Figure out the best way to get from Central to South America, when you should book your accommodations for Carnaval and local language school recommendations. If it's on South America, it's in this forum.

Can you Drive from the US to South America?

MaxPowers

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  • Added on: January 29th, 2009
Anyone know if you can just drive from the USA all the way to South America and if it would be cheaper than booking flights and busses?

Or is this a terrible idea?

minerguy

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  • Added on: January 29th, 2009
You can't actually drive the whole way. There place called the Darien Gap http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dari%C3%A9n_Gap separating Panama from Columbia which cannot be driven. Just because that link shows there is a nice road called the Pan American Highway that doesn't mean that is always in good condition or going directly south. There are boats that take motorcycles across and I imagine there may be some that take cars as well. As for it being cheaper than book flights or buses, not a chance. Buses would be definitely be the cheapest way if you are interested in seeing more than just a couple big cities, even then it might be close.
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moniak

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  • Added on: January 29th, 2009
There is a family, a couple with two children, posting on this forum. They're doing the trip on bicycles from Alaska to Ushuaia.
Also, I met a young French woman in northern Argentina. She never drove a bike before, bought one in San Francisco and drove all the way south to Ushuaia and Cape Horn. It was a bet, and it looked like she was going to win.
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MaxPowers

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  • Added on: January 29th, 2009
cool

i guess i wont take my car

is there a way to take buses all the way from Texas then Mexico, thru all of Central America, take a ferry across from Panama to Columbia, and then take buses the rest of the way down to south america?

sorry for the newbie questions, you guys are ROCKING!!! :D

bearshapedsphere

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2009
On the bus issue, yes, yes, yes. You can take busses through both continents, except for the Darien Gap. Chile kind of falls apart at the bottom, so you'll end up in Argentina to get way south, but it can definitely be done. Over the last -ahem- years since the Latin America/travel bug bit me I've done most of it, though not in one go. Sometimes a flight or two speeds things up, but if can definitely be done by bus.

If you want my take on how to approach the overnight busride, see my expert article here: http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/09-01/overnight-bus-tips-expert.html

hth!

Eileen

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MaxPowers

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  • Added on: February 3rd, 2009
thank you!!

YOU GUYS ROCK

cezz

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  • Added on: February 10th, 2009
For added information MY uncle told me about it and he said you will need to get an international drivers license. He suggested to rent a car IN Mexico. That way you have "local" plates. Also, he said to take an American $10 and fold it up, put it in a sleeve with your driver's license. It got him out of 2 tickets. Anyways, sounds like a fun trip. Theoretically yes it's possible.. but you're looking at well over 2,200 miles from say Las Vegas to Panama.. then you have to pass through some pretty rough territory. Be sure like he said to have an international driver license and also bring plenty of credit cards or account cards that can give you money. You'll also need a US Passport, as well as all members of your crew. I think several South American Countries drive on the left side of the road as opposed to North America. These nations are also very stringent about insurance so make sure yours is up to date.
Yellowstone camping is the best thing I've ever experienced last vacation.

Allan1970

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  • Added on: February 24th, 2009
Hi!

I am planning the similar plan you are. I plan to travel by bus and stay at hostels, camping or sometimes through Couchsurfing networks.

The biggest challenge is Entry/Exit requirement. I spend a lot of time reading Entry/Exit requirement on www.travel.state.gov (US Government's website) and its going to be pain in the neck to figure things out.

You might need yellow fever to get in some countries, but required in Brazil. I contacted Brazil Embassy, you can get entry visa from any Brazilian Embassy in any countries OTHER than Brazil prior to enter the country. I think I need to contact Paraguay Embassy since they also require visa prior to enter the country, hopefully I can get visa in any other country before entering Paraguay.

The other biggest challenge is that some countries might need you to show proof of onward travel since I am a backpacker, and I don't make any plan in advance. I only will stay in each country up to the limitation # of days or months provided by individual country's law.

The website doesn't give 100% detailed information... they usually says about departure or arrival by air.. since I am travelling by land. That's mean I have to contact embassy of all South American's countries especially Colombia, which I plan to ride by boat bypassing the border of Panama and Colombia (dangerous area). The site only explained about entering by air and land.. I don't see any entry by water????

