Are you ready to travel the Americas with us?
We couldn’t be more excited that you’re along for the ride!
We couldn’t be more excited that you’re along for the ride!
13 countries, one year on the road, overlanding from Argentina to Mexico …with some wild detours on the way. Get ready for some of the most stunning landscapes and vibrant cultures on earth.
The route takes us through 13 countries (including our beloved home, Mexico) – Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize.
#CrazySideNote …we are also considering visiting Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. Have any thoughts on that? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.
We will ferry from Mexico to Buenos Aires, Argentina. First, we’ll head South to Tierra del Fuego, catching it during their summer. Next, we’ll cross into Chile to begin driving North on the Pan-American Highway.
As we travel through Chile and toward Bolivia, we’ll be voyaging along the mountainous backbone of South America, reaching an elevation close to 4,000 meters. From Bolivia, we can opt to leave the Pan-American Highway and cross into the North West corner of Brazil toward Manaus, Amazonas.
Manaus will be an exciting stop for us. This geographically isolated city is the capital of the state of Amazonas and it is one of the primary jumping-off points for exploring the Amazonian basin. Most easily accessible by plane or boat (it sits at the juncture of 2 rivers – Rio Negro and the Solimões), we will be traveling overland on one of the few roads that can get us there.
p.s. This road, BR319, is totally insane.
Once the rubber capital of the world, Manaus now makes most of its revenue off of eco-tourism. The biodiversity here will be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before! If we decide to go on to Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana along this route, Manaus would mark the half-way point (more or less) as we cross the Amazon.
You want numbers? We’ve got numbers!
Below is a rough breakdown of the distances we’ll cover on this trip. These numbers are pretty conservative because we travel vertically – really digging into new places – and naturally, the odometer will reflect this.
Buenos Aires-Ushuiaia 3,000
Nazca-Manta Ecuador 2,100
San Jose-San Miguel 3,000
Manaus-Boa Vista 782
Boa Vista-Georgetown 678
A minimum of 19,600 kilometers from Buenos Aires to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. If we chose to go to Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, it will be roughly 4,800 additional kilometers, grand totalling 24,400 kilometers.
<Insert shocked emoji here>
Wait, this is my story…but I’m shocked anyway.
These are just a handful of the places that are blowing our minds before we’ve even seen them: the Uyuni salt flats of Bolivia, Vinicna – the rainbow mountain, the Nazca lines in Peru, the Amazon, the Andes, Tierra del Fuego.
There will be such and abundance of archeological sites, areas of cultural riches and pristine wilderness of all types. *sigh*
(not the schoolbus, to be clear.)
Weather is our primary consideration as we plan our departure date (does that go without saying?). We want to avoid the southern tip of Argentina during their Winter/our Summer – ie. May through October is probably colder than we’d like. In Central America and in northern South America, the rainy season runs more or less April through November. We know the rainy season in Central America is no joke! Washed-out roads and flooding wouldn’t be much fun, even for the La Poderosa.
Given our leisurely pace, and the great likelihood of setbacks (not to mention my mild insanity), we expect the journey will take us between 10 and 12 months once we meet the Rover in Buenos Aires.
We’re researching a couple of Brazilian roads through the Amazon that might be able to get us through to Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. This route, mostly along BR319 and BR174, is not easily passable during the rainy season. BR319 is nicknamed the worst road in Brazil. Even on dry days, this road is a *challenge* so we’re hoping to connect with other overlanders for this stretch.
September through November should be the drier period for the Amazonian Basin.
Yep, you guessed it. Gasoline prices throughout the region are relatively high, averaging around USD$3.55 a gallon. We won’t be taking advantage of Venezuela’s cheap fuel on this trip due to the country’s current economic situation. So, there’s that.
Ecuador $1.50 (?)
Costa Rica $3.78
El Salvador $2.96
French Guiana $3.70
*This is about to get boring! Sorry about that. If you aren’t considering taking this journey, I’d suggest you head over to the blog and read some awesome blog articles that won’t put you to sleep. However, if you’re planning a trip like ours, you already know how important this un-sexy information really is …)
Visa requirements for US citizens entering and traveling through these countries vary. We are residents of Mexico, so entering Guatemala will be our first international border crossing on the journey. Centro America 4 (CA-4) is a regional agreement between Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador that allows for a 90-day total stay in Central America.
More helpful side notes: the CA-4 can be extended.
Most countries along the route will have fairly straight forward visa proceses & modest entry fees. Exceptions to the rule appear to be Brazil, Bolivia, Suriname. Chile and Argentina have recently stopped charging US citizens a reciprocity tax. Thank you, Chile & Argentina – that will help! (Although Brazil, Bolivia and Suriname …we get it.)
Bolivia charges US citizens a $135 visa fee – payable in cash (dollars) when we get there. We’ll need passport-sized photos, round trip tickets or proof of our route and a yellow fever certificate. We’ve read border guards don’t always require all documents.
Brazil requires that we apply for our visas prior to arrival. This can’t be done at the border! The visa fee is $160 each and it is good for 5 years. We’ll need passport photos & photocopies.
Surinam also asks that we apply before arrival & the single-entry visa for US citizens costs $25. There may also be a $10 processing fee.
Belize does not ask for an entrance fee or proof of onward travel. The visa is good for 30 days. The exit fee is $30 Belizean or USD$15 plus $7.5 Belizean for the Protected Areas Contribution Trust. Either currency or a mix of both. That’s what I’m talking about – Belize, you make it easy and we appreciate that.
The CA-4 visa for Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua is a 90-day visa. Guatemala and El Salvador do not have entry or exit fees, while Honduras has a $3 entry fee and Nicaragua has both a $12 entrance fee and a $2 exit fee. No proof of onward travel is required.
Costa Rica charges about USD$8 and you present your receipt to the border guard after paying. It is a 90-day visa and we may have to show proof of onward travel. Costa Rica is a potential sailing or arrival point as we get around the Darien Gap. The Costa Rica-Ecuador may be less expensive than the Panama-Colombia route. Input welcome if you’ve done this recently.
We understand that Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana ask that travelers provide proof of onward travel (or proof of sufficient funds). Peru does not charge entry or exit fees, so that’s great! Ecuador, Guyana, and French Guiana will not have high entry or exit fees either.
We will have 2 long ferrying stints on this adventure. First, we’ll ship the Rover from Mexico to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Likely, we’ll fly to Argentina to meet the vehicle there. The second longest ferry ride the Rover will make will be crossing the Darien Gap. We are thinking about the Manta, Ecuador to San Jose, Costa Rica route as it is less expensive than the Colombia-Panama service. An ideas and recommendations regarding shipping companies or routes are most welcome!
The route will also take us across several rivers, some of which will require ferries. If we decide to push through, past Manaus, we will use something like 8 separate ferries to get us across the Amazon basin.
We’re currently checking with various shipping companies to see who can help us get the vehicle down to Buenos Aires. Ideas and recommendations are verrrrrrry welcome.
For details on how we’re preparing the Land Rover for this journey, please visit this page.
Stay tuned for more on our unfolding adventures!