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I am in the earliest research phase of planning a trip from Los Angeles to my Dad's birthplace in the Panama Canal Zone. A friend and I have purchased KLR650s (US $3500), and been getting our off road and camping skills honed over the last year. I obviously have MONTHS worth of reading to do on HU, but I wanted to ask a few basic question before I head off with an unreasonable plan.
1) We can get at most 4 weeks off from work. Is this enough time to make the trip without too many punishing days, including time out for repairs, border crossings, and sightseeing?
2) What are the cost-to-benefit ratios of :
a) Air freighting the bikes back to Los Angeles
b) Selling the bikes in Panama (to a dealer or fellow traveller) and paying whatever taxes are involved.
c) Dumping the bikes in the Canal (or otherwise "losing" them) and paying the carnet penalties.
3) Very broadly, what are the daily expenses like? Gas, lodging, meals, fees, and parts. We plan to camp 2 nights, then 1 in a hotel to freshen up.
Thanks for pointing me in the right direction (South! )
Originally posted by Lone Rider:
No Carnet is needed.
If you're willing to incur the cost of shipping, maybe send the bikes to Panama and do a great ride back north.
NO CARNET for the Americas.
Border costs are minimal, and not terribly time-consuming - lots of info on the Trip Planning / Borders pages.
Ship the bikes BACK not down - shipping can be problematic, and security a poential problem - arriving there ready to go and the bikes have gone missing, delayed, stolen, bits missing whatever and you have a big problem, whereas it's no big deal in the opposite direction, you can easily sort it out at leisure at home.
Also if you find you ride much slower than you thought, or are delayed for some reason, you can always ship from somewhere en route.
Friends and I have done two trips Laredo to Panama and back in a months time for each trip. We moved daily but were not really rushed per our standards. Both times was about 11000 Km. with side trips to Belize...ruins...canal etc. Border crossing in/out of Honduras was a pain but nothing that should prohibit anyone from seeing CA. I ran my bike down to Texas(I'm from Minnesota)in our summer and stored it there, then when we went to Panama...I flew to Texas and took off from there.
I plotted a route on Goggle Earth that is 3600 miles, and hits all nine countries (US-Panama). If we can average 45mph for 6 hours a day (good lunch, see some sights, stop early for camp), that's 270 miles per day, for 13.5 days of "easy" travel.
If every third day is an "off day", for trouble or sights/relaxing, that's 20 days. Add two days to handle return shipping and a flight home, and we're at 22.
If we left on a Saturday, we'd miss 14 work (week) days.
Wildly guessing on $75 a day, that's only $1650. (Gas, food, lodging, fees....?)
Return shipping sounds to be between $1500-2000.
Continental flies from PTY to LAX via Houston for about $700.
Copa Air flies direct for $760
Roughly $4000 for the whole trip
Other expenses -
medical and evac insurance?
QUOTE: "If we can average 45mph for 6 hours a day (good lunch, see some sights, stop early for camp), that's 270 miles per day, for 13.5 days of "easy" travel."·
I have been travelling all around Mexico and some countries in central America, roads are not that bad,they are fair and some pretty good, but you should consider:
I have records of all my trips taken from my GPS info and I can say that it is very very hard to get more than 46 miles per hour "Moving Time Average" in our roads (mostly on twisties), even when I speed up to more than 100 miles per hour on some toll roads I can barely pass the 46 miles per hour moving average for a day of 6 to 10 hours of ridding.
Plus, you will have to stop and eat, refuel, etc. so the Overall Average will drop some more.
Also consider that maybe the first couple of days you could make 650 or more miles but the next days your performance will be affected and you will feel comfortable only with much less miles per day than that, I mean, maybe 250 or so, per day.
Also consider that riding our latin american roads involves more fun but it also takes a bit (or much!) more of concentration, like being aware of suicide dogs, truck drivers, kids, F%&@ing TOPES, and TOPES, and More Topes! So probably you will have enough riding earlier a day than what you plan.
I am not discouraging you trip, MAKE IT! You will enjoy it very much but consider your time limits.
And as Grant advices, "If you don´t have enough time, do not go faster, visit less places, enjoy more"
Good Luck guys, if you pass by Guadalajara in Mexico, send me an e-mail, maybe I could join you for some miles, chat, or share some , you are allways welcome.
