This epic 35 week budget overland trip is one of the world’s last true adventures! On this expedition you will visit iconic sights as well as remote areas of North, Central and South America, so travel with us from the Arctic to the Antarctic and end at the greatest show on earth – Rio Carnaval!
In total you will visit 19 countries on this madventure including USA, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.
Price: £8995 Expedition Payment + $4500 Local Payment
Length: 35 weeks
Accommodation: 60% camping, 40% hotels, guest houses & hostels
Transport: 100% custom-built Madventure overland truck
Age restrictions: none, all ages are welcome
Group size: 25 is average, minimum is 15, maximum is 36
Our proposed itinerary is here to give you an idea of where we will be going and what we will be doing during this expedition. This itinerary is the ideal route we would like to take providing all political and natural situations are acceptable during the time of our travels. Situations sometimes change during an expedition so please be prepared to take an alternative route in the event we encounter any problems. It’s all part of the adventure!
The natural splendour and abundant wildlife make Alaska the perfect place to start our expedition through the Americas.
Anchorage is our meeting point and is Alaska’s only true city, but even here wild moose still chomp through suburban flower beds and graze alongside the highways.
A short drive away the tiny port town of Whittier is set impressively amongst mountains, glaciers and a glistening fjord from where we have the chance to explore the Prince William Sound by cruise boat. Breaching humpback whales, pods of orcas, porpoises, seals and sea otters are all common-place here as well as over 200 species of birds. Keep an eye out for grizzly bears on the shore!
The quirky town of Talkeetna is a step back in time and is a great place to go flightseeing, rafting, hiking & fishing.
A thousand lakes and tundra capped hills line our way to the wonderful Denali National Park, alive with browsing bears, lone wolves and herds of grazing moose and caribou. We base ourselves here for a couple of days allowing time to explore the magnificent hiking and biking trails on offer.
We feel that our journey through Alaska would be incomplete without a visit to the far north so we continue on to the town of Fairbanks where we prepare and provision ourselves for the Dalton Highway. This desolate road has been made famous by the ‘Ice road truckers’ and will take us into the arctic circle, onto the tundra and up to the town of Prudhoe Bay where you have the option to take a tour around the US’s most productive oil fields. This northern route has proved to be a wildlife viewing highlight with grizzly bears, musk ox, arctic fox, caribou, moose and black bears spotted regularly.
Returning to the south we find the quirky settlement of Chicken. Fewer than 20 people reside here but travellers are well catered for at their infamous bar. Remember ‘What happens in Chicken stays in Chicken!’
The Top Of The World Highway now takes us east to Canada.
Our first stop in Canada is Dawson City, made famous by the Klondike Gold Rush and once home to the author Jack London (his original house is now a museum you can visit). The town remains evocative of its past and a day is easily spent lounging around the wild–west bars that offer live music and can-can girls!
From here the Klondike Highway takes us along a wonderful road running through almost utter wilderness where black bears & wood bison are in abundance by the roadside and the wild-camping is glorious.
The river and mountain landscapes of the Skeena Valley now take us south towards the Canadian Rockies. Jasper N.P. offers us wonderful hiking and stunning camping amidst craggy peaks and the world’s 2nd largest glacier-fed lake, Maligne.
Following the Parkway south we stop at the massive Columbia Icefields where it is possible put on some crampons and take to the ice or visit the Athabasca Glacier from the comfort of an all-terrain Ice Explorer vehicle.
Lake Louise is the picture-perfect stop on our way to Banff NP. Here you have the choice to go rafting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking or just relaxing at the hot springs.
Calgary is our last stop in Canada, a beautiful city with plenty of bars & restaurants offering us a final taste of this wonderful country.
We continue on to Yellowstone NP, prime Grizzly Bear country! Bison are also common around here. This park accommodates more than half the world’s geysers which put on an amazing display, the most famous being ‘Old Faithful’.
Just south of here we enter Grand Teton NP, a fantastic surprise with great camping, crystal lakes and dramatic jagged peaks. Wildlife is also abundant here.
A day’s drive away is Salt Lake City, the Mormon’s HQ, offering us a good insight into the religious way of life around here.
Not far away we have the opportunity to visit Arches NP and Canyonlands NP, both with spectacular scenery and wonderful hiking trails. It is in this regions canyons that Aaron Ralston famously hacked off his own hand to free himself after getting it trapped by a boulder. He wrote a great book about it which is worth reading before heading off into the canyons.
We continue on to the fabulous Bryce Canyon N.P. Hiking through the canyons and Grand Staircases (a series of step-like uplifted rock layers) is amazing with pink cliff formations, wondrous pinnacles and points, steeples and spires, cliffs and crevices and odd formations known as hoodoos, all well worth exploring.
Zion NP is once again something completely different. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky.
Crossing into Arizona we arrive at the Grand Canyon and marvel at this massive slice carved into the desert floor. The north rim offers us a great opportunity to camp on the edge of the canyon, a wild camping experience you will never forget! The south rim’s hiking trails offer you spectacular views of one of nature’s most awesome creations!
From here we continue south towards Mexico.
Our first stop is at Los Mochis where you have the option of taking an epic train journey, the famous Chihuahua al Pacifico, which takes you through the spectacular scenery of the Sierra Madre and Copper Canyon before reaching the small towns of Divisadero and Creel where you have a day to explore the area on foot or fly across the canyon on the world’s longest zip-line!
Winding roads with vertical sided canyons now lead us up into the beautiful colonial heartland of Mexico where we pass through numerous sleepy towns en-route to the pleasant and lively town of Zacatecas. This compact cobble-stoned town offers historic churches, convents and ruins making a pleasant day’s outing.
The ruins of Teotihuacan are our next stop and are mysterious relics of an ancient civilisation. This site also contains the world’s 3rd largest Pyramid.
From ancient to modern we now reach the capital, Mexico City. This busy metropolis is filled with a rich history and pulsates with energy making it well worth a few days exploration.
