The Longest Drive: The Panamericana Challenge, Mid-2017

Someone once said that the Panamericana is a vast, incomplete and incomprehensible network of roads. But for The Longest Drive Team, no road is too incomplete or too inaccessible to take up the gauntlet and challenge the road. Therefore during 2017, TLD Team will again jump into the trusted Porsche Cayenne and push hard to beat the current world record of non-stop driving between world extremities: through the Panamericana from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.

The history of Panamericana Highway is almost as long as the route itself. The original concept of the overland route from one tip of America to another was brought in 1889 and it was supposed to be a…railroad! Luckily for The Longest Drive Team, in 1923 the idea of building a highway has emerged and lead to signing an agreement between all the countries along the route. In 1937 construction works started.

The Panamerican Highway is the longest drivable road in the world with the network of over 48 000 km of roads. The leg between Prudhoe Bay and Ushuaia is “approximately” 23 464km – the exact distance depends on which path one takes, as for years the network of roads has been changed and routes were added. For instance, the original Panamericana ended in Buenos Aires. The path that TLD will take is appx. 22 856km.

One may say it is a piece of cake to “drive from A to B”, with the longest road ever, however, TLD is not about the easy way. “We have to keep in mind two attempts which were not successful due to a car crash and “bureaucracy crash”. However the lesson is learnt and the experience is gained.” Jan is stating. The Longest Drive Team does not only choose the Panamericana for a challenge because it is the longest road in the world.

The challenge is there also due to crossing 13 countries, ever changing climate starting in the  summer finishing in the winter, rainforests and deserts where it has NEVER  rained, having to cross high mountain passes etc. But this is all a piece of cake! The challenge starts in Yaviza, Panama – the small town where the road ends. There are no roads between Panama and Columbia for various reasons, but the main is the Darien Gap – marshland, dense jungle, rainforest.  The gap is “only” 100 km wide. And the road starts again in Turbo, Colombia.

How TLD want to cross it? For sure not by land, as it is not possible within the timeframe to beat the record set by the VW team in a Touareg. TLD will cross it surely in the air…but precisely how, will be published later but there is a guaranty for a spectacular lift, don’t worry!

The Longest Drive adventure will start in Prudhoe Bay. We hope to be welcomed by nice warm weather. By heading south, it should only get warmer. Crossing Arizona and Texas to Mexico will surely bring some thrill and tropical atmosphere. Further south in central America it will be denser and jungle like. Once the TLD Team which is put together currently will reach Colombia they will be on the South American continent for the first time.

The Panamericana will take us through the path of the Incas and beautiful areas where the team surely will regret not to spend more time. Chile and Argentina will introduce The Longest Drive with the Andes and one of the highest border crossing, at the level of 3000 m a.s.l. Heading Patagonia will only bring enthusiasm and more pressure, as the destination point will be at the fingertips. Winter temperature, tundra climate and glaciers in the landscape. One ferry to Tierra del Fuego and The Longest Drive Team will hopefully reach the destination point: the tip of the continent and the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia, only 3 926km from the South Pole.