ as things develop. The road is expected to be closed through February/March, but anything can change. All we can do is wait.

One Comment

  1. Miles says:

    Tony,

    Thanks for this detailed report! We will be in Pamama City on Feb 8 and would like to get to San Blas on Feb 9. We were planning to take the 4×4 but that now does not seem possible because of the road washout. We are interested in the charter flights. Do you suggest making a reservation now, from here, or waiting until we arrive in Panama?

    Thanks,

    Miles