2018 was a very unusual year of travel on our Trans-Americas Journey road trip. It marked our 11th year on the road in the Americas and it was one of our lowest miles on the road with just 6,343 miles (10,208 km) driven in 2018 (and more than 2,600 of those miles were driven in rental cars – we told you it was an unusual year). Yet 2018 was also the year that we surpassed 200,000 (321,869 km) total journey miles so far.  Here’s a quick recap of our year on the road in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and the US.

Custom tailored truck cover

In 2018, our truck spent a total of five months covered up in this parking lot in Cuzco, Peru while we flew to the US and Colombia.

Why so little mileage in 2018?

Due to Bolivia’s restrictive limit of 90 days in the country per calendar year, we had a tough choice this year: drive several thousand miles out of our way to burn up time until we could legally re-enter Bolivia in late December, or use that time to travel a little differently than our usual road-tripping style.

We chose the latter, which meant that we spent nearly five months away from the truck in 2018 while we flew to the US for two months, then flew back into Colombia, a country we’d already spent 17 months exploring, for a three month return visit to see friends, refresh our reporting about places like Bogotá and Cartagena and visit a few new destinations.

In 2018 we also spent about five months renting long-term accommodation in the Sacred Valley of Peru and in La Paz, Bolivia. This left very little actual time on the road in 2018, though we were able to really dig deep in compelling parts of Colombia and in the Sacred Valley.

We very rarely fly, but this year we took 13 flights totaling more than 18,200 miles (29,290 km). And we’ve only taken one long-distance bus ride on our entire Journey to date, and that was only 270 miles (435 km). This year, however, we wracked up 1,665 miles (2,680 km) on buses during seven different bus journeys in Peru and Colombia. We also traveled about 140 miles (225 km) by boat in 2018 along with one short train ride.

2018 road trip recap in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and the US

We woke up (barely) on New Year’s day 2018 in Lima, Peru and by the 4th of January we were back in Bolivia. We spent much of the next 2.5 months working in an apartment in La Paz to catch up on work and to bring you our newly redesigned website. While the truck mostly sat idle during this time, we made side-trips via bus to Copacabana, Bolivia (here’s our post about the famous Virgin of Candelaria Festival there)  and to the city of Oruro, Bolivia for their amazing Carnival celebration.

Carnival Oruro Bolivia

Carnival celebrations hold nothing back in Oruro, Bolivia.

In March, we briefly returned to Cuzco, Peru (spelled Cusco locally), and the Sacred Valley. In April, we tucked the truck away into its tailored car cover and flew to the US. We started off in Los Angeles, drove up to the Central Coast to visit Karen’s family, then went to San Francisco and San Jose to visit friends. At the end of the month, we flew to New Orleans for a much-needed visit after more than a decade away and to spend time with friends and do the full two weeks of Jazz Fest. In May, we flew to New York City to see family and friends there.

Jazzfest 2018

2018 was the year we returned to Jazz Fest in New Orleans after a 10 year absence. Here’s our hot but happy selfie from the fairgrounds

In June, we flew back to Cuzco, Peru after a brief stop in Lima. Upon our return, we had to immediately make an 800 mile (1,288 km) round-trip border run to Copacabana, Bolivia to renew our Peruvian truck permit. Once that chore was done, we had an appointment with the Inca Trail (here’s our post about our Inca Trail adventure) When that hike was completed, we spent the next month in our favorite Airbnb of the year the Sacred Valley.

In mid-July, we set off on our brief and essentially only new road trip exploration of the year crossing over the Andes from the Sacred Valley down toward the Amazon following in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham to visit the “Lost City of the Inca” (aka Espiritu Pampa). We then returned to Cuzco to figure out how to put a Peruvian truck permit on hold so that we could leave the truck in Peru for a few months while we returned to Colombia by plane.

Espiritu Pampa Last incan site

The “Lost City of the Inca” (aka Espiritu Pampa) in Peru.

In August, our truck permit suspension was in hand and once again we tucked the truck away into its cover and took our first and only sleeper bus of the Journey: 21 hours from Cuzco to Lima. Then we flew to Bogotá, Colombia to catch up on all the changes that have taken place in that city since we were there more than four years ago (hint: there were many). From Bogotá, we flew to the Coffee Triangle to visit our Colombian “aunt” and to check out a trip-worthy restaurant and a great hotel we missed on our prior visits there.

We returned to Bogotá briefly, then flew up to Santa Marta on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. From there we drove a rental car (?!) back to Cartagena to catch up on all of the changes in that city (hint: there were many).

Cartagena - Aduana square

Cartagena, Colombia was just as beautiful as we remembered it to be, but with many more hotels, restaurants, and bars to tell you about.

In October, it was time to go see something we’d missed during our original 1.5 years of exploration in Colombia: the Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providencia in an archipelago just 200 miles from Nicaragua. To get there, we got back on a plane to fly 450 miles (724 km) from Cartagena to San Andres. From there it was a 68 mile (110 km) ferry ride to the island of Providencia where we spent a week exploring this extraordinary destination which seems more Caribbean than Latin.

After ferrying back to San Andres, we flew back to Bogotá to finish eating our way through that delicious city and to attend the 2018 Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony. Then we took yet another bus from Colombia’s capital to the town of San José del Guaviare, an area near the Amazon that was mostly closed to tourism because of FARC activity during our original visit to Colombia.

Crab Caye - Providencia Colombia

Views from Providencia Island which is part of Colombia but feels much more Caribbean than Latin.

In November, it was time to fly back to Cuzco, Peru with a brief stop in Lima to catch up on a few of the new restaurants that had opened there. We then spent another month in our favorite Airbnb in the Sacred Valley while some friends and Karen’s parents came to visit. After yet another stay in Cuzco, the New Year was approaching and our truck permit was expiring so for the 4th time in 2018 we drove the road between Cuzco and Copacabana, Bolivia. During this drive, we hit the 200,000 mile (321,869 km) mark on our Journey. To celebrate, we got the truck blessed in Copacabana then carried on to La Paz where we’ll be for the next little while.

Getting our truck blessed in Copacabana, Bolivia

Karen with the assist as a priest blesses our truck engine in Copacabana, Bolivia.

Now we’re moving onward into 2019! Thanks for coming along for the ride.

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Here’s more about travel in Bolivia

Here’s more about travel in Peru

Here’s more about travel in Colombia

Here’s more about travel in the US


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