Driving in South America requires a certain amount of preparation but the joys far out way the effort. One of the most interesting facets of travel in this part of the world is that it has been populated by many cultures. With some foresight, one can drive through very ethnic Spanish, French, Dutch, Indian and Portuguese speaking areas. Consider how much time you have and what you want to see, and you will find enough diversity to require several more trips in the future.
Pan American Highway
The easiest route to consider on your first sojourn driving in South America could be the Pan American Highway. It starts from the north in Turbo, Columbia about 50 miles from the Panamanian boarder. Here starts a journey taking you along the western coast of the continent to Valparaiso, Chile then cutting east to Buenos Aires, Argentina. This will take you through the following countries: Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina. From Argentina, an “unofficial” extension will continue to the tip of South America, to Ushuaia, Argentina. Along the way you can visit the Archaeological Park in Colombia, the ancient sites of the Inca culture and see a pyramid, look for The Virgin of Quito statue overlooking Quito, Ecuador, and so much more.
Three countries in a row provide three languages and three distinctly different cultures. Each is about 250 miles long and can be explored over a week comfortably. Guyana was an English colony until independence in 1966. Populated with roughly half East Indians and half African slaves, the primary language is English. Next is Surinam (Dutch Guyana). Ruled by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it gained independence in 1975 but Dutch remains the sole official language. French Guiana ends the tour. This “country” is actually an overseas department of France. The people are French citizens and the official language is French.
From the Driest place on Earth to Glaciers
In the southern part of the South American continent in Chile, experience Natures diversity. Grey Glacier is located to the west side of the Torres del Paine National Park, this mountain glacier has been steadily retreating so now is the time to see it while you can. From there drive to Pucón. This unrivalled location is by a lake and a volcano. The volcano and well as the ambient temperature are consistently enjoyable. From there head north to the Atacama Desert, commonly known as the driest place in the world. This is not a trip to hurry along, as there is so much to beauty and natural wonder to witness.
Highest Waterfall on Earth
Angel falls may be the most spectacular sight in the modern world. Getting there by car is an effort but not to be avoided. Venezuela only has road connections with Brazil and Colombia. Only one major road connects Brazil and Venezuela; and only four from Columbia. Remember to change your watch in Venezuela one hour ahead. Once into the country make your way to Canaima National Park in the interior. From there book one of the many tours at the park as you cannot drive to the falls.
For the adventurer, outlined are four great road trips visiting four distinct areas in South America. Now the question is which to enjoy first? There are so many choices!