A Travellerspoint blog

Some advice if you are thinking of driving to South America:

The following is a general information blog for those of you who are considering taking the plunge and driving from North America to South America.

View Austin Texas to Argentina on hayden111's travel map.

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

My friend and I recently drove from Austin Texas to Argentina. We were on the road from October 21st 2007 to March the 10th 2008, during which time we drove through most of the countries in Central and South America.

General Thoughts:
We were both really nervous before we left but we found that preparation and good information is the key to making the most of the trip and keeping yourself safe. There are loads of great websites on the internet, so do the research before you leave home and have a basic plan mapped out of the places you want to visit and the things you want to do.

A good website to get you started is www.drivemeloco.com, it has a lot of detailed information for the drive through Mexico and Central America.

Overall the trip was a lot easier than we imagined it would be. Obviously it is important that you like driving and that you don’t mind spending the whole day on the road if you have to. But ultimately it is your trip so you can create your own schedule and take as much time as you want.

In general the roads are fine throughout Central and South America ( especially the primary/main roads), any regular car that is in good shape should have no problem making the trip. Obviously, the further you go off the beaten track the worse the roads get, so take that into consideration when choosing your car. Regular unleaded gasoline was readily available in all 15 countries that we drove through and there were also plenty of ATMs. We managed to get by without any problems relying solely on our ATM cards and we didn't run out of gas once.

Pacaya Volcano Guatemala

Pros and cons of traveling by car:

Freedom and comfort:
You will be in the comfort of your own car and have the freedom to come and go as you please, to make your own schedule and have the flexibility to change your plans when ever and where ever you feel the need. If you want to stay where you are for another day, stay. Whether you choose to hit the road at 6am or 1pm it is entirely up to you. You can also fill your car with all the comforts of home, food, music, pillows, etc and be driving around in your own little oasis.

You can pull over where ever you want, for a swim, take some photos, to buy food, use the bathroom or a bush if you have too. And if you don’t like the town that you are in, get in the car and drive to the next one.

The experience:
Apart from your license plates you will be just like a local and you will get to see and experience life as it is outside the cites and the main tourist spots. You can drive as fast or as slow as you want and take the time to really experience the country that you are in.

When you are traveling time is money. During the trip we saved at least 1-2 hours a day by not having to wait for buses, trains, taxis, planes etc. Over the space of the trip that’s literally hundreds of hours, and hundreds of dollars. Traveling by car is usually a lot faster than traveling by bus or train and you will be able to fit so much more into your day.

Safety and convenience:
The only time you will be carrying around your luggage will be when you are checking into your hotel. For the most part we either left our stuff in the trunk of the car or in our hotel, either way we almost never had any valuables with us when we were walking around.

Your car is your life blood on the trip so you need to look after it and make sure it is running well, by checking the fluids etc almost on a daily basis. Also, you can’t park the car in the street, it needs to be locked in a private or public garage. Most hotels we stayed at had garages, if not there was always a private parking lot close by.

Obstacles on the road:
You will encounter everything on the road during the trip; dogs, cows, people, potholes, speed bumps, rocks, maniac drivers, corrupt police and every possible weather condition you can think of. You always need to be on alert when you are driving, so it can be quite tiring.

Border crossings:
At the border crossings in Central America you will be swimming in paperwork, forms and bureaucratic red tape. Always allow 2 hours to complete a border crossing. We usually spent the night near the border and crossed it early the next day. Also keep in mind that most borders close for 1 hour at lunch time and there are often time changes between countries. Although they seem complicated at first, there is almost a method to the madness. Once you get through your first border crossing it will get easier as they all seem to follow a similar procedure. The further south you go the easier the border crossings get. In South America most of the border crossings took less that 30min.

A typical border crossing

Road blocks and the police:
There are usually check points or military road blocks a few miles after each border crossing but as long as your papers are in order you will be fine. We always kept our car permits and important documents in the same place so that they were easy to find when we needed them. If you get stopped by the police for no reason, it’s the same deal, just smile and show them your documents. As long as everything is in order they will usually let you go. If you see the police on the side of the road try to hide behind a truck if you can, so they cant see your license plates.

