This trip happened in 2000. It's long over, but the pages are being kept here as a reference for future travelers.
When are you going to South America?
We will be officially starting our journey at the Burning Man festival in early September, 2000. We plan on celebrating Christmas and the new year at the bottom of the world, and return sometime in March of 2001. The trip is expected to take approximately 9 months. For more information, see the route page.
How much will this trip cost?
The trip itself is a volunteer effort being organized by Ron Lussier of San Francisco, California. As such, this is not a tour and there is no 'tour fee.' Each participant is responsible for their own livelihood and welfare. Current expectations are that the trip will cost approximately US$50 per day, or approximately $10,000. This assumes one person traveling alone, and will be less for groups.
We're planning on shipping directly from the States to Venezuela. One shipping company quotes the price for the Houston, TX to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela at $1750 for RO-RO (Roll On, Roll Off, as opposed to a container) service. (A container is highly preferable, as it avoids theft problems.) In addition, you will need to pay air fare for travellers (~$400 per person, depending on the season.)
On the return trip, we'll probably be shipping from Colombia to Panama. This is a shorter distance, but the shipping charge is not substantially less. Make sure you budget for shipping.
How will you get around the Darién Gap?
The Darién gap is the roadless area between Panama and Columbia. It's all-but-impassable to motor traffic. Crossing the gap is one of the largest logistical problems of the journey. Our current plans are to ship our vehicles around the gap in containers using a shipping line such as APL. There used to be ferry service, but the ferries ceased operation and their future is not clear. Containerized shipping is expected to cost $1,500 to $3,000 per vehicle.
Are children welcome?
Absolutely. We've discussed setting up an education program on the road, utilizing the very varied skills of the travelers.
How about pets?
Absolutely not. Unfortunately, pets would require quarantine at nearly every border crossing, which means a 2 week or longer delay.
What else isn't welcome?
What happens if I get sick / break down / fall in love along the way?
You'll be left behind by the majority of the travelers. This is a hard policy, but if we didn't follow this policy, we'd be constantly stopping. Our itinerary will be designed with short days, so if you are stopped for a week or two with malaria, you can catch up. We also plan on setting up some sort of telephone bulletin board system so you can find out where the group is on any given day.
Will my California / Canadian / Australian license plates work?
Yes. One precaution you may wish to take is to use laminated copies of your plates rather than the originals. Carry the originals (and extra copies) inside the van. Also, you'll want both a front and back plate, even if they're just copies.
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