border crossing at Paso roballos, argentina
With apologies to Bruce Springsteen, we hope to be crossing the border on at least eight occasions, at seven different points of entry.
While the volume of border crossings is similar to Bob's Central American traverse of 2013 (he traveled from California to Panama and back over the course of one month), the mechanics of getting across a border in South America appears much quicker and easier (and a lot cheaper!).
Every traveler coming through Central America has multiple horror stories of the bureaucracy, confusion and corruption when crossing the border. It isn't unusual to spend six or seven hours at the border, attempting to navigate through the labyrinth of government officials, "helpers" and money changers all vying for your greenbacks.
In contrast, the relative free flow of people and goods from country to country, as well as more developed infrastructure appears to make border crossings in South America a much easier process. Overlander websites such as Life Remotely take most of the guesswork out of crossing the border - these websites even provide step-by-step illustrated instructions on what needs to get done at the border and how long a person can expect the process to take.
That being said, there is still some basic work that has to be done at each and every border -the most important is getting a temporary import permit for your vehicle (and surrendering your permit for the country you are leaving), as well as "checking yourself in" to the country with the Immigration Department.
Some of our border crossings will be very busy (Ipiales / Tulcan border between Colombia and Ecuador), while some border crossings will be lucky to see 10 people in a week (Paso Roballos between Chile and Argentina). Stay tuned to find out how we fare at each border - there are sure to be some interesting moments!
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain