Driving to Chile from Canada with a dog

edited December 2008 in South and Central America
hello, hello! my name is devo and i'm Canadian wanting to plan a trip to Chile next year. I'd like to drive down over aprx. 8 weeks or so and was thinking on getting a dog for company/ security. we so far will be alone and i was looking for any information about what papers, vaccinations, costs, places to see and stay away from, roads to take (or not..) cities to get Toyota parts in if necessary, basics to take (or what NOT to take), how many types of documentation to have, etc....

this will not be my first trip out of north America but will be my first road trip down to south America.
i'm planning it for next oct./ nov. and will be learning Spanish with in this time too.

thnx for your time and input.
namast'e
devo
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Comments

  • edited 8:22PM
    Hello Devo, we are planning a similar trip Toronto (buy a camper van), across to West Coast, down through Central America and to Santiago in Chile via Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, but we are planning it over 8 months. We seem to be looking for much the same info, except we are British so some visa / travel document stuff may be a bit different. I would be really grateful if we could exchange info.
    What we know so far is that we don't need a visa for anywhere it seems, but we don't know what documentation we need to take a vehicle into any of the countries. The US border security people just don't answer our emails, nor even acknowledge that they have recieved them. Do you know if there are any requirements for removing a vehicle from Canada or taking one into the US?

    All the info we can give you at the moment is that Colombia can be a dangerous place for foreigners but that you can drive through it in one day and you can hire a policeman near the border to travel with you. Not really safe to stop anywhere north of Bogota. We intend to wait at the border until around 6am and then just drive until we get to Ecuador without stopping. It can be easily done in one day becuase I have done it on the buses before!

    Hope you will agree to share info.
    Rebecca
  • edited 8:22PM
    Hi my name is Jeff, I live in Australia now, but have done a lot of traveling in the past . I was looking at a similer trip and found the biggest problem to be Panama, the road runs out, up in the mountains at Yarvis ,about 200 k's from the Colombia borber. My only solution at the moment seems to be to put my vehicle on a boat at Acapulco. AS yet I can't find a company to ship it,or a place on the west coast of south america to land it. Apart from that the trip seems fine. Peru,and Chille are both a great drive.
  • edited 8:22PM
    Devo, at first I thought your message was a hoax. You can't take a pet, most countries won't allow an animal across their borders without extensive paperwork, also it is unlikely your pet will survive.
    Driving is really dangerous in most Latin American countries, except Costa Rica, which is safe and a lot of fun.
    You have to take Cipro with you for Montezuma's Revenge and get Malaria and Typhoid shots. There are more than one type of Malaria shot; see a travel doctor.
    Rebrob, you can take a car across the border anywhere in the US if you own it.I don't think there is any problem crossing into Mexico, but it is unbelievably dangerous. Just getting through any border town in Mexico, whether Juarez, Tijuana or Nogales is a problem.
    I went with friends to Mazatlan in the sixties, the alleged highways were not
    even farm roads, we had to roll rocks out of the way to get through.
    Do not assume that they have improved very much; it's Mexico.
    I know from Costa Rica that there is a "crime wave" in Nacaragua, how real it is I don't know, as the "Ticos" tend to blame the "Nicos" for any criminal activity.
    Good Luck; Mike
  • edited 8:22PM
    hello hello, and i thank you all for any info. one can provide. i assure anyone, this is no hoax.
    i am planning this trip for the end of oct./ '09 so lots of time left to get my ducks in a row as well as learn Spanish.
    please feel free to join in/ or use this thread for any informational references necessary.
    namast'e
    devo
  • edited 8:22PM
    Hi Devo,

    Regarding travel with a dog, have you looked into obtaining a P.E.T.S passport? It takes about 6-7 months and involves getting your dog micro-chipped, vaccinated, and rabies titre-tested...and may be useful...???

    I took my cat the U.K. and back from Canada and hired a pet transport company to help me with all the required steps...If you are serious about taking a dog with you I would look into hiring a professional that could help you with the import/export requirements for the countries that you will be traveling through...to avoid the possibility of quarantine.

    Traveling from Canada to the US should be fine with a dog, and I have easily passed through the US/Mexico border with a dog from San Diego going to Rosa Rita..I am not sure about South America though.