Cactus-filled valleys and wide open plains lead us to the charming city Oaxaca, a mixture of colonial glory and indigenous market-places. This world heritage site is crammed full of culture with wonderful museums, churches and markets. The surrounding area offers inspiring archaeology in the form of the Monte Alban Ruins, featuring pyramids, terraces, tombs, staircases and sculptures, all remnants of the ancient capital of the Zapotec culture.
We now head for the Chiapas highlands and the Sumidero Canyon where you can take an exhilarating boat ride through the steep sided cliffs giving you the chance to pass by several waterfalls, enter caves and even pass by some quite large crocodiles.
The quaint town of San Cristobal de las Casas is close by and a real relic of the past. A day spent here wandering the cobbled streets offers us an insight into a real Mexican gem.
After a short stop at the turquoise waters of Agua Azul we continue to Palenque, perhaps the most beautiful of all the Mayan ruins in Mexico. Set amongst lush jungle the ruins are a warren of exploration and will keep your camera busy all day.
We now head into the Yucatan Peninsula and visit the ruins of Uxmal, Chichen Itza and Tulum, all fantastic Mayan sites well worth exploring before crossing into Belize.
At Orange River a boat trip through the jungle will afford you the opportunity to see crocodiles, iguanas, turtles, coati, howler monkeys and plenty of birds but the real adventure is arriving at the Lamanai ruins hidden in the dense jungle at the end of the boat journey.
Belize City will be our next base where you have the option to explore the beautiful Caribbean-style island cayes just offshore. This is a fantastic spot for diving and fishing. Those who stay on the mainland can visit the close-by baboon sanctuary or just laze on the beach.
Moving inland we find a wonderful sanctuary protecting the native jaguars, pumas, snakes, monkeys, crocodiles, tapirs and more.
We enter Guatemala in the lush lowland jungles where we can explore the once lost Mayan cities and pyramids of Tikal that lie hidden beneath the tree canopy.
Narrow jungle roads now lead us south through beautiful scenery of sheer-sided hills and thatched roof homes offering us an insight into the real Guatemala.
These central highlands lead us to Lake Atitlan, commonly referred to as the Most Beautiful Lake in the World. The two volcanoes and numerous traditional villages that surround the lake are best explored by boats which traverse the lake daily. The colourful market town of Chichicastenango is also close by offering some bargain buys and interesting Mayan Shrines.
Continuing east we reach the charming town of Antigua. Cobbled streets, colonial architecture and friendly faces make this a great place to chill out for a day.
From here we wind our way through coffee plantations to the pacific coast and El Salvador.
Crossing into this lively and perhaps most friendly of the Central American countries we follow the coastline and base ourselves at the surf beaches close to La Libertad where surfing and fishing are the order of the day.
The capital San Salvador is a friendly, lively place where we have a day to explore this once war-torn city. From here you also have the option to visit nearby Suchitoto, a treasured colonial town and buzzing cultural centre.
Heading east we pass by small towns and dramatic volcanoes into the area that was disputed during the civil war. The town of Perquin was once the guerilla’s capital but is now a peaceful place with an interesting war museum and fantastic surrounding scenery.
Lake Yojoa is Honduras largest natural lake where you have the opportunity to hike to beautiful waterfalls and kayak through incredible caves.
We now head for the wonderful Bahia de Honduras where we base ourselves at a camp on the north coast close to La Ceiba. From here you have the option of visiting the nearby Bay Islands where the diving is spectacular. White sandy beaches, coconut palms and gentle sea breezes typify these islands and the clear waters, rich reefs and intriguing underwater caves make this an idyllic location to undertake a dive course. Actually, this is possibly the cheapest place in the world to do an open water course.
Those who choose to stay ashore can keep busy with jungle trekking and boat tours.
From here we now leave the coast and follow the back roads through the countryside and get a real appreciation of Honduras’ fabulous landscapes en-route to the Nicaraguan border.
The colonial town of Leon is our first stop and is base camp to the world’s only volcano boarding tours. It is definitely a black run!
Winding our way through coffee plantations and pine forests we skirt past Lake Managua and arrive at Volcan Masaya, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes. Situated in a National Park the area offers great hiking around 2 volcanoes, 5 craters and a beautiful lake.
Our next stop is the charming city of Granada, situated on the shores of the vast Lake Nicaragua. The city’s cobbled streets and laid-back attitude make it a great place to hang out for a while. From here we can explore the lakes volcanic Ometepe Island. The lake itself is amazing in that it is a freshwater lake full of saltwater fish that exist in no other lake in the world.
The pristine cloud-forests of Monteverde are our first stop where hanging bridges offer dramatic walks through the jungle canopy. For those seeking more adrenalin you can even go ‘Sky Trekking’ (flying by zip wire through the forest).
We continue inland and marvel at Volcan Arenal, Central America’s most active and perfectly formed volcano. From our base here in La Fortuna you have the option of undertaking numerous wonderful excursions including volcano trekking, sky trekking, turtle watching, boat tours through pristine jungle, rappelling, bungy jumping and wildlife watching tours.
Back down on the Pacific coast our last stop in Costa Rica is at the well-renowned Manuel Antonio beach where you have the option of spending the day in Manuel Antonio N.P. with plenty of wildlife and pristine beaches on offer.
Located along the Pacific coast we reach Playa Santa Clara, a white-sand wonder that is a favorite of both locals and tourists alike. The beach stretches for miles and the calm blue ocean is perfect for swimming.
We now head for Panama City, the capital, where the world’s greatest shortcut and engineering marvel, ‘The Big Ditch’ or Panama Canal is something that has to be seen to be believed.
As the road ends shortly after Panama City it is from here that we must ship our expedition vehicle to Colombia. We estimate that the shipping and customs should take about 1 week to complete so this is a good opportunity to have a break from the truck and head out on your own for a while. Sailing on a yacht from Panama to Colombia via the San Blas Islands is a popular option. Whatever you choose to do we will meet back up in Cartagena approximately 1 week after Panama.
