Crossing the Border into Bogota Colombia Via Avianca Air Cargo

This was an unusual border crossing into Colombia as my motorcycle was entering via Avianca Air Cargo. I know I said in my last post that I was using Girag Air Cargo, and I did, but they in turn contract Avianca Air Cargo to fly my motorcycle to Bogota Colombia. It had me thinking though, why couldn’t I just use Avianca? I’m not sure. I haven’t read anyone using Avianca before, just Girag. Anyways, what is done is done.

My Entry into Colombia

My entry into Colombia was pretty basic. I flew from Panama City to Bogota Colombia via Avianca Air, passed through Immigration and I was in.

From there I took a “taxi” to the Hotel Golden near the airport so I could walk to get my motorcycle out of Avianca Air Cargo.

Now I put taxi in quotation marks because I made a rookie mistake. I thought I had made arrangements for the hotel to pick me up. When I got off of the plane they weren’t there. I ended up standing in the airport thinking about what I should do next. All I had was US money and I had passed the exchange booth on the other side of Customs and couldn’t see another one around me. As I was standing there a man approached me and said, “taxi.” Without thinking I said “yes.” I have never done that before as I know what that means. But before I got my thoughts together I was being escorted into a parking lot and an unmarked car. Oh well. I figured I would just go with it. The driver took me to my hotel and I ended up paying him $20 US. I am guessing way more than I should have. It was late now and I just wanted to go to bed.

Avianca Air Cargo

The next day I walked from the Hotel Golden to where Avianca Air Cargo was. Except there was a fence around it and the entry point was guarded. The guard told me to go into the building and register. I have marked this number 1 on the map.

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At the counter they wanted my passport and checked me in. I then went back to the gate at #2 and the guard carded me through.

From there I walked to Avianca Air Cargo. The first entrance I went to was the wrong one for me and a staff member directed me around the corner up to the third floor of the building that I marked as #3.

No one was at the desk in the lobby but I noticed that the door into the offices was not locking properly, so I walked in ha ha.

Language became a problem as no one spoke English. We had to rely on my Spanish! Eventually we got it sorted out and they found someone that spoke English. He gave me a bunch of papers and said to go to Customs at #4 on the third floor and they would sign the documents. When I was done, come back and get my motorcycle.


Off I walked to Customs.


The same guard had to card me through to the elevators to get to the third floor.

When I got up there, this is what I saw.

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Not knowing where to go I asked the security guard. He pointed me to one desk. When I got there he directed me to the desk you can see in the middle of the picture with the white haired man and woman sitting at it.

The woman at the desk asked for my papers and then told me to leave ha ha. I just walked to where the picture was taken and just stood there looking at her ha ha.

Eventually, she waved me over and went through my documents. The officer didn’t speak English but luckily the woman you see in the picture jumped in and interpreted for me. What the officer wanted was a scraping of my VIN number off of my motorcycle. Ahhhhh …. my Spanish just doesn’t extend to things like that ha ha.

Back to Avianca Air Cargo

Soooooo back downstairs I went. The guard had to card me out of the building and back into the fenced compound where I went up to the 3rd floor of Avianca barged my way through the door that was suppose to be locked and went over to the woman who had been helping me. She got the English speaking guy and I explained what Customs wanted. He explained it to who appeared to be a warehouse supervisor. He was not happy.

Down we went to the warehouse where I had to check in, leave all my belongings at the desk, be searched, and wear these metal covers over my runners. Soon a tractor wheeled in my motorcycle all wrapped up in plastic and netting.

The workers uncovered part of it, took a felt pen to my VIN and then put a piece of tape over it and scratched an impression of the VIN onto the tape and put the tape onto a piece of paper.

Back to Customs

With my VIN impression in hand I was back to the gate where the guard carded me out and carded me to the the elevators and back to the third floor where I went back to the officer. She looked at the impression and then passed me onto a woman you can see at the far end of the photo along the same row of desks.

She took forever to fill in paperwork both manually and in the computer.

Meanwhile, who walked in but Carlos who I met at Girag. It was like an old homecoming ha ha. His English is poor but still better than my Spanish. We just talked while the officer was filling out the paperwork. Once in awhile he had to interpret for me.

Eventually my paperwork was done.

Back to Avianca Air Cargo

Back to Avianca Air Cargo and the same routine with the Guard and the woman on the 3rd floor. The English speaker was there and he said to go downstairs and wait for my motorcycle. Down I went.


Eventually it was my turn to pick up.


Finally. Four hours later.

Hotel Golden

With my motorcycle and I finally into Colombia and reunited, I went back to the Hotel Golden. Now this hotel isn’t the nicest, but it is within walking distance to Avianca Air Cargo. And it is inexpensive. The area isn’t that great either. But is seemed safe. It reminded me a bit of an old run down English village. I had booked 2 days there just in case it took that long to get my motorcycle out. So I had a day to kill before heading into downtown Bogota to explore.