    Good luck and have a great trip!
  • edited 8:22PM
    Hi,
    I was traveling with my girlfriend in a Chilean van in south america for 13 months. We met some Americans who did this trip. They had to drive in colon in Nigaragua for savety, but we met them in Peru, so they made it. They shiped their vantruck by boat from Panama to Ecuador as Colombia is not save. !you need a carnet de passage for ecuador! We were trying to enter from Peru ending negotiation 2 days on the boarder. We tried to bribe, but the price was too high (would have been half of the value of our car what means 2000 Us$)
    Don't worry about spare parts in south america if it is not electronical. they repair everything. If you have a high tech van, it is more likely to get in trouble (like the US people we met). We had no pets, but in south america, as soon you open your van, ten dogs are around you hoping to get some food.
    have a nice trip
    Maarten (Belgium)
    hentzenmaarten@gmail.com
  • edited 8:22PM
    I appreciate all the advice regarding Colombia, but please, please, please do NOT just skip over this beautiful country!! You will have no trouble passing through Colombia by car - aside from ruining your clutch! I'm frankly sick of the bad reputation Colombia gets - if you are worried about driving through it, then make sure you never drive through South Central Los Angeles or Sao Paulo Brazil, during your trip - they are far more "dangerous" Things have changed in the last decades - as in any other country.

    I have spent a lot of time in SoAm and personally found Colombia to be the friendliest, most scenic, and least-traveled (by gringos) country down there. But I guess that's what I'm looking for when I travel :)>

    I would hate for you (or anyone) to pass through the majority of SoAm without spending time in Colombia based on suspect advice. Then again, if you are looking for a Sunday drive to IKEA, skip Colombia.

    Andy
    Minneapolis, MN
  • edited 8:22PM
    Just a quick tip.. keep your dog close, there are some pretty bad strays in Chile especially in Santiago.
    Take care and enjoy the landscape over there I'm sure it'll be fun!
  • edited 8:22PM
    devo here, THANK YOU ALL!!! .... again for the tips and info.
    as for the " sunday drive to ikea..." well i guess if i'm dropping a v6 engine and doing a full solid front axle conversion for better 4x4ing and off roading then may be you've miss construed my intentions.
    i'm just thinking on seeing columbia, peru and ecuador (as well as the REST of south america) after being in the country for a few months or so, getting to know the local dialect and NOT being a gringo...

    the plan is to be there for a couple of years,.. may be not come back and end up building the restaurant i want to run. (i"m a canadain chef of 17 years)

    once again i THANK YOU ALL for as much info. as posibel!!!!
    much love to you and your worlds
    namast'e
    devo
  • edited 8:22PM
    devo here, THANK YOU ALL!!! .... again for the tips and info.
    as for the " sunday drive to ikea..." well i guess if i'm dropping a v6 engine and doing a full solid front axle conversion for better 4x4ing and off roading then may be you've miss construed my intentions.
    i'm just thinking on seeing columbia, peru and ecuador (as well as the REST of south america) after being in the country for a few months or so, getting to know the local dialect and NOT being a gringo...

    the plan is to be there for a couple of years,.. may be not come back and end up building the restaurant i want to run. (i'm a canadain chef of 17 years)

    once again i THANK YOU ALL for as much info. as posibel!!!!
    much love to you and your worlds
    namast'e
    devo
  • edited 8:22PM
    Is it possible to ferry a car across the pamana canal? As beautiful as Colombia may be I am not sure it is possible to ferry or drive your car from panama to colombia, does anyone know of anyone who has been able to do this?
  • edited 8:22PM
    You may find this website useful

    http://www.go-panamerican.com/road-tips.php
  • edited 8:22PM
    You cannot drive from Panama to Colombia....the road ends short of Colombia. That is why you have to transport your vehicle by boat from somewhere in Panama to somewhere south of Panama. It could be shipped to Colombia or Peru.
  • edited 8:22PM
    Okay guys now LISTEN from someone with Experience.

    Latin America is cut in two halves:
    1º Mexico thru Panama and
    2º Ecuador thru Tierra del Fuego.

    Colombia is the major block. No roads possible there and EXTREMELY dangerous. I recommend to investigate in Panama ways to skip Colombia by sea ferries.

