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Soon i will be embarking on a journey to the center of america. Does anyone have any good tips for travel through the county? What are some good rivers and creeks to run in the class 3 to 4 range? also, any tips on how to not get your car stolen would be much appreciated.

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some info of note..

If you goto CR to boat then you will definitely goto Turrialba. There are a couple of other drivers other than Diego and his brother Martin. We found Herbert who knows English as well and is cheaper to be a great driver.
I have a notebook full of people with boats, places to stay, and drivers if you need anything past what your guidebook offers.
We also have some great paddling shots on the "news" page on our site www.hugeexperiences.com. Some are of rivers and others of the country.
I highly recommend going to the Serpentarium just outside of Turrialba. It only cost us $5 each.

Pura vida,
David Hughes
 

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Don't worry about Costa Rica

The boarders (fronteras) are the by far the worst part of your drive. Get a club (the thing that locks the steering wheel of your car) and baseball bats (it could help with crowd control). Be VERY forceful and get your way. Don't trust anybody who isn't carrying an assault rifle (until you get to Costa Rica) be prepared to be frustrated out of your mind. Keep your money hidden (put in your shoe) and don't listen to anybody tell you there is an easy way to get across the boarders other than paying a little "helper" to bribe your way into our out of the next country. There might be somebody who had a "groovey", good-faith-to-all experience but I have never met one who is honest in their recolection. It's awesome thing to do but is it ever taxing on your patience and sanity. Have fun. Pura Vida. Oh yeah, bring an easy-to-organize notebook for the mounds of paperwork it requires to get from one country to another.
 

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Thought about making the drive a couple years ago. After getting a ton of beta (mostly from Kara at NOC who's parents own the rafting company in Panama) and a couple months planning, I flew. Here is some of the stuff I had written down.

Try to get copies of the border crossing applications\permits and have them filled out and with the fee\bribe before you get the respective border. They won't hassle you AS MUCH if you got your papers together and know what your doing.

Get info on car insurance and pre-purchase it if possible for each individual country before you leave. Expect to pay a fee\deposit for each kayak and your vehicle to ensure you take them back out of the country when you leave.

Make sure you keep an eye on your license plates, take them off and keep them in the vehicle when your not with your vehicle. If you stay at a hotel, make sure it has secured parking.

I can only hope it really isn't as bad as all that, but that's what I was told be folks that had made the drive once to several times.

Good luck,
Mike
 

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hey guys... I am also going to be heading to costa rica. But I'll be flying. I am hoping to bring my boat, but am concerned with how much paddling I'll actually be doing, as i will be with the fam. and i know their main intrest is beaches. Any tips for ocean kayaking? or should i even bother with all the headaches and hassles of travelling with a boat? I will also look into Chasing Jaguars.

Thanks!
 

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There is one more option, although not quite as adventurous. You can put your vehicle on a ship in Houston and pick it up in Cortez, Honduras. You would miss the boating in Mexico, but this time of year ain't all that great for the northern runs around Santa Maria- they will pretty much be dewatered (except for the Salto) because we're going into the dry season.

The runs around Veracruz could be flowing, which might make it worth looking into putting your vehicle on a ship out of Veracruz. Make sure you check out the Alseseca. I have no information as to whether that shipping service is available, so you'd have to check that out.

Driving in the Northern part of Mexico is pretty secure after you get past the border, and the furthest south I've driving is Veracruz, so I can't give any personal account about what it's like to make the Big Drive. However, even though I've driven to Mexico on boating trips six times, I don't think I'd make the trip through Chiapas. Some friends of mine did it in '94 and had no permanent trauma, but you never can tell. Maybe I'm getting old.

Information I found:
http://groups.msn.com/GalloPintoBulletinBoard/movingtoticoland.msnw
 

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Tha Drive

I made the trip in 2002, from San Diego to Costa Rica. I had two kayaks (on the roof of my Dodge Ram (2 WD)), a surfboard and mountain bike (stowed under a wooden deck in the back of the truck) and my 90 lb. dog. The logistics of getting the dog in was only an issue between El Salvador and Honduras, and was only a minor issue as I had all the paperwork sorted out. I ran into no trouble what-so-ever... until Costa Rica. Chiapas was fine, and I happened to be there when there was some kind of Zapatista march going on. Common sense will take you a long way. Certainly, the border zones are the shadiest, but there is a lot of authority around there, so not too much real crime. The "helpers" (the kids who claim to help you with La Aduana (customs)) can be helpful, but really I only used one entering Costa Rica. I returned 90 days later, and the same guy helped me re-permit my car without leaving for the requisite 3 days. I have heard that staying at the gas stations on the Mexican toll roads is safe, and doind so can really cut down onthe length of the drive, but the roads are expensive. Most gas stations (in all the countries) take only cash, so the attendant has a grip of money on him and he is there all night long. Therefore, there is an armed guard on premises, so I slept at a couple of gas stations on my trip.
The key is paperwork and organization, like another poster mentioned. Have many (maybe 10-15) copies of EVERY document you can think of. The title is the most important one, because they will not let you in with a vehicle that does not belong to YOU. Feel free to let me know if I can offer any more advice. It will be an adventure, but a rewarding one!
D3
 

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I rode my motorcycle down there last month. I would be happy to help you out with what ever I can. All the advice so far seems to be dead on, copies of paperwork seem to be the most important. I traveled alone and ran into no problems to speak of. If you have any questions e-mail me, [email protected]
nate
 
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