I want to drive from North America to South America
October 16, 2008 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to drive from Texas to Tierra Del Fuego. How do I pull this off?

Ok So I've traveled quite a bit internationally, Europe, Asia, South America etc.... I figured I would like to try something different and drive from either Texas or California down to Tiera Del Fuego in Chile, sell the truck I drove and fly back to the US. I would plan for the trip to take a few months. Any MeFi-ites done this or know any good resources for a trip like this?
posted by Scientifik to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You'll get stuck once you get to southern Panama. Look up the article in Wikipedia called Darien Gap. It's impassible, so you will need to figure out whether using a ferry to get from Panama to Colombia or Venezuela is acceptable. Also parts of Colombia will be dangerous to travel through. But other than that it's been done -- there's even a book written by someone who walked from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska: if I'm not mistaken, it was in 1980.
posted by crapmatic at 2:30 PM on October 16, 2008

I've wanted to do this for a long time - apparently it's quite difficult to ditch your truck at the end of the drive. Getting around the darien gap south of the Panama canal is also an issue. Road Fever is an entertaining but somewhat outdated book that chronicles driving the Pan-American highway.
posted by foodgeek at 2:31 PM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thirding the Darién Gap as the main problem. Not just geographically remote, but also home to some not-so-friendly folks. Various successful land crossings take between a month and two years, depending on route and the number of wheels you want to use. Most people build it onto their plan to ditch their vehicle north of the gap, then pick it--or a new one--up south of the gap.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:39 PM on October 16, 2008

Well there must be trade that occurs between Columbia and Central America, so lets assume I am able to catch a ferry around the Darien Gap...
posted by Scientifik at 2:52 PM on October 16, 2008

I had a friend who took a motorcycle from Toronto to Tierra Del Fuego. They took a ferry of some sort around the Darien Gap. From the looks of it it seems like a ferry might be possible.
posted by Freen at 2:53 PM on October 16, 2008

A reasonably good primer on how to cross the Gap, by air and by sea.
posted by Freen at 2:56 PM on October 16, 2008

The driving is relatively easy, assuming the truck is fully in your name and your papers are in order -- the Panamerican highway is almost entirely paved, and if you have the money there are shipping options around the Darien Gap. You can find a lot of accounts of that trip on motorcycles at this forum, for example (and see also several subforums here; the rules are all about the same in terms of crossing borders with four wheels as with two.

Selling at the far end is not so easy, but people certainly manage to do so. Just like with bringing an Argentinian-registered vehicle into the US, you promise not to sell it there when you enter the country. That doesn't mean that you can't sell it, just that you aren't supposed to and there is a (probably small) risk that you will get caught. The value of your truck will be affected by its legal status, too.

And you may find that insurance along the way is not as easy to claim as it as home, meaning that in practical terms you will be self-insuring the truck on the drive down. Don't take a financial stretch that you can't afford.
posted by Forktine at 3:12 PM on October 16, 2008

Can I come?
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 6:30 PM on October 16, 2008

You might try this message board.
posted by lukemeister at 9:38 PM on October 16, 2008


I hope you get to go. Please keep us posted.
posted by lukemeister at 7:07 PM on October 17, 2008

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