Illiniza Norte, Ecuador - one of our planned climbs during our trip
A lengthy road trip like this one has many moving parts, and trying to put a plan together while still allowing for some flexibility to stop and enjoy local sites and culture presents a unique challenge. Another complicating factor is the short time in which we have to cover a long distance - most overland trips are completed over the period of several months, not five and a half short weeks.
We have found five main components to our trip planning:
1) Purchasing a vehicle;
2) Shipping and importing said vehicle;
3) Route Planning (including modes of transportation, road conditions, locations of sites of interest, accommodation, gas stations and border crossings);
4) Navigation while on the road;
5) Disposal of vehicle at the end of the trip.
Over the next seven or eight weeks, we will delve into these topics a little further in order to give you an idea of our preparation for the trip, what we hope to see and do, and, once we are on the road, how our experiences actually differ from our plans (with predictably hilarious results!).
The great advantage in preparing for this adventure is the wealth of resources available on the internet - in this case, our motto "Ordinary guys, boldly going where others have gone before" is right on target. There are at least a dozen websites dedicated solely to overland trips; these websites list the good, the bad and the ugly of life on the road in South America, and have provided the basis for much of our trip planning. Need a step-by-step tutorial on how to get your car imported into Colombia and out of port in Cartagena? It's right there, with pictures and maps. Need to know the road conditions between San Pedro de Atacama and Cerro Toco? Look no further, with a Youtube video to boot.
One thing we know for sure - no amount of planning will prepare us for the unexpected, memorable experiences that we will encounter on our trip...
“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