Routes on the Open Road
Dare Yourself to Ride Across South America
The saying goes, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” But who says it’s got the be one or the other? Join this month’s featured tour, the ExpeditionPlus! Coast to Coast: Across Chile & Argentina, and you get both. This 18-day adventure takes you on the road for longer, more challenging rides off the beaten track. You’ll cycle across South America, through the Andes, past volcanoes, dipping your toes in the Pacific at the start and the Atlantic at the finish. You’ll cover over 700 miles on some of the area’s most famous roads. The challenge is big, but the rewards are great, on and off the road.
Experience part of the Pan-American Highway, actually a network of highways that connects the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Over 16,000 miles long, the Pan-American runs from Alaska all the way down to the southernmost tip of South America. Only a section in the Panama-Colombia border area remains incomplete. You’ll ride a quiet stretch of this famed road on our way to Dalcahue, a fishing port on Chiloé Island. On Chiloé you’ll also see both Magellan and Humboldt penguins, witness the fascinating culture of the indigenous Chilote people, and see some of the over 200 wooden churches erected by Jesuits, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Farther into the adventure, after a rest day spent whitewater rafting, you’ll climb into the Andes and then intersect with Ruta 40. Running along the eastern side of the Andes, Ruta 40 extends 2858 miles from Santa Cruz in the south to Jujuy in the north. Although Ruta 40 is the main road of Argentine Patagonia, its one of the least traveled roads in the country—so its perfect for bike travel. Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Alberto Granado, the real-life inspiration for the film “The Motorcycle Diaries,” buzzed along Ruta 40 on a beat up 500cc Norton motorcycle in 1952. They also hit the Pan-American Highway on their life-changing trip across South America.
Keep the cycle and lose the motor on our tour, moving from Chile to Argentina in a reverse of the route Guevara and Granado took. Push yourself on a century ride on Ruta 25. See the terminus of the Old Patagonian Express. Learn some Welsh words in Gaiman, where Welsh immigrants settled in the 1860s. Savor a real Argentine barbeque under the stars.
Che wrote of himself and Granado, “what we had in common – our restlessness, our impassioned spirits, and a love for the open road.” If you feel the same way, consider applying for this year’s Coast to Coast Expedition, which runs January 11 – 28. Ride the Pan-American, Ruta 40, and the other routes on an epic adventure that truly is journey and destination. You probably won’t end up a renowned Marxist revolutionary like Che Guevara did. Still, you’ll almost certainly have some good “Bicycle Diaries” material to share.
If 18 days on the road just isn’t for you, check out our newest trip in South America, the 7-day Discover Northern Argentina tour or the 12-day Discover Northern Argentina Plus! the Ruins of Quilmes tour.