Any advice or information regard this, please do so... thanks

Allan

2wanderers

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  • Added on: February 24th, 2009
You might need yellow fever to get in some countries, but required in Brazil. I contacted Brazil Embassy, you can get entry visa from any Brazilian Embassy in any countries OTHER than Brazil prior to enter the country. I think I need to contact Paraguay Embassy since they also require visa prior to enter the country, hopefully I can get visa in any other country before entering Paraguay.
I think you're reading too much into this. It's a pretty typical backpacking trip, and you shouldn't have any problems. There's a very small handful of countries in the Americas where Americans will need visas, so yes, you need to know which ones they are, but you don't need to worry about it - it's a formality: fill out the forms, and pay your money in a nearby capital, and you're on your way.

I'm no expert on Colombia (the entire extent of my "Colombian experience" is spending 12 hours at the Bogota airport last week. The only things I learned is that they like to check your bags - 3 security checks for an international connection which would have had no security at all in some countries - someone needs to teach them about ventilating public buildings, and they don't feel that food is an important thing to have near the boarding gates), but they're on good terms with the states, and no visa is necessary. How you enter a country almost never has any bearing on entry/exit requirements.

The exception to that is proof of onward travel. When you arrive overland it's generally expected that you'll leave overland, so you won't normally need any proof of onward travel. This is more of a problem when you arrive by air. In either case, it can be circumvented through the "fully refundable plane ticket" method, which requires a good sized credit limit, but doesn't cost you anything.

justold

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  • Added on: July 27th, 2009
In the winter of 2008 I drove from Maine, USA to Ushuaia, Argentina in a 2001 VW Golf. I wrote a quite a bit about it at: http://www.justinandsilveral.com

aguadulche

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  • Added on: July 28th, 2009
justold wrote:In the winter of 2008 I drove from Maine, USA to Ushuaia, Argentina in a 2001 VW Golf. I wrote a quite a bit about it at: http://www.justinandsilveral.com


Wow - Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Grecy

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  • Added on: January 24th, 2012
I spent two years driving from Alaska to Argentina. Absolutely the trip of a lifetime and I highly recommend it.

You should checkout WikiOverland, the encyclopedia of Overland Travel which contains everything you need to know about traveling the world with a vehicle. For each country, topics covered are things like border crossings and paperwork, gas prices, roads, maps, bribery, camping, insurance and much much more.

All the best & enjoy!

-Dan
WikiOverland, the encyclopedia of Overland Travel - Everything you need to know to Travel Overland with a car or motorbike across a country, continent or the world.
The Road Chose Me - I drove a Jeep TJ from Alaska to Argentina

MountaineerWV

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  • Added on: February 17th, 2012
I'm three weeks from hitting Ushuaia (by way of Washington DC) on a motorcycle.

You can easily drive from Alaska to Ushuaia. Do a little research on border crossings (specifically Central America). The helpers are NOT there to help you. Knowledge is power.

In fact, I am looking for a buyer for my motorcycle near Ushuaia-Buenos Aires. I would consider returning to Mendoza or Santiago if the buyer is serious.

motorcycle-travel-in-s-a-t47736.html
Suzuki DR650

MountaineerWV

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  • Added on: February 17th, 2012
I never had to bribe anyone. There was one cop that got me in Mexico. I DID run a stop sign, and rather than pay the $50US fine I just gave him a few bucks to let me go.

South America requires the International Driving PERMIT (not license). All the Central American countries that require insurance will have it at the border. The general flow is immigration then Aduana (customs for your vehicle).

South American insurances is a little different. You have to go to the Seguro brokers to buy insurance in Colombia, Peru, Chile/ARG. Peru is the biggest pain in the ass, but La Positiva is the insurance company to use.
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AnnaMpls

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  • Added on: March 29th, 2012
The challenging bit is between Panama and Colombia. Ferries? No. There is not a ferry. There are three options - you can try to catch a boat at the Panama Canal that is headed farther south, and see if you can go along with them. The second option would be to fly. The last option is hitching a ride with someone from the sailing community in San Blas - many of them give tours of the San Blas islands and then onward travel to Colombia for about $500 for seven days. I took the last option, although I was traveling from Cartagena and going north. Be aware that there was one serial killer in the area who also gave rides to tourists - and many of the sailing families stopped practicing this type of travel. (read more: http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php ... 1514305736 )

Apart from the Panama-Colombia bit, you can find public transport (mostly buses) from Alaska to Puerto Williams, Chile.



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