Pan American Highway is an interconnected network of roads and when combined these roads constitute the longest drivable road in the world. Going from one end of this road to another would make for the world’s longest road trip.
There are those who’ve done it already and the trip includes portions of the road that could be called official and unofficial. This mostly means that the quality of the infrastructure will change drastically depending on where you are at the moment.
Where does the road go?
The road stretches for an amazing 48.000 kilometers or 30.000 miles starting from Alaska and ending in Argentina. Those who plan to go the whole way need to get an international driving permit issued by the International Drivers Association since the road goes through 14 countries.
There are offshoots of the road that could take you to many other countries in Latin America. The road has many different names depending on which country it’s going through and you may hear it being referred to as Autopista, Ruta Panamericana, or Carretera. Which unofficial parts of the road are considered a part of it is debatable.
There’s a quite noticeable gap in the road between Panama and Columbia. That’s why some pedantic drivers consider the highway to actually be two separate roads. The gap is covered with swamp, forest, and mountains and it’s rather difficult to build a road that would connect it with the rest of the highway.
Since the rainforest environment is precious, there are chances that the road won’t be built through it any time soon. There are also concerns about tropical diseases spreading through North America as more travelers are going through the rainforest.
One of the most exciting parts of the road trip will be the ride through the Atacama Desert which stretches through Chile and Peru. There’s an unofficial part of the Highway which goes through the rest of Chile if you want to continue your trip down that path.
The Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth that isn’t polar. It’s a challenging trip and one that you need to plan carefully so that you have enough water, enough breaks and that you know how to fix an issue with your vehicle if it arises while in the middle of the desert.
The southernmost parts of Argentina
The tail end of the road is also one of its most impressive parts. The city of Ushuaia is claimed to be the most southern city in the world, although there are some in Chile that claim otherwise. The city itself is worth a visit and it’s a good place to rest and enjoy at the end of the highway, regardless of where you’ve started.
The road is in pristine condition at that part, and it’s where some of the world records have been broken when it comes to the highest speed achieved on the Pan American Highway.
How long does it take?
If you plan to drive the whole way through, you’ll be amongst the rare few, but it can be done and it can take about 3 months to reach Argentina if you start from Canada. Not many travelers drive in this fashion and in most cases, it takes about 6 months and includes many more stops.
Some that take more detours and explore the countries along the way in more depth, can make it a year-long trip. A trip such as this requires complex preparations and often more than one vehicle.