The “Panamericana” explored with a little minivan through 17 countries and 70,000 Kms from Alaska to Patagonia.
Bérangère and Jorge of Destino Ushuaia are two marketing professionals that traveled the west side of the Americas (aka the Panamericana) for 18 months beginning in June 2018 through Dec. 2019. Bérangère (French) and Jorge (Peruvian/Italian) are two really easy going humans that met in New Zealand in 2015 during their Working Holiday visa experience after having traveled in South East Asia for a few months on their own. Their life as soulmates started there, and all related adventures. First, doing a road trip in the South island of New Zealand, then backpacking between Peru and Bolivia for three months in 2016. Subsequently, they relocated to Vancouver (Canada) where they started a new life.
Jorge had a dream of pursuing the Panamericana and to his delight Bérangère supported his dream as they started planning and preparing themselves for overlanding the Pan-American. After about a year of research while working two jobs to save enough money, they executed a plan that would send most people back to the safety of a comfortable couch.
Their overall trip lasted around 70,000km that included three flights and backpacking from Santiago de Chile to Ushuaia. The flights were: Cancun-La Havana (r/t), Panama City-Cartagena (while bringing the car from Panama to Colombia via container due to the Darién Gap) Salta (ARG) / Iguazu Falls (r/t).
They sold their beloved “Torito” in Santiago de Chile after completing around 60,000 km of the Panam together, and continued their adventure backpacking! All in all, they finally reached their ultimate destination of Ushuaia in December of 2019 via a blend of their little mini van, by bus, hitchhiking, and a quick plane ride to Buenos Aires.
NOTE: in Chile it is possible to sell your vehicle via a local power of attorney.
Daily routine: We lived with the daylight since the car didn’t have a proper lantern. We used to wake up when the first lights kicked in. Breakfast, then prepare the activity to do (we moved according to the weather and destination in advance, so we normally knew what to do more or less the day before), activities were: hiking/running/city touring/museums or sports. Nice long lunch, recharging, reading and looking for information for our next destinations. If in cities/towns, getting to know the local cultures.
Vehicle: 2006 Ford Freestar Minivan
Favorite Destinations: Alaska & Northern Argentina
Fuel Capacity: 26 gal Approx. Range: HWY 850 to 900 km (525 to 575 miles) with full tank, if going in cities decreased down to 400 to 470 miles
Water Capacity: 20 L (4 bottles of 5L)
Water Filtration: None, occasionally used purifying tablets
Solar: None Batteries: just the one from the car, charging all devices while driving.
Fridge: None; bought fresh groceries for three days at a time, keep them cool in a foil insulated cooling bag. Later in the trip they purchased ice to keep things fresher.
A/C: Just the one from the car. In some countries it was so damn hot at nights that the car seemed like an oven (we had some nights at 95 Fahrenheit in El Salvador and North Colombia), but our bodies acclimated quite fast. We needed to keep the van door a little bit open but with mosquitoes coming in, every night was “an adventure”, even with a mosquito net we bought.
Heater: Only the one from the car. On chilly nights we needed to sleep in our sleeping bags that were rated to 23 Fahrenheit)
Favorite Meal: Pasta pesto & mushroom with parmesan, fast to cook, as we didn’t want to waste too much gas from the small gas cans
Cell & Internet: Bought a used iphone 6 that lasted the whole trip. We cut our regular phone lines when we left Vancouver, we used internet/WiFi when available in grocery shops, information centers, etc. Eventually in countries where the internet was less available we bought rechargeable sim cards with some data, just to let our families know we were safe.
Navigation Apps or Maps: we downloaded offline maps of all the countries before leaving, as well as as much information for each country as possible. Every time that we needed to gather more info for a destination, we’d go to an information center, café or restaurant with internet available. We primarily used: iOverlander and mapsme.
Shower Setup: None, eventually we used our pasta colander for a shower.
Toilet Setup: None, would go to information centers, shopping centers, cafes, or related, worse case scenario if in the middle of nowhere, in nature.