Ride To Panama Canal, Panama

April 13, 2022

Part Of The "Bad As You Want To Be" Series

Click On The Above Country Flags To Take You To That Country's Section   /   Click On Above Map Image For Interactive Google Map Below

Mike and My Spotwalla Satellite Tracking Below

 

Done!!! We Did It. Ride Report Coming

 

My planning to ride to the Panama Canal in Panama began back in 2015 and then in the middle of 2018 things got more serious. During the final planning I was discouraged by the US Embassy in Nicaragua to not travel through Nicaragua do to the unrest that was happening at the time. I decided to change my plans and ride to southern Mexico and I did that ride in December of 2018. I had a great ride with a friend, Dan with no issues. We also spent a couple nights in Mexico City sightseeing. During our riding in Mexico we completed a all Mexico IBA SS1000 and received a great certificate from IBA Mexico and Marco Almaraz.

Now I am ready to get back to planning and preparing for my ride to the Panama Canal. I will not have a lot of time for this ride just like back in 2018 so I am not planning on a lot of sightseeing during the ride. I will see things but just not linger in many places along my route.

I created this webpage to be sure I did everything that is needed to be completed before the ride like the requirement to register with Nicaragua 7 days before arriving at the border and so I can refer to it during my ride as a reminder. Also as a future reference for others who may want to ride south. There is a lot of detailed information below with my plans and country specific routes and requirements.

Keep checking back here as I will be continuing to add more information about my ride to the Panama Canal as it gets closer.

I am going to be attempting my ride to the Panama Canal with Mike Bobbitt, Mike reached out to me knowing that I had been looking for a riding partner to attempt this ride. Mike is the perfect person to join me on this ride as he has a lot of long distance riding experience and he has done a lot riding to Mexico both on road and off road trips multiple times. Mike is the President of Motorcycle Relief Project (www.Motorelief.org), A nonprofit that takes veterans and first responders with PTSD, depression, anxiety on 5 day Relief Rides on BMW GS motorcycles. Rides cost the participants nothing, they just need to get to and from the ride location, Denver in the summer and Tucson in the winter. If you are or know someone who could use some relief, get to the website and check it out.

There are some changes to the ride that we may try and add to the route after talking with Mike Kneebone, Howard Entman and Tim Masterson at the 2022 IBA Jacksonville Party about attempting a Central America SS1000. They suggested that we may want to add the other two countries in Central America, Belize and El Salvador, to our route so we can say we rode to all of the countries in Central America during our ride. Mike also suggested that we continue past Panama City to the end of the Pan American Highway which is known as the end of the road and the beginning of the Darien Gap. We have decided to add these places to our route. It will be a "game time" decision if we can add these extra locations.

My original idea is to ride from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Panama City, Panama by way of Eagle Pass, TX and back. This will be a long distance endurance ride attempting to complete the ride quickly. Hopefully we can make this ride a future IBA ride that others will want to do. I do not have a lot of time to stop and smell the roses as it will be all about riding miles and making time. I know there will be some who will not understand but that's just the way I want to roll this ride. One of the benefits to my idea of doing this ride as a endurance ride, is that I will not be standing around making myself a good target. I will not be visiting all of the known tourist areas where things happen to tourists. I hope to be gone before anyone knows I was there.

Since I will be starting my ride in Fort Lauderdale, FL it will be a 4,330 mile ride to Panama City, Panama following my current planned route. Round trip that makes it 8,660 miles riding in some difficult areas and conditions. If we are able to ride into Belize and El Salvador along with riding to the end of the Pan American Highway I will have ridden a little over 9,000 miles during this ride. This is not a ride to attempt with out a lot of research, planning and preparing.

I planned my route around roads that have lots of traffic including commercial traffic and trucks. These roads are better maintained and border crossings are usually smoother on these roads because they have to be more organized to handle the amount of traffic they get. Many others look for the opposite types of roads but for this ride I think the more the merrier.

My plan includes riding some of the Pan American Highway ( PAH ) which is something I have always wanted to do since first read about it many years ago. One area I am not going to be riding the Pan American Highway is in El Salvador as it is still not safe to transiting through at this time. Not riding through El Salvador also cuts down on the number of border crossings. This may change to just a quick border crossing in El Salvador to say we rode in El Salvador. I will be riding the Pan American Highway through most of Mexico and then I will ride east on highway 150D and 145D ( toll roads ) and ride other highways into Guatemala and Honduras. I will pick up the Pan America Highway again in Nicaragua. One of the most challenging sections of the Pan American Highway lies in Costa Rica, where it rises to 3,335 meters ( 10,942 feet ) at the ominously named Summit of Death ( Cerro de la Muerte ). This summit marks the highest elevation on the Pan-American Highway in Central America.

