Highway to Rio
September 7, 2012 9:25 PM   Subscribe

RVing to Rio De Janeiro -- is this even possible? We are experienced RVers, with nearly a decade of fulltime North American trekking under our belts. Closing ceremony of the Olympics got us talking about 2016 in Rio, then somebody said, "Why don't you take your RV down there?"

So... could we? Is there a highway route from the US to Brazil that is safe, sound and practical for towing a big 5th Wheel? Any particular challenges in crossing through the various countries along the way? We can boondock (camp totally self contained), but prefer parks and hookups if they are available. Might they be?

Assume time is not an issue -- we could take a year or more to get there if we wanted. Budget is also not a first level concern -- the resources are there for a grand adventure. And realize this really isn't about the best way to see the 2016 Games. It's about the journey. Are we crazy to even consider a trip like this?
posted by peakcomm to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Doable with a notable exception- the Darien Gap.
posted by maya at 9:29 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any particular challenges in crossing through the various countries along the way?

Crossing the Darién Gap might qualify as a challenge in an RV. (Really, you just solve that with money, by shipping your vehicle around it.) A bigger challenge is going to be fitting a big fifth wheel down tiny streets if you make the mistake of driving into a colonial city. Personally I'd suggest a smaller vehicle, but I'd say the same thing in the US, and since plenty of semis drive the same roads I'm sure you will fit.

Gazillions of people drive up and down the Pan American highway every year; you should check out the narratives and accounts of similar trips on sites like Expedition Portal and Horizons Unlimited.
posted by Forktine at 9:37 PM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

expedition portal is an addiction! so much wanderlust from that site. you will almost certainly find a relevant trip report/plan on that site.

you didn't specify what type of rig you're running. I'm guessing motorized and not a towable. I feel trips like these are far better suited to diesel rigs that aren't bus-sized. not that it can't be done in other ways, but once you leave the wide open expanse of the American highway, size can definitely be a detriment. and generally diesel is as easy if not easier to find in 3rd world countries, as well as slightly more efficient in large rigs.

oh, and need any crew members? :)
posted by ninjew at 10:57 PM on September 7, 2012

oh I guess you did specify..
posted by ninjew at 11:08 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm very surprised that nobody has pointed out how dangerous driving through Mexico is now. I would think driving an RV through there would make you a bit of a target. Just something to consider.
posted by bolognius maximus at 12:49 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is physically impossible due to the Darien Gap unless you want to have the RV shipped.
posted by Sara C. at 12:58 AM on September 8, 2012

You couldn't pay me enough to drive through most of Mexico right now. My parents have a place on South Padre, an island where a good deal of the condos are owned by wealthy Mexican nationals who would drive up for weekends and holidays. The island has been mostly deserted as of late because no one wants to make the drive through northern Mexico for fear of bandits (or worse, kidnapping for ransom). When they do drive, they do so in large (8+ cars) caravans with hired, heavily armed security details escorting them. It's like something out of goddamned Mad Max. I suppose you could hire an escort, but I can't imagine how insanely expensive that'd be across the entire nation, not to mention the risks associated with finding a trustworthy outfit.
posted by item at 2:00 AM on September 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

Scary idea. Not very safe.
posted by Dansaman at 3:31 PM on September 9, 2012

I'm actually writing this from the highway item talks about, from South Padre Island to Monterrey, on the Mexican side it's the "Reynosa-Monterrey". The 8+car caravan plus armed escort is probably an exageration and definetly not the norm, but yes, most of the mexican-owned condos were deserted this weekend. We had a 22 apartment building all to ourselves, since most people are too afraid nowadays to travel on this highway. We usually come to SPI in a family caravan of three or four cars. People who could afford armed escorts are not coming here anymore, they fly somewhere else.

All of this to say that yeah, RVing through Mexico is not a great idea now. An RV is a biiig target for typical highway bandits or worse.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:28 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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