In 1952, 23 year-old Che Guevara and his friend headed south from Buenos Aires and travelled South America by motorbike. His stories of their heroic journey are famous and are exploring, dramatic, hilarious and sometimes a tale of disaster at the same time. Following Che’s route will give you a special insight into the nature of South America and the historical and geographical aspects of its social cultures.
Comfortable Road trip
Unless you choose to the trip off-road by bike, your trip will be much more comfortable then Che Guevara’s road trip was back then, because nowadays the roads are paved and you can travel by air-conditioned bus, train or car. Even though it’s more comfortable you can still see the stone hut shelters of the Andean altiplano, feel the romance of the weather-parched townships in the dust of Patagonia and hot humid sheds in the Amazon jungle.
Circling South America
Che’s diaries take you on a dazzling tour down Argentina and right across the Andes. After that you travel up Chile to Peru and from Cuzco to Iquitos through the spectacular Amazon headwaters. And of course you go to Colombia and Venezuela. In the Atacama Desert south of Iquique, Chili you should see the world’s biggest open-pit mine, the Chuquicamata copper mine. It’s Chili’s main wealth-source and Che was furious about the fact that it was owned by the US. Explore the Amazon jungle around the Ieper colony of San Pablo where native Indians tell and teach you the tales of the thick and dark forest. Cuzco is a lovely, but dodgy city. It was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is still the base of the Machu Picchu.
Let Che’s enthusiasm from his diaries infect you and guide you to take opportunities along the way: jump on a dusty truck and share your ride with strangers or jump in the water to help pushing a ferry. Be careful, because Che’s route will sometimes take you to distant and isolated regions and borders which can be dangerous. Don’t hesitate to ask guidance from locals, but always use the tourist infrastructure wherever you can. Enjoy the spontaneous adventures, but try to balance your enthusiasm with care.
Travel Time and Tips
It took Che 9 months and recently two actors who made a film on the way travelled the same route in a year. If you travel the road by boat and by bus, you can do it within a month, but if you want to do it n Che’s spirit you need at least three months. There is no best time to travel through South America, you can do Che’s route year-round. Remember that June to August can be very chilly in the southern part and inform yourself about the rainy seasons when you are there, because they vary.
Che never visited Bolivia and his trip didn’t end in Venezuela. You can choose to pause to take some Bolivian tours and finish your trip in Venezuela. Or you can follow his spirit and share his respect for the majesty of South America.