My route will take me through 6 countries not counting America which are Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It should be a very interesting ride. This may increase to 8 countries adding Belize and El Salvador if time permits. Central America border crossings can be a challenge and will require some patience's lots of copies of my documents. We may also attempt to cross the border into Belize and El Salvador if time permits. By doing this we will have ridden in all of the countries in Central America.

I am planning on staying in hotels along my route and I have found some nice hotels that offer secure parking for my motorcycle.

I have been following many other riders who have ridden south towards Panama and I can tell you this is going to be a hell of a ride!

Back in 2018 when I started thinking about this ride I reached out to the IBA Mexico President ( Marco Almaraz ) to ask for advice and his response was unbelievable. He offered all of the IBA Mexico members as a support team for anything I may need including helping me with border crossings.

During my route planning I wanted to be sure to ride on as much paved roads as possible and I found that all of the roads in my route are paved and in reasonable condition for a BMW GSA. I will ride less miles on unpaved roads on this ride than when I rode to Alaska back in 2012.

I will be registering with the US State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ). This program allows you to register your trip with the US State Department so that they can notify you of important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans. Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

I have a medical transport insurance called MedJet Assist that provides hospital to hospital transportation on an air ambulance or other means. I also have the motorcycle shipping option that will handle shipping my motorcycle back home if I am transported by MedJet. For this ride to the Panama Canal I am upgrading my MedJet service to what I call MedJet Black. It is really called MedJet Horizon and with the upgrade to Horizon I get the following additional services (  travel security and crisis response services benefits powered by corporate security experts FocusPoint International ) that at least make my wife and me feel a little more secure knowing I will have some additional help if I need it.

The entry requirements for each country I am riding through is a little different like Nicaragua requires you to pre-register at least 7 business days in advance. Costa Rica has a health pass form you need to complete and there may be other requirements for my ride. I have more about these requirements below in each countries section.

COVID Update: Up until recently ( February 2022 ) no COVID test was required if you was vaccinated, I am hearing from some that in some cases they were still required to have a negative COVID test even though vaccinated. It now looks like Costa Rica has dropped the COVID test requirement if you are vaccinated.

This is the current planned cities along my route of course things can change depending on fuel range, border crossings and other types of incidents. An interactive Google map of my route is below is below.

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL - My Start Location

  • Houston, TX

  • Eagle Pass, TX

  • Piedras Negras - Enter Mexico

  • Mexico City - Bypass

  • El Ceibo - Enter Guatemala

  • Corinto - Enter Honduras

  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras

  • Guasaule - Enter Nicaragua

  • Los Chiles - Enter Costa Rica

  • Paso Canoas - Enter Panama

  • David, Panama

  • Santiago, Panama

  • Panama City, Panama

If we are able to ride into Belize and El Salvador we will also ride into these cities. Also if we ahve the time we will reide to the end of the Panama American Highway at Yaviza, Panama where the Darien Gap starts.

  • Melchor de Mencos - Enter Belize

  • El Amatillo - Enter El Salvador

  • Yaviza, Panama - Darien Gap


During my planning I have been trying to figure out what we will need to take with us on the ride and I have been building this list that is still growing.


 

Two Bad As You Want To Be Riders ( Greg  & Mike )


The Motorcycle and Gear

On my ride in December 2018 I rode my 2018 Honda Gold Wing DCT and it worked great with no issues. On this ride I am going to by riding my 2019 BMW GSA and I think it is a great choice with its all around capabilities. The GSA should be able to handle all the different types of roads I will encounter.

Obviously I have done a few modifications that help me be a ride farther, longer and more comfortable. The changes I made make me be a better long distance endurance rider. Many of the modifications listed below will come in handy on this ride to the Panama Canal and give me a better chance of success.

My motorcycle is well prepared for rides like this so I do not expect any issues related to my motorcycle. I performed a full maintenance including valve check and the drive shaft spline check prior to the ride.

Tires

I am going to be running a the best rear tire that gets the most mileage. I have even been looking at a car tire option that would give me a lot of miles. I used a car tire back in 2018 on my Gold Wing when I rode to Mexico. I normally get around 10,000 miles out of a motorcycle rear tire so hopefully I will pick a tire that can make the trip with out needing a tire change. On the front I normally get around 12,000+ miles so I should be good there.

