Central & South America road trip planning/feasability

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Central & South America road trip planning/feasability

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1. Posted by angeja (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hello all.

Wonderful forum, a great find.

A friend and I are in the initial stages of discussing planning a road trip to Central and possibly South America.
We are thinking of doing this in 2012 and are in the initial stages of planning.

At present it looks like we can commit 30-35 days of travel. Our starting point would be from Toronto Canada and ideally would love to end up in Sao Paulo Brasil. This may be overly ambitious given the amount of time,but the goal would be at this point to say we have made it, and not necessarily a sightseeing type adventure/trip.

At the finish point we would donate/give the vehicle as we do not intend on making the return drive.
Thanks to the forum, i am aware of the Darien Gap and the shipping of the vehicle, and the 7 days of not driving.

just wanted to get an overall feel from the members of the forum if this is overly ambitious? We could do the strictly Central American part down to Panama, but I feel we would both regret not having gone all the way.

Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

2. Posted by explorante (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


Yes, it is possible, but do you really want to do it this way?

My family (Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister) spent around 75 days from Sao Paulo to Calgary - the entire trip would last an entire year, and reach extremes like Alaska, NY, Atlanta, and all the way back through the Amazon Forest - and it was in 1996, without GPS or internet - even phone calls in some countries were difficult back then.

Another friend of mine, Caca Clauset, in April 2001, did it from Alaska to Patagonia in 18 days... but this is an official world record. The previous one was 23 days, from 1987.

So, you notice that 30 days is closer to a world record than a family trip!

7 days for the Panama to Venezuela or Colombia crossing is optimistic. On the way up my parents took 16 hours, because there was a Swedish Ferry doing the crossing(!!!). On the way south, one year later... the Ferry was no longer there! (lack of clients?) After seeing the car being locked up in a container in Colon, Panama, my father relaxed for two weeks in a Venezuelan beach before opening the container again. And he said it was boiling hot inside. So, watch out for what you leave in the car for the crossing. Both record breakers, in 1987 and in 2001, wasted 3 days in this crossing, even with a land team arriving before the cars to set things up.

So, let's keep this channel open. Feel free to ask!


Flavio Melo
Exploranter Life Style

3. Posted by explorante (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


A few more thoughts.

To get an idea of your first few days on the road, another friend of mine, Anselmo Martini, does in 2 to 3 days from NY to LA by car. (He hasn't made up his mind where to live and always forgets his car on the other side of the continent...)

Considering that the US will always be there, close to you, I'd rush past it into the Mundo Latino. Consider stepping out of the car for the first time only at the TexMex border.

And while in Central America, take the weekends to sightsee, enjoy the beaches... don't waste weekends trying to cross borders. Things get more complicated than usual on the weekends...

Some countries can be crossed in a few hours, but will you really miss tikal, arenal and all?

Has it crossed your mind to divide the trip in multiple parts?
1st year - Toronto-Venezuela
2nd year - Venezuela/Amazon/Brazilian coast/Buenos Aires
3rd year - Buenos Aires/Patagonia/Chile/Bolivia/Peru/Ecuador/Colombia

For less than US$ 1.000/year you can find a safe parking for your car.



4. Posted by angeja (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Obrigado Flavio for your reply.

Thank you for the valuable input. We had not got to the stage of daily planning, but your point on the weekend border attempts had not crossed my mind, and is a good point.

Sounds like an incredible journey that you took with your family.

We have not yet looked at the possibility of spreading it out over years, but I am wondering if it is possible to store your car in a foreign country and would the paperwork not expire? This is something to consider of course, but would not be our preferred approach.

I know 30 days would be cutting it close, but what are your/forums thoughts on a reasonable amount of time to make this journey in its entirety? We could possibly add a few more days to make it happen, or cut it back and do the Central America component, and South America at a later time. Although my fear would be that we would not get back to it, and would always have that feeling of going half way.

Once again thanks for the great advice and input.

5. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

You're not going to drive from Ontario to Brasil in 30 days not in a thousand years.

6. Posted by angeja (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the input SamSalmon.

Maybe 30 days is optimistic. What would you consider to be a "do-able" time frame?

7. Posted by way2goeh (Full Member 159 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

i would say 4 days to the mexico border b/c u need to stop and do things along the way.
in mexico, would take a week, and im sure you want to go to Cancun and the pyramids. If you have only 30 days, I would go as far as Panama. COsta Rica and Panama has so much to do. Im sure you don want to JUST drive. To get the car from the darien to ecuador, thats one week. As you can see, not stopping and having fun sucks. Panama is still too far for you but I wouldnt go any further or you will have no fun.

8. Posted by angeja (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the input way2goeh.
This is the input/feedback i was hoping for.

Will most likely scale it back unless we can get some extra time off.
Once again thanks for the response.

9. Posted by Caravantothecup (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

This has been my dream for so long, but I only planned to do this from arizona to rio de janeiro. Considered a car at first but am beyond broke right now so cancelled that idea. There are just too many things to worry about, registration, tags, and certain passes for different countries, or even different roads in those countries. I mean I recently took a road trip through Mexico, only about 300 miles south of the border and had to pass through 2 toll roads collecting a total of about 9.00 usd. Sure it's a small amount for one road trip but imagine hidden costs from that point all the way to Brazil. So I just considered a new plan, I'll just hitchhike my way there.

10. Posted by ppereira (Full Member 25 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Angeja :)
my suggestion would be this: buy a flight from Toronto to Guatemala city with Delta (super cheap on special, like US$300 if you are lucky) then buy a used car or go by bus (www.ticabus.com) trough Antigua Guatemala (if you have more time and money go to TIkal the great Mayan Civilization plus you are travelling in 2010 when is the end of the great Mayan cycle (check out survive2012.com/ , Copan (in Honduras) go to the Bay Islands (is AMAZING BEAUTIFUL diving) then go to Costa Rica (Puerto Limon) if you are dreaming about Southamerica go directly from Toronto to Brazil but remember you need basic portugues because they barely talk spanish or english.... good luck!


p.d. ask me anything else, I would gladly help you :)