<home>                                                             South America (update Jan 2, 2010)

Shipping a Vehicle


Shipping a vehicle on the Amazon

While we only ventured as far as Panama, we have our sights set on South America.

 Listed below are two useful  references for those planning a trip south of Central America.  We will add more information here as we find it.

More information may be found on the web site for the Silk Route Club, a European club which organizes informal caravans to the far corners of the globe.  Joint their Yahoo! Group (silkrouteclub@yahoogroups.com).  They have toured China and Russia by RV.  They are touring South America in 2006.  There is also a blog for a group touring South America in 2005, and more in 2008 (see links page).  Check this site for a British couple's diary.   The Adventure Learning Foundation, a non-profit educational group, is sponsoring a South American expedition in 2005 - 2006 and their website contains an interesting and useful journal.

Kim and Don Greene are world overland travelers and they have written this very interesting handbook to help others follow in their footsteps through Mexico, Central and South America. This is not a guidebook, but contains many useful tips and anecdotes that will prepare you for the adventure. The Greene's adventures are part of a non-profit organization Adventure Learning Foundation which  contributes classroom materials to schools with the objective of promoting better understanding among peoples of different cultures.

The book and more information may be found on the very informative web site www.QuestConnect.org.

Driving through Latin America is written for the independent traveler.  It has useful information for driving through each country in Central and South America, tips on shipping your vehicle (you can't drive from Central America to South America) and roadlog maps to follow.  Campsites and unsafe roads are noted.  Published in 1997 so maybe a little out of date, but when you order through International Publications aka Adventure Tours they include an Update Sheet for 2003 - 2004.  Maps of Central and South America are also available on this site. The author, Chris Yelland , and Adventure Tours also offer an escorted caravan through Latin America.

Richard and Amanda Bejarano-Ligato dropped out for a few years and traveled Central America, South America and Africa in their VW Minibus. They published a book, Wide-Eyed Wanderers, about their adventures.  Their book and web site offer much useful information such as camping tips, health care and how to ship your vehicle. 


There is no ferry service between Panama and South America!

Please see our Upates Page for current information on this topic. (May, 2011)

Nov. 2011 Update

See this link for recent info: http://whiteacorn.com/theamericas/tips/tips.php#Shipping

March 2010 Update

This information is provided by Stephen Stuart of the Silk Route Club courtesy of Clive Barker. A direct link is also provided.

"This page provides a summary of information about the all shipping companies and agencies that we contacted whilst trying to arrange shipping for our vehicles from Central America (Costa Rica or Panama) to South America (Colombia or Ecuador) in April/May 2006.

The "notes" below are generally the gist of the response we received to a very detailed e-mail asking for a quotation for shipment of three vehicles (with dimensions and weights) between Costa Rica or Panama to Ecuador or failing that anywhere else in South America.

The companies contacted were culled from other web sites, from Google searches and from the shipping notes at XS Memories RV Park near Panama City.

The only company we have experience with is Barwil Agencies, S.A. in Panama. We have however been told that Jochen Walter is very helpful."

Company: Barlovento Agencia Maritima, S.A.
Contact: Milton Madriz.
E-Mail: mmadriz@barloventocr.com
Type: RoRo.
From: Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
To: Colombia, Ecuador.

"Please note we have ro-ro vessels subject to confirmation, arriving first week of June, August, October and December, 2006. There is no vessel in May. The schedule is Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador. Normally, port Caldera in Costa Rica is congested. If when vessel is arriving, port is congested, vessel schedule may be changed from Corinto, Nicaragua to Colombia and then Ecuador and Costa Rica. In such case, regret but can not guarantee now service from Costa Rica to Ecuador."

The rate is US$60.00/M3 plus BAF US$70.00/vehicle. You should hire a Customs Broker to arrange Customs documentation, export policy, etc., which cost is around US$120.00. Also, we need to receive confirmation from our Principals that HEIGHT of your vehicle is no problems to accommodate into vessel’s decks.

Company: Barwil Agencies, S.A.
Contact: Evelyn N. Batista.
E-Mail: Evelyn.Batista@barwil.com
Type: RoRo
From: Panama.
To: Colombia.

This is the company we used. Highly recommended. See here for more details.

Company: Fletes Consolidados, S.A.
Contact: Roberto A. Vallecilla A.
E-Mail: fletecon@cableonda.net

"From Panama we don't get this this service Roll On Roll Of to Ecuador You should check it from Costa Rica with shipping Line NYK."

Company: Contimar.
E-Mail: info@contimar.co.cr, mselva@contimar.co.cr
Notes: No reply.

Company: CP Ships.
Contact: Fuentes, Johanna
E-Mail: Johanna.Fuentes@cpships.com
Notes: "We do not offer service."