 

Electronics

I have a lot of electronics on my motorcycle that help me keep informed and headed in the right direction. This includes multiple GPS, weather and weather radar, radar detector, night vision thermal camera along with other electronics. It takes a elaborate audio mixer system to get all of this information into my helmet as I do not want to take my eyes off the road when I can hear it in my helmet.

I have multiple Garmin GPS's  ( Garmin Zumo XT and RV 890 ) mounted on the handlebar and the cross bar behind the windscreen. My Garmin GPS's are loaded with 2023 North America Maps that includes all of Mexico including POI's for Mexico. For the Central American countries I am using free Garmin compatible maps from a website that allows you to select what maps you need and download maps to use in Basecamp and on your GPS. Here is a link to the website. http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/

I will running Google maps on my Verizon cell phone mounted on the left handlebar. I also have a backup phone that is a Google Fi phone with service in Central America. With Google maps and my two Garmin GPS's I should hopefully not get lost.

I have a satellite based tracking device ( SPOT 4 ) also mounted on the dash that will show my tracking location every 5 minutes ( see Spotwalla map link below ) and when I stop for border crossings, hotels or gas stops I will mark the locations with a SPOT OK message.

I am going to be using a GoPro camera to take video of as much of the ride as possible. I am hoping to get some good video of the border crossings and the roads and towns I will be passing through. I also want to try and remember to video the border crossings to share for future riders making the trip.

AUX Lights and AUX Tank

I have installed Sevina AUX lights from Clearwater Lights that will light up the night when ever I am riding through the night which will not be much once I cross the border into Mexico. They also add a lot of conspicuity to be seen in the day time.

I have a 3.4 gallon AUX tank built by Boyd Welding mounted over the passenger seat that will give me a total of 11.2 gallons of gas that should provide me a 400+ mile range. When I rode to Mexico a couple years ago I had no problem finding gas. I have also identified gas stations in all of the countries I will be riding through. There seems to be gas stations near most of the border crossings and I have used Google maps street view to check them out.

Other Gear

I have Aerostich tank panniers that are mounted on the left passenger foot peg that I have tools and supplies stored in. On the right passenger foot peg I have a 1 gallon jug for water mounted with a Garauld hydration system mount. The 1 gallon jug usually last me about 20 hours and keeps the water cold for about the same 20 hours. This is a nice way to carry things low on the motorcycle to keep the center of gravity low.

I have a large tank bag by SW-Motech that I can carry things I need to get to while riding including snacks to keep me going. I also store some electronics in a box in the SW-Motech tank bag. I have a pretty elaborate audio mixer setup in the tank bag to mix the audio from multiple devices like my Garmin RV890 GPS and my radar detector.

I am carrying two First Aid kits with different items in each to be sure I can take care of pretty much any thing that comes up.

Riding Gear

The first thing I put on before anything else is my LDComfort underwear / base layer as this is what keeps me comfortable in all types of weather from damn hot to freezing cold. LDComfort really does a great job of transferring the moisture away and keeping me dry. I have been wearing LDComfort gear for over 15 years and I can't find anything better.

I wear Aerostich Darien Hi-Viz jacket and Aerostich AD1 pants that will keep me safe and dry throughout the ride. This setup works well and is comfortable enough that I may not take them off for 3 days at a time. I also wear TCX Gore-Tex boots that keep my feet dry and well protected.


Panama Canal Ride Planning

I started planning this ride over 3 years ago so I have a lot of information that I have used to help make this ride successful. If you are interested in riding south to Panama from the US the information below may be helpful.

One of the toughest things I had to do over they years is convince my wife that my idea to ride to the Panama Canal is safe and that everything will be ok. It did take some convincing but I was able to prove that I could do this ride safely. Before you decide to head south to Panama you should review the US State Department Travel Advisories, here is the link. Travel Advisories (state.gov)

List Of REQUIRED Items

  • Passport - Valid for more than 6 months minimum

  • COVID Vaccine Card

  • Drivers License

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Vehicle Title - Some Countries

  • Fire Extinguisher - Some Countries

  • Reflective Safety Road Hazard Triangle - Some Countries

  • Local Currency

All of the countries have some fees you have to pay to enter the country. They are not expensive but they do add up. I think the most expensive is Mexico when you add up all of the fees because Mexico has an expensive vehicle insurance cost, anywhere from $100 to $500 depending on how long you plan to stay. The fees in the rest of the countries are less but expect something around $40 total for each country. Some are less but I think it is better to be prepared so I can shorten the time it takes to complete a border crossing.

