You can't drive to South America

A caller on a recent show want to drive from North America to South America. Well, I say GOOD LUCK. You will get stuck in the Darién Gap between Panama and Columbia and it’s a swamp. Although a Land Rover (136 days or 201 meters per hour), a Jeep and (I kid you not) 3 Chevy Covairs (109 days) made the trip in 1961. There is no road between Yaviza and (again I kid you not) Turbo. Many or most of the claimed crossing spent some of the alleged crossing time on boats going up or down the Atrato River. The first all land crossing was in 1985 and took 741 days to go the 125 miles. All this is according to the Wikipedia article.

roadways tend to improve over time. Check with AAA about the current conditions of the highways you expect travel. I think you should be able to make the trip in 2013.

Since folks who live down there need to get to where they are going, presumably there is an alternate civilized method to get a car around the swamp, putting the car on a ferry or something. I don’t think the caller who wants to drive to SA will have to deal specifically with the swamp.

One surprising thing the caller said was that she didn’t know if she could get her car across the Panama canal. Wouldn’t the Panamanians have solved that problem long ago? There must be an easy way to get a car across the Panama canal don’t you think? A bridge? A ferry?

There are bridges and at least oe ferry.

But no road through the Darian national park. So it’s a ferry to get to Colombia.

Not yet, anyway. Just wait.

And I’m not ‘arguing’, either…

Arguing about whether you’re arguing is … well … ironic. In my house, it usually sounds like this:

“I’m not going to argue about this!”

“You already are.”


Two things about driving in Brazil–

– You cannot purchase diesel fuel for a private auto. Diesel fuel is subsidized and reserved for commercial vehicles only.

– All cars in Brazil are flex-fuel, i.e., either ethanol or gasoline. If you were to travel there in your own USA car, make sure it tolerates ethanol in the blend. If you buy a vehicle there, you will probably not want to return to the USA with it. It almost certainly would not satisfy import requirements.