Shipping the car across the Darien Gap:

This is the only part of the trip that is a hassle. It is a logistical and paper work nightmare that will take at least a week to organize and a minimum of 1-2 days of filling out forms etc, and loading and unloading on either side. See the shipping section below for the details of our shipping experience.

Before you leave:
1. Documents for the car: Make sure you have at least 10 photocopies of the title and the vehicle owner’s passport and driver’s license for the border crossings. We were never asked for the vehicle registration but take it just in case. I suggest you photocopy the car owner’s passport and driver’s license on one piece of paper and keep all the documents in a folder under the seat. Keep the original documents separate in a safe place e.g. in a money belt.

2. Make sure you have auto insurance. The only company we found that offered universal auto insurance for most of Central and South America was AIU but the policy must be purchased through Sanborn's insurance, contact them at www.sanbornsinsurance.com. Print out the insurance document when you get it and always have a copy on hand. Also bare in mind that the AIU insurance policy takes at least 3 weeks to process.

3. We only got asked once for our international drivers licenses but to avoid hassle its worth taking one, they are $15 at any AAA.

4. Buy a map for Mexico, a general map for Central America and one for South America. You don’t need one for each country unless you plan on spending a lot of time there. Check out www.maps.com.

5. Get a head start on the shipping: It will take at least a couple of weeks to organize the shipping across the Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia, so give yourself a head start and make some calls etc before you leave. See below for more details on shipping across the Darien Gap. If you are shipping from Panama check out the following link for an up to date list of shipping agents. www.bulletinpa.com/index.php?topmenuitem=Business%20Directory

6. Have your car checked out by a mechanic.

7. Find out if you need a visa for any of the countries you are about to visit. Americans need a visa for Brazil.

8. Have a spare key made for the car and keep it in your wallet.

Bolivian Salt Flats

Choosing a Car:
We purchased an automatic Honda Accord 1995 with 113,000 miles on the clock.

2wd vs 4wd:
There is absolutely no need to buy a 4WD unless you intend on driving well off the beaten track. The only place during the whole trip that was inaccessible by regular car were the salt flats in Bolivia. We simply parked the car in a garage for around $2 a day and took a train, which was a nice change and offered some get views and to be honest even with 4WD I still wouldn’t have driven on those roads. Most of the main roads throughout the trip were in good condition but the secondary roads varied greatly. Ask the local people either at your hotel or a gas station what the condition of the secondary roads are like before you drive on them.

Automatic vs. Manual Transmission:
Manuals are easier and cheaper to repair and they get better gas mileage but Automatics are a lot easier to drive. Remember 20,000 miles will require a lot of gear changes. Cruise control is also a nice option to have.

Which car to buy:
I would suggest buying a Honda or Toyota with around 100,000 miles or less. Japanese cars are the most reliable and Toyota's and Honda's are reasonably common throughout Central and South America. A car with decent ground clearance is also important. That was the only complaint that we had with our car. It was so low to the ground that it would scrape on the speed bumps. You will drive over 1000's of speed bumps during the trip so suspension and ground clearance are really important.

When you are looking for a car make sure it has:
• Comfortable seats
• Cruise control
• Good ground clearance
• Good tires
• Plenty of leg room
• Trunk space for all your luggage
• Good suspension and brakes
• A stereo

Have the car thoroughly checked out before you leave:

Pay the extra $50 and get it checked out by a mechanic before you buy it or before you leave, it’s worth it. Make sure the water pump and the timing belt have been changed and that the tires, brakes and suspension are in good condition. We changed the wires and spark plugs, the air filter and the oil just before we left.

Gas mileage:
This is also another really important thing to consider. The gasoline prices in the countries you will visit will usually be higher than they are in the US ( Bolivia, Ecuador Venezuela and Argentina being the exceptions). While you are looking for a car check out its MPG rating at www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm. Most Honda’s and Toyota’s will give you around 30+mpg. Also a vehicle with a Manual transmission will give you better gas mileage.

