This is a final installment in a series about a motorcycle trip that my friend and I took in January of 2016. Here is Part 1.
Staying up till 2AM and then trying to catch a 6AM boat ride back to mainland sucks. Hungover and half-asleep we managed to get to the water taxi station on time. Thirty minutes later we were greeted by our rottweiler lady friend, paid for parking and started packing our bikes for a long trip back to Panama City. The rain started coming down pretty hard and it wouldn’t stop until we made it to the other side of the mountains.
It’s about 400 miles from where we were in Almirante to Panama City. Google Maps says it should take 9 hours to cover the distance. It took us 14.
Everything that I said about riding in the mountains on Day 4 applied just the same on our way back. Yet it felt much harder coming back. First of all, we were running on 3 hours of sleep. Driving a motorcycle in rain, fog and 50 mph crosswind is challenging enough without adding hangover and lack of sleep. Of course we couldn’t complain much since we knew that we’d be paying for fun had the night before. It’s just that our cost/benefit meter was way off this time.
Tip. If you are planning a long day in a saddle take it easy the night before and get some sleep. Duh.
We were also at the end of our trip. The only thing left to do was to get to Panama City in one piece and return the bikes. No more cliff diving and hot springs to break up the trip. We were out of time.
I have just 2 pictures from the entire 14-hour ride back. My jacket, pants, gloves and boots were so wet from riding through rain and fog in the mountains that taking pictures was the last thing on my mind.
However, at one point the rain stopped and I had to pull over to take a picture of one of the most beautiful rainbows I’ve ever seen. It was actually a double rainbow:
And this next picture is probably my favorite from the entire trip. Soaked to the bone, shivering, hands shaking… Yet there is a huge grin that you can’t see under that tinted visor. This one shot perfectly encapsulates the entire motorcycle trip experience, the adventure.
The rainbow was a sign of things to come. As soon as we were back down in the valley it was 90 degrees and sunny. Within an hour the riding gear was dry and the headache from the night before was gone. Just a windy road stretched ahead.
You can take route 1 Pan American highway all the way to Panama City but we decided to take a slight detour instead. Right after Puesto de Control Integral de Guabala you can pick up route 5 which heads south first and eventually merges with route 1 in Santiago. It’s a more relaxed scenic ride and we enjoyed it a lot!
Tip. Take route 5 instead of route 1 Pan American highway if you get a chance.
After Santiago we were in the home stretch. We refueled the bikes with gas and ourselves with Red Bull. After a few hours we finally arrived in Panama City at 9PM. We went from Panama City to Bocas del Torro and back in one piece!
We had no issues returning the bikes at Moto Tour Panama the next morning. They looked them over and credited the $2,500 deposit back on the card. Walking away we glanced at the bikes one last time 🙁
Day 8 was supposed to be our last full day in Panama City but due to a huge snowstorm back on the East Coast we ended up staying an extra day. We went and explored the Old Town first, which is a big tourist destination.
That night we went out for my birthday with our airbnb host and his friends. We had a great time especially since we didn’t have to get up early and ride motorcycles for 14 hours!
Flight delays were so bad that I ended up staying a couple of extra days in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but that’s a whole other story.
Thank you for following along! If you ever wanted to do something similar I hope you found this trip report useful. Now don’t delay and just book a flight already!
Everything else will work itself out just fine.