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Pan-American Highway

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The Pan-American Highway is a series of routes that passes through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama in North America, and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile in South America. It is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest motorable road in the world. While it doesn't officially have a route through the U.S. and Canada, some people start in Alaska and drive/bike to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost tip of South America. It is necessary to bypass the Darién Gap between Panama and Colombia by ferry, however.

Understand

The Pan-American Highway is about 47,000 miles long depending on the route you take. There are many options in the United States, Canada, and Mexico because of the large amount of area and number of roads. Central America has only a few roads going north to south.

Prepare

The Essential Guide to Driving North, Central and South America provides recommendations for travel gear, vehicle modifications, medications, and theft prevention, specific border crossing procedures, information by country, tips for traveling with a dog, and a full list of online resources for travelers exploring the Americas by vehicle. The book is available at www.ramblewriter.com.

Get in

Go/Walk/Drive/...

There are several modes of travel that are used on the Pan-American Highway. It is possible to use buses down all the way to Argentina, except for the Darien Gap.

If you drive by personal vehicle, it is important to know that your vehicle must be shipped from Central to South America (or vice versa) in order to travel around the Darien Gap. While your vehicle is shipped, you can transport yourself by plane or boat. Driving the Pan-American Highway is certainly possible, and many travelers complete the overland journey from North America to South America (or vice versa) each year.

Trains are not a viable option because most Central and South American countries do not have international train lines.

Stay safe

Try to avoid areas where cartels operate. Follow the advice for the area you are at.


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