We meet our truck at the port town of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast. Legendary for both its outstanding beauty and fascinating history, this town really is a living museum of colonial Spanish architecture and is well worth a few days exploration.
We continue to Tayrona National Park, a large protected area covering the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta known for its palm-shaded coves, coastal lagoons, rainforest and rich biodiversity. At its heart, the Pueblito ruins are an archaeological site accessed via forest trails, with terraces and structures built by the Tayrona civilization.
We now move south to the vibrant and modern city of Medellin where we have the chance to explore Pablo Escobar’s old stomping ground! Thankfully these day the cartel are not as prolific. This is a party town and the nightlife is fantastic.
Further south we reach Cali, also a wonderful city and the launch pad for anyone wanting to visit the enchanting island of Gorgona, a unique natural wonder which is home to some diverse wildlife found nowhere else on earth.
A spectacular and challenging road now leads us to a perfectly preserved pearl of colonial architecture known as the White City, Popayan. This is a laid-back town where kicking back in a sidewalk café or trekking to the thermal hot springs is a great way to pass the day.
Slightly north of the equator our first stop in Ecuador is the colourful market town of Otavalo where traders flock to from as far away as Colombia to ware their goods. Everything and anything can be found here including wonderful traditional crafts.
The lively city of Quito is next offering us sumptuous cuisine and great nightlife.
Dropping out of the Andes we enter pristine Amazon jungle where you have the option to partake in a guided Amazon Jungle excursion which includes hiking, tubing, bat-caving and waterfall climbing. Those who opt not to take the jungle excursion can enjoy the region’s activities such as kayaking and hiking from our base in a small nearby town.
Further up the road we reach Banos, a great little town alive with adventurous excursions. Horse riding, canyoning, mountain biking, rafting and kicking back in the hot springs are all on offer here. You also have the option to ride atop the famous train that takes you through a series of spectacular switchbacks known as the Devil’s Nose.
The colonial air of the town Cuenca is our well preserved last stop in Ecuador. Try the succulent Cuy (roasted guinea pig), it’s fantastic!
The northern beaches of Peru are our first stop before arriving at Chan Chan ruins. These vast and unusually decorated crumbling ruins of the imperial city of the Chimu domains make it the largest adobe city in the world. This area also boasts fascinating pyramids and temples well worth a day’s exploration.
A winding road now leads us into the mountains to Huaraz where we get commanding views of the magnificent Andes Mountain Range. Here you have the opportunity to undertake short hikes or just take it all in from the comfort of a cafe.
We continue on to Lima for a taste of bustling city life and a look into Peru’s history in the fabulous museums.
A little further south we visit the National Marine Reserve of Paracas. From here you can boat out to the Ballestas Islands which are home to thousands of seabirds and hundreds of sea-lions.
The mysterious Nasca Lines are our next attraction where an exhilarating flight reveals pictures of whales, monkeys, spiders and even spacemen made by stones laid out on the desert floor. These pictures still baffle archaeologists as to how they were made without having the benefit of aerial supervision.
The mummified remains of ancient tribesmen also litter the area and back down on the coast we visit Cusco’s pre-Columbian port, Puerto Inca. This excellent site is in good condition and the beach camping is great.
We now climb up into the Andes and spend a couple of days in the charming city of Arequipa (2500m). Besides giving ourselves time to acclimatise the town boasts beautiful churches and plazas, mouth-watering cuisine and lively markets.
Continuing upwards into the heart of the Andes we reach the small town of Chivay, where you have the option to go Condor viewing in one of the deepest canyons in the world. Condors ride the early morning thermals and fly by at eye level giving us great photo opportunities. For those of you who do not want to visit the condors you have the option to relax in Chivay’s therapeutic hot-springs.
A rough track now takes us through tiny villages and awesome high altitude scenery before we emerge into the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. This tourist Mecca is abuzz with energy and it’s beautiful squares, plentiful nightlife and wonderful restaurants make it a great place to explore and live it up a little!
It is also from here that you will start one of your greatest optional excursions, the Inca Trail. This exhilarating 4 day walk lives up to its reputation and ends at one of the world’s most beautiful sites, Machu Picchu.
Our last stop in Peru is at the small town of Puno situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. Here you have the option of visiting the nearby floating reed islands where you can meet some of the native inhabitants, many whom have never set foot on land!
La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, is our first impressive stop lying at the bottom of a huge canyon and surrounded by mountains. The city also boasts the world’s highest golf course and ski slopes. The city itself is a lively place with nearly every inch of street space taken up by native women in bowler hats and voluminous skirts squatted down selling everything from fake designer labels to coca leaves. There is even a witches market where you can find dried llama foetuses, magical love potions and an array of other weird and wonderful stuff. This city will leave you reeling!
A day’s drive away is another gem of a town named Potosi. This is the highest city in the world at over 4000m, and was once the wealthiest city in the world due to its prolific silver mines. The mines still operate and you can take a tour into their depths through a series of tunnels and shafts. At the end of the tour you can even buy dynamite and have a go at your own excavation.
We continue on to the tumbleweed town of Uyuni where you have the option to visit the area’s large salt flats in a 4×4 jeep.
Travelling on we reach Tupiza. The drive through flowing river beds and deep red canyons gives the area a distinctly wild-west feel where horse riding, mountain biking and hiking are popular day trips.
Crossing into Argentina we drop out of the altitude and reach the town of Salta. This welcome taste of civilisation gives you the opportunity to sample a world famous Argentinian steak as well as a fine red wine. The more adventurous have the chance to go rafting.
Dirt tracks skirting salt flats and volcanoes now lead us over the Andes and into Chile.
We drop steeply out of the Andes into our first Chilean town of San Pedro de Atacama, located in the world’s driest desert. This dusty frontier town is straight out of a spaghetti western and the relatively low altitude brings a welcome change in weather.
