After staying three nights in Panama City and having time to explore this very modern city and the slums nearby, it was finally time to get to Puerto Carti and the Stahlratte to get across the Darien Gap.
We headed out of Panama City to Puerto Carti at about 6.30am and was again greeted with the Panama City persistent rain. It took about 45 minutes to get out of the traffic and into the Guna Kala region, which was good, traffic was annoying!
We ended up all stopping at a roadside bus shelter and met up with about another six riders. Then we all went together from there.
As we entered the Guna Kala region, the roads became smaller and tighter with lots of hairpin turns and because of the dense rainforests the roads were pretty slippery.
Little did we know but we had lost Eric somewhere behind, mainly because the German who was leading us was an ex-German Superbike Championship Rider and thought it was a race. Nice guy though!
Although it was only a 75 miles (120 kilometers) journey, it still took us two hours and 13 minutes to get there with a 15-minute break in between. We took our time, and one of the riders had an “off” into a gully, but after we all had helped out, we were back on the road again 15 minutes later.
The ride without rain and incidents would probably only take around 2 hours, but the last part through the Indigenous Guna Kala region.
Getting to Puerto Carti and The Stahlratte
We left Panama City at 6.30am from the Panama House Bed and Breakfast where a few of the riders had stayed and a suggested place by the Stahlratte crew. Reviews were only fair about this place from the other riders. There was about 6 of us from that point, and we would meet up with others later.
You ride out of Panama City eastwards towards the International Airport Tocumen along the Pan American Highway passing through Tocumen, Chepo and Margarita until you see the signs to the left for Guna Yala / Carti
You then go along the Carti Road, which is not mapped on PGS until you come to the Kuna Indigenous Territory where there will be a toll booth.
There is a building to the right, and a local comes out to process your payment of $20 per person + $3 per motorbike. You follow that road until you get to the sea. This is not an easy road to ride with lots of hairpins (switchback) turns and pretty slippery. Even more so with a massively deflated front tire.
After we had arrived we could see the ship docked and the road up onto the jetty and waited for the passengers and their bikes coming from Cartagena to get unloaded.
Then it was our turn, you take off all your cases and luggage and then tie your bike with a rope and then winch it up one by one of the boat. They then cover your bike, so make sure you get everything you need off your bike.
This process for about 16 bikes took around an hour and Eric, and one other rider still had not arrived.
After all the bikes had been loaded, the ship took off from the jetty and anchored about 100 meters out to sea. Eric arrived 1.45 hours after everyone else, got behind us and then lost – which would be so easy to do.
The Stahlratte came back in loaded Eric’s bike (the other guy was a no show) and then went back out.
We were then all loaded into a little dingy with our cases and luggage on another boat and taken out in groups of about 6 to the Stahlratte where we got onboard.