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Did you ride through Argentina-Bolivia? Was it the best thing ever? Was that one place a must see of a life time?
If so, I want to know about it!
We did a big ride down from Costa Rica to the South tip of Patagonia.
For me, Argentina was the most boring part of the whole trip. The country is huge and you don't seem to get anywhere by bicycle. Thousands of kilometers there is only pampa with nothing to see.
Of course there are some nice places to visit (Salta, El Calafate with the Perito Moreno glaciar), but in general the distances in between are just too big. Additionally, the costs are very high in Argentina. So, for me it isn't a must-see.
Bolivia is something different. It is though cycling there because the road conditions are extremely poor once you leave the main highways. But there is nice landscapes and it definitely is an adventure! Unfortunately, the people are a bit reserved.
For me the best thing in South America is Peru - a lot of culture and nice landscapes. I would recommend that country instead of Argentina.
We are planing to come in South America and cycling one year,
can you recommend to us anyting important , countries , roads, peoples, safety, climate (which country in wich month), landscape ....
We've cycled a bit more than one year through South America. I'll try to put some informations together. If you need to know more, just write me a message.
The best country for me was Peru. It has a lot to see and distances in between sights are reasonably short. You could definitely do a lot of things even with a 4 year old - and he will like it! Following the Panamerican Highway includes a lot of traffic, though. And anyway, the coastal side is a lot of desert and the weather is generally gray. We enjoyed the Sierra a lot more. Getting water and food is never a problem, that makes travelling rather easy.
Bolivia is very interesting, too. The roads are getting quite rough, though, as soon as you leave the main highways. The region around the Titicaca lake is very beautiful! The rest of the altiplano is very deserted. Therefore the views may be spectacular but you have to take a lot of food and water with you. One of the salt lakes you should definitely do, it's a special experience! But make sure to avoid the rainy season (Decembre to April).
Colombia is great for the people! They are by far the nicest ones of all the countries we've visited in South America. And dispite the bad reputation, the country is pretty safe (with the exception of the big cities, as everywhere in the world). For the scenery the coffee region is very nice (around Armenia) and the desert of tatacoa. Cartagena as a city is nice and the lifestyle at the carribean beach is amazing - it gets extremly hot, though. To get from the North to Medellin or Bogota there is a horrible traffic. I'd recommend to take a bus, especially with a kid.
Ecuador would probably offer a lot of nice views. Just make sure you are not travelling during the rainy season (around February to April)! We had about 6 weeks of almost constant rain and always cloudy sky so that we couldn't see most of the vulcanos. Another difficulty offer the roads: if you do not follow the Panamerican highway (which has an awful traffic!), the roads are almost constantly up or downhill - both with a very steep inclination. It is demanding!
Of Chile we know only the Carretera Austral. This can be tough going! It is raining a lot and much. The road is constantly climbing or dropping (calculate with 1000-1200Hm+ per 60km). There is not a lot of villages, so you'd need to carry a lot of food with you. Spots for wild camping are mostly difficult to find because along the road there is barbwire everywhere. The country is safe - but very expensive.
Argentina I can not recommend - especially with a kid (I know Nick has a different opinion on that, but maybe he will change his mind when he gets to the more Northern countries ;-)). The distances between the interesting spots are just too huge. There is a lot of Pampa or desert do be crossed - and you'd need a lot of tricks to prevent your son from getting bored... Food and water need to be carried for several days. From what other people (including the Argentinians!) say, it is not too safe as a country, either (luckily we didn't have any bad experiences, though). If you still want to visit the country, make sure to bring US Dollars - else the country get very expensive!
I hope this helps your planning - else just contact me!
Thank's for a lot of information, it will help us to planing ride. I think we will start in February from Rio de Janeiro, which direction can we avoid bad weather ( rainy, windy, cold), we want to pass through Titicaca, Cusco, Lima, Quito maybe later Columbia if it is realy safe??? :-)
We have plenty cycling experiance , we cycled from Malaysia to Serbia through China, Gobi desert and Siberian taiga...
I have cycled and been in Argentina for close to 3 month on my trip thus far, having already cycled through Brazil, Uruguay and Chile, and crossing back to Mendoza to cycle the northern region to enter into Bolivia. My experience has been that the Argentinians are the most generous and helpful people I have met. I have met so many amazing people there and fantastic stories that you must travel there to experience the same. Where to cycle in Argentina? I started in Buenos Aires and cycled to Puerto Madryn. Here it is reasonably flat and open grassland and farming planes up until Bahia blanca(I cycled south from Buenos Aires, you could also follow the coast and have beaches everyday). After that it is the la pampa, but I still found this amazing! There are some amazing rock and mountain structures along the way to Puerto madryn.
I than went to Bariloche where you must cycle the seven lakes and go up to junin de los Andes. Spectacular! Here there are obviously a lot of climbs, but I enjoy that and the landscape is hard to match with anything els I have seen. Cycle any road numbered in the 60s in that region and you will be impressed. The roads are difficult but worth the effort. This is the must see! (I have not cycled the north yet so I reserve to option to change my opinion :) )
Further south of Bariloche is el Bolson, el hoyo, cholila which are beautiful landscapes and also a must see. I avoided Ruta 40 further down and entered Chile. El Chalten is a great stop for hiking. Calafate is only glacier perito moreno in my opinion, not a lot more. This is not say you shouldn't visit it, it is a fantastic view of a glacier. After that, it becomes a matter of experiencing the real Patagonia and the weather ( a lot of wind, pushing me at 75km/h). This section is more for people who want to say they did it rather than it was an amazing view and great sights. I am glad that I did it though.
If you want more info, inbox me and I would be happy to tell you more.
Its been a few years but I spent just over 2.5 years in SA and thoroughly enjoyed every country.
The north is spectacular and with a little Spanish, you go a long way with the people.
Strongly rec'd the Passo Jama pass into Chile.
I loved Cordoba and the cattle region, but as I grew up on a farm I am biased!!
The wine region around San Rafael all the way to Tucuman was beautiful and mellow but not as scenic.
Strongly rec'd. Neuquén/Zapala to Esquel, easy roads, lots of scenery and great set up, a must do during the summer jan/Feb ideally.
The toughest country in SA, by far. Rough roads once off the beaten path, great scenery esp around the Salar and the Yungas, people are easy going in the lowlands around Trini and St Cruz but a lot of work in the highlands. I did some off roading in the Mapiri, Sorata, Rurenabaque and Trini areas, only rec'd if like roughing it, otherwise avoid as services are few and obstacles plentiful.
Lake Titicaca is a gem and Achacachi a pleasant base for the surrounding highlands.
The highlights were the highlands
and the bush around Iquitos. The coast is okay but scenery wise is not there compared to the bush and hills.
Be prepared for some big hills, a couple 4500m plus climbs and cold nights at altitude. people are super friendly and a joy to talk with in the villages. Coca leaves are a good introd to people and fluency in Spanish and some Quechua are important to get the most out of any trip in SA, especially in Peru. Puno - Huaraz is a must, so is Iquitos, Trujillo (lucho) and I hear the area beyond Huaraz is also great.
Other highlights were Colombia, Brasil, and Guyana.
Colombia - the south, all the way back into Brasil via the Putumayo after Popoyan
Brasil , The Pantanal and Mato Grosso region as well as parts of Para state great food, great fishing, two of my favourites!!
Guyana - Lethem to GT is a trek but unlike any other road.
Uruguay and Paraguay were also great.
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