Camping through Mexico and Central America
“If there is ever any uncertainty, we ask the locals,” said Jared McCaffree, who is travelling from the US to Argentina with his sister and brother-in-law Jessica and Kobus Mans and updating their blog Life Remotely. “We've camped at 55 places since this trip started without a single problem. With very few exceptions the people we've met in every country have been friendly, helpful, curious and incredibly hospitable."
McCaffree prefers to camp in hostels/hotels with a lawn or national parks such as Corcovado or Volcan Arenal parks, both in Costa Rica. “Parks are great because we get the nature experience around the clock: waking up to howler monkeys, enjoying the sunset on the beach and finding all sorts of crazy critters crawling around at night,” McCaffree said.
“The Latino culture is incredibly warm and generous, and by just chatting with someone, you may unexpectedly find yourself invited to stay with them. They might have a neighbour with a large plot of land, or tell you to look up their cousin in another city,” said Joe Schlefke , who is driving to Argentina with fellow American Erik Holmgren in a Toyota 4Runner with a roof-top tent and recording their adventures on their Apollo's Journey blog. “Sometimes fortune plays a hand and people open up their homes if they find out what sort of adventure you are on.”
- Arrive before dark to scope out where you are going to sleep.
- Decide on the level of security with which you are comfortable. Some look for locked gates or a security guard or other person being present overnight while others are happy to “free” or “wild” camp if the local advice is sound and it feels right.
- If you do not have a dog, consider feeding one of the region's many strays. It will probably guard you if it is looking for another titbit.
- In towns, most places with secure car parks, such as hotels, malls and supermarkets, are worth approaching. Many travellers park up on the quiet side streets of smaller towns and ask locals for advice about sleeping there, or head for the local tourist police yard or even fire station to park.
- Hostels, hotels and restaurants with gardens or large parking spaces often allow camping, and will also have facilities such as water and toilets.
- In the countryside, rural coffee fincas, farms, nature reserves, national parks and tranquil beaches are places where campers commonly find safe shelter.
- Car parks in most archaeological sites, such as the Mayan ruins of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, are often happy to let campers sleep overnight. The same courtesy can be found at many other day-tripper attractions such as swimming areas (often called balnearios), sports facilities, picnic areas and turicentros, which are recreational centres that often include motel-style rooms.
- On the road, gas stations serve as truck stops and will usually allow you to join them if you have a vehicle you can sleep in.
- To get the most out of the trip, learn some Spanish.
- Drive the Americas brings together blogs and information.
- Church & Church camping guides are what every camper in Mexico uses.
- Moon guide to Baja RV camping (Mexico) is also useful
- On the road in Mexico is an online only guide catering to RV travellers in Mexico.
- 99 Days to Panama is a self-published travelogue/guide.
- Americas Overland is a self-published book (and e-book) by Greene and Greene.
Paula Dear is travelling between Mexico and Argentina with her husband, Jeremy Dear. Follow their adventures on their blog, Seventeen by Six.