Most of the Central American countries require you to obtain a temporary vehicle import permit ( TVIP / TIP ) and normally they require you to cancel the TVIP when you exit the country. I have been looking into the possibility of keeping my TVIP open and cancel it on my return ride. This would save me some time at each of the borders on the ride south to the Panama Canal. Right now it looks like Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica will let me keep the TVIP until I return on my ride back north. At each border crossing you may have to ask and or insist that you want to keep the TVIP open until you return. It may turn out to be just the luck of the draw if they agree to allow you to keep the TVIP open. I am going to have my wife write a letter in Spanish explaining why I want to do this and maybe that will help.

I am going to arrange to have local currency for each country so I can pay the fees at border crossings. Many banks will do this for you if you give them about a weeks notice. Also there are some online companies that sell foreign currency and mail it to your house.

I am going to try and get a Central America-4 Free Mobility Agreement ( CA-4 ) visa when I enter Guatemala. This is a visa that is good for 90 days and allows you to enter Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua with the same visa. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua’s ‘CA-4 Border Control’ agreement allows free travel for up to 90 days within this sub-region for citizens of the four countries and many foreign nationals ( including residents of the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia ). On paper, at least, you should only have to pay a tourist fee once to enter these four countries. Yet border patrols may also charge you a few dollars for ‘paperwork’ if they insist, you won't have much alternative but to pay.

I am going to try and NOT use any border helpers as I have heard that it only makes it harder for travelers who are following you. Also you never know what will happen to your paper work.

My ride from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Eagle Pass, TX is 1,500 miles and I should be able to do that in one day. I will be staying at a hotel there in Eagle Pass before starting my ride into Mexico. The route through Mexico is 1,406 miles and should take two days. The route through Guatemala to the Panama Canal is 1,410 miles and also should take around two days if everything goes well.

If we decide to ride into Belize and El Salvador it will add 90 miles to our route. If we also decide to ride to the end of the Pan American Highway / end of the road at the Darien Gap it will add another 180 miles.

Here are the current border crossings I plan to use and the times they are open. I need to plan my ride to arrive at each border when they are open. I do not want to be hanging around for long periods of time while waiting for the border to open.

From To Border Name Times
USA Mexico Piedras Negras 24 Hours
Mexico Guatemala El Ceibo 6AM To 10PM
Guatemala Belize Melchor de Mencos 8AM To 6PM
Belize Guatemala Melchor de Mencos 8AM To 6PM
Guatemala Honduras Corinto 6AM To 10PM
Honduras El Salvador El Amatillo 24 Hours
El Salvador Honduras El Amatillo 8AM To 6PM
Honduras Nicaragua El Guasaule 8AM To 5PM
Nicaragua Costa Rica Los Chiles 8AM To 4PM
Costa Rica Panama Paso Canoas 6AM To 6PM

Below is some specific information I found for each country. Each country has there own specific requirements and they may change at any time.


Mexico

What you need at a minimum to cross into Mexico.

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully Vaccinated no test required.

Border Operations - Banjército Allende/Piedras Negras: 24 Hours

Google Map Link To Mexico Customs: Banjército Allende/Piedras Negras KM. 53.4 - Google Maps

Keep TVIP / TIP Open: Yes

  • Passport - Valid For More Than 6 Months Minimum

  • COVID Vaccine Card

  • Drivers License

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Vehicle Title In Your Name

  • The Leasing / Loan Contract - if you're leasing our have a loan on the car with a letter saying you have permission to drive to Mexico

  • A Major Credit Card In Your Name

  • Tourist Card - Obtained Prior Or At The Border

  • Vehicle Insurance - Obtained Prior Or At The Border

I have ridden into Mexico a few times over the years while attempting IBA certified rides and I have always wanted to ride farther south but never had the opportunity.

 

Photo Of The Banjército Allende/Piedras Negras - Google Street View

I had many people including members from IBA Mexico review my planned route and offer advice which some I took and some I took into advisement.

I decided to enter Mexico at Piedras Negras just across the border from Eagle Pass, TX and ride south towards Monterrey and ride on highway 57 and 57D which is a Mexican toll road. I have been told by many including people living in Mexico that those are the safest roads to use and you can ride on them after dark. I do not plan to ride into Monterrey but around the town staying on highway 57D south. All of these are toll roads and one of the nice things is the tolls you pay include a free service like AAA. There is a 800 number you can dial for help.

Here is some good information if you are riding to Mexico. There are websites that allow you to pre-register you and your motorcycle so that you can just show the information at the border and speed up the process. You must do the pre-registration for yourself first as there is a number ( Electronic pre-authorization number ) that is provided that you will need when you pre-register your motorcycle.