Argentinean Hummingbird

Shopping list for the car:
•Spare tire and a can of fix a flat
•Some spare oil filters, when you change oil they may not have the right filter for your car.
•Padded steering wheel cover
•Cereal bars and some emergency drinking water just in case you get stranded somewhere
•A gas can that doesn’t leak. The change in temperatures and altitude meant that our cheap Wal-Mart gas can was forever leaking in the trunk of the car.
•A small can of Pepper-spray for peace of mind. We never used ours but it was nice to know it was there if we needed it.
•A cushion or two
•A medium tint for the windows; to keep the car cool and hide your Gringo face. Don’t make it too dark or you may get pulled over.
•Car alarm and steering wheel club
•Road maps
•Wet hand towels/wipes
•Rags to clean the windows, check the oil etc
•Music for the trip

Sunflower fields in Uruguay :

Some General Advice:
•Never leave anything in plain sight in the car, always lock everything and I mean everything in the trunk.

•Never drive at night, especially in Mexico and Central America, Costa Rica being the exception. South America isn’t as bad but use your own judgment on this one. Obviously it is safer to drive at night in Chile than it is in Bolivia. That being said it is still a lot harder to see holes, animals, people, etc at night time.

•Use brand name gas stations. Some gas stations especially in Brazil are famous for watering down their gas to make more money.

•Two sets of eyes are better than one. Even if you are in the passenger seat, it really does help to have 2 people watching the road and looking out for holes etc. The roads will vary greatly and you never know what is going to be around the next corner or over the next hill so take care.

•Take every piece of travel advice with a grain of salt, including mine. During our trip we were told by so many people the places to go and the places to avoid but they were almost never right. The places that were supposedly dangerous were often completely safe and the places that were meant to be great were often dumps. If your not sure get a second or third opinion or take the time to do some research on the internet.

•Don’t be afraid to pull over to ask for directions 10 times in a hour if you have to. It is better than ending up lost and wasting time back tracking. Be careful who you ask though, taxi drivers and police officers are usually your best bet.

•When crossing borders, check that all you paper work for the car is in order before you enter the new country. Make sure that the car VIN number and your names are correct on all the forms otherwise you may have problems exiting the country.

•You really do need to have some Spanish speaking ability, I’m sure you can get by with out it but it makes life a lot easier if you at least know some of the basics e.g. your numbers and how to ask for directions.

•Speed bumps are something that you will have to contend with for the duration of the trip. They are usually sign posted but some aren't, so keep an eye out for them when you are entering and exiting small towns. Some countries have none, others like Mexico and Brazil have thousands.

•In the larger cites especially in Central America make sure you abide by the road rules (signal when changing lanes etc) especially if you see the police. If they see the US license plates they will pull you over for almost anything. If you are pulled over don’t offer them a bribe. They will threaten to take your driver's license and make you go to the police station to pay a fine. Tell them that you will go to the police station and pay the fine if necessary. As long as you stay calm and pretend that you have all the time in the world they will give up. All they want is money and if you go to the police station there is no money in it for them.

•If you have no choice but to pay a bribe, discreetly pass the officer a couple of $1us bills and tell him that is all you have. I always kept a few $1 notes in my pocket, separate from my other money, just in case. They will always ask for more but use what ever excuse you have to and tell them your sorry but that is all you have. During the whole trip we only had to pay 4 bribes and trust me as long as you stick to your guns $2-$3 will be enough.

Lost in The Desert in Peru

The Driving:
Again this will vary. Some days we drove 100 miles other days we drove more than 500. We usually mapped out where we were going each day and had a few different options of towns we could stay in along the way. We rotated the driving on a daily basis and the person who wasn’t driving was navigating. We also tried to make sure that we arrived at our destination before sunset each day.

If your not sure about the conditions of a road you are about to take ask the local police, they usually a good source of knowledge and have up to date info on road conditions. During the rainy season this is particularly important.

Try to keep the gas gauge above half way. Gas stations are every where but some times you can drive 200 miles without seeing one so its worth filling up whenever you get the chance.

