Can You Drive From Mexico To Colombia?

Who hasn’t dreamed about packing up, leaving everything behind, and talking on a long road trip spanning multiple countries?

This is a common way to explore Europe. But when you explore the possibility of taking on that kind of adventure by going from North America to South America you will find that there is one big problem.

Driving from the US or Canada to Mexico is relatively easy. There are plenty of well-connected and reasonably maintained roads and as long as you travel by day through Mexico, it is a safe (although long) trip. Technically, the Pan American Highway goes all the way from Prudhoe Bay in northern Alaska to the Ushuaia region at the very southern tip of Argentina.

So, driving from Mexico to Colombia should be possible right?

Well… it’s a bit more complicated than that

Can you drive from Mexico to Colombia?

It is not possible to drive from Mexico to Colombia. The reason is the Darien Gap, a natural blockade that sits across the entire border between Panama and Colombia. It is formed by the Atrato river, the impassable landscape of the Serranía del Baudó mountain range, and lots of very inhospitable swamps and jungle regions.

Even though there are parts of the Darien Gap that are connected by land, no roads have been built as the investment would be large and it would require the cooperation of both Panama’s and Colombia’s governments.

The Darien Gap is the only interruption of the Pan American Highway. It is approximately 66 miles (106 km) long.

It is possible to drive from Mexico to Panama, but after that is as far as you will go, crossing from Panama to Colombia by car is not doable.

Darien Gap in Panama
Darien Gap in Panama

While it would be technically possible to get to Panama, ship your car to Colombia, take a plane and receive it on the other side, the cost of doing that is too expensive and defeats the purpose of driving all the way there.

Is it safe to drive from Mexico to Colombia?

Leaving aside the Darien Gap, driving from Mexico to Central America is possible but I’m not sure I’d personally recommend it.

Your route, if you are coming from the US, would probably start in Texas and go to Mexico City. That’s the easy part. Then, you would take the Mexico Federal Highway 190 that crosses through the estates of Puebla and Oaxaca which are great places to visit and pretty safe. As long as you stick to driving by daylight, you will be ok up to this point.

Things start to get uglier near the southern border of Mexico. You would have to go through Chiapas, the poorest estate in Mexico, which has treacherous jungles, unkempt roads, and is home to guerrillas.

But that is not the worst part of the trip.

In Central America, the borders are not nearly as welcoming as in Mexico. Tourists have reported being denied entry to Guatemala and El Salvador for a variety of reasons including that they refused to offer bribes. Then you’d have to cross all of Nicaragua, which currently is a dictatorship with many desperate people.

In Costa Rica and Panama, things start to get better. They are friendlier and safer countries with many tourist towns that you can visit on your way down.

Can you cross the Darien Gap with an offroad 4×4?

If you are still wondering if you can drive from Mexico to Colombia, let me show you a couple of photos of expeditions that have to cross the Darien Gap. This is the kind of adventure that you could expect (and that I wouldn’t recommend at all).

While there have been some successful expeditions that have crossed the Darien Gap. The success rate is extremely low.

The photos don’t even tell the whole story as you will still have to worry about wild animals, poisonous insects, and smugglers.

How to get from Mexico to Colombia?

The most obvious way is by plane. There are flights to Bogota (BOG) and Cali (CLO) going out from every major Mexican airport like Mexico City (MEX), Guadalajara (GDL), and Cancun (CUN) every day.

The main airlines that carry these flights are Aeromexico, Volaris, Avianca, and Copa Airlines.

If you are looking for a more adventurous route by land, again, getting from Mexico to Panama is possible, but crossing from Panama to Colombia has to be done by air or boat. The latter is done by fishing boats, speedboats, ot a 5-day sailing tour so there isn’t really a very easy or comfortable option.


  • You can not drive from Mexico to Colombia as there is no easy or safe way to cross the Darien Gap in Panama
  • The best way to get from Mexico to Colombia is by air