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Z & Dovi on August 23, 2009

Hello Logan, we wrote before in the message board that the total cost was around $30K. This included the car, shipping from Panama to Ecuador, shipping from Argentina to Germany, air tickets, Galapagos "side trip", a couple weeks of diving in Honduras and a 10-day trip to Cuba. We would say that average daily expenses were around $50 for 2 people (hotel, food & fuel). Since "frugal" can mean different things to different people, we'll describe how we lived: nearly 100% of the time we stayed in hostels, we always aimed for a double room with private bathroom, we always tried to select the most economic but at the same time decent option. The average was 20-30 USD per night. We cooked around 50% of our meals, 25% of the meals we had in cafes (always left tips), the remaining 25% was beer :)) We stayed away from organized trips and guides. We always bargained :)

If 4 of you travel in one SUV you would share the cost of fuel, repairs and shipping. Yet we think an SUV like Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota 4Runner would be too small (unless you add a roof rack).

It does not really matter when you leave CA. The weather there is pretty much the same all year :) You should take into consideration the best time in your target destinations (whale-watching in Baja, Monarch butterfly watching in Mexico, high/low seasons in Galapagos, turtle-watching in Costa Rica). January worked well for us.

If we were to do it again, we would:
1. Use services of guides when visiting ruins. They are very inexpensive and can tell more things than you would read in books.
2. Plan ahead what is the best time to see the most desired destinations (we missed whales in Baja and were too early for turtles in Costa Rica)
3. We would do much more diving in Galapagos and in other places too.
4. We would waste so much time trying to find the cheapest shipping
5. Take more jungle/nature tours.
6. If we stumble upon a place that we like a lot, we would change itinerary to spend more time there, without rushing off to the next destination.

Let us know if you have more questions and enjoy the tr

Dave Reynolds on July 31, 2009

Okay so we made it to Puerto Escondido. We are going to be here for a month. We were supposed to be in Costa Rica by now but because of the political issue in Honduras, we have decided to just stay here for a while until we find people to travel with us. We don't really know what to do right now. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a million!

dOOMY on July 23, 2009

To Logan: when do plan on leaving and what's your itinerary. We're 4/5 people about to leave in October to Argentina following, more or less, Zee&Dovi's route. We could share some thoughts about this... serban.dumitrescu at gmail.com

Logan on July 20, 2009

Thank you for posting all of this valuable information. Seems to be the best site out there for the Pan-American Highway. I have a few questions that I wasn't able to find and was hoping you could answer: What was the total cost for the 9 months? We're you rather frugal in your expenditures or not? If 4 of us travel in one SUV what amount do would you save?

What is the best time of year to leave (from California)? Did January work well for you?

If you were doing it today, what would you change?

Thanks for the help!

Zee & Dovi on July 14, 2009

To Luca: check out this link for info about crossing Darrien gap by a car: http://www.outbackofbeyond.com/guide.htm

Jeinner Robles on June 29, 2009

LETS C O N V O Y TO COSTA RICA

My family and I are looking for a few brave souls to CONVOY with us late AUG. 2009.

So far we have 2 other vehicles coming with us.

If you are interested please email me at jeinner@gmail.com . SUBJECT LINE: CONVOY TO COSTA RICA

Thank you,
Jeinner Robles
Phoenix, Arizona

David Reynolds on June 19, 2009

By the way to all who are interested, my email is doc1dgr@msn.com
Thanks.

David Reynolds on June 19, 2009

Our family is traveling through Mexico on our way to Costa Rica mid July. Looking for travel companions. We are a family of three with six year old son. I am bilingual and have many years experience in Latin America. We will be entering Mexico from Brownsville Texas. Let us know if you're interested.

Luca on June 18, 2009

There is any way to cross the Darien gap along with the car... I have a dog too !
Any small cargo company that would take a passenger on board ?
Thank you very much.

Renen california-costa rica rou on April 20, 2009

Dovi and Zee, I checked out your site before getting underway. Thankyou so much for taking the time to post all of your information, its all very relevant and helpful. Im on the last leg of a four month trip from North California to New Orleans to Penninsula De Osa in Costa Rica and back to North California, driving a 1999 Toyota Tocoma 4x4. Winch, lumber rack(very handy for surfboards), A bed and a fair bit of useful tools. A 4x4 is not necassary to make this trip, but the ground clearance could be a little more forgiving. Im in Quetzaltenango tonight and will cross into mexico tomarrow afternoon. To all about to drive: Title, Registration, Insurance, Passport, License, The permission of that country, all very handy with 5 copies of each all neatly folded in the accordion and another 10 copies of each to replenish your folder as you go, will save a little bit of headache as every border will need at least one or two copies for their own paperwork. You will be pulled over many many times by either police or in mexico, soldiers. Their are many more checkpoints northbound in mexico than south bound. Always have your passport, title, license, and current permission ready to show the police. Most are not rude or malicious, simply bored and curious. A smile and some polite conversation goes a very long way. When approaching a border you will be approached (sometimes well before the boarder) by Guias, or Tramites whose purpose is to facilitate your navigation through the multiple buildings and processes of each border. These guys are suppose to be volunteers and will tell you they work for tips but you should generally negotiate a price before accepting any help. All I can say is trust your gut with these turkeys. None of them will bolt with your paperwork but some are pretty adept at working you for extra cash (El Carmen frontera de Guatemala y Mexico). Save the border crossing for the morning if you get their in the late afternoon. If your caught speeding or not wearing your seatbelt the officer will almost always inform you of the infraction after he is holding your license. That he will be sending your license to the capital, San Salvador, Managua, San Jose.. wherever and you will be able to pay the fine there in say... three days or so. That is the perfect time to ask, Si posible, puedo pager la multa aqui? but never frame it in word or body language that you doubt this persons honesty or integrity, the money is going directly to the government via this officer of the law. A lock box inside the vehicle is not a bad idea either chained or drilled to the floor with self-tapping screws. I spent about $900.00 on a python alarm with a 2way remote which I thought was very clever but at the moment it doesnt work. If you get an alarm make sure you know how to overide it before you leave. Tech support for anything is a world away. Keep the gas tank above half and in very rural stretches topped off. Bring at least one extra air filter and oil filter with depending how long youll be driving. More than 2 or 3 months bring an extra set of brake pads as well. In large cities, always pay for secure parking if staying overnight, and during the day if you feel its necessary. Lots of drinking water, Baby wipes, books on Cd, car stereo with ipod connection, are all clever additions. The really helpful one is the windshield mounted GPS. It never lines up with the highways in central america but will usually let you know way ahead of time that you are absolutely going the wrong direction. If your not a native speaker of espanol, start studying. the most basic spanish will only get better and the whole experience is much more enjoyable in direct proportion to your fluency. Cheers, Renen. rcbswerv@hotmail.com or Freerangecitizen on myspace.com

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