    The SAFEST CONTINUOUS ROADS are in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil. They have international standards, ATM and Gas/Convenience stores on the road, and you can drive safe up to 140kph. Most National Parks' roads arent paved , so its recommended to have a vehicle with 4x4 capabilities and tires' chains in case of slight snow in Andes -Some massive snowfalls may occur between June and September so check weather reports before to go- If you are going thru the Chilean/Argentinian Patagonia. The marvellous Chilean fjords has many ferries for an unforgettable experience. Check for it www.navimag.cl and www.gochile.cl/Info/Xporte/Ferry.asp

    PERU-Ecuador: Roads do not meet international standards. Flash protest/riots may block the road with stones. Caution in populated areas. Sorry, your trip ends at the colombian jungle's border .

    COLOMBIA: AVOID THIS COUNTRY AT ANY COST. Not recommended to do a road trip the country is still in rural civil war.

    Panama thru Mexico: Roads do not meet international standards. Panama is improving fast. Costa rica, some areas. Caution in populated areas. Sorry your trip ends at the colombian jungle's border

    WARNING! Costa Rica's myth : paved and safe? NO! be warned of robbery and massive sub-standards roads, never leave your car alone by night, Do not stop in massive populated areas or jungles! Read the Canadian Foreign Affairs website for further Warnings . The same for Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Southern Mexico.

    PETS and FOOD: As Argentinian, Chile honors their stragtegic isolation from the Tropical Americas. This country do not permits some pets, fruits and vegetables. Ask details with the Chilean Embassy in your country in order to avoid quarentine for your beloved pet.
  • edited 8:22PM
    hi Devo,

    I'm in Victoria B.C at the moment, and i'm heading back to Colombia, very very very soon, perhaps at the end of the month. I'm a mutt half Can-half Col, and i have never done the drive all the way down. Now my Can side wants me to have all the paper work in rule and so on and so forth, but my Colombian side just wants me to get in the car and drive. So i'll be hiting the road pretty soon. I let you know how everything goes, or you can be as crazy as i am and jump on board. hahahahahah here is my e-mail (alunafilms@gmail.com) I think I'll do the shipping part-from Panama to Cartagena. and then carry it on.

    Now, for the previous parts, like Mex to Pan i got a bunch of opinions from locals to foreigners... but y conclusion is, there are good and bad spots all over the planet. and I think the success of the trip depends on the good use of common sense and trusting your instincts when talking to people, a good judgement of character will help in avoiding problems.

    Alejo.
  • edited 8:22PM
    hola alejo,
    i agree with you in full, the success of the trip depends on the moment and how you react/ act in it, at the time.
    trusting instincts coupled with common sense (which is not so common these days, most humans ARE pretty sheepish/ main stream.) and there are some of the worst spots on the planet in the richest cities, so i'm sure i'll be fine, but more information is more choice/ ability to act or not act in the given moment.

    part of the plan is to possibly build my restaurant there and possibly not come back,.. we'll see, but to attain this i need some kind of capital,.. so,.. 2- 3 jobs all summer and i'll have enough to live for a year or two and travel the country and find a possible location while working a bit along the way, with some money invested for that time it'll hopefully be enough for the start up needed for the restaurant.

    have a great trip, as much as i'd love to just jump on board, (last Minuit travel is SO fun) i've given my word for work this summer,.. so.
    namast'e Alejandro
    gracias y mucho gusto seinor
  • edited 8:22PM
    HEY DEVO, HOW ARE YOU.
    IT'S A GREAT THING THAT YOU WANT TO TAKE THIS TRIP.
    RIGHT NOW, I LIVE IN FLORIDA, USA. I'VE BEEN LIVING HERE FOR ABOUT 10 YEARS BUT AM ORIGINALLY FROM MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA.
    I KNOW COLOMBIA HAS A BAD REP BUT NOT EVERYONE GETS ROBBED OR KIDNAPPED. DON'T SKIP IT JUST BECAUSE OTHERS HAVE HAD BAD EXPERIENCES THERE. IT TRULY IS A GREAT COUNTRY WITH GREAT FOOD, BEAUTIFUL LADIES, AND THERE ARE MORE GOOD PEOPLE THAN BAD. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IF YOU GO IS BE CAUTIOUS, LIKE ANYWHERE ELSE. AND IF POSSIBLE TRY NOT TO DRIVE AT NIGHT.
    I ALSO WANT TO DRIVE THROUGH SOUTH AMERICA WITH A COUPLE OF MY FRIENDS BUT I DON'T THINK WE'LL BE DOING IT ANYTIME SOON, MAYBE A YEAR OR TWO. WE'RE THINKING ABOUT STARTING IN MEDELLIN, DRIVE ALL THE WAY DOWN TO CHILE, THEN ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, AND BACK TO COLOMBIA.
    I CAN NOT OFFER YOU ANY INFO REGARDING PAPERWORK BUT I HAVE FOUND A COUPLE OF WEBSITES THAN CAN GUIDE YOU, THE FIRST ONE BELONGS TO A CALIFORNIAN WHO MADE IT ALMOST TO ARGENTINA IN AN OLD MERCEDES. THE SECOND ONE BELONGS TO A COUPLE WHO IS CURRENTLY MAKING THE TRIP IN A CAMPER WITH A DOG. THEY JUST MADE THEIR LAST POST ON THEIR TRAVEL BLOG FIVE DAYS AGO (04/04/09). THEY LEFT AN E-MAIL ADDRESS, YOU'LL SEE IT WHEN YOU CLICK ON "CONTACT US"
    BOTH WEBSITES HAVE SOME NICE PICTURES, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THEM OUT AS WELL, THEY'LL MAKE YOU WANNA GO EVEN MORE.