Company: Car Carrier Service. CSAV
Contact: José Pedro Valdés C.
E-Mail: jpvaldes@csav.com

"Regarding your request, I would like to inform to you that it will not be possible to transport these type of units since the height of your RV´s are taller that the max height that the ship permits. We have a height limitation of 3,00 - 3,10 mts tall, so as you can see we can not transport your units."

Company: Euro-Line Panamericana (Panama), S.A.
Contact: Jochen Walter.
E-Mail: jochen.walter@euro-line-logistics.com
From: Panama.
To: Ecuador

"Unfortunately the only possibility right now to ship overdimensioned cargo to Ecuador is by flatrack. This option is very expensive (our last quote received from CSAV was around USD 8.000.00), because this kind of equipment is not available in Panama and has to brought from other ports.

The only more or less economic steamshipline (SSL) going to Ecuador is CCNI, who does not accept anymore tourist vehicles on flatracks due to past claims from other tourists. There is a RoRo possibility to Venezuela, but they have a long transit time (approx. 3 weeks). We suggested recently to try RoRo ex Pto. Caldera, Costa Rica with SSL NYK to Ecuador, because options ex Panama are outrageously expensive."

Company: IL Logistics
Contact: Catalina Rojas.
E-Mail: crojas@ilglogistics.com

"Unfortunately last week our service from Caldera to South America finished. So I can not give you this service. I hope you can find another option."

Company: Improsa
E-Mail: crojas@improsa.com
Notes: "Your message remains in the server queue, the server will try to send it again. You should not try to resend your message now. No response."

Company: Inter Ocean Lines.
E-Mail: info@interoceanlines.com
Notes: No response.

Company: Kabat, Sertrans, S.A.
Contact: Rosa Herrera.
E-Mail: rherrera@kabat.co.cr
Notes: "The contact to Panama for Ocean Freight from Ecuador is: Giovanna Della Sera."

Company: NYK Line (North America) Inc.
Contact: Eric J. Jaworski.
E-Mail: eric.jaworski@na.nykline.com
Notes: "Unfortunately we do not offer coverage for your requested port of origin and will be unable to accommodate your cargo."

Company: Sea Board Marine Panama.
Contact: Eric Hansen
E-Mail: ehansen@seaboardmarinepanama.com
Notes: We can offer to Cartagena, Colombia. We have weekly departures, on Saturdays, transit time is aprox. 1 day.

Below quote per vehicle:
POL: Cristobal, Panama
POD: Cartagena, Colombia
Mercedes Benz/Unimog u1300 50.07cbm / 7500.00Kgs usd$2503.50

Rates include loading/stuffing in Cristobal port and include off-loading in Cartagena port. Rates DO NOT include terminal handling charges in port of Cartagena, this is invoiced directly to customer by port of Cartagena authorities. Rates do not include local Cristobal port security fees (aprox. usd$10.00 per vehicle). Rates applied are usd$50.00 per cbm (cubic meter).

Freight charges apply on a prepaid basis (payed in Panama), if customer requests collect charges (payed in Colombia) then rates are subject to the following tax: 0.7% /basic ocean freight charge minimum usd$35.00 per B/L. Calculations of ocean freight charges based on weight and measurements provide by customer, vehicles are subject to measurement revision at port of Cristobal.

Company: Sertrans. S.A.
Contact: Noris Ferrín.
E-Mail: nferrin@sertrans.com.pa
Type: RoRo or Flatrack.
From: Panama.
To: Ecuador.
Notes: Quoted $1100 USD!

"Noris Ferrín Customer Services SERTRANS, S.A. Phone: (507)317-6465/67/68/69 Fax: (507) 317-6470 Email: nferrin@sertrans.com.pa www.sertrans.com.pa"

Company: Associated Steamship Agents, S.A.
Contact: Maricarmen García.
E-Mail: flete@shipsagent.com
Notes: "Buen dia! Sr. Stewart La tarifa para Callao y Guayaquil es la siguiente: $65W/M Port to Port Slds Maricarmen."

For update, June '08, see www.99daystopanama.com/updates.html#66

The best source of current shipping information I am aware of is the XSMemories RV park, 60 miles west of Panama City.  This place is run by an American couple, Dennis and Shiela Parsick.  Their web site and email are down as of this writing (Sept. 2005) (http://www.xsmemories.com/), but you can reach them by phone: +507-993-3096.  I  talked to Dennis and Sheila and found the following. They are happy to help anyone with shipping info.  Also, see Updates for info current as of July, 2006.
a) The situation is constantly changing, but they are keeping up with people doing the trip.
b) There has been a booming business this year.  They just sent 10 rigs from Panama to Ecuador.  (Actually, XSMemories don't do shipping, but people who stay there get local contact info and access to a phone to make the arrangements.)
c) It is safest to ship by container, but the height restriction is 8 ft (OK for a van).
b) Container shipping between Panama and South America is around $1600.
d) Bigger vehicles must go roll-on / roll-off (RO/RO). (this is not a ferry and you don't travel with your vehicle).  Current cost for RO/RO from Panama to South America is $5000.  
Dennis suggests contacting the following who can arrange shipping anywhere in the world. He vouches for them.  When it comes to shipping, you are at the mercy of the shipping schedule.

