Availability of Propane thru Central & S. America

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#1 Mon, 08/02/2010 - 06:12

Availability of Propane thru Central & S. America

Just wondering how available propane would be driving the PanAm. My last trips thru Central Mexico and the Yucatan, it seemed very easy to get but I'm just not positive about the further south you go. I would assume it's widely used but I would love some assurance.

I'm planning on taking my backpacking stove that'll burn on anything flammable, but I'd like to be able to carry my propane tank so I can hook up to a lantern and my larger stove. This would be much easier than goofing with my multifuel stove and I'd assume it'd be my cheapest option, buying propane in bulk.

If you've been there, let me know! I'm getting ready to build a chuckbox for my camp kitchen so this is necessary for planning my gear.

Mon, 08/02/2010 - 08:23

I do remember seeing propane

I do remember seeing propane everywhere, but since we were only using our small international MSR stove, we spent time looking for white gas, not propane (which was hard to find, so we ended up using unleaded gas and kerosene once and awhile). I did find some info from info about propane at Truck Camper Magazine : " Getting our propane tanks filled presents an ongoing challenge. Propane yards are located in every large town or city; however, depending on the country, getting a large USA propane tank filled may require a trip to the local propane hardware store to purchase some sort of adaptor. To save time, truck campers traveling to South America should consider using 5-gallon propane tanks because those tanks are easily adapted to the local standard and are commonly available for exchange in nearly every tiny village. "

Thu, 08/05/2010 - 05:32

That's exactly what I needed Chris, thanks!

How about Denatured Alcohol? I'd assume it's widely available at hardware stores, but who knows for sure. I'm trying to decide which stoves I should have south of the border. (yes I have too many stoves to choose from, don't judge me!) I'd love to take my ultralight backpacking stove too.

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 14:01

Hi, we've been through this issue a couple of times recently. We have a Nth America bottle (Amerigas with large thread outside and small POL thread inside) and we had no problems filling up in Guatemala. The next time we wanted fill up, in Peru, they couldn't fill it. They use the same POL thread inside but no outer thread and no extra safety valve inside, the same was in Bolivia and Argentina. We bought a new bottle and needed to fill up again in Chile but regular domestic bottles are completely different in Chile. We needed to go to a major gas plant (Lipigas) and they were able to fill our Bolivian bottle and our US bottle as they use that connection on their larger bottles. Hope this helps!

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 22:44

It depends on the country and your set-up and patience/persistence!

In general it seems a little more complicated with fixed propane tanks than with bottled gas. But then again: where it's easy to get the tank filled it seems to be cheaper compared with bottles, but in general cylinders (US bottles) can be filled at every gas plant and many local gas suppliers... In the far south of SA (Uruguay + Argentina) we occasionally needed an adaptor, which some Germans had given us on their way north.

If you have the room and your rig comes with a fixed tank: try to fit somewhere a space for a bottle, with a regulator and feed-in line to a T-switch: that way you could travel with both: fixed tank and cylinder as a back-up.

Our http://dare2go.com/camping.html -list contains the GPS positions/addresses of all locations which we used during our 2007-2009 trip to fill propane cylinders!
Friends, we met several times along the way, had a set-up a with fixed tank - they published their filling locations as well: http://www.travelin-tortuga.com/Site/Camping_Logs.html

Final warning: propane (or butane in most countries) is rather dirty, so learn, best at home before leaving, how to clean the burners of your fridge, etc, and get the necessary tools to carry with you! Also: gas filled at low altitudes is often not burning very well at high altitudes - worth considering in Ecuador and Peru...