    http://www.drivetosouthamerica.com/index.html

    http://www.thebrightsideoftheroad.com/home.html

    THIS IS JUST SO YOU CAN PRACTICE YOUR ESPA
  • edited 8:22PM
    Hi everyone,

    I would like to get a ride to chile just because i got the experience traveling through some area in central America
    Mexico Guatemala Costa Rica and live 5 years in venezuela.
    My sister who lives in England did a trip from Alaska to Puerto Montt in a mountain bike and it took her 5 years to reached her goal.
    I was born in chile, live in canada for the last 18 years so i guess that makes me a dual citizen.
    I think it would be fun to share the cost and drive south
    Driven a crossed Canada four times, it makes me to take a longer trip.

    that is it for now. Any comments please submit them to my gmail halohaisis@gmail.com
    Gracia, ciao Isis
  • edited 8:22PM
    Look, please do not dismiss Colombia, Hollywood has given it a bad rap, the average colombian is a wonderful embracing person. Sure there are areas you dont go to, same aplies if you travel to Sydney or Auckland. If you look at the actual crime stats for Colombia they have improved out of sight in the last 5 years or so, they are alot better than Venezuela or South Africa and yet millions of tourists flock there every year. I am planning a similar trip from Vancouver to Buenos Aires on a motorbike, and Colombia is one of the places on the top of my list.
  • edited 8:22PM
    HELLO, I WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT IF SOMEONE HAS TRAVELLED FROM OREGON TO ECUADOR BY CAR, I HEAR THAT THE ROAD ENDS BEFORE THE BORDER OF PANAMA AND COLOMBIA, HOW DO PEOPLE CROSS THAT BORDER? IF SOMEONE ALREADY MADE THE TRIP FROM THE UNITED STATES TO ECUADOR OR FURTHER SOUTH PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR EMAIL SO I CAN CONTACT YOU. PLEASE SEND ANY INFORMATION YOU HAVE ON ROADS, HOTELS, GAS STATIONS, ETC. THANK YOU. MY EMAIL IS elva1058@comcast.net
  • edited 8:22PM
    Hi doing a road trip from canada through south america any websites known would be appreciated, or perhaps some tips from those who have done trip before. My main concern is documents for the vehicle... and shipping from panama to ecuador, and insurance in the U.S with a canadian vehicle. thanks, Robbo
  • edited 8:22PM
    Hi, we are an Irish couple who are currently travelling in South America. We left Chicago one year and two months ago in a Airstream campervan and with our Old English sheepdog. We have driven 38,000 miles through Canada, USA, Mexico, Central America, shipped our van from Panama to Colombia and drive all the way down through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina to Ushuaia. We are heading north now to Brazil where we hope to ship our van back to the USA.All this talk about the countries been dangerous and roads in bad condition is rubbish. The roads everywhere have been great except in parts of Bolivia when we tried to get off the beaten track. People everywhere are extremely nice and in fact Colombians have been one of the friendliest people we have met our trip. Colombia is an amazing country and not one to miss. The people there are sick of people having a bad opinion of them and go out of their way to be friendly and welcoming. We have a website with all information on the border crossings with the van and the dog. Feel free to email us with any questions. GO FOR IT, IT'S A TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