We found it really helpful and motivating to have dates and targets to work towards. We had to be in Panama City by the 10th of December to ship before Christmas, we had to make it to Brazil by February 4th for Carnival etc. It is a huge trip, so unless you plan on being on the road for more than a year it's important to have a plan with some concrete dates to work towards.

We spent around 1-2 weeks in each country and found that that gave us enough time to get a good taste of what was on offer. We also made sure to take a break from the driving for 3-4 days every so often and relax at a beach or in a big city.

We changed the oil every 4-5000 miles and checked the fluids every other day. We also found the dirtier the car was the less attention we drew to it.

Throughout the whole trip we averaged around 140 miles a day. 20,000 miles in 142 days = 140 miles per day


The Shipping:
My best advice is try to organize it before you leave or at least firm up some prices and dates while you are on the road. It will take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to drive from the US to Panama, so during that time try to give yourself as much of a head start as you can.

You only have 2 choices when shipping your car: RORO ( roll on roll off) or Container

We didn’t ship by container because it was a lot more expensive, a lot more paper work and twice the hassle. But we did research it and the basic costs for a container are as follows:

•20ft container rental: $800-$1100us
•Transporting the container to the port is usually included in the $800+ fee. If not that’s around $150.
•Loading the car into the container inside the port: anywhere from $150- $400us:
Note: You may be able to do this yourself for free if you can borrow a ramp from someone inside the port. There is about a 6inch lip in the doorway of the container so you will probably need to use a ramp to load your car.
•Chains and ropes to tie the car down: $30-$50
•Tying the car down inside the container $150us: they may also let you do this yourself.
•Sealing the container: $10
•Loading the car onto the ship and offloading it at the other end may also be extra
•Paper processing fees etc: $50
•Sometimes there is also a $600 refundable deposit that you must pay for the container.

Total cost: $1200 minimum. The average cost being closer to $1500us.

You could also share the costs of a 40ft container if you are lucky enough to find someone else who is shipping at the same time you are.

Check out www.vwvagabonds.com/VehicleShipping.html for more details on container shipping.
Or www.go-panamerican.com/road-tips.php#shipping

If you are shipping from Panama check out this link for an up to date list of shipping agents. www.bulletinpa.com/index.php?topmenuitem=Business%20Directory

We chose RORO and shipped our car from Balboa in Panama to Manta in Ecuador. RORO is not as common as it use to be but it is still very available if you look. With RORO there are no issues with loading and unloading tying the car down etc that is all included and done for you.

We used a shipping company call CCNI shipping. But we went through an agent in Panama City called Pancanel Shipping Agency www.pancaship.net. Phone: Panama: 269-6300

It wasn’t the cheapest option, as far as RORO is concerned but we didn’t have the time to shop around. We did get a quote for $650 for RORO but we would have to have waited for another 2 weeks.
To ship the car cost $850 plus $50 in document fees and $6 in port fees in Balboa.

There is a mountain of paper work to do at either end so make sure you allow for 2 days in Panama and 1 day in Ecuador to sort that out. Its reasonably self explanatory but ask your shipping agent to point you in the right direction. Apart from the ridiculous amount of forms to be signed and filled out you pretty much drop the car off at the port in Panama and pick it up in Manta 4-5 days later.

Also keep in mind with RORO you must take everything out of the car before you ship it.

Desert road: Peru

Cost of the trip:
This will vary a lot, depending on how long you are on the road and how far you want to go. We were not at all extravagant in our spending and ate and slept in modest hotels and restaurants.

We spent on average:
•$10-$15us each a night on accommodation: Although we tried to spend less than $10 each it wasn’t always possible.
•$10 a day each on food
•$10- $15 a day each on gas
•$10 a day each on miscellaneous things ( beer, internet, parking and random purchases)
•$20 a day each to average out the cost of the car shipping, internal flights and return flights home etc

Total: $60-$70us per day

We each spent around $9,500US in 142 days: Which averaged out at around $70US per day. This was taking everything into account including the car shipping, flights from Panama to Columbia then to Ecuador, a return flight back to the US and all other additional expenses e.g. tours etc.