Desert meets ocean and we follow a coastal route taking in magnificent scenery with great beach camps. Here we buy our seafood straight from the fishing boats and enjoy the stunning beaches of Pan de Azucar N.P. from where boat trips are on offer to explore the rich sea-life of otters, seals, sea lions and birds.
Further south we reach the capital city, Santiago. The city’s tree lined streets and wonderful architecture create a serene atmosphere but dig a little deeper and you discover a vibrant social scene. Huge coffee bars, tiny rock bars, sumptuous cuisine at restaurants like the ‘Fat Cow’ and streets crammed full of late night dance clubs all make Santiago unforgettable.
As we continue south we notice a distinct change of scenery as the desert gives way to beautiful turquoise lakes and pine clad mountainsides. Pucon is a small Swiss-like lakeside town where we base ourselves for a few days to enjoy the area’s water-sports and hiking. The really adventurous have the chance to trek up the volcano Villarica!
Southern Chile is the beginning of our awesome journey along the Camino Austral, an area likened to Alaska and New Zealand’s south island. Here we will find great bush-camps amongst numerous National Parks.
Futaleufu is our first stop here and is a world-class destination for fishing, kayaking and whitewater rafting, and actually boasts having the world’s most dangerous river.
Our route south is a wild domain of steep-sided fjords, rushing rivers, evergreen forests, creeping glaciers and high volcanic peaks. The town of Coihaque is our friendly base for a couple of days allowing time to explore the area’s attractions, including the amazing San Rafael Glacier reached only by boat or airplane.
Settlements now become few and far apart as we bush camp our way south, around the gorgeous shores of Lago General Carrera and head for Argentina.
We are now in Patagonia, land of the raging winds. Our next stop is at the charming town of El Calafate. This will be our base from where you have the option to visit the incredible Perito Moreno glacier. Breathtaking boat trips through the glacial waterways and glacier trekking are also popular excursions.
Across the border back in Chile we base ourselves in the coastal town of Puerto Natales from where you have the option to visit the stunning Torres del Payne NP which is world renowned for it’s beauty. Hiking here amongst the turquoise glacial lakes and jagged mountain peaks is an experience not to be missed.
We now cross the Magellan Strait and enter Tierra del Fuego, largely a land of windswept bleakness but harbouring some fantastic little treasures. The End Of The World town of Ushuaia, dramatically located between huge mountains and the icy Beagle Channel, is our base for exploring the regions trekking, kayaking, fishing, boat cruising and of course, great bars and restaurants. This is also the closest land point to Antarctica.
Back on the mainland we now start our journey north through Patagonia and the most barren and windswept landscape that you will probably ever encounter. Good river and surf fishing abounds but that is about all until we reach the Valdes Peninsula, one of the planet’s most significant marine reserves. This area is home to thousands upon thousands of sea lions, elephant seals and penguins. Preying upon all these are the magnificent orcas and (if you are lucky enough) their beach attacks are a spectacle not to be missed.
Hugging the Atlantic coastline we continue north up to the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires. If you are not a city person, this is probably the city that will change your mind. Glorious architecture, wide tree-lined streets and open-air Tango shows are but a few of the city’s attributes. Culturally, this is the place to be with exquisite restaurants, interesting museums and fabulous music concerts. Whatever your heart desires you will find it in Buenos Aires!
Uruguay is one of South America’s best kept secrets. The broad cobbled streets of the historic Colonia del Sacramento is a world away from the busy streets of Buenos Aires and is a relaxing first stop here.
Further east we reach the capital Montevideo, a pleasant city with a great food market where you can dine on seafood and meats prepared by butchers and fishermen in the heart of a market frenzy.
The beaches of Punta del Este are our next stop and are amongst the best on the continent.
The thermal pools of Salto are our final destination here before returning to Argentina and Paraguay.
We now enter a vast system of wetlands known as the Esteros del Ibera. This is Argentina’s ‘Pantanal’ where we get to experience close-up observation of wildlife such as caiman, capybara, marsh deer, howler monkeys, boas, the rare maned wolf and over 300 species of birds.
Across the border in Paraguay our first stop is at the friendly town of Trinidad. Here you will have the opportunity to explore the nearby ruins of Jesuit Missions and/or enjoy a day horse-riding.
Further north we reach the lively capital of Asuncion, blissfully located on the banks of the Rio Paraguay. The city is full of bustling markets selling everything from cheap electronic equipment to Paraguayan fast-food and also boasts some wonderful museums and intricate architecture.
On our journey east we get a flavour of the Paraguayan countryside before crossing the border into Brazil.
Foz do Iguacu waterfalls are perhaps the most impressive in the world being more than 3 km wide and 80 m high with 275 falls plunging and crashing off a series of tiers. Power boating around the falls is a must if you don’t mind getting wet. We spend a couple of days here giving you the opportunity to explore the falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian side. Helicopter rides can give you a bird’s eye view of the falls and if you enjoy a bit of nightlife the popular Brazilian theme evening is a great way to see the capoeira dancers (martial arts dancing) and sample the famous Brazilian ‘churrascaria’, a meat lovers feast!
We now head for the beautiful Brazilian coast where we camp at the colonial village of Parati. Here the steep jungled mountains seem to leap into a sea filled with hundreds of islands and jutting peninsulas. Mobile one-man bars wander the cobbled streets mixing up caipirinhas to cool down weary travellers returning from the islands. The place is quite simply idyllic!
A couple of days relaxing in Parati puts us in good stead for the non-stop party we are about to attend in Rio de Janeiro. The city is absolutely effervescent and the atmosphere is electric! Days can be enjoyed on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana and wild nights can be spent dancing at the Sambadrome.
Pao de Acucar and Cristo Redentor offer unparalleled views of what is known locally as the Marvellous City and makes a fitting final destination for an incredible journey from Alaska to Brazil Overland!
