Road Trip: Up the Panamericana

Road Trip: Up the Panamericana

March 25, 2017

New Year’s resolutions are almost impossible to keep. By the time we reach this part of the year, our quest for self-improvement tends to have gone out the window (usually in favor of Netflix and fast food).

In truth, New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be about denial and hard work – sometimes the best promise we can make is to start enjoying life more. That’s why now’s the time to clear a few weeks in your schedule and book an adventure. A road trip along South America's Panamericana is just one to consider...

Getting In 

Our chosen Panamericana route starts in Tierra del Fuego. Book a flight to Buenos Aires, and from there fly to Ushuaia, a small town famous for its steep, weather-beaten setting. Hire a car here and start your journey, driving across the border into Chile and stopping off at towns like Puerto Natales, where you can hop on a boat and tour the Torres del Paine National Park and the surrounding Patagonian fjords.

Up to Santiago

From here you can continue up to Santiago, Chile’s capital, at your own pace. On the way you can explore the wilds of Chile’s western coast, before branching off into Argentina and heading up to San Carlos de Bariloche. From here, cross back over to Chile and head north to Santiago, passing through Osorno and San Fernando. Once in Santiago, you’ll want to take a couple of days to relax and drink in the atmosphere, making time for a trip to the top of San Cristobal on the funicular railway.

Uyuni and La Paz

From Santiago continue north, crossing the Bolivian border at Ollague and journeying to Uyuni, which is famous for its spectacular (and much photographed) salt flats. Around eight hours from here by car, the capital, La Paz, deserves at least two nights’ stay. Resting 3,650 meters above sea level, it’s the highest capital city in the world. It’s also best explored on foot – so pull on some good walking shoes and take some time touring the markets and museums.

Machu Picchu

No tour of South America would be complete without a trip to Machu Picchu. You can reach this spectacular attraction from La Paz, by driving northwest into Peru along Lake Titicaca. When you reach the city of Cuzco, you can arrange a tour to Machu Picchu. The easiest way to visit this ancient city is to take the train to Aguas Calientes. Alternatively you can hike all the way from Cuzco as part of a multi-day tour; the choice is yours! Just remember to bring water, a rain jacket and plenty of sun lotion.

Lima, Quito and Bogota

Once you’ve finished in Machu Picchu, head west to colorful Lima, and drive up the coast into Ecuador. Here you can spend some time in Quito, known for its colonial center and ancient Incan history, before continuing on to the Colombian capital of Bogota, with its cobblestones and excellent museums. 

Ultimately, whichever route you choose to take is up to you; just remember always to have a map to hand – and to brush up on your Spanish before you set off.


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