You could probably get by on $50us per day but to be safe budget for around $70us.

If you include the price of the car ( we paid $4000us for it) the trip cost us around $11,500US each.

Also, we did have a third person to share the cost for 5 weeks in Central America and 3 weeks in Brazil which did save us some money.

Selling the car:
If you don’t intend on driving back to the US or shipping the car back there is a possibility of selling it in either Paraguay or Brazil. Paraguay is basically a big flea market and you may be able to sell the car for close to what you bought it for in the US. In Brazil your car will be worth 2-3 times what it is America so even if you sell it for scrap you may still be able to cover your costs. You can also try to sell it on Brazil's www.Mercadolibre.com. You will need the help of a local to do this (you need a Brazilian id card to set up an account). Again you can probably sell it as is without Brazilian plates etc for close to what you paid for it. You can nationalize foreign cars in Brazil but is costs a lot of money in taxes and legal fees.

For more photos from the trip check out my website at www.haydencarlyonphotography.com

Posted by hayden111 11:27 Archived in USA Comments (15)

Highlights from the Trip

View Austin Texas to Argentina on hayden111's travel map.

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

My favorite spot in Mexico was Puerto Escondido. A busy little surf beach with a good selection of accommodation, great food, happy hour drink specials and a good vibe.

Sunset at puerto escondido

Xela was a great little town and so was Antigua, but I suggest you spend as little time as possible in Guatemala city, its probably the worst city that we saw on the whole trip. If you do visit Xela (Quetzaltenango) make sure you have breakfast at the Black Cat Hostel near the town square, the guacamole omelets are unreal. It is definitely a great place to stay, if you need directions it is listed in most of the latest guide books.

Silhouette on Pacaya volcano Guatemala

Definitely check out Antigua, it’s a really cool town with lots of old colonial buildings, bars and some great restaurants. A lot of people from Guatemala City go there for the weekends so it can be quiet busy but it still has a great vibe. Also make sure you take a tour to the Pacaya Volcano its well worth it, a great experience, and for us one of the highlights of the trip.

We didn’t see a lot of Honduras but Rotan was great, beautiful beaches, great snorkeling, fantastic diving and some great restaurants. The west bay is the most affordable area to stay in and if you like Mexican food the Cannibal Café is the place to go, definitely some of the best Mexican food of the trip.

The drivers in Honduras a terrible so watch out.


As with Honduras we didn’t spend long here either. Nicaragua was my least favorite country of the trip. Granada was ok and I hear Ometepe is nice, the island with the twin volcanoes in the middle of lake Nicaragua.

Town square Granada

Costa Rica:
It is really beautiful and a nice change of pace from Nicaragua. It's clean, has a good infrastructure and it's safe. It’s very Americanized too, so you can find all the comforts of home there. With good food, reasonable accommodation, beautiful beaches, beautiful women and a wide diversity of wildlife, it was probably my favorite country of the trip.

Tree snake in Cahuita
Most of the west and the east coast beaches are really nice. In the west Playa Hermosa is a very relaxed little spot.

Cahuita on the east coast was also really nice. The beach and surrounding areas are a protected national reserve and there are loads of animals in the jungle lining the beach. There are also a few decent bars and some great restaurants.

If you saw Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala you will be disappointed with the Arenal Volcano but the lake next to it is nice.

The speed limit in Costa Rica is 80kmph which is hard to stick to. But there are police everywhere and they all have radar guns. Especially in the 6okm zones so be careful. We saw at least 1 or 2 a day.

Was all business for us and we drove straight to Panama City. The roads were excellent and being able to drive over 100kmph was a relief. Panama City is the nicest big city in Central America and a good place to get you business done and stock up on some US dollars. We found it hard to find accommodation there so it may be worth booking in advance.


With such a strong military presence, Columbia has somewhat of an oppressive feel to it and it is a lot safer than I imagined, even in Bogotá. Bogotá is a pretty cool city, drugs are readily available if that’s your thing and there are plenty of clubs and bars to check out. It is more than 2500 meters above sea level, so it is a lot colder that Panama City.

