Overlanding the Americas

In May 2023 we leave on a trip of 19 months in North and South America. You can follow our adventures here.

Mexico mainland South 

We are now driving into the most visited parts of Mexico. However, since our time is limited, we have decided to not revisit the places we have been to on our previous trips. So we bypass the amazing site of Teothiuacan and Mexico City which we really loved last time around. We will also skip the Oaxaca region and Chiapas and Yucatan which we traveled before. Our goal  this time is to visit some of the places that we had to skip on previous travels. There is so much to see in Mexico so we will still need to make some tough choices.

Mexico mainland North 

After the last couple of weeks in Southern Baja California (a favorite winter retreat for Americans and Canadians), the arrival in Mazatlan was a bit of shock again. But in a positive way. This is the Mexico that we know and love from our previous travels. The country where Caroline and myself got together over 14 years ago. Baja was very nice but it somehow felt that we now had finally arrived in the real Mexico.

Mexico: Baja California

So many times, when discussing our trip, people would be really enthusiastic about the idea of travelling from North to South America…. until at some point they realized that we would need to cross Mexico. A concerned face would inevitably appear together with a lot of questions on the safety (“especially with such young kids”). Mexico has a really bad reputation (in the USA).  We had been in Mexico two times before and never felt unsafe or experienced any issues. But we must admit that we were not immune to all the horror stories (from somebody’s friend’s friend) and the fear mongering in the media. Had the country changed so much since our last visit? Had it really descended into the 9th circle of Dante’s hell.

San Francisco to Los Angeles to Mexico

Before starting our big coastal road trip we wanted to do what almost all overlanders do when passing by SF: sleeping with a view on the Golden Gate bridge. It took a bit of stressful city traffic and driving around the bridge (we crossed 4 times) to find a nice spot where we were allowed to camp but we did find a nice spot in the end.

California – the National Parks

California is one of those ‘dream holiday’ destinations for a lot of people in Europe. However, we noticed that a lot people, traveling the Pan American Highway either skip California or really quickly drive through it to other American States or to Mexico. We also considered skipping the state but in the end we didn’t and we are happy we didn’t. We would have missed some amazing nature, wildlife and Caro would not have had that chat with that celebrity rock singer. But it is true that travelling in a van in California comes with some challenges.

Arizona & Nevada

After an amazing month in Utah, we got off to a false start in Arizona. Just a couple of miles into the state of Arizona is ‘Horseshoe bend’ where the Colorado river  makes a strange bend in the shape of, you guessed it, a horseshoe. It’s one of those classic ‘South West USA images’ that appears in all travel guides and other publications. But it feels a bit like a ‘tourist trap’. There is an expensive parking lot and hundreds of visitors at all time of day.  The view is nice but it really is just that: one view, one image. After all the amazing things we saw in Utah, we were a bit disappointed and started to wonder if that other classic the ‘Grand Canyon’ would be as ‘over hyped’ as this site.

Utah part 2

Beside this website we also have an Instagram page where we share pictures and stories of our travels. I have very mixed feelings about these social media. I don’t like at all how they force you to spend time on their platform in return for exposure of your pictures to the people who want to follow your travels. However, the platform has also been a great source of inspiration for us. And this has definitely been the case in Utah where there is so much to see that there are still amazing places to be found that are not yet in guide books or travel brochures. But they do pop up on Instagram pages of other travellers that are doing a similar trip. And if you ask politely most of them are very willing to let you in on the secret.

Utah: on the path of the eclipse

“It’s nice but it’s a lot of rocks”, dixit Caro after our first full day in Utah…and I had planned a full month in Utah with essentially ‘rocks’. Even though I knew that the variety of rocks, canyons, arches, bridges, hoodoos, etc. was almost endless in Utah, I must admit that I also had some doubts whether at some point we would not get a ‘rock bore out’. But I shouldn’t have worried because when we left the state over 4 weeks later it was with a bit of sadness and with a promise to come back one day (with a 4×4 vehicle). 

Colors of Colorado 

To be honest, we did not have Colorado on our radar at all. For us it was just the quickest way to get to Utah from South Dakota. The only place that we had planned to visit was the Rocky Mountain National Park. But we were in for a big surprise as somehow we managed to be there at the best time of the year…