Expedition Overview

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Pan American Highway Expedition Overview:

In June 2009 I set out to drive Pan American Highway from top to bottom. Starting it Calgary, I drove North to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, then turned south and drove all the way to Ushuia in Teirra Del Fuego, Argentina.  I ended up selling my amazing little Jeep Wrangler in Buenos Aires, then flying back to Canada.

The trip was everything I could have imagined and so much more. It changed my life.

Distance Driven: 64,517km (50,000mi.)
Countries Visted: 17
Time: 1 yr 10 months
Breakdowns: 0
Total Cost: $27, 300

dan jeep map complete 640x480

The completed map on the hood – taken at the end of the road in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego

More Details:

Countries Visited:
Canada
USA
Mexico
Belize
Guatemala
El Salvador
Honduras
Nicaragua
Costa Rica
Panama
Colombia
Ecuador
Peru
Bolivia
Chile
Argentina
Uruguay

16 Responses

  1. Tarah says:

    Hi Dan!

    My fiance and I are planning to set out on a S.American adventure in January…we’d like to drive most of the time and I’m curious if you could shed any light on the vehicle sales/procurement process? (We’d like to pick one up down there and I understand it can be pretty tricky.) From what I’ve gathered, Chile seems to be the “easiest” place to purchase (from another foreigner). Have you heard similar? Any resources/websites/locations you’d suggest?

    Thanks so much!

    • Dan says:

      Hi Tarah, Awesome to hear you are setting out on a big adventure!
      You’re going to have the time of your lives, I guarantee it.

      Have a look over each country in WikiOverland, The Encyclopedia of Overland Travel. Each country has a section on buying and selling a vehicle that will answer your questions.
      Steer clear of Argentina, as you won’t be able to take it out of the country. Good friends of mine bought one in Chile and drove it to Alaska (their blog post on how to do it is linked from the Chile WikiOverland page). If you find out more information that’s not in WikiOverland, please add it!
      Also, you’ll want to join the Facebook group called “PanAmerican travelers past, present and future” – tons of knowledgeable people that have done it. Ask to join and I’ll add you.

      All the best, let me know how it works out!
      -Dan

  2. Jon Anderson says:

    Hi Dan,
    Just watched your Jeep drive by my workplace in Dartmouth NS.
    I followed the web address, and was amazed by your unbelievable story.
    All the best, keep on truckin!
    Jon

    • Dan says:

      Hey Jon,
      Thanks for the comment! I’m in Dartmouth right now at Timmies, putting the Jeep into a shipping container :)

      All the best,
      -Dan

  3. ali says:

    hi dan. I read your story in my english book(american english file)and visite your website.i like travel and stay out home to night in camp inside the forest.your website is very intresting.i invited you come to my country.IRAN.iran is very intresting country for visit.my counry have see,forest,mountain,desert and very much sanctorum.you can come by your jeep from turkey or armania or iraq or azerbaijan.
    do you like visit my country?

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Ali,
      Thank you very much for the kind offer. A few friends have traveled through Iran and absolutely love it.
      They said the people are extremely friendly and it’s a beautiful place.
      One day I would like to visit, thank you.

      -Dan

  4. Ricardo C says:

    Hi Dan,
    I found your site doing some search over the internet. Last August I drove NYC –> Boston –> Fairbanks –> Prudhoe Bay –> Seward –> Haynes –> ferry to Juneau –> ferry to Bellingham –> back to NYC. I am now considering doing NYC to Patagonia. Did you travel with US license plates? how did you find the experience crossing borders?
    Good luck and safe travels in Africa!
    Cheers
    RC

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Ricardo,

      Thanks for the comment and it sounds like you’ve already got the expedition bug! I’m happy to hear you went up to AK, I love that place! Haines might be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in the world!

      I made the drive with Canadian plates, but many, many people are doing it with American plates. It’s very common now. The borders were never a problem – be patient, keep a smile on your face and plan for it to take 4 hours. Then when it only takes 30-60 minutes you’ll be really happy :)
      You just get yourself stamped in, (maybe) buy some insurance then get your car temporarily in, and you’re good.
      WikiOverland has the details for every single country along the way – everything you need to know is all in there!

      Good luck and have fun!

      -Dan

  5. Thomas-Roger says:

    Youre awesome I really would like to go on this road trip as well as drive around africa. What Jeep year model did you use to travel from alaska to south america? Was it a 2 door or 4 door?