Shipping contacts
Rainier Shipping, Dave Dack, +1-425-277-6000
Suddath (http://www.suddath.com/), Ms. Ambar Brust, +1-904-858-1200
Gateways Intl., Rick Curry, +1-206-728-5990
You can ship directly from Houston or Miami to Colombia or Venezuela, or from the west coast of the U.S. to Ecuador.  Check with these contacts for schedule and costs.

A cheaper alternative in the  past has been to ship between Costa Rica (Puerto Caldera) and Ecuador (Guayaquil).  An agent for this trip in Costa Rica was Milton Madriz, nautica@racsa.co.cr.   For more background see vwvagabondsIn July, 2007, we received word via our Yahoo! Group that this service was no longer available! Instead, the following contact was recommended if you want to ship your vehicle from Panama to Colombia, Ecuador or Venezuela:

Dorothea Kalmbach
Import - Export Operation Supervisor Pty
EGL Eagle Global Logistics  Panama
Centro Comercial Paitilla Mall, 2nd Floor Punta Paitilla, Ciudad de Panama
Ph:  507-...
Cel: 507-6678 1262
Fax: 507-215-1102
Email:  dorothea.kalmbach@eaglegl.com

Shipping from South America to Mexico

From Silk Route Club Yahoo! Group

The van was shipped from Zarate (very close to Buenos Aires), Argentina to Veracruz, Mexico in February 2008. The shipper was

Capricorn Argentina SA
Avenida L.N.Alem 592 Piso 3
Buenos Aires

Contact: Alejandro Cadirola

Tel. 0054-11-4314 1300/4600/6300
Fax.0054-11-4311 8200
Mail: operaciones@capri-arg.com.ar

Shipping from Europe

Here is a Silk Route Club blog which includes some insite into shipping from the UK. http://southamerica05.blog.co.uk/index.php/southamerica05/2005/07/28/intro_to_blog

Carnet du Passage

Until 2005 Ecuador and Peru required a Carnet du Passage and Venezuela requires either a carnet or a libretta. The carnet is a document that is similar to a passport for the vehicle that guarantees to the customs officials of the country that you will not sell the vehicle in that country. For all North American registered vehicles the Carnet can be obtained from the Canadian Automobile Association.   As of  January 2005 Ecuador no longer requires the Carnet, see  http://users.rio.com/tynda/Page517.html.

Shipping Down the Amazon

You can ship your vehicle down the Amazon from Manaus to Belem (or the other way).  The Adventure Learning Foundation did this journey in a FUSO.  From their journal... "The company that runs the barges, Chibatao - Navegacao E Comercio Ltda, has a monopoly on the barge traffic on this part of the Amazon River.  FYI, for other travelers who may wish to ship this way, their email address is jfoliveira@uol.com.br, be sure to write in Portuguese."

INSURANCE (see also Insurance on our Planning Page)
Insurance in Colombia (courtesy Richard and Kathy Howe, June, 2008)

There has been a bit of discussion about the necessity of insurance in  Colombia.  Many go bare and have had no trouble.  Also, we got  information from a German couple who didn't have it:  when they were  stopped and asked, they showed them their general policy, which  covered all of South America except Colombia, but removed the cover  sheet which listed the countries that were covered; that did the trick.  And the vehicle traveling with them and following them wasn't asked at all.

We figured we never get away with ANYTHING and should at least try to get coverage.  The hotel in Cartagena where we were staying put us  onto Colseguros, a large insurance agency.  They were most gracious and explained that we did need basic liability coverage, but couldn't write us a policy.  But they sent us down the street to

Victor Bedford
Previsora (the name of the company)
Calle de Arsenal #10-25

His office is across the street from the parking lot near the convention center  (we had stayed overnight in this lot the night before).  He wrote us a policy for $41.00US.  It is for 2 months; it is a liability-only policy, and doesn't even cover what we would expect from a liability policy in the States.  It is called a SOAT; it 
covers injury to a person, or to property (not including vehicles). In other words, probably useless.

However, twice within the first 30 miles of leaving Cartagena we were required to present this policy when we were stopped along the road.  It satisfied the police, and we were happy to have it. Further into Colombia, we have seen SOAT advertised by several fueling stations.  We have not investigated as to whether it is the same policy we bought, nor the price they were asking.