Gracias for the actual measurements, Humberto! It's rare to get more than someones opinion. So, would 40mph be a resonable number? I have NO plans to go 100mph on a loaded KLR! But I can certainly ride more hours when I have to. I used six hours of RIDING to calculate, so there should be another 3-4 hours for eating, gas, etc. My big worry is getting stuck for more than a few hours at each border crossing. If each one takes a whole day, I'd need 9 more days for the trip! My one unchangeable goal for the trip is to make it to Panama. I'm willing to bypass some sights or countries (Belize, El Salvador?) to make that happen.
[This message has been edited by irlsanders (edited 24 March 2006).]
[This message has been edited by irlsanders (edited 24 March 2006).]
Do the tourist crossings, like LA Mesilla into Guatemala and Copan Ruinas into Honduras and its unlikely you will spend more then 30 minutes each. They may be a little more out of the way, depending on your route, but very scenic. Can't comment on any other countries,thats as far south as I got. Being at any crossing early, with all your paperwork and copies will speed things up. I think you would have to really screw-up or get real unlucky to spend a day at a crossing.
You'll find virtually no camping facilities on your ride. No places with running water, a picnic table, and an outhouse.
Camping would mean pitching a tent in a concealed area off the side of the road. Not the greatest for security or comfort.
You will find $10-$15-$20 hotels in every town on your route thru MX & Central America. You can always manage secure parking, sometimes by riding you bike right up into the hotel lobby. Lonely Planet and other guides list some of the good cheap deals.
Well, I do like the quietude of camping, but perhaps I'll get enough isolation while riding! I guess paring down the camp gear to just emergency status would lighten up the bike, and we'd get back the time lost to setting and striking camp. Does seem weird that such a wild place would have limited camping opportunities...is it that risky to stay in the wilderness overnight?
I just ordered these to start my trip library :
99 Days to Panama: An Exploration of Central America by Motorhome
Lonely Planet Central America on a Shoestring
Lonely Planet Healthy Travel: Central & South America
Footprint Central America and Mexico 2005
and an IMTB map
Guess I'll tack on and HU membership while I'm at it. I joined the L.A. Community...
[This message has been edited by irlsanders (edited 24 March 2006).]
Sounds like a great trip. As said elsewhere camping is not a big thing in Mexico but there are places especially along the coasts. If you have an idea of where you will stop I can look into it for you. Saying that cheap hotels are everywhere and it reduces what you have to carry.
If you come through Mex City we will happily put you up and show you around. Mex City is a great place and the pyramids are a must see but take a complete day.
Whatever you do have a great trip.
Hola Garry. Thanks for the offer of hospitality. The pyramids are on the "to see" list. I've camped on the beach in Baja Norte, which was easy and enjoyable, and I thought it would be the same all the way down. Carry less gear is fine with me, though.
I also am starting to learn to hablar español, so I can viejo sin incidentes by this time next year.
Hasta luego, compañero. (Too informal for someone I have yet to meet?)
Hasta luego compañero sounds fine it´s the viejo part which is wrong as you wanted to say travel which is viajo and you said old- viejo but you are obviously on the right track. Send me an email closer to the date when you expect to get into Mex City and we can set something up.
Planning the trip is a big part of the fun so you should have a lot of fun between now and next year.
to Irlsanders: yes, do take a light tent and sleeping bag along for the event you find a truly nice place to camp or an emergency ,but otherwise it is less trouble to get a room at the inexpensive small local hotels. Consider also that tropical nights are around 11 hours of total darkness, and you are not going to ride at night. This means you will have to start hunting for a campground in midafternoon. Finding a spot out in the wild is not as easy as it sounds, there are people living everywhere, then if you do find a spot you have to keep pretty quiet, no campfires lest you attract the wrong kind of attention or set the country ablaze. Then you have to sweat it out for the looooooong night.
For less money than a tent site at a US campground you can have a roof over your head, a toilet and shower at your disposal and a secure place to park the bike and you can then spend your evening enjoying the local food and meet or just watch the locals around the plaza. In the morning go for a leisurly stroll through town for breakfast knowing that your bike is safely parked at the hotel, the room is yours till noon or 1pm.
I just got back from, a two-month ride around Mexico , Belize and Guatemala. The only times I used the camping stuff was on the return leg through the USA.
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