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Old 10-12-2012, 09:04 PM   #1
nupit OP
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Camping while riding to Panama

I was just debating whether to bring camping gear for a trip I'm planning to Panama. Just wondering if camping along the way is feasible.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:04 PM   #2
JDowns
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I hardly camped at all two years ago on my way to Panama and back. This year I have limited funds so plan to do more camping.

But really, once you get to southern Mexico there are plenty of cheap places to stay. It is more expensive when traveling solo. If you are traveling with others you can split the cost of a room and it can be quite reasonable.

An excellent book that I take along is Sjoerd Bakker's:

Economical Hotels in Mexico and Central America

He is an inmate here so a quick search should turn up a thread. Well worth the money. It is something he self publishes. It is handy to have though since he has found the good cheap places with secure moto parking along with maps and directions. Nice to have when it's late and you're tired and you don't feel like riding around looking for a cheap place to stay.

This year I'm all in on camping heading to South America.
Leaving in 2 days. I'll let you know how it goes in my ride report.

If you are not on a tight budget and can afford 10 or 20 bucks for lodging you can leave the camping gear at home. However, if you enjoy camping and getting away from the crowd, by all means bring your tent, thermarest and bag.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:19 PM   #3
nupit OP
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Thank you John for the information. I will be purchasing his book! Looks like a great source of information. .

I have been costantly collecting more hotel locations on repeat trips and I have reworked al the data for a new 2012 version of my guide which is now ready and available.
The width X length size of book remains the same but it has grown in volume so much that I decided to split it into two parts , Part I dealing exclusively with Mexico and Part II contains all the essential introductory information and the hotels across all of Central America.Weight has gone up accordingly .
The number of pages has more than doubled to 292 and the number of hotels also has tripled.There are now listings with directions to 1028 hotels in 466 towns across Mexico and 431 hotels in 218 towns in the seven countries of Central America.. These hotels start in the border towns along the USA side and extend to Yaviza ,Panama at the end of the pavement and start of the Darien Gap.

The two will be sold together as a unit for $23 to any address in Canada and the continental USA . This INCLUDES cost of postage and handling. .
Postage to other continents is considerably higher which makes sales there unattractive. However if you are planning a trip through Mexico and CA starting from the USA end it may be worthwhile to consider finding a contact address in the USA where you could have it sent so that you can pick it up after arriving in the USA. For instance a relative or a new friends's home, , a hotel or motorcycle shop where you have reservations for a room or bike service.



If you would like a copy you may send an internationally cashable cheque, postal money order or Moneygram ( available at many independent retail points, at WalMart,at Canada Post outlets ) or WESTERN UNION transfer to me at :

Sjoerd Bakker
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Old 10-13-2012, 12:03 AM   #4
jordan325ic
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Mexico is wide-open enough to where you can camp often without any trouble. Central-American countries you will have a tough time finding space to camp. Towns are closer together and there seem to be settlements of people everywhere there is enough space to put up a shack. On the Pacific coast I had good luck free camping on the beaches.
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Old 10-13-2012, 08:25 AM   #5
Sjoerd Bakker
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Thanks for the plugs John and Nupit.For full details and an UPDATED correct mailing address just click onto Page 7 of the Sticky: Hotels in Mexico at the top of this forum.