You can pre-register yourselves on this website: https://www.inm.gob.mx/sae/publico/en/pre-autorizacion.html

You can pre-register your vehicle on this website: https://www.banjercito.com.mx/registroVehiculos/

Mexico requires vehicle insurance for the time your vehicle is in Mexico and your US based coverage is not acceptable. You can buy the insurance for just a few days or up to a annual plan. There are companies that you can use to buy the required insurance for Mexico prior to arriving at the border. I used a company called MexPro and they have been around for a while and are reputable. There are many other companies that you can use also. The one I used was recommended to me by people in Mexico and some friends who have been to Mexico many times and used them. You can buy the minimum liability insurance or purchase full coverage like you would have in the US.

You can purchase the required Mexican vehicle insurance on this website: https://www.mexpro.com/

There are police and military checkpoints through out Mexico and they may ask you to show your Passport, drivers license and or vehicle insurance. Some may ask for a bribe but most do not. On my ride to Mexico in 2018 no one asked for a bribe at any time including the checkpoints I rode through.

I will be entering Mexico at Piedras Negras, from there you drive about 41 miles to Banjército Allende / Piedras Negras where you get your passport stamped and Mexico Tourist Card. It is 41 miles south of the Mexican border. I exited Mexico here back in 2018 and it was a long line of vehicles and took over an hour.

The route through Mexico is 1,400 miles and I am expecting it to take less than two days to ride through Mexico. I have some good experience from my ride in 2018 and using the toll roads.

Roads In Mexico On My Route

  • HWY 57 / 57D

  • HWY M40D

  • HWY 150D

  • HWY 145D

  • HWY 180D / 180

  • HWY 186

  • HWY 203

  • Carr Ceibo - El Ceibo

  • El Ceibo Border Port

Mexico Border Crossing Fees

  • Entry Fee = Mexico Tourist Card = $18.00

  • Vehicle Insurance = Depends on what coverage you want and how many days coverage. - $50 and up.

  • Vehicle Import Fee = $44.00

  • Vehicle Deposit = Depends on value of Vehicle - Mine was $400.00, Yes, it is returned when exiting Mexico.

  • Vehicle Fumigation = N/A

  • Exit Fee = N/A


Guatemala

What you need at a minimum to cross into Guatemala.

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully Vaccinated no test required. Updated 3-18-2022.

Border Operations - Aduana El Ceibo: 9:00 AM To 6:00 PM

Google Map Link To Guatemala Customs: Aduana El Ceibo - Google Maps

Keep TVIP / TIP Open: Yes

  • Passport - Valid For More Than 6 Months Minimum

  • COVID Vaccine Card

  • Drivers License

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Vehicle Title In Your Name

  • The Leasing / Loan Contract - if you're leasing our have a loan on the car with a letter saying you have permission to drive to Mexico

  • A Major Credit Card In Your Name

  • Tourist Card - Obtained At The Border

  • Vehicle Insurance - Obtained At The Border

  • Fire Extinguisher

  • Two Reflective Safety Road Hazard Triangles

I will be entering Guatemala at El Ceibo and pick up highway PET-13 which will turn into highway CA13. When I reach the town of Morales, Guatemala I will turn on to highway CA-9 which turns back into CA-13 and take that all the way to the Honduras border. I have used Google maps street view a lot and was able to get a good idea regarding what the roads are like in Guatemala that I will be riding on. They are all paved roads but some are in need of repair.

 

Photo Of The Guatemala Border Crossing - Google Street View

My ride through Guatemala starts at El Ceibo and I exit Guatemala at Cinchado on highway CA-13. The route is 280 miles so I do not expect to be in Guatemala very long.

I will not be passing through any major cities while riding through Guatemala so I do not expect any major issues with traffic. I have found a few 24 hour gas stations along my route in Guatemala that I will be able to buy gas and water if needed.

I have read that Police checkpoints are NOT very common in Guatemala and if I do come upon one I will primarily be asked to show my Passport, vehicle registration, drivers license, and the temporary import permit that I was issued at the border.

VISA NOTE: The visa you receive at the Guatemala border is good for 90 days and applies to the rest of the countries that are a part of the CA-4 Agreement (Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador). This means that you have 90 days to travel throughout the 4 countries.

The route is 280 miles so I do not expect to be in Guatemala very long, maybe 7 hours.

