The whole route is not planned in much detail, because I want to be able to listen to tips along the way, and take climate considerations and political situations into account. Planning is also great fun, and I will have plenty of time for this during the trip. I still think it’s important to set up goals, and my overall goal is “simply” to bicycle from southern to northern South America, i.e. from Tierra del Fuego to the Carribean Sea.
This is an overview of my preliminary route:
I will start off at the world’s southernmost city of Ushuaia, in the Argentinian province of Tierra del Fuego. From this place, it’s only 1200 km to Antarctica! I won’t go there (unfortunately!), but instead start my perhaps 8-10 month journey towards the north.
From Tierra del Fuego I will bicycle through Patagonia along the road Ruta 40, and visit some of the most famous sights such as the national park Torres del Paine (where I need to temporally cross into Chile), the glacier Perito Moreno and the mountain Fitz Roy. After that, I will cross into Chile (via a woodland path!) for a longer period of time and head for the scenic road Carretera Austral, a 1200 km long gravel road, where I will cycle through snow capped mountains, fjords and rivers. In this area, which is very remote and sparsely populated, I’m also looking forward to catch some fish since the rivers and streams here contain plenty of trout and salmon!
Carretera Austral will finally take me to the city Puerto Montt, and from there, I will cross the Andes to enter Argentina again, and this time head towards the lake district Bariloche. From here, I will continue on Ruta 40 towards Mendoza, the famous wine district of Argentina, which I think many of you have heard about. In Mendoza I’ll probably take some time off from the saddle and enjoy lots of good wines and food, and perhaps also a visit from Sweden!
The next goal after Mendoza is Salta, which is situated in northern Argentina, about 400 km from the border of Bolivia. In Salta I will prepare for the toughest part of the trip, to bike through the mountains on the Bolivian Altiplano. On the list of places to visit so far is Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, which is located at 3650 m above sea level. This part of the trip will be a great challenge due to the high altitude, a limited amount of places to get food and water, and cold nights that can go all the way down to -25 C.
I haven’t planned much after Bolivia, but I’m considering two options, that would be interesting in different ways. Either I cross Bolivia and head towards the Pacific coast in Chile, and from there bicycle along the Andes through Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The second option is to bicycle across Bolivia towards the northern part of the country, and then cross the Amazon through Brazil via Manaus. I will then enter Venezuela via the national park Canaima, home to the beautiful Gran Sabana plateau and both the world’s highest waterfall Angel Falls and the impressive table-top mountain Monte Roraima.
What route I will choose will be decided upon later, when I am more well-informed and have more experience. The first option means a lot of mountains to climb when continuing along the Andes, and the proclaimed security threats in Colombia. I think the stories about guerrilla kidnappings are exaggerated though, and fellow travellers say that Colombia is a great country, rich in both nature and social encounters.
The second option means cycling some stretches (on road BR-319) that are more or less uninhabited, and jaguars quite common. The condition of the road is also said to be a challenge, but at least I won’t get there in the rainy season, so the road should be okay even if many parts are still muddy. Fortunately, there are tall communication towers every 40 km where camping should be possible to avoid the cats at night, but making such a distance in one day is not trivial with poor road conditions.
It’s hard to get an understanding of the distance we’re talking about here. From other’s trips, it seems to be about 10,000 km, but this will probably depend on the route I will choose after Bolivia. I estimate the time to be between 8-10 months, but I certainly don’t have any time requirement to meet. When I arrive to places that I really like, I want to be able to stay for a week, and it’s definitely necessary to get some longer pauses once in a while!
Click here to see the map.