Why Drive the Pan American Highway – Overland the Americas


For some ‘driving the PanAm’ is literally following the highway from Alaska to Ushuaia. For others it’s something else. As one of our fellow overlanders said:

The PanAm is not about the highway. Where the road doesn’t go, is where your adventures begins.

Driving from Alaska all the way down to the continent’s most southern tip, Ushuaia – or the other way around – is an increasingly popular road trip. Overlanders, as long-term travelers with their own transportation are known, may take from a couple of months to cover the roughly 10,000 miles up to years.

We were curious what fellow overlanders thought about this spectacular part of the world.

We asked: “Why drive the Pan-American Highway?”

In this blog post you can read what they answered.

Check it out: the Landcruising Adventure Road Trip Shirt Collection

Read More: Is 4WD a Must? – Driving in South America

Meet Jarie Eek

Vehicle: Motorcycle

Trip: From Alaska to Ushuaia

Follow Jarie here

This was the optimal challenge. Everything from challenging gravel roads to long boring paved roads. Mountains, valleys, rivers, sea, cold, hot, wet.

I think that this trip is the trip that will give the most wonderful scenery, inviting the most beautiful roads, challenging roads, friendly people and with some luck not experience too dangerous occurrences.

@Jarie Eek

Meet Andy Rover

Vehicle: a small bus

Trip: From Vancouver to São Paul0 (3 years)

Follow Andy’s adventures here

Uniformity – they all speak Spanish! If you think of just the Pan Am west-coast road, then nowhere on earth has the same language and similar cultures for such a long distance!

For me, this is the incredible thing about the Pan Am.

Read More: 9 Dramatic Mountain Passes in South America

Meet Tomas & Dylan

Vehicle: Ford Ranger 404

Trip: From Argentina to the US (2013/2014)

You can experience from the most hardcore Western life experience to cultures living the most precarious conditions.

From some of the tallest mountains to the most blue Caribbean beaches. From new cultures to some of the oldest civilizations.


Recommended Books on Overlanding

(click on the images to look inside)

The Year we Ruined our Lives – by Paul Carlino

Monkeys on the Road – Mary Hollendoner

The Road Chose Me around Africa – Dan Grec

Products from Amazon

Meet the Sparks Family

Vehicle: Camper Van

Trip: From Denver to South America

Their blog

Because carnets** and visas are not required much on the PanAm, there is less need to do much route planning ahead of time. When we traveled in Africa, we had to really think about what countries we could visit on our carnet and plan embassy trips sometimes way ahead of time.

Latin America is also very kid-friendly. Lots activities for kids and people that we meet all seem to open up a lot more once they see we are traveling with a child.

**Carnet = Carnet de Passage, read about it here.

Read More: 9 of South America’s Most Legit Road Trips

@When Sparks Fly
@When Sparks Fly

Meet Robert Kong

Vehicle: Motorcycle

Trip: Explored the Pan Am

His Facebook page

Best part is you can actually make it across all those countries at least for now… No war or revolutions for now.

Read More: 13 Places in South America Where You Will be Dwarfed by Nature

Meet Dan Grec

Vehicle: Jeep

Trip: From Alaska to Argentina (2 year)

Follow Dan here

It’s extremely convenient and “do-able”. For the ~350 million people in North America right now, they can literally jump in whatever vehicle they want and drive all the way to Argentina in a few short months.

No paperwork, no pre-planning, no closed borders, no civil wars, etc.

@Dan Grece
@Dan Grece

Meet Marco &Yvonne

Vehicle: Land Cruiser

Trip: Currently exploring South America

You hate it and sometimes you love it. The road gives you the freedom to go off the road and gives you the safe feeling to fall back on.

©Marco & Yvonne

Meet Michael A. Lawrence

Vehicle: an old Mercedes-Benz station wagon he nicknamed Livingstone

Trip: he embarked on a PanAm trip to the tip of Argentina in. His trip was cut short by a car accident in Colombia, which forced him to move back to his hometown in Spain.

The mind-blowing experience that it is to drive from one tip of a hemisphere to the other.

Read More: The Best Camera for Travel

Meet John & Mandi

Vehicle: a van

Trip: from North to South America

Their blog

We chose the Pan-Am out of convenience, having a deeper rooted reason would be a bit more romantic but slightly dishonest.

Breaking out from our corporate routines was absolutely terrifying, taking comfort in knowing that we could turn the van around and drive back to the U.S. (at least from Mexico and Central America) gives us a small, yet essential, peace of mind.

The ancient ruins, beautiful places, and wondrous people call to us. Every continent and country offers personal enrichment, we are starting with our neighbors.

Recommended Books on Preparing your Overland Journey

(click on the images to look inside)

Overlanders’ Handbook

Motorcar Overland Camper Manual

Motorhome Self Build and Optimisation

Products from Amazon

Meet Juergen & Yasha

Vehicle: a Mercedes Benz Overland Camper

Trip: exploring South America

Follow Yasha & Juergen here

When we realised how much there is to see in the Americas, we decided to travel full-time in our own camping vehicle.

This gives us the freedom to choose the roads less-traveled, and to stop along the way whenever, and wherever, we find something interesting – like spotting wildlife, or a local festival, or even a beautiful camping spot.

We can take as long as we like in places we love. A particular joy for us has been exploring the Andes – around every bend in the road, a new and amazing vista!

@Dare2go - why drive the pan-american highway

Resources to drive the Pan-American Highway:

Read More: How to Ship a Car (with specifics for South America)

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7 thoughts on “Why Drive the Pan American Highway – Overland the Americas”

  1. We have been contemplating this recently for our future travel plans, this is all the more reason we needed to push us in that direction! Thanks for sharing all these different people who have done this! We will check them all out as resources when planning our trip!

    • Hey Megan, there are lots of resources. There are 2 FB groups of particular interest: Overlandsphere and Panamerican travelers association. You can also read blog posts of people currently on the road on: Overlanderstoday.com or Overlandsphere.com. Enjoy, let us know if you have any questions

  2. Hello, thanks for all the information.
    I’m planning on driving the pan american but it looks like there is no ferry anymore between Panama and South America. Does anybody knows if therés any other way to ship a vehicule (possibly less expensive than shipping a whole container)?
    Thank you

  3. Parabéns pelas postagens e pelas dicas , pena que não tem mais comentários e fotos sobre a passagem pelos países. A travessia da América central para a do Norte é por balsa.? E precisa de passaporte para essa viagem da Argentina até o Alasca ?
    Cléa Tomazine – Brasil

    • Hi Clea, this is a post to share the enthusiasm travelers share about driving the Pan-Am. Giving all kinds of practical information warrants a book by itself 🙂 If you’re looking for practical information, please check overlanding Facebook groups such as the Pan-Am overlanders or Overlandsphere. Hope that helps.


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