My Location for October 18 and 19, 2017

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Flying My Motorcycle to Colombia with Girag

Having done my sightseeing in Panama City, my number one priority became making arrangements for my motorcycle to fly to Colombia with Girag. Of course there was also the small matters of watching Sunday NFL football, getting my motorcycle serviced before heading out of the country, and a bonus, an unexpected visit from a classmate and friend of mine from Royal Roads University!

By the way …. it is still rainy season here 🙁




Sunday NFL Football

One thing I love to do is get lost in NFL football all day Sunday, and Monday and Thursday nights. I love the buildup, drama, ups and downs, and the excitement when my teams win. It has been somewhat marred this year by people politicizing the game and then there is the head injury issue. Many choose to boycott the NFL because of them. I choose to ignore all of that for now and just enjoy the game. Not that I don’t have opinions on those subjects, but I’m not going to let those issues take away from my enjoyment. I have my own things I boycott ha ha.

It took a while of searching to find a place to watch the games. I figured somewhere around the Hard Rock Hotel there would be a spot and I was right.



My spot.


Motorcycle Servicing at Bavarian Motors

My little onboard computer said I needed a servicing in 500 km. Being the dutiful BMW motorcycle owner I am, I set out to Bavarian Motors.

Actually, regular maintenance is really important for me. I have next to no mechanical ability. For that reason, my best line of attack is to really take care of my motorcycle to prevent breakdowns the best I can.

Bavarian Motors was unique from what I have experienced in the past. Unique for a couple reasons. First, it seems to operate like an assembly line. I pulled up into a servicing lane behind a bunch of cars. Being a motorcycle, I was singled out.


And being an English speaker, I was singled out again to talk to a person who spoke some English. He advised they would do the regular servicing and check everything for me. I was then escorted upstairs to another unique feature of Bavarian Motors. They basically have their own coffee shop that is free to customers!


They had tables, couches, workstations and great wifi. So there I sat and wandered around until my motorcycle was ready. I was then escorted down to their downstairs lounge ha ha


Quite the place. The servicing didn’t cost too much and I got a wash out of the deal too. However, as I rode away I remembered that I forgot to tell them about my right front signal light that wasn’t working. Crap! This light has been giving problems ever since I dropped the bike on the Dalton Highway in Alaska. Oh well. Next time.

Meeting a Royal Roads University Friend

One highlight of my stay in Panama City was meeting Christa who I had gone to Royal Roads University with to get a Masters Degree in Human Security and Peacebuilding.

Funny that Christa lives in Edmonton and I live in Abbotsford. Yet we have never met as those places. It has been at school in Victoria, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she was doing a field practice, and now in Panama where by coincidence she was taking a vacation with a friend while I was there.

The hardest thing about being on the road is not having friends to be with. Loneliness can creep in for sure. Even if you are an introvert like me. Soooooo is was very nice to have dinner with a friend. It made my evening for sure!

Girag Air Cargo Inquiry

Now for what I had been dreading …. how to get my motorcycle from Panama City to Colombia. I’m a big fan of Oisin Hughes. He has the best adventure motorcycle video series out there. I’ve watched it many times. When he got to Panama City he used Girag Air Cargo. Others also recommended Girag. So that was going to be my first attempt.

I rode out to the airport where Girag is located.

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To get there I ended up going through these toll booths again. I haven’t figured out how to pay yet, so I just keep riding around the gates. There is no one there and no place that I can see to deposit money. So far the police haven’t stopped me 🙂

Anyways, to get to Girag I also had to pass through a Customs road block at the entrance to the airport cargo facilities. I just said Girag and that I didn’t speak Spanish ha ha. They waved me through.

Once at Girag I spoke to a woman who didn’t speak English and ask if anyone there did. She got me her supervisor who spoke fluent English. YAY! For such an important event I didn’t trust using my Spanish to communicate.

What ended up happening was she took a copy of my passport, vehicle registration, and Panama Temporary Import Permit and told me to bring the motorcycle in on Monday and they would fly it out to Bogota, Colombia on Tuesday. It would cost just over $1000 US cash. Awesome!

Girag Air Cargo to Bogota Columbia

That next Monday I brought my motorcycle back to Girag. It all seemed too simple! I rode my motorcycle into their warehouse where they checked it over.



Yup, that is another motorcycle flying out with mine. It belongs to Carlos from Brazil who I met at Girag as well. He had packed everything onto his bike. I had just put the bulky and heavy stuff in my panniers and bought a spare suitcase to put the other things in. In retrospect I could have put more on my motorcycle to save paying an overweight fee at the airport when I flew 🙁

Anyways … I paid my $1000 US and that was it!! All the paperwork had been completed already by Girag after I gave them my documents on my previous visit. Now I needed to find a way to get back to my hotel. Here Girag went the extra mile.

The English speaking Girag Supervisor asked one of her staff to drive me out of the complex to find a taxi. We drove out of the complex and attempted to get a taxi. But the drivers in the small town didn’t want to take me all the way into the city. So Girag drove me around until he found a taxi driver that would and negotiated the price for me. So nice.

I would definitely recommend Girag to anyone.

My motorcycle and I were now both flying to Bogota, Colombia, on Tuesday.

My Location from October 9 to 16, 2017

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My Route on October 17, 2017

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