Roads In Guatemala On My Route

  • Carr. al Ceibo

  • PET - 13

  • PET - 11

  • Road To San Francisco, Guatemala

  • CA - 13

  • CA - 9 / CA - 13

Guatemala Border Crossing Fees

  • Entry = $0.00

  • Vehicle Import Fee - $20.00

  • Vehicle Insurance 30 Days= $30.00 - Road insurance is not mandatory in Guatemala

  • Vehicle Fumigation = $5.00

  • Exit Fee = $0


Belize

What you need at a minimum to cross into Belize.

COVID Vaccine Card

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully Vaccinated no test required. Updated 3-18-2022.

Border Operations - Belize Western Border Station - Melchor de Mencos: 24 Hours

Google Map Link To Belize Western Border Station: Melchor de Mencos - Google Maps

We may decide to cross the border into Belize to get a receipt showing that we was in Belize. Entering Belize will be a "game time" decision.


Honduras

What you need at a minimum to cross into Honduras.

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully Vaccinated no test required.

Honduras Health Precheck: INM - Prechequeo Migratorio (There are 2 parts to the form. After finishing the first part (immigration info) and back at the home page, the link to the second part (health info) is in fine print at the top )

Border Operations - Honduras-Guatemala Border:  6:00 AM To 6:00 PM

Google Map Link To Honduras Customs: Honduras-Guatemala Border - Google Maps

Keep TVIP / TIP Open: Yes/p>

  • Health Precheck ( see link above )

  • Passport - Valid For More Than 3 Months Minimum

  • COVID Vaccine Card

  • Drivers License

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Vehicle Title In Your Name

  • The Leasing / Loan Contract - if you're leasing our have a loan on the car with a letter saying you have permission to drive to Mexico

  • Fire Extinguisher

  • Two Reflective Safety Road Hazard Triangles

  • A Major Credit Card In Your Name

  • Tourist Card - Obtained At The Border

  • Vehicle Insurance - Obtained At The Border

I will be entering Honduras at the town of Corinto and I will stay on highway CA-13 until the town of El Progreso where I will turn on to highway RN-21 and take that all the way to the town of Santa Rita. At Santa Rita I will take highway RN-23 to highway RN-43. I will stay on highway until I reach the town of Talanga where I will turn on to highway RN-15 for a few miles and then turn on to highway RN-37 to the town of Ojo de Agua. There I will turn on to highway CA-6 which I will ride all the way to the Nicaragua border.

 

Photo Of The Honduras Border Crossing - Google Street View

 

Photo Of A Gas Station Before the Honduras Border Crossing - Google Street View

I will be passing by the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, and expect some traffic there. Other than that I will not be passing through any other major cities while riding through Honduras so I do not expect any major issues with traffic. I have found a few 24 hour gas stations along my route in Honduras that I will be able to buy gas and water if needed.

I hear that Honduras is probably the most corrupt country on the Pan American Highway and Police checkpoints are common in Honduras, especially on the Pan American Highway. I am told I will almost certainly encounter bribery attempts by the Police and Military along my route. There are some reports that some have been stopped up to five times will passing through Honduras.

The route through Honduras is 320 mile which should be around 8 or 9 hours.

Roads In Honduras On My Route

  • CA 13

  • CA 5

  • RN 112

  • CA 1

  • CA 3

Honduras Border Crossing Fees

  • Entry Fee = $3.00

  • Vehicle Import Fee - $35.00

  • Vehicle Insurance = Not Required

  • Vehicle Fumigation = $2.00

  • Exit Fee = $0


El Salvador

What you need at a minimum to cross into El Salvador.

COVID Vaccine Card

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully Vaccinated no test required.

Border Operations - El Amatillo : 24 Hours

Google Map Link To El Amatillo: El Amatillo - Google Maps

We may decide to cross the border into El Salvador to get a receipt. Entering El Salvador will be a "game time" decision.


Nicaragua

What you need at a minimum to cross into Nicaragua.

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully Vaccinated no test required.

Border Operations - Custom Guasaule: 24 Hours

Google Map Link To Nicaragua Customs: Custom Guasaule - Google Maps

Link to map of all Nicaragua border crossings: Border Posts – General Directorate of Migration and Aliens (migob.gob.ni)

Keep TVIP / TIP Open: ???

  • Pre-Register & business days in advance with Nicaragua´s Interior Department - Information Below.