John is right that if you travel with one or two others the divided rate for each of you becomes so low that camping would seem pointless. Plus at a hotel you have a shower and toilet available every night, your bike will be safely parked leaving you free to wander the town plaza ,the mercados and the restaurants and taco stands. Also you have a quiet place with a hard floor to do maintenance on your bikes.
Over the years prices i n Mexico and Central America have crept up but still, taking into account inflation , I have discovered that in many of the hotels I have used over 30 years the current prices are fairly close to what they were back then.Amazingly some actually cost less now. This summer on a trip to the Yukon and Alaska I camped and found that most of the pay campgrounds were charging fees for one night which would have gotten me two or more hotel nights in Mexico!
But you must realize that the low Mexican and CA prices apply only at the hotels owned and operated by the small business, the local family, to serve their countrymen.
Do not expect to get such agreeable rates at hotels of the big multi national chains, and which target foreign tourists, cruise passengers and corporate budget funded business travellers or the wealthy Mexicans .
Another point, recently I spoke with a motorcyclist from Europe who was heading down to Mexico.He told me how 20 years ago he did a tour of Mexico using public transport and how he found lots of rooms for $2 to $4 and that there was a fairly heavy traffic of a certain type of business there He seemed to be expecting to find similar pricing today.For the room!!! You certainly may still find the odd hotel with those prices nowadays but these low prices are stated with the expectation that you really will not spend the entire night until sunrise there . If you tell the reception that ,you may find the price increases.
The big drawback of these hotels is that most have NO secure parking of any kind on the premises, they are usually up a narrow stairway and above a row of shops or a noisy bar in some dank corner of town close to the intercity bus terminal. If you can find a secure pay-parking garage nearby it might work for you
but hauling your stuff into those rooms gets to be a chore.But they are a valid option especially if the alternative is to ride around late at night in dismal weather trying to find another hotel or a camping spot.
Note, it is very common for genuinely great family oriented tourist class hotels to have their rooms located on the second floor of a block of businesses but they will always have their own secure parking arrangements
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:06 PM   #6
Jamie Z
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I did a fair amount of stealth camping through Mexico. Guatemala, Honduras... and I also stayed in cheap rooms now and then and stayed in paid campgrounds a few times, too. Found some really amazing places to set up my tent.

In Mexico, I recall having some trouble finding suitable places for my tent because much of the country is desert scrub. The ground is full of rocks and prickly bushes.

In any case, I felt it was worthwhile for me to have my camping gear. Other people feel differently.

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Old 10-14-2012, 09:21 AM   #7
Throttlemeister
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3 or 4 bucks a night still adds up a lot over a long trip, free camping is easiest way money to save, besides I rather save it up for beer and the

There's always places to sleep for free(camping sounds too much like building a fire and cooking and roasting marshmellows), you have to be a little inventive sometimes and a ultralight cot only makes it easier
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:35 PM   #8
nupit OP
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Thanks for the input...
I started planning with camping gear, then decided no camping gear, but after researching hotel prices I'm leaning towards bringing gear again. (I haven't been deep into Mex or central america in over 20 years.)
If my trip lasts more than a month, worth it to pack the tent, thermarest, and bag.
I'm hoping to ride to Panama, leave my bike there, do some travel in South America, then ride home,
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:24 PM   #9
MountaineerWV
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If you are going to Panama and returning, I don't think that camping gear is worth carrying around. I used it maybe total of three times through Mexico, Central America, and South America until I hit Bolivia. Camping gear was extremely useful in Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

Camping/cooking gear encompassed about 50% of the shit I carried. Next time, I won't take it.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:04 AM   #10
Jamie Z
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MountaineerWV View Post
If you are going to Panama and returning, I don't think that camping gear is worth carrying around. I used it maybe total of three times through Mexico, Central America, and South America until I hit Bolivia. Camping gear was extremely useful in Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

Camping/cooking gear encompassed about 50% of the shit I carried. Next time, I won't take it.
Perfect example. For some people it's a necessity, but for others it's a pain,

In my own experience, my camping gear was about 1/3 of my bulk, and I used it when necessary, and camped when I felt that was more appropriate.

My view is that you could avoid carrying any camping equipment at all and get along fine through all or most of the Americas. On the other hand, if you had your camping gear with you, you might be able to save many daily charges for a room and parking, just by setting your tent up nearby.

It works both ways. Carrying extra gear is a liability,no question. I've personally carried camping gear through Central American without any trouble (the biggest savings were to be found in Mexico) and I'm glad that I did.

I readiliy admit at the other end of the financial spectrum, people would rather pay for the feeling of security every night, and there are plenty of business owners willing to offer security. I can't discount their experience. As well as there as much crossover. I stayed at quite a few budget places who went out of their way to secure my bike and a few places who weren't so willing to accommodate my mode of travel. Pretty easy to make a decision when the consequences don't involve safety or the safety of the bike.

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