Costs by Country

This is part six of a ten part series we are doing on overlanding advice. Future PanAm overlanders this is for you. They post each Sunday.

We’ve already spelled out our day-to-day budget in our budgeting and costs post, here we have broken costs down by country. Our overall average at the time of posting was $72 per day.

We found the costs below were more a function of our attitude than the country’s price index. For example, Bolivia is cheap but it isn’t half the price of Nicaragua. By the time we hit Bolivia we were in the wilderness-bush-camping, municipal-market-shopping zone. You might be in the dirty martini and live theatre frame of mind when you happen upon La Paz.

Camper cooking, cheap and delicious

On top of being free, bush camping is often the most scenic option

None-the-less, here it is to give you a rough idea:

  • Mexico: $86 per day – the gas and delicious tacos were cheap but camping options all very expensive for Latin America.
  • Guatemala: $91 per day
  • El Salvador: $90 per day
  • Nicaragua: $96 per day

Note: Costs above had us traveling at a faster rate and thus incurred higher costs. We slowed our roll in Costa Rica and the costs dropped. Costa Rica and Panama in reality are the most expensive countries in Central America. However, you’ll find that most overlanders slow down here and their costs too follow the same pattern.

  • Costa Rica: $80 per day – camp and surf to your heart’s content and Costa Rica won’t be a budget breaker.
  • Panama: $78 per day – Spending two weeks just figuring out shipping kept costs low
  • Colombia: $99 per day – Shipping delays held us up in Panama and we had to speed through Colombia in order to meet up with friends flying into Ecuador. Fast = expensive.
  • Ecuador: $59 per day – gas here is only $1.48 per gallon!
  • Peru: $71 per day – This is the world’s fastest growing economy and the prices are rising accordingly
  • Bolivia: $49 per day – cheap gas, cheap everything (except booze), great bush camping. We loved it here.
  • Chile: TBD
  • Argentina: TBD

Land Cruiser spotting

Cost of Gas by Country

Chart below shows the average cost in US dollars for one gallon of 85-87 octane gasoline by country. Taken over the duration of 2011.

  • San Francisco, California: $3.90 (here for reference)
  • Mexico: $2.87 per gallon (subsidized for tourists and locals)
  • Guatemala: $4.11
  • El Salvador: $3.85
  • Nicaragua: $4.45
  • Costa Rica: $4.80
  • Panama: $3.65
  • Colombia: $4.67 (cheaper in Southern Colombia near border with Ecuador)
  • Ecuador: $1.48 (subsidized for tourists and locals)
  • Peru: $5.03
  • Bolivia: $2.02 (subsidized) $4.65/gallon (tourist price) Officially you are supposed to be charged the tourist price, but most of the time we got the subsidized price without even asking. The attendants don’t care as the stations are all state owned.
  • Chile: $5.35
  • Argentina: $4.62
  • Argentine Patagonia: $3.61 (subsided for tourists and locals)

The cheap stuff in Ecuador