South American Road Trip Ideas
South America is best explored on a long road trip. It has the infrastructure needed for days or even weeks-long trips and the continent is incredibly diverse when it comes to its nature, culture, history, and wildlife. All of these can be experienced with the comfort of setting up your own itinerary and stopping whenever you want to.
In order to drive across the borders, you’ll need to carry an international driver’s license, and your own national permit, along with an ID document –a passport in most cases.
Table of contents
- South American Road Trip Ideas
- A Trip Through Chile and Argentina
- Traveling from Coast to Coast of Costa Rica
- Traveling from the Andes to the Amazon in Ecuador
- Baja California, and the Sea of Cortez in Mexico
- Panama, a Country of Beaches and National Parks
- A Vintage Trip in Uruguay
- Coffee and Colonial History in Columbia
- Brazil and its Coastlines
- Peru – an Adventure in the Andes
A Trip Through Chile and Argentina
Both Chile and Argentina are uniquely suited for road trips. That’s because they are not densely populated and they have well-maintained and far-stretching roads that allow you to cruise through beautiful landscapes for hours. Both countries also have plenty of lakes brought together with highways, meaning that you’ll have plenty of places to stop at and explore once you get tired of the drive.
It’s also a perfect trip for those who are interested in photography. A chance to take a good photo is around every corner and you should take advantage of it whenever you can.
Traveling from Coast to Coast of Costa Rica
This is a road trip for those who are savvy when it comes to hiking and going off the road and it’s more of an adventure than a leisurely ride. There are also plenty of beaches alongside the road that you can stop and enjoy even if you’re not into surfing and water sports.
When you move inland you’ll start to notice the volcanic mountains and the breathtaking scenery that they compose. The county is filled with coffee plantations, many of which have tourist offers as well, and you should make a stop and see one for yourself when you get tired of the seaside.
Traveling from the Andes to the Amazon in Ecuador
Ecuador has the most amazing topography in South America and using your car to go across the Andes is probably the best way to truly experience it. The beautiful rainforests are also nearby and for the most part, you can get to them in half an hour when you get out of most major highways.
Route 45 is a newly created highway made to follow the line of the Andes and the traffic on it is still quite light. Alongside the route, you’ll find thermal pools, rivers suitable for rafting, and beautiful nature.
Baja California, and the Sea of Cortez in Mexico
There’s only one highway in Baja California but it has a lot to offer. The highway was made to bring together Mexican California with the US one and it goes all the way to the Sea of Cortez. This trip is very different from what you may experience in central Mexico.
As you move down south you’ll start to come across beaches that mostly look like beaches in southern France and at the Cortez Sea itself, you can swim with the dolphins.
Panama, a Country of Beaches and National Parks
Panama can be visited by going down the Pan-American highway and once you do so you should make a stop at Casco Viejo – the old town. It has an aesthetic similar to Havana or New Orleans but it also seems to be frozen in more romantic times.
Once you go down south you’ll start noticing beautiful beaches that are usually full on the weekends. Beaches are well suited for surfing or simply relaxing on the beautiful white sand once you’re tired of driving.
A Vintage Trip in Uruguay
Vintage cars are an important part of the local cart and you’ll find them on every road. The cars are kept in perfect condition and a trip down Uruguay’s highway, therefore, seems like a trip through time as well. Pampas (meaning planes) are also beautiful to look at and take pictures of as you keep pushing down south.
It’s one of the smallest countries in the region and if you plan to limit your trip to Uruguay only – it won’t take more than a week, but there’s no reason not to go beyond its borders.
Coffee and Colonial History in Columbia
Just a few years ago Columbia was the least visited and the least popular country on the continent, but now it has created an interesting tourist offer. Make sure to visit the Gold Museum since it’s a fascinating testament to the colonial past.
When you move down to the rural areas you’ll start visiting the beautiful haciendas and the coffee plantations for which the country is so well known. You can also go horseback riding and enjoy the beautiful landscapes. Many take the time to visit the local craft shops and experience the local life firsthand.
Brazil and its Coastlines
Brazil has a beautiful coastline that is connected via great roads running throughout the country. You can start with prosperous southern states by coming in from Uruguay and then move on to the exotic and lush regions in the middle of the country.
As you keep driving north you’ll start to learn about the country’s complex and rich history and come across enclaves of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and German enclaves. This is noticeable in the cuisine, aesthetic and overall look and feel of those regions of the country, as well as its wine- you’ll need to taste.
Peru – an Adventure in the Andes
There’s also a different way to explore Peru and its dangerous roads in the Andes. This trip is more suited to experienced drivers and it requires you to pay attention on the road and to be on the lookout most of the time.
Some parts of the road are especially dangerous and it goes near dangerous cliffs, and some aren’t even paved. Right in the middle of this exciting route, you’ll find a luxurious resort called Sacred Valley. Take the time to stop there and enjoy the rest. You can also catch a train nearby and visit Machu Picchu.
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