How to Book
To make a booking please fill in our online booking form and then pay a £300 deposit by direct transfer or Paypal, or call us to pay using your credit or debit card over the phone. Once we receive your online booking form and deposit we will confirm your booking by email and send you all relevant information necessary for your expedition preparations.
The Expedition Payment of £8995 is the main bulk payment for your expedition and is payable in the U.K. in GBP (£ Sterling). In order to reserve a place on this expedition you must pay £300 as a deposit. Eight months prior to departure a further payment of £4000 must be paid to secure your booking. The final balance of your Expedition Payment £4695 must then be paid in full at least four months prior to the expedition start date. If you book between 4 to 8 months prior to the departure date a deposit of £4300 should be paid upon booking. If you book within 4 months of the departure date the full Expedition Payment of £8995 should be paid upon booking. The Expedition Payment can be paid by direct transfer or via Paypal.
Bank Details for Direct Transfers
NOTE: Please use your full name as a reference when paying by direct transfer.
Account name: Madventure Ltd.
Sort code: 400810
Account number: 91618415
IBAN : GB14HBUK40081091618415
Swift/Bank BIC: HBUKGB4B
Branch BIC: HBUKGB4116A
Bank address: HSBC Bank, 6 High Street, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 5AZ, United Kingdom
Paypal account name: email@example.com
This is a cash payment of USD $4500 that must be paid to your expedition leader at the beginning of your trip and will be used to pay for all expenses while you are on the road.
Please bear in mind that this is not a kitty and is not refundable. The local payment is simply a way for us to get cash to the expedition leaders so they can run the trip.
Please bring your local payment in new unmarked $100 bills if possible.
Although all local payment amounts are advertised in USD you may be asked to bring the equivalent amount in either Euros or GBP.
We realise that not everyone is going to visit every site or partake in every activity along the way so we have left most of these activities as optional and therefore kept the Expedition Payment to a minimum.
Below is a list of the most popular optional excursions along with the most recent prices. Prices can of course change and are not controlled in any way by Madventure so please use the list below as an approximate guide only.
Prince William Sound boat trip £90
Mt Denali flightseeing £150
Prudhoe bay oilfield tour £50
Canoes (per hour), Grand Teton NP £10
Flight over Grand Canyon (30 minutes) £75
Columbia Icefields tour £40
Copper Canyon train journey £100
Copper Canyon zip-line £40
Monte Alban ruins £8
Teotihuacan ruins £10
Sumidero Canyon boat trip £20
Palenque Mayan ruins £15
Chichen Itza ruins £15
Cable car ride, Zacatecas £5
Tulum ruins £8
Uxmal ruins £10
Lamanai ruins boat excursion £40
Islands of Belize, per day (max. 3 days) £25
Belize animal sanctuary £7
Tikal ruins £15
Lake Atitlan boat tour £20
Fishing trip – 3 hours £20
Surfing lessons (per hour) £10
Perquin museum £3
Bay Islands, per day (max. 3 days) £25
Diving, Bay Islands (per dive) £30
Sky-trekking zip-wire tour £30
Jungle canopy trek £30
Volcano and hot springs tour £25
Manuel Antonio NP entry fee £12
Boat trip through canal locks £100
Sailing trip from Panama to Colombia – 5 days £350
Cartagena boat trip to nearby islands and ruins £25
Popayan hot springs £10
3 day Amazon jungle excursion £150
White water rafting in jungle £40
Horse riding (per hour), Banos £10
Mountain biking, Banos £20
Canyoning and rapelling, Banos £50
Nariz del Diablo train ride £15
Chan Chan ruins entry fee £8
Ballestas Islands boat tour £20
Nazca lines flight £50
Colca Canyon condor viewing £25
Cusco museum pass £20
Sacred valley tour, Cusco £20
White water rafting, Cusco £40
Inca trail and Machu Picchu £400
Lake Titicaca islands day trip £20
Lake Titicaca islands overnight stay £30
Mountain bike world’s most dangerous road £50
Silver mine tour, Potosi £25
Uyuni Salt Lake day tour £40
Tupiza adventure day (horse riding, trekking, biking) £40
Wine tasting tour, Santiago £40
Villarica volcano climb, Pucon £50
Horse riding (per hour), Pucon £15
Trout fishing day trip, Pucon £75
White water rafting, Futaleufu £50
San Rafael Glacier flight £200
Torres del Payne NP day trip £80
White water rafting, Salta £50
Moreno Glacier day trip, El Calafate £45
Moreno Glacier trek, El Calafate £60
Beagle Channel boat trip, Ushuaia £30
Tierra del Fuego hike £15
Esteros del Ibera wetlands tour £20
Iguazu Falls entry fee £10
Iguacu Falls entry fee £10
Helicopter flight over Iguacu Falls £70
Parati boat day trip £25
Sambadrome carnival ticket £60
We will be travelling in a purpose-built Madventure overland vehicle 100% of the time on this expedition. A standard bus simply wouldn’t be able to tackle many of the roads we travel on.
The overland vehicle we use is a custom-built expedition truck which can accommodate up to 36 people although most of our expeditions travel with approximately 25 people.
Comfort and safety is of course a big factor during expeditions of this length and nature so all our vehicles have high-backed coach seats with safety belts. The seating is on the upper level of the vehicle giving you an almost 360° view of the surrounding scenery.
Our vehicles are designed to allow sufficient luggage storage and are also equipped with lockers to keep all your all your gear safe.
Our long range diesel and water tanks ensure our self sufficiency in remote areas and the equipment we take with us is also of vital importance. In case of a breakdown we are equipped with a good selection of spare parts as well as a comprehensive tool kit to undertake any necessary repairs on our own as and when we need to.
There may also be times when we get stuck in the sand or mud when travelling off road so all necessary recovery equipment such as sand mats, cables, ropes, shovels and pickaxes are also on board.
We spend a lot of nights around the campfire so we take along good axes and saws for the times when we have to replenish our wood supply.