Montserrat over looking Bogotá
Also, if you are considering shipping to Cartagena in the north then driving south, remember that Columbia is very mountainous. You will have to drive over 3 sets of mountains to get to Ecuador and the roads in Columbia are not great.


Montanita is a heavily toursited beach town in the middle of nowhere. As far as tourist towns go it’s not too bad and makes for a nice place to spend a few days and get a tan on the beach. The roads in Ecuador are pretty good but away from the coast it is pretty much a wasteland, with nothing around and some of the least appealing scenery of the trip.

Fill up with gas before you cross the border it is twice the price in Peru.

There is a desert that stretches from the border with Ecuador all the way down the coast to Lima. It is a beautiful drive through an arid wasteland of sand dunes, dusty plains and beaches. I really enjoyed the drive as it was my first time in the desert. The towns along the way are very basic but there are few decent spots to stop. There was an earth quake a few years back and some of the small towns still haven’t recovered. Pisco for example was just a pile of rocks when we drove through it at the end of 2007.

Lama at Machu Picchu

Lima has a great vibe, the people are very gringo friendly and there is a good nightlife.

Cusco is nice, a little overrated but still worth the visit. It is 3800 meters above sea level though and in the summer months it 's absolutely freezing.

Machu Pichu is interesting but the train from Cusco and back is a rip off. Book in advance to get a backpackers ticket, $130 return. Be prepared to spend around $200us for the day.

Copacabana on LakeTtikitaka is nice. It has a good tourist infrastructure, some good restaurants and variety of accommodation. If your driving from Cusco through to La Paz it's a good place for a stopover.

The Bolivian Salt Flats in Uyunni are absolutely amazing. During the rainy season when the salt flats are covered in water they turn into a massive mirror and you can't tell where the sky ends and the earth begins. Definitely the highlight of the trip for me and probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It does vary a lot according to the time of year though, we went in January when it was covered in water and it was incredible.


Fill up with gas before you cross the border it is twice the price in Chile.

San Pedro de Atacama is nice little town with plenty of tours and things to see. The landscape around the town is really unique too, so its an interesting stop over on your way to Argentina or Bolivia.

On a clear day the drive from San Pedro de Atacama over the Andes into Argentina is incredible. With flamingos, volcanoes, giant cactus, lagoons, and salt flats, it is definitely an amazing drive. Before you leave San Pedro you have to go through Aduana (customs) and Immigration there are signs as you leave town. There are 2 roads that go to Argentina so ask at the border which is the best road to take.

Crossing the Andes to argentina

Buenos Aires is a really nice city, it is easy to drive around in, there is plenty of cheap accommodation, loads of great restaurants, bars and clubs. There are lots of markets scattered around the city on the weekends, also check out the Recoleta Cemetery if you get a chance.

The drivers in Argentina are crazy so be careful.

Fill up with gas before you cross the border it is a lot cheaper to buy gas in Argentina than it is in Uruguay.

Punta del Este is a nice enough stop over, with decent beaches and a chance to gamble at the local casinos. It is really expensive though.

Rio was my favorite place in Brazil. With its incredible setting, beautiful beaches and great nightlife it’s definitely worth spending a few days there.

Typical Brazilian beach scene

Florianoplis is also really nice, a beautiful island packed with great beaches.

Lencois is a nice place for a change of pace. Plenty of hiking do, rivers, waterfalls caves etc and if you have a car you won't need to pay for the tours.

Iguacu Falls. Definitely worth spending a day or two in this area. The falls on both sides, (Brazil and Argentina) are worth checking out but if your short of time you could probably skip the Brazilian side. The bird park across from the Brazilian side of the falls is also really cool. You can park there for free instead of paying the $12 at the Iguacu falls parking lot across the road.

One of the many beaches in Salvador

We only spent the day in Ciudad de Este just across the Brazilian border near Iguacu Falls. It is basically a big flea market and its has the cheapest electronics (video games, memory cards, dvds etc), booze ($9US for a bottle of Baileys) and perfume in South America.

