How Do You Do It?
go! - South Africa|September 2020
How Do You Do It?
After five months, our travels through South America with Vivian and Hanlie Gericke have come to an end. We chat with them about the practicalities of Overlanding in faraway countries.

Who are Vivian and Hanlie?

In their previous lives, Hanlie was a biology teacher and Vivian was a consulting engineer. Over the years they travelled with their three children through southern Africa. When they retired in 2016, they looked for new adventures and decided on South America. In October 2016 they shipped their Land Rover Defender to Montevideo in Uruguay and went overlanding through Patagonia (see go! #150).

Since then, they’ve been back four times. Each trip lasts about three to four months. They’ve driven more than 55 000 km in total and they’ve crossed international borders 38 times.

How much planning and preparation go into the trips?

We read about the country we want to visit in Lonely Planet guidebooks, and we scour the web, then we map a vague route plan. We also ask questions on the PanAmerican Travelers Association Facebook group.

But we don’t plan in detail and we don’t make any bookings in advance. Flexibility is key – our most interesting experiences have come from having a flexible schedule. Independent travel in a capable, equipped vehicle makes this possible.

How did you arrange to leave your vehicle in the various countries?

All countries in South America issue a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) at the border. The period that your vehicle is allowed in the country normally matches the period that you are allowed to be there. The actual duration is country-specific, but varies between 30 and 90 days and can normally be extended by the same number of days. We got 180 days in Argentina once, and the same amount of time in Peru. Uruguay is the exception and allows 365 days – one year – which is why most overlanders leave their vehicles there when they need to return home for an extended period of time.

All you need to cross most borders is the vehicle registration paper – the name must match the name of the driver’s passport – and proof of third-party insurance.

Tell us more about insurance…

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September 2020