We usually carry 500 litres of treated drinking water and we are equipped with a good kitchen which includes all cutlery, plates, cups, pots and pans, utensils, gas cooker, BBQ grate, etc.
All our vehicles are equipped with a small fridge which is used for the cook groups food only. For personal food & drinks we have cooler boxes for everyone to use.
Fold up chairs are provided for outdoor seating and we also have a large tarpaulin to keep us dry on those rainy days.
Our vehicles are equipped with USB charging points only so try and bring all of your important electronic devices such as telephone, tablet & head-torch to charge from a USB socket. We do not have a 120V or 240V power supply on the vehicle but you will have the opportunity to charge your 120/240V electronic equipment when we stay at campsites & hotels.
We carry solar showers and a toilet tent with us for those times when we are bush camping without amenities.
We carry a comprehensive first aid kit for emergencies but we do recommend you bring your own for general use.
Eating well is a very important factor on our expeditions and good food is vital for everyone’s health and well-being so we always strive to prepare healthy, wholesome and plentiful meals.
We will be cooking a lot of meals from our own kitchen on the truck. When we are camping we usually eat breakfast and the evening meal from the truck. For lunch we usually stop at a cheap local restaurant giving you a chance to taste the local fare too. Lunches are at your own expense. When we are staying in hotels/guest houses/hostels (usually in cities) it is often impractical to cook on the truck so we do not provide any meals at these times.
When it comes to shopping and cooking we will divide ourselves up into groups of 3 or 4 people (depending on group size) who will shop for and prepare the day’s meals and clean up at the end. This will work out that you roughly get to cook once a week (depending on numbers).
Fresh food is generally available daily so we try and eat meat and vegetables for every main evening meal. We do also cater for vegetarians but we cannot cater for fussiness. In these group situations everybody must appreciate we cannot cater for individual likes and dislikes.
Don’t worry if you are not a gourmet cook as your crew are also always there to give advice.
Cleanliness plays an important role throughout this expedition and your crew will make sure an acceptable level of general hygiene is maintained throughout your journey to ensure the wellbeing of the group.
You will spend 60% of your time on this expedition in your tent camping and 40% of your time staying in local hotels, guest houses and hostels.
Quite often we will camp by ourselves out in the bush or in the desert and other times we will use designated campsites with amenities. The majority of our bush camp locations are usually very scenic and we always strive to find the perfect spot on the banks of a river, overlooking a canyon, behind a dune in the desert, etc. but sometimes we just have to camp wherever we can find a spot.
From past experience on expeditions of this length and nature we have found that people prefer to supply their own tents as they are then not forced to share and they can pick a tent that suits their needs. As a general rule, try and choose a good quality lightweight and waterproof free-standing tent that is easy to erect, take down and carry.
When we are not camping (usually in cities) we always try to use decent, clean budget hotels, guest houses and hostels, however, taking into consideration the sometimes unpredictable nature of this expedition and the remoteness of some of the areas we visit, please be aware that in some circumstances we just have to take what we can get – good or bad. When staying in hotels/guest houses/hostels you can expect to share your room with other expedition members of both sexes.
In many of the places we stay there are upgrade options available so should you prefer not to camp or you just want some time alone you can often rent yourself a private room at your own expense.
We recommend a budget of £100 – £120 per person per week to live comfortably during this expedition. This budget should cover day to day things like lunches, snacks, soft drinks, meals when not camping, the odd few beers, etc.
Budget approximately £200 for your visas, security clearances and letters of invitation.
We also recommend you put aside £200 for your flight from Panama City to Cartagena, although a few cheap airlines are offering them for under £100 these days. Alternatively, if you budget £350 you can sail on a yacht from Panama to Colombia via the San Blas Islands, a popular option for those who want to do the whole trip without any flights.
Souvenirs are something that can be very cheap or very expensive so if you are going to be buying things like silk carpets you should budget for it.
Please also have a look at our Optional Excursions list as you may want to budget for a few of those activities too.
We recommend you bring 1/3 of your money in cash US Dollars and the rest of your money on your Visa or Mastercard credit/debit card.
They generally accept all major currencies for exchange but US Dollars are accepted everywhere.
ATM’s are widely available for you to draw local currency using your Visa or Mastercard credit/debit card.
To keep your money/credit cards/ipod/camera/laptop safe we recommend you purchase a ‘Pacsafe Travelsafe’ product. They offer various size portable anti-theft bags that can be attached to the vehicle when travelling and also attached to the toilet/bed/closet in your hotel room when off the vehicle.
Below is general information and recommendations regarding visas and passports. Visas are ultimately your own responsibility to obtain and visa requirements may vary according to your nationality and place of application, so use the information below as a guide only. Madventure Ltd. is in no way responsible for obtaining your visas or passports.
For Europeans all visas on this expedition can easily be obtained at borders and all are currently free. Other nationalities may require a couple of visas before arrival at a border and these are best obtained en-route just before entering. For more definitive information about what nationalities require what visas please have a look at www.thevisamachine.com
Non-European passport holders should budget approximately £200 for visas.
Please ensure you have 20 free pages in your passport in order to accommodate all the visas and stamps, and ensure your passport is valid for at least 1 year after your departure date.
You will need approximately 4 passport photos for the duration of the expedition.
Vaccination requirements are constantly changing so we recommend you seek the latest professional medical advice at least 8 weeks before departure to ensure you allow yourself enough time to obtain all necessary vaccinations. Nomad Travel’s website has up-to-date information on vaccinations, malaria and other general medical advice for all the countries we will be visiting and they also administer vaccinations at their Travel Clinics in various locations within UK.
Alternatively speak with your local Health Professionals for current accurate information. You will need to make an appointment with your GP or Travel Clinic and take a list of the countries you are visiting and the approximate dates when you will be there.