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Thomas-Roger,

      For AK->Argentina I drove a 2000 TJ 2-door and it was fantastic.
      I wanted better sleeping and cooking this time, so I stepped up to the 4 door which I can sleep inside of, and can carry all the gear I wanted to be comfortable in Africa (fridge, more food, etc.)
      They both have pros and cons for sure, it really depends on your intended location to travel, how long your going for, what the weather will be like, security, etc. etc.

      -Dan

  6. Atzu says:

    Hi Dan

    I’m an english teacher and my students read an article about you in the course book. They are amazed with your panamerican trip and how many countries you visited, also the have questions for you.

    – Did you stay in Guadalajara, Mexico during your trip? And if so, where did you spend the night and which places did you visit?
    – Which city did you enjoy the most?
    – How is your Africa trip going?
    – Did you use your car for everything? Or did you use other ways of transportation like bike or boat?

    We hope everything is going great in your Africa trip and we really admire you.

    Greetings and don’t think twice about coming to Guadalajara if you haven´t already been here.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Atzu and English class!

      Thanks for the message and the questions – see my answers below:
      – I did not visit Guadalajara during my time in Mexico. I took the coast road from Puerto Vallarta to Manzanillo, so I missed it. I will have to come back one day!
      – In Mexico I visited many great cities, and the highlight was Tehuantepec where I volunteered and taught English. I made many good friends there and had a really good time.
      – My Africa trip is going great! I have met many beautiful people and see many beautiful places, I’m really loving it. Hopefully I will see an Elephant or Lions soon!
      – I use the Jeep most of the time, though sometimes I ride a bike, or catch a boat if I want to get out to an island. Sometimes in the very busy cities I will take a taxi or moto-taxi – it’s so much easier!

      Thanks for the questions and the kind message! I will come back to Mexico one day, I really loved it there!
      -Dan

  7. Greg Matty says:

    I have communicated with you at one of the Jeep forums. You are very accessible to the people you inspire. That is cool.

    When I took my motorcycle to Alaska this past summer everyone who took the trip before me said, “Don’t over plan. Pick your basic route, the sites you want to see and just go or you’ll never do it.” Obviously Washington State to Alaska only passes through Canada which is an easy, friendly border but I think the advice has merit for even an around the world trip.

    So from a 30,000 foot level, how much planning would you recommend for a trip to Ushuaia now that you have been? I don’t mean can you recommend every place worth visiting along the way but matters like:

    1) Getting Visa’s before I leave or get them at the borders.

    2) Did you plan gas stops along routes or just figure if there are other cars on the road, they’ll need gas as well and figure you’ll run across them as needed unless you are way out in the boonies.

    3) Did you do the same for lodging? Maybe at “spring break” in popular beach areas one might need to make a reservation weeks in advance but I’d prefer to skip those places at that time in general.

    I have heard the expression process paralysis and think that can apply to any major undertaking. For me the bottom line is that a six month or greater trip is going to have its ups and downs and I just need to be flexible and go with the flow and really let go of trying to plan and control every detail.

    Thanks and keep on exploring.

    Greg

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Greg,
      Thanks for the thoughts and comments! I’m really happy to hear you are looking into your own adventure!
      I love hearing from people getting out there. Checkout http://wikioverland.org – you will find it extremely helpful!

      My personal approach is to plan the least amount possible – that way you are not locked into a plan, and you don’t get all stressed and worried when it doesn’t work out. Remember you’ll be meeting tons of great people and seeing great places – so maybe you’ll want more time there than you planned. On the flip side you might get somewhere that you don’t like, so you’ll want less time there. The less planning you have done, the more flexibility you have to modify the trip on the fly.

      1) You don’t need visas for any country except maybe Brazil, and you get it at the border. Don’t stress, the borders are easy if you take your time and keep you head on.

      2) It’s extremely, extremely rare you’ll need to go more than 150-200 miles between gas stations. They are plentiful and you don’t need to worry. Only if you really, really want to get off the path (salt flats in Bolivia) will you have to plan ahead and think about it. The stock tank in my Jeep gave me a range of ~350 miles, and only twice on the entire trip was it not enough. Other than those two times, I never thought about gas availability.

      3) I never booked ahead, not even once. You don’t need to worry about it – there are tons of hotels and campgrounds virtually everywhere. When there are not, there are endless places to wildcamp for free. Checkout ioverlander.com :)

      Remember, have fun, don’t tank it too seriously and have the time of your life!!!!

      All the best, I would love to follow your trip somehow. Let me know how I can!

      -Dan

  1. June 10, 2015

    […] the top of Alaska to the bottom of Argentina. (JF Thread here, summary and details on my website here) It's been a long time in the making, and I'm bursting with excitement to announce my next […]

  2. June 26, 2017

    […] map of my journey stenciled on the hood like this guy (anyone know […]

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