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Central and South America by car

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Central and South America by car

1. Posted by barunkad (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


me and my boyfriend want to spend three month on the way form San Francisco to Peru. We would love to go by car (because of the kiteboarding gear we want to cary with us). But it seems that every one we were talking to is really concern by that.

Has anybody have any experience with trip like that? Or does anybody know a good website where to look for more info?

Thanks a lot for any help!


2. Posted by stefann22 (Budding Member 7 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


Try this website :) They travelled from USA to Alaska and then to South America. The site is in romanian, french and spanish only though


3. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1030 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

You've done the research, so you know the Darien Gap is a no go. You have to ship the car to continue.

It's doable, but expensive.

Driving in CA is a chancy thing and going from the States to Panama can involve a certain amount of extortion and bribery. There is no trustworthy insurance and the driving is chaotic.

It's doable, but risky.

An American plate can be a big neon sign. There are lots of new and expensive vehicles down below... but even a half assed SUV that has American plates will attract attention. Could be fine, though

Doable, but nervewracking.

The world will not end if you take a vehicle down there. It's just that you have to keep your eyes peeled all the time. Ninety percent good is still Ten percent bad. I knew a family who owned a place in Mexico that had a car attached...Everytime they drove the thing, a Federale would impound it. There was no reason. The Federale just wanted a bribe. This family would never pay. So the Federales would process the car, impound it, find that the charge was baseless and release the car. One week at a time. This car, to be fair, had Canadian plates.

I have seen cars in every country in Central America peeled open like they were a clingpeaches can. I have personally sat in cars that were held together by duct tape and hope. I have personally talked to professional drivers in various countries who are legitimately confounded about the reason for a double line or a dotted line, or a solid line on a highway. I have seen entire families just sitting in the middle of a a new highway in lawn chairs because it is a nice flat area and cars don't pass that often, and when they do, it is all local traffic which understands that there might be a family camped out there....and I have tragedies when that belief is unfounded.

I have driven in Latin America. Not a car where I was financially responsible. To me, it is just too damned stressful unless I am in a rural area. This is my advice....If you bring a car down here, make sure you are willing to give it up. If all your hopes and dreams rest on this car surviving, I would rethink your plan. Ten years of watching Latin American traffic in 12 different countries gives this advice to you ..>(I have experience in another...Uruguay. Good drivers there.)

There will be some folks after me who, if history is any judge, will proudly profess their success in this area...and I don't doubt their veracity. I just want you to know that it could go entirely the other way, and I want you to watch out.

Good Luck Out There.


[ Edit: Edited on 06-Oct-2009, at 20:11 by Piecar ]