Trip Logistics Part II: Camping in South America

This is intended to be helpful for anyone interested in doing something like this themselves, but others may still find it interesting. Where applicable, I will try to include external links to more relevant information. Here are some quick descriptions of the places we camped in South America up to Brazil itself.

Campsite 12: Hotel Casa Alejandria, Cartagena, Colombia

GPS: 10.426087, -75.546374

Notes: A very nice small hotel in the Old Town part of Cartagena. We probably would have been fine staying in a hostel, but decided to book a room in advance due to uncertainties in shipping the Land Cruiser into Cartagena. Private room with AC and wifi, and the staff was very helpful. We were able to walk or find a ride to the port and customs office, and a number of paid private parking lots were close by. Great location and Cartagena was an awesome city.

Campsite 13: Black Sheep Hostel, Medellin, Colombia

GPS: n/a

Notes: Arrived late after a long day of driving through the mountains. Nice and free wifi, although only one parking place for the entire hostel (mostly backpackers). Close enough to walk to some restaurants and a grocery store.

Campsite 14: Side of the road near Copayan, Colombia

GPS: 2.28943, -76.70377

Notes: Probably the worst campsite of the entire trip. We wanted to make it to Pasto, Colombia, where we had read about people finding nice roadside camping spots. Instead, we broke down and later sat for hours in road construction. We decided to cut our losses and park on the side of the road in the mountains. It was a noisy, stressful night and we left before the sun came up the next day. Could have been worse, though.

Campsite 15: Refugio de Vida Silvestre Pasochoa, Quito, Ecuador

GPS: -0.42244, -78.52039

Notes: Driving through Quito, we saw a green area (national park) on our map and decided to try to camp there. We kept heading deeper into the park but never found anyone to talk to. We eventually made it to an empty lodge and camped outside of the main gate. Comfortable enough and definitely very pretty. Your experience may be different depending on the time of year or how much exploring you do.  We found this link after the fact:

Campsite 16: Gas Station in Las Lomas, Peru

GPS: -4.66743, -80.24496

Notes: We originally tried to camp in a clearing beside the road a few miles from the gas station in one direction and the Peru-Ecuador border in the other. Long story short, vigilantes came and moved us (Seriously. The article is here: We followed them to a 24 hour gas station where we parked beside a bus driver who was also sleeping in his vehicle and got a few hours of sleep before moving on the next morning. If you ask the gas station attendants, they will usually let you park for the night, no problem. Probably one of the scarier experiences of the trip, but the spot ended up being fine.

Campsite 17: Near Chimbote, Peru

GPS: -9.20598, -78.48569

Notes: Just past the town of Chimbote, the small village of Vesique is accessible via a tunnel along the coast. The previous route was clearly a ledge-like road around the edge of the cliff rather than through the tunnel, but half of it was washed out and impassable. We pulled up on this side road and camped near the edge of the cliff. Very cool spot, with great views of the sunset. A little close to the edge and windy, though.

near Chimbote, Peru

near Chimbote, Peru

Campsite 18: Hotel Puerto Inka, Arequipa, Peru

GPS: -15.83862, -74.3125

Notes: About halfway between Nazca and Arequipa. We saw a note of this place somewhere and marked the GPS coordinates down. It ended up being very nice. During the summer, this remote beach resort must be packed. In the winter, though, we were the only people other than the two staff in the entire place. They let us camp on the beach for free, and in the morning offered to make us breakfast. They also had electricity and we used it to charge up all of our gadgets. We didn’t realize until looking it up on the internet later that there were some Incan ruins a short hike away.

Campsite 19: Lake Titicaca near Chucuito, Peru

GPS: -15.88838, -69.8847

Notes: Take the side road next to the left of the Taypikala Hotel in town and head towards the lake. We drove out onto a narrow peninsula and made camp just above a marshy area 10 feet from the water. If you look at our coordinates, Google Maps actually show us as in the water. Very cool spot and felt very safe. The nearby hotel had a security guard but he didn’t seem to mind us. It got very cold though. Elevation: 12,500 feet.

Lake Titicaca, beach camping at 12000 feet!

Lake Titicaca, beach camping at 12000 feet!

Campsite 20: Hills above Cochabampa, Bolivia

GPS: -17.37552, -66.02209

Notes: Driving through Cochabampa (which seemed very nice), we saw a parque north of the town and decided to try to find it. We didn’t make it, but ended up camping just off of a cool, twisty mountain road. It was pretty deserted and felt safe. The city below looked really cool and only one car passed us all night. Elevation: 10,000 feet.


Campsite 21: Hotel in Pailon, Bolivia

GPS: -17.65729, -62.71716

Notes: We stayed here while getting our Land Cruiser’s brakes fixed. We found a small, 3-4 room hotel at the listed coordinates. No wifi, but safe and running water. We couldn’t find wifi anywhere in town, actually, but there were a few places to eat and some TVs to watch the World Cup games. Pretty little town, but probably not worth more than a quick stop. Our SPOT gps is probably still sitting in the tree where forgot it in town.

Campsite 22: Gas station parking lot in San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia

GPS: roughly -16.389214, -60.944204

Notes: This was our last campsite, sandwiched by a number of long driving days to make it to Brazil in time. It was under construction, but the attendant inside said we could park for the night as long as we left early. We were awoken late by a group of policia checking out the car, but after we talked to them they left us alone. Safe and uneventful. The last night we would spend in the back of the Land Cruiser.

The rest of the trip we spent in comparative luxury, mostly in hotels and hostels around Brazil. Stay tuned for a final logistics article about border crossings and vehicle shipping!

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