View Full Version : California to South America by car

12-01-2007, 02:08 AM
Anyone ever done this? If so, tell me about it.

12-01-2007, 07:46 AM
not even close here but i did drive from denver thru the main part of mexico, caught a ferry to get across the bay, then down to los cobos ... then up hwy 1 to seattle ... the only reason i am posting this is, taking mexicio as an example, not border towns or big cities, is really different then any where in the US ,,, there were times i had to wait a whole day in a town to get more gas because they didnt get their daily supply and it was too far to the next gas town .. quite a trip but i would not try and talk anyone out of doing it .. and take an older car as weird as that sounds .. the newer cars have all of the electonic stuff that other countries cant seem to fix .... canx***

12-01-2007, 09:09 AM

My fiance's family did this trip in reverse about 8 years ago. Here are some of the highlights from the story:

They stuffed 4 people and a dog in a car with one broken door and no air conditioning. They also were making an international move, so they had all of their worldly possessions tied to the top of the vehicle and had to re-pack it every couple of days.
They came from Honduras, drove for a month or more, and got as far as Vacaville before the jeep they were in just fell to pieces.
The dog, a chow, earned a reputation as an international kitten killer, by killing kittens throughout the trip. She is nothing but the cutest, sweetest ball of black fur for all humankind but, apparently, she can't take competition.
They ran out of money somewhere in Texas and money magically wired itself into his mom's account.
At a seafood restaurant in Mexico, a family offered up their daughter for marriage to a 15-yr-old Steve. They turned her down, saying that there wasn't enough room.
When coming into the States, they had a guide, a Mexican citizen, who showed them how to get almost to the border; they returned the kindness by driving him to the bus station. Once they arrived at the border, which was very near the bus station, the man got out of the car and thanks the family and starts walking away. Then someone points out that the bus station is in the other direction. He keeps walking and says, "Yes, I know. Thank you very much!"

12-01-2007, 02:47 PM
I've backpacked twice all southamerica, and once including Panama. Both of them were the most awesome trips ever. I can't speak much about central america since I haven't been there, but I think you can make that part in less than a week easily (if you don't drive through Honduras, but Guatemala- El Salvador - Nicaragua-Costa Rica). Be careful in the borders, try to sleep in towns close to the cities, and exchange your dollars in the capitals (if you go there) so you pay with local money in the towns. Like I said, I didn't drive but I can tell you something about what places you must visit or what route you can take according to what I saw.

I don't know how are things right now in the Panama-Colombia border, but when I went (2000 and 2002), things were kind of tense because the guerrilla situation in Colombia. Well, it wasn't that bad either, but try yo get out from the borders as soon as you can. Then again, colombian people are very friendly, they are one of the friendliest people I've ever seen. If I would have to choose one southamerican country to live, I'd pick Colombia because its people and its places. Make sure to visit Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota, get some coffee, eat some fried bananas, and take a look to the city and its women. Colombian girls are pretty much the most beautiful ones in the whole continent. You can get good coke up to $1 per graim, but I wouldn't suggest it if you are going alone or if you don't know anyone over there. Same in Peru. Cheapest prices for high quality drugs but there's a high risk to get robbed if you are a tourist who barely know people there. Anyway, drive to Ecuador, visit Quito and the equator line, go to Peru through all the coast stopping in Mancora, Piura (eat ceviche, the best one in the world, and drink a local liquor called chicha de jora), Chiclayo, Huaraz (if you like mountains and snow), Lima (don't spend so much time here if your days for the whole trip are limited, but do eat anticuchos and drink chicha morada). Then go to Nazca (watch the nazca lines), Arequipa (eat 'rocoto relleno'), Cuzco (try to spend at least one week here, and backpack the inka trail to Machupicchu).

Then you can go back to Arequipa and drive to Chile, or go ahead to Puno and cross to Bolivia, depending what you want to see and how much time you have. I'd suggest you go to Bolivia since that route will allow you to see more places in shorter time. Visit La Paz, and if you like Che Guevara you can go to Vallegrande, the place where he was captured. People there worship him, it's amazing how much they love him, he is their god. Next stop, Cochabamba and then north of Argentina. San Miguel de Tucuman is a beautiful town, try the beef and visit the pampas. Go to Paraguay. The border between Paraguay and Brazil is awesome, one of the most amazing places over there. Then, Rio de Janeiro, and drive south to Sao Paulo. You'll never see so many people smiling and dancing like in Brazil. If you think you are good at soccer, play with the little kids over there in the streets. Peopla are so friendly, weather is really hot and humid. Bossanova and samba sounds all over the place, amazing. Don't forget to drink dome caipirinhas.

Next stop, Uruguay. Montevideo is a small city, and there's not many things to see there, but is better than driving through the argentinian side. If you like beach and want to see beautiful women in bikini, go to Punta del Este. After that, cross the border to Argentina again and right there is Buenos Aires. If you like the nightlife you'll love this city. You also have Mar de Plata just a couple of hours away if want to take some sun in the beach. Drink some mate, eat beef again with some good wine, go see some River Plate or Boca Juniors soccer game and feel how argentinian fanatics live the game, it's incredible. And of course go see some tango show. Buenos Aires has a good music scene, so probably there will be some concerts that you might be interested in.

If your car is still working, drive all the way to Santiago, Chile. Then stop in the border with Peru to visit the markets/flea markets, you can buy good things at very low prices. Then drive all the peruvian coast again, Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama again.

That Peru-Panama-all South america-Peru trip took me almost two months. No driving, though. Sorry for the grammar errors.