  • Passport - Valid For More Than 6 Months Minimum

  • COVID Vaccine Card

  • Drivers License

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Vehicle Title In Your Name

  • The Leasing / Loan Contract - if you're leasing our have a loan on the car with a letter saying you have permission to drive to Mexico

  • A Major Credit Card In Your Name

  • Tourist Card - Obtained At The Border

  • Vehicle Insurance - Obtained At The Border

Important Nicaragua Land Entry Process - Currently Required

All travelers before visiting Nicaragua by land transportation must notify to the corresponding authorities about their upcoming trip at least 7 business days in advance. All trip details must be listed in the required forms and sent via e-mail to Nicaragua´s Interior Department  ( solicitudes@migob.gob.ni  with a copy to preyes@migob.gob.ni  ) and the Embassies of Nicaragua in their respective countries. Here is a link to the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (migob.gob.ni).

Here is a link to the Nicaragua immigration website, you can translate to English if you use a browser that has that capability like Microsoft Edge.

Directorate-General for Migration and Aliens (migob.gob.ni)

The e-mail must have the following documentation attached: Entry list to Nicaragua Form

Application form Letter addressed to the Government Department including the following information: number of travelers on the trip,  reason for the trip, name and address of the hotel or place of accommodation, list of places to be visited, general information of the driver, vehicle, the name of the border where they intend to enter, etc.  If the reason is only to transit through Nicaragua, travelers must and are still expected to provide all the above information to the corresponding authorities. The e-mail must only contain the 3 requirements mentioned above. In case of not carrying out the previous process, the Nicaraguan authorities can refuse or deny entry to travelers. It is important to clarify that this process applies only for trips made by land and not for air travel.

I am going to enter Nicaragua at the town of Guasaule on highway 3 / 24. I will stay on highway 3 / 24 until I reach the town of Las Mercedes where I will turn on highway NN 252. From there I will take highway 26 to highway 70A where I will turn onto highway 7 and then highway 25 and take that to the Costa Rica border.

Photo Of The Nicaragua Border Crossing - Google Street View

Watch for military and police checkpoints not far past the border and be careful some are more like shakedowns than a vehicle check.

In Nicaragua I will not be passing through any major cities while riding through so I do not expect any major issues with traffic. I found a lot of what appear to be 24 hour gas stations along my route in Nicaragua so I feel pretty good about being able to buy gas and water if needed.

I hear Police checkpoints can be common in Nicaragua and most of them are on the Pan American Highway. If I am  stopped at one I will be asked to show my Passport, vehicle registration, drivers license, car insurance and the temporary import permit that I was issued at the border. I hear there may be some attempt to ask for a bribe and my approach is to make what ever transaction that needs to happen as quick as possible.

My route through Nicaragua is 195 miles and I ride near by the capital, Managua. I am hoping to get through Nicaragua in around 5 hours.

Roads In Nicaragua On My Route

  • CA 3

  • NN 252

  • HWY 26

  • Hwy 70A

  • HWY 1

  • HWY 7

  • HWY 25

  • HWY 25B

Nicaragua Border Crossing Fees

  • Entry Fee = $15.00

  • Vehicle Insurance = $12.00

  • Vehicle Fumigation = $3.00

  • Exit Fee = $3.00


Costa Rica

What you need at a minimum to cross into Costa Rica.

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully Vaccinated no test required.Updated 3-18-2022.

No Longer Required - Costa Rica Health Pass Form: Pase de Salud Costa Rica

Border Operations - Directorate General of Immigration and Nationality: 6:00 AM To 12:00 PM

Google Map Link To Costa Rica Customs: Costa Rica Customs - Google Maps

Keep TVIP / TIP Open: Yes

  • Passport - Valid For More Than 3 Months Minimum

  • COVID Vaccine Card

  • Drivers License

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Vehicle Title In Your Name

  • The Leasing / Loan Contract - if you're leasing our have a loan on the car with a letter saying you have permission to drive to Mexico

  • A Major Credit Card In Your Name

  • Tourist Card - Obtained At The Border

  • Vehicle Insurance - Obtained At The Border

I will be riding on highway 35 to highway 141 and then Route 702. I will be taking highway 34 along the coast of Costa Rica to bypass the capital, San Jose, and all of its traffic. I pick up the Pan American Highway ( now called highway 2 ) in southern Costa Rica in a town called Palmar Norte and ride it the rest of the way to Panama.

Photo Of The Costa Rica Border Crossing - Google Street View

I have read that Police checkpoints are NOT very common in Costa Rica and tourist are not normally bothered.

The route through Costa Rica is 325 miles and should take around 10 hours. I will be picking up the Pan American Highway in southern Costa Rica where it is also called Highway 2. I am not going to follow the Pan American Highway all the way though as it goes through San Jose the capital and I want to avoid that traffic.

