• Gaurav Sharma

My South America