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What would it take for an older Toyota motorhome to make it down to Patagonia?


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To start, I just want to say how much fun it's been joining this forum as a new member. I've already made some friends, starting to learn a lot, and it just feels right to be here. Great community.


Anyway, I have a dream of making a long road trip with my girlfriend and our two dogs down through Central and South America and I'm wondering what kind of Toyota motorhome would be ideal for the trip. Maybe folks think it's the wrong vehicle all together. If so, please share why! If not, what kind of engine and modifications would make sense for such a journey?


Thanks very much for helping me to think about this potential adventure in the right way!






Edited by pdeng
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I think it's not an unreasonable goal at all. I've taken mine up to Prudhoe Bay, AK with the intention of potentially driving to Patagonia. We've gotten as fas as Central Mexico, but the coronavirus has stymied our plans. We plan to store it here and resume the trip at a later date.

I have an 88 Odyssey. 22RE with an automatic. A couple modifications i would recommend:

  1.  Lower gear differential. I am running 4.88:1 rather than the stock 4.10:1. It makes a HUGE difference going up hills and has even improved my fuel economy since I can use my Overdrive gear on the highway now.
  2. Improved radiator. The stock radiator in my Toy just cant keep up with 90+ degree weather under load. I bought a brand new aluminium performance radiator and I've never had heat problems again. Be sure to check your thermostat at the same time. Mine was bad.
  3. Solar panels and additional batteries. As long as there's at least some sun (or we're on the move) we don't need to plug in except to run the air conditioner. With 485 ah of batteries and 400 watts or solar we can run both our laptops, the TV, heater fan and lights without having to think too much about conserving power. 
  4. Composting toilet. This is essential once you get south of Baja. There just isn't a lot of options for sanitary RV dumps and you'll be forced to make some pretty unpleasant decisions about where to put your waste. The composting toilet lasts about 6 weeks between changes and can be disposed of safely anywhere you can dig a hole.
  5. Extra Spare tire, Fuel cans, spare parts, and some basic tools. There are some very vast spaces without services and you will have to rely on yourself for a lot of things.
  6. Do you research on the ferry beforehand. The ferry from Baja to the mainland is a breeze (I highly recommend it), but getting around the Darien gap can be challenging. I have even found it is cheaper to ship from Veracruz, MX (or even Houston, TX) to Colombia rather than trying to find a service in Panama. It all depends on what you're trying to see.

Look up the overlanding community on YouTube and Reddit. I have found a ton of good resources through them.


Good luck on your planning. I hope you go for it. It can be done.

Edited by GinjaTurtle
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If you are going to drive as far as Panama, be advised that the roads between Mexico and Costa Rica are dicey at best.  Lots of folks make it as far as Panama and rebuild their entire suspension.  THe good news is that labor is relatively cheap and lots of people know how to work on old Toyotas.  Parts would have to be all new, of course.  Additionally, there are few emissions requirements (if any), so if you wanted an 'illegal' modification to your 'Yota, you could find someone to do it for you.


If you have the fantasy of selling your ride once you make it to your destination, be sure that you export your vehicle from USA or Canada (wherever you are) with all of the Customs documents so you can import it to the country you want to sell it.  Lots of people drive as far as Panama, are tired of traveling and try to just sign over title to the vehicle, which is a no-no.

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More than a handful of Toyhomes have done it already in both 3VZE and 22RE rigs, I drove my 4runner 22re down there and found parts in most every country, the hilux shares most of the suspension bits


i would get as much ground clearance as possible, whether you do that with additional leafs, shackles, airbags, or spacers is up to you, but dragging that big ol behind over topes and muddy ditches will be your biggest issue


i actually think I saw a toyhome for sale recently in Chile, let me see if I can find it

Edited by defrag4
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This is what I'm talking about! A ton of great advice and encouragement. Joined the FB group and still checking SearchTempest each day for the rig of my dreams. Thanks everyone and I'll be posting when I make progress!

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