Best of luck with your trip and your planning and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

For more photos from the trip check out my website at www.haydencarlyonphotography.com

Posted by hayden111 11:10 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Brazil Part III the Final Leg:

The 20,000 mile mark

sunny 35 °C

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

After our strange night in Campo Grande Jamie had had enough and headed back to Port Alegre on an early morning flight. While Alex and I continued on and drove 250 km north to Bonito, a quite little tourist town in the south west of Brazil. We spent a couple of days seeing the sights, snorkeling and checking out the local wildlife. It was the end of the high season and the town was all but deserted so we took advantage of the low hotel prices and took a few days to relax and unwind.

Bonito is a nice town but with the volume of tourists that pass through during the year, the prices are pretty high. $30 -$40 just to go snorkeling down a river is a hefty price to pay no mater where you are in the world. But the nature and the wildlife make up for the over priced attractions and tours.

Two macaus playing in a tree. They are fun to watch, crazy birds..

Hungry fish at a local river in Bonito

Our next stop was the Iguacu Falls National Park and the triple border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. A quarter of the falls are on the Brazilian side and the rest spread across the border into Argentina. We decided to take a helicopter ride over the falls before checking out the Brazilian side on foot.

View of the falls from the helicopter.

It was the first time in a Helicopter for both of us and what a great place to do it. The Iguacu falls really are incredible and the view from the helicopter lets you appreciate just how big they are. The falls stretch across an area almost 4km wide and with over 250 waterfalls cascading into a horseshoe shaped hole it is an amazing sight.

Brazilian side of the falls

After hiking around the Iguacu national park for a couple of hours, we ended the day at the Parque das Aves, a wildlife/bird park next to the waterfalls. Like every tourist attraction in Brazil it was a little expensive but well worth it. You can really get up close and personal with the animals and they are not at all shy. It was our only chance to see a toucan up close, and we weren't disappointed, what a beautiful bird.

This guy flew down, sat 2 inches away from us and wouldn't leave.
The next day we went across the border to the Argentinean side where you can stand at the edge of the "Devils Throat", the point where the biggest volume of water passes over the falls; an incredible sight. Although we spent 2 days at the falls I think one is enough and you could easily see both sides in 1 day.

Devils throat, the Argentinean side.
This was a Tuesday, I would hate to see it on the weekend

We decided to check out Paraguay the next day and see if we could sell the car there. Just across the border, Ciudad Del Este is a giant street market with inexpensive electronics, booze and cigarettes. Everything is dirt cheap and it is a buyers market so what better place to sell the car. We spent the day shopping but after checking out the city we decided that it would be safer and easier to try to sell the car online.

It was time to make the final drive to Sao Paulo, 800km and the last leg of the journey. We arrived in Sao Paulo on Friday afternoon and parked the car in Alex’s uncle’s garage downtown. I closed the doors for the last time and said goodbye to a car that had almost become a part of me.

The speedometer at the end of the trip plus the 3000ish miles that we lost in Central America

We had made it and it was time to relax, celebrate and take in the magnitude of the journey we had just completed. The trip had finally come to an end and I must admit it far exceeded both our expectations. I don’t think either of us could have imagined fitting so much into such a small amount of time. We managed to pack 2 years of travel into 5 months. From mountains to beaches, rain forests to volcanoes, salt flats to sand dunes, and everywhere in between. Twenty thousand miles, 15 countries, 50 tanks of gas, more than 100 hotels, thousands of speed bumps and car crippling potholes, dozens of dodgy police officers and 1 Lithuanian hitchhiker, and all in less than 5 months, what an amazing journey. And what an incredible car, 20,000 miles and not even a puncture. The only thing that broke was a $2 radiator cap.

It was sad to leave Brazil and a life on the road that I had become so accustomed to. Every day was a new adventure and with different places, people, food and experiences around every corner, it was impossible to get bored. It is an addictive lifestyle that always leaves you wanting more and I am already starting to feel the effects of the withdrawal.

But as they say all good things must come to an end. Before I go I would like to say thank you to all the wonderful people that we meet along the way, that shared the experience with us and that made the trip what it was, an incredible adventure.

Posted by hayden111 07:48 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

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