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Crossing the Darien Gap by Motorcycle: Possible?

Some people have pondered whether it’s possible to cross the Darien Gap with an adventure motorcycle such as a dirt bike or dual sport.

We’ve really dug into this question and have done our best to research this for adventure riders globally. Essentially, we’ve come back with the following.

It’s very much possible to cross the Darien Gap with a motorcycle, though it’s almost imossible with a car. The first time that the Darien Gap has been crossed with a motorcycle was in 1975 by Robert L. Webb, a journey which took several months. In 2020, it’s simply now far too dangerous to attempt a crossing by foot, bicycle, motorcycle or via car due to criminal drug lords and gangs, as well as animals and disease.

If you are attempting to cross between the Americas, then you have several alternative options. Let’s cover them in this post.

Getting around the Darien Gap

As we’ve outlined, it’s simply too dangerous for you to attempt a crossing of the Darien Gap. Instead, you should focus on how to get around this vast jungle area.

The 2 obvious options are:

  1. Take a private boat. There are numerous ferry and fishing boats that traverse between the North and South each week. You might also want to consider a commercial vessel though the cost for these is significantly higher, but they are also safer too and insurance might actually cover you.
  2. Fly your motorcycle. This is even more expensive, but a quick way around the jungle and it’s safer too. Logistically speaking, it’s more difficult and you’ll need to apply for permits and make your motorcycle ready for air freight.

Another option is a group ride where you combine your motorcycle in the same shipping container with several other keen adventure riders. Hiring a 20ft container to traverse between the North and South becomes much more cost-effective when shared among you, though it’s also a waiting game. The journey itself might take up to 4 weeks to see your motorbike again, during which time you’ll need to pay for accommodation somewhere.

Some riders take this time to fly home and see friends and family, before flying back and continuing the journey. Then again, most adventure riders aren’t comfortable on planes, which is why we choose to see the world on 2 wheels, right?!

For the committed

It’s going to take a serious amount of commitment to really have a crack at crossing the Darien Gap on any motorbike. Even on a bicycle, you’ll struggle to make progress daily which can take its toil.

The dangers are numerous:

  • There are animals such as shakes and leopards. While you are able to fight these off in your state right now, consider the condition you’ll be in having to get your bike across many obstacles which is physically exhausting.
  • The humidity is intense! You’ll be sweating any time of year that you attempt to do this…all fo the sake of the adventure and saving a few dollars on transit fees.
  • Among the jungles are more troubles. Think tribes and criminals who are looking for a western indiividual or group to take advantage of. You can’t even take own weapons into the Darien Gap to protect yourself.
  • If that all doesn’t hurt you, then consider the intensity of the jungle. Logs and fallen trees, no formed tracks, no toilets and no potable water. It’s going to be several weeks without a shower, and despite the hardest of adventure riders, we do seek some comfort.

There have been some recent attempts of the Darien Gap by adventure riders though no stories of success from what we hear. Stay tuned!

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