Medically Fit & Able
You need to be in good general health for this expedition and be reasonably fit and able. The main concern is that everyone is able to pitch in equally and do their fair share when it comes to group activities like the communal cooking and cleaning up, packing gear in and out of the truck, erecting your own tent, etc. You do not need to be super-fit by any means and all ages are welcome. We always attract a very broad age range on these expeditions, from people in their 20’s through to people in their 70’s.
Please inform us of any medical conditions that you have before departure so that your crew know how to deal with a medical situation if it should arise. All information will be kept confidential unless you request us to inform your fellow travelers. For example, it may be wise to inform fellow travelers if you are allergic to something like bee-stings so they know what to do if you get stung.
First Aid Kit
We carry a comprehensive first aid kit aboard the vehicle but it is recommended that you bring your own basic first aid kit for general use.
It is compulsory that every person who travels with Madventure obtain travel insurance for the complete duration of the expedition. Proof of travel insurance must be shown before joining an expedition.
There are various travel insurance companies to choose from and a Google search will bring up a vast selection but for clients who are resident in UK we recommend a London based company named Campbell Irvine, www.campbellirvine.com, tel. 020 7938 1734. They are familiar with what we do, so mention our name and the expedition you are travelling on and they will provide excellent cover for you.
For people based in North America a company called Allianz offers good cover – Tel: +1 866 884 3556, www.allianztravelinsurance.com
If you choose to obtain your travel insurance through another company please ensure you read the small-print and make sure you are covered for Medical Repatriation.
Tent: A good quality lightweight and compact waterproof free standing tent is recommended for this expedition. A removable fly-sheet will help you stay cool on hot dry nights. If you are travelling on your own you are restricted to a 1-2 man sized tent. If you are sharing a tent, you are restricted to a 2-3 man sized tent.
Sleeping bag: Any good quality 3/4 season sleeping bag will be fine but one with a ‘Mummy Hood’ is a good idea for the times that it will be cold. Please make sure that your sleeping bag has a ‘crush bag’ so it can be compacted down.
Sleeping bag liner: A Thermal Fleece or Silk Liner will bring your sleeping bag up a season when it’s cold and they are good to use on their own when it’s too hot for your sleeping bag.
Roll Mat: A compact inflatable Thermarest roll mat is recommended. A non-compact mat will not be permitted as they take up too much room.
Pillow: If you do wish to take a pillow (although most just bring a pillow case and stuff their fleece in it at night) then Thermarest do a good stuff pillow that compacts down small.
Backpack/sports bag/suitcase: We recommend you carry your luggage in a backpack but irrespective if you prefer a sports bag or a suitcase you are restricted to a maximum 100 liter volume.
Day bag: You are also permitted to bring a day bag with a maximum 40 liter volume that you can carry in the overhead luggage rack on the back of the truck with you.
Pacsafe: in order to keep your valuables safe we recommend a Pacsafe product. They make a range of anti-theft bags which vary in sizes and can accommodate your money, credit cards, passport, camera, laptop, etc. They can be attached to the overhead luggage rack on the back of the vehicle when travelling and/or to a fixed item in your hotel.
Headtorch: an invaluable investment! Check out the Petzl range of USB rechargeable headlamps.
Water purifier: quite a handy thing to have to purify contaminated water and avoid ‘Delhi Belly’. Check out the range of Lifestraw products.
Kindle: optional but great to keep all your travel guides and books in 1 place.
Ipad/Tablet: not a necessity but many places have WiFi available these days so having your own Ipad or Tablet will save you hanging around internet cafes.
Smartphone: not a necessity but very convenient for emailing, taking photos, mapping and calling home using local sim cards.
Camera: completely up to you but most people bring one.
Toiletries: available everywhere but start with some toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, deodorant, soap and shampoo.
Towel: a microfibre travel towel is a good option as it dries quickly and packs down small.
First aid kit: only a basic one is recommended but should include plasters, antiseptic cream, bandage, pain relief tablets, scissors and safety pins.
Passport photos: You will need approximately 4 passport photos for the duration of the expedition.
Passport: please ensure you have 20 blank pages in your passport to accommodate all the visas required on this tour.
Yellow Fever vaccination certificate: an up to date certificate is sometimes required to enter certain countries.
Clothes & shoes:
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of walking shoes, trainers or boots
4 pairs of socks
4 pairs of undies
4 t-shirts and/or vest tops
2 pairs of zip-off trousers which can be worn long or short
1 swimming trunks/bikini
1 lightweight long sleeve top
1 decent fleece top or fleece jacket
1 beanie/woolly hat for the cold days
1 wet weather jacket
1 light-weight dress/skirt for the ladies
1 collared shirt for the blokes
A pair of thermal gloves
As our expeditions are not your average run of the mill overland tours we would like to go through every aspect of the trip with you to ensure that you are as informed and prepared as possible. At Madventure we believe in giving you the nitty-gritty details as well as the obvious highlights, as in our opinion these are just as important and we want to explain the expedition in as much detail as possible so you can be sure you are suited and prepared for one of our overland adventures. If after reading this, you decide that this expedition is not for you then, as long as it is within 14 days of your initial booking, you can cancel off the expedition and receive a full refund of your deposit.
The following may sound a little negative at times, but it’s just so we are secure in the knowledge that we have provided you with as much information as possible, the good and the bad, to ensure everybody is completely aware exactly what type of trips we run for the benefit of you, us and your fellow expedition members as there is nothing worse than getting someone booking on the trip when it is not what they actually wanted or expected as our expeditions are too long and too full on. You need to know what you are in for and be able to handle it!
At times you will be exposed to all the elements, from extreme cold to intense humid heat and high altitude. And, for example, as wonderful as places like El Salvador and Honduras are, they do not have a western infrastructure and their acceptable level of hygiene standards are very different to ours.
Mucking In: This is a full participation expedition so you need to be able to participate fully in all aspects of the trip including cooking, cleaning, truck security, carrying water, collecting firewood, digging your vehicle out of bogs and clearing and rebuilding roads (It’s not ‘planned’ to happen but if it does then it’s all hands on deck).