    Our website: www.thebrightsideoftheroad.com
  • edited 8:22PM
    Sheila - great post and really cool website! Doesn't your sheepdog get hot in S.America?
  • edited 8:22PM
    Just two things about Colombia. It occupies the 3rd place among the happiest countries in the WORLD! USA is in the 16th place :(
    You can ship your van from Panama to Cartagena without any problems. Get to know the Caribbean Coast of Colombia before you go any further down south. You most probably stay there for the rest of your life. The problem with Colombia is that you may never want to leave it... :)
  • edited 8:22PM
    Hi- I have to throw in my 2 cents. Yay for Shiela- traveling and letting us know it is all ok. I just got back to Montana from riding a motorcycle 3800 miles in Mexico. Almost every day I hear people say- "whatever you do, don't drive in Mexico- they'll kill you for nothing" etc. NOT TRUE and 99% of the time, these people have never crossed the border, but " they heard". Mexico was great-- great roads and lots of fun. Friendly and cheap if you travel local. I plan to go again and again , and hope to ride further south each time.
    Namaste.
  • edited June 2009
    I am pleased to join the forum

    _________________________
  • edited 8:22PM
    HI everyone!! just like to say i appreciate all your time and info. for this trip and please,.. KEEP IT COMIN"!!
    all doors are still open for exploration in my world so the more info. the better armed for situations that may or may not arise during this trip.

    namast'e
    all

    devo
  • edited 8:22PM
    I've taken the road trip from central Washington state USA to Panama probably a dozen times or more over the years. I've had my share of adventures (shot at, detained, paid lots of considerations) etc, etc, etc. But mostly its a lot of sitting down and driving day after day. Avoid Mexico City unless you're into really hectic traffic and being lost, really lost. Mexico is not incredibly dangerousat all. It is long though and lots of hours (days) of driving involved to get through it. The roads in Central America are poor, but it's not particularly dangerous if you use a little common sense. Road conditions make for slow going there. El Salvador, where I lived for 10 years is nice and worth a look, not particularly dangerous if, again, you use some common sense. It is nice to know Spanish, not just some Spanish, but KNOW it. Dozens of tricks to make life easy (carry all large denomination money in one pocket and some small bills in another for example) if you have to ask why, then you need to get some more experience before attempting this trip. Don't take a dog. The dog will not enjoy the trip, and will eventually be detained at some border or ripped to shreds by the ever present pariah dogs. THERE IS NO ROAD BETWEEN PANAMA AND COLUMBIA. I don't know why people cannot seem to fathom that. Contrary to a posting above, the passage between Panama and Columbia IS a problem, tedious paperwork in a hot, dirty city and expensive (at least $2K) and just as big a problem getting your auto back once you both reach Columbia. I've heard about Columbia being dangerous for the last 40 years (I'm old). It is certainly no more dangerous than El Salvador. Maybe I'm used to it though, I lived in El Salvador throughout their civil war and saw more corpses and murders than I care to count. But, again, common sense is the key. That's what I know. Plan on weeks of sitting on your butt driving, getting lost in the larger cities all the time and heat, lots of heat. Plan on diarria (spelling?), lots of bugs, crumby hotel rooms (don't try camping out in Central America, no matter how many people tell you they do it, that is dangerous. Mexico, South America is fine, lots of room) Plan on giving people you don't know rides. (Mostly at the border crossings. The police will make you an offer you can't refuse.) DO NOT plan on selling your car in Latin America. Practically impossible. Be aware that there is LOTS of wishful thinking on these forums and take all advice with a large grain of salt. Figure on at least 6 months for a trip to Chile. Contact me if you wish at wata3000@prodigy.net. BYE, BYE, Allen
  • edited 8:22PM
    We have been looking into alternative ways to relocate our English bulldog from NYC to San Jose, Costa Rica. She cannot fly in cargo; boats don't seem to be an option so we are looking into driving from NYC to Costa Rica. We're allowing for at least 7 months to do the research and proper planning before we consider it because I too am concerned about safety. We are considering bringing 2 other people so it would be 1 couple and 2 other men plus a dog total. Drive only during the day etc. Are we crazy or does this sound like a plan. Any feedback/comments/advices is greatly appreciated!!! Thanks in advance.
  • edited 8:22PM
    Good on ye Sheila ,ye Columbia was the best of all South america.
    Slan Pete
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