Roads In Costa Rica On My Route

  • HWY 768 / 35

  • HWY 141

  • HWY Carrt. Bajo Rodríguez / Route 702

  • HWY 713

  • HWY 3

  • HWY 34 - Along the Pacific Coast

  • HWY 1 / 2 / Pan American

Costa Rica Border Crossing Fees

  • Entry Fee = $0

  • Vehicle Entry Fee = $25.00

  • Vehicle Insurance = $15.00

  • Vehicle Fumigation =

  • Exit Fee = $9.00


Panama

What you need at a minimum to cross into Panama.

COVID-19 Requirements: If fully vaccinated no test required.

Border Operations - Paso Canoas Border: 6:00 AM To 10:00 PM and 8:00 PM Sat & Sun

Google Map Link To Panama Customs: Aduanas Paso Canoas - Google Maps

  • Passport - Valid For More Than 3 Months

  • COVID Vaccine Card

  • Drivers License

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Vehicle Title In Your Name

  • The Leasing / Loan Contract - if you're leasing our have a loan on the car with a letter saying you have permission to drive to Mexico

  • Proof of Solvency: Either $500 USD In Cash, Traveler checks, or Credit Card

  • Tourist Card - Obtained At The Border

  • Vehicle Insurance - Obtained At The Border

I enter Panama at Progreso on the Pan American Highway where the highway name changes to Highway 1. I will ride Highway 1 all the way to Panama City hopefully not having to make any stops along the way.

Photo Of The Panama Border Crossing - Google Street View

I have heard and seen on some videos that there may be a lot of police monitoring speeds on the Pan American Highway so I will be keeping my eyes open and taking it easy.

The route through Panama is 300 miles and should take around 8 hours. It is all on the Panama American highway all the way to the Panama Canal. I believe this should be the easiest country I ride through.

Right now my idea is to stay at the Panama Marriott hotel in downtown Panama City for 1 or 2 nights depending on how well my ride to Panama City went. I may change this based on arrival timing, weather and if I find a better location.

Roads In Panama On My Route

  • HWY 1 / Pan American

Panama Border Crossing Fees

  • Entry Fee = $3.00

  • Vehicle Insurance = $25.00

  • Vehicle Fumigation = $1.00

  • Exit Fee = $3.00

The Panama Canal

My main goal of this ride is to get a photo of the Panama Canal with my motorcycle in the photo. I have been scanning Google maps street view looking for the best location for the photo and I think I have found a location ( Mirador de las Américas ) that will allow me to have my motorcycle in the photo.

Mike Kneebone suggested that we ride to the end of the road since we are going to be so close. The Pan American Highway ends at the Darien Gap in a town called Yaviza where the pavement of the Pan American Highway stops and jungle begins. This is about 180 miles south of the Panama Canal. We are adding this to our route and it will be a "game time" decision if we decide to attempt this. The road is paved and in good condition so it is really a decision as to if we have the time.

Interactive Maps Below

Below are three interactive maps Google route map, Spotwalla tracking map and weather map.

Route Map

The Google route map and the Spotwalla tracking map allow you to zoom in and out using the + and - buttons in the bottom right of the maps and you can drag the map with a mouse. You can also zoom in and out of the maps with a mouse that has a wheel. They show my planned route ( Google Map ) and below that map is a map of my current location with the use of a SPOT satellite tracking device and Spotwalla.com ( thanks Jason Jonas ).


Weather Map

Here is a link to my ride to the Panama Canal weather webpage with weather for 30 cities along the route and 15 different weather maps. This is a great way for me to see what weather lies ahead on my route. There is a nice interactive weather view at the bottom of the weather webpage.

Weather Webpage Link:  Panama Canal  Ride Weather


Spotwalla Tracking

Here is my direct Spotwalla tracking links that will open in a new browser window. Also below is my embedded Spotwalla tracking map. I have two SPOT satellite tracking devices and I transmit my location every 5 minutes with both SPOT devices.

Spotwalla Tracking Link: Trip: Greg Rice - Travel Man (spotwalla.com)


Updated Google map including the location of the place to take a photo of the Panama Canal and where I will be staying in Panama.


Interactive Eagle Pass, TX To Panama City, Panama Route And Darien Gap

Greg Rice's Current Location From Spotwalla.Com

Mike Bobbitt's Current Location From Spotwalla.Com

Interactive Current Mexico And Central America Weather Map

You can check out my website for more information. http://www.gregrice.com/

Copyright Greg Rice 2022