We get everyone to agree that you are medically fit and able and can physically participate fully in all aspects required. Don’t worry, you don’t need any prior experience or knowledge or to be a fitness freak, just to be happy to do your share and have a willingness to get stuck in when necessary.
When things go wrong: The only thing we can guarantee is that at some point things will not go according to plan! We have to follow the legislation of each individual country and they may all have different regulations and attitudes towards us. Generally everyone is always friendly and it’s usually obstacles such as breakdowns, bad roads and natural disasters that have a bearing on the expedition. Everything changes from trip to trip depending on what the current situation or problem is, so it’s not ‘if’ something goes wrong, it’s ‘when’.
Please be prepared to expect the unexpected and accept that things will go wrong from time to time. These instances are usually the stories that remain with everyone so enjoy the experience. An easy-going approach will help the situation immensely. Moaning about every little thing that doesn’t go our way will not!
Attitude & Group Living: A good, easy-going attitude will help you get through this trip and ensure you are liked by your fellow travelers as well as the locals. The one thing that is extremely detrimental to an expedition such as this is your common ‘moaner’. It has nothing to do with age, sex or nationality, it just matters that although they signed up for this ‘in theory’ they cannot cope ‘in practice’ and it’s always got to be someone’s fault. It sounds a bit harsh but by weeding out any moaners early on we can have a chat with them and ensure your expedition is as good as it can be. It’s hard enough at the best of times without in-house problems so by ensuring everyone is on the same page from the get go will start us off in good stead.
We have no age restrictions and if there is one thing we have come to realize, through experience, is that it’s the mental attitude that counts the most and a broader age range is better on a long trip as it stops the stereotyping – the more in the mix the better.
There will be parties and there will be quiet nights. There are no set rules and it always sorts itself out depending on the individual personalities of who’s on board.
Laziness and selfishness will also be spotted early on so we advise everyone to pull their weight. We can guarantee that at some stage during the expedition you will have to just fit in and go with the flow when it’s not what you personally wanted to do. When situations arise where we can’t please everybody we always aim to please the ‘majority of the group’ not the individual.
Please be aware that if any particular person is constantly causing the rest of the group (or the crew) grief due to their behavior they will be warned and then asked to leave the expedition if nothing improves and no refund will be given. This is obviously the most extreme situation but we will not let one or two lazy or selfish individuals spoil it for everybody else. Everybody knows the score from the start and this is for everyone’s benefit. Usually everybody who does our trips has a relaxed approach and everybody gets on very well and any unsuitable people do not last long and leave on their own accord.
This is a once in a lifetime experience so let’s all enjoy it!
Drive times, routes and proposed itineraries: We are driving across all of the Americas in a restricted time frame, so yes, there are going to a lot of drive days and some of them will be long. This is where you have to be able to take pleasure in the scenery or a good book from time to time.
As a general rule on a drive day we leave in the morning around 7-8am (after breakfast) and pull up just before dusk in order to set up camp in the daylight, but this really depends on the distance between destinations.
Sometimes it will be a full day’s drive between destinations and you’ll have the following day free. On rare occasions it will be a 2-3 day long drive where you’ll leave early, stop late and bush camp in-between, then have a few free days at your destination. Sometimes it’s only a few hours between locations. Driving is a huge part of the trip so be prepared for a lot of it and expect the odd long drive into the night.
Please note: At times we may placed under military or police escort when travelling through troubled areas. If this occurs then we are at their mercy and they make the decisions with regard to driving hours and routes. We do not argue with those who are trusted to ensure our safety so please be aware that sometimes the pace will be much faster than we would personally choose and the route they pick will be the one we follow, regardless of our proposed itinerary.
Delays: We always strive to arrive at our destinations on time but if we experience any delays we will adjust our itinerary accordingly. If we experience any major delays our end date can be extended to suit our needs.
The proposed itinerary is just that, ‘proposed’, and can and will change at the crew’s discretion if need be.
Drugs: In a lot of the countries we travel through drugs such as marijuana and hashish are in abundance and readily available. Please be aware that they are still illegal and some countries hold the Death Penalty as punishment for being caught in possession. Obviously you are free to do whatever you want to do in your own free time but there is NEVER to be any illegal drugs onboard the expedition vehicle at any time.
If you are caught with any kind of illegal drugs on the expedition vehicle, regardless of the amount, you will be asked to leave the expedition immediately and no refund will be given. This is a very serious rule as any inconsideration can lead to the vehicle being impounded, the expedition cancelled and other innocent party’s arrested. We will not hesitate to remove someone if we have to so please respect your other expedition members.
Your Crew: You will normally have a crew of 1 experienced person who fills the role of being the driver/expedition leader. Sometimes our crew prefer to work with a partner so there may occasionally be 2 crew who share the roles of driver and expedition leader. On some expeditions we may also have a cameraman who is there to help market our tours and update our social media accounts.
Your crew member will drive and maintain the vehicle as well as sort out all the accommodation, permits, border crossings and generally ensure the smooth running of the expedition. Your crew member is not a tour guide and will not be giving you the history and facts of every country you travel through. Apart from the odd optional extra that needs to be organized in advance, we leave most of that stuff to you guys, this way ensuring you get to do what you want, at the price you are happy to pay.
You do the reading up on the places we are going to in advance and decide how you want to spend your time and what activities you want to do. Apart from some basic truck rules this is not a trip where we hold your hand, it’s an expedition and we expect that you will want to be as independent as possible when it comes to your free time.
Your crew will be hand-picked and trained by Madventure and will have experience of overland travel but they may or may not have done this expedition before. They will however have detailed notes from previous expeditions and backup from the office in UK.
Tipping: Tipping the crew at the end of your expedition is always appreciated. As this is a fairly long expedition, but also a budget one, we recommend you tip your driver/expedition leader a minimum of £1 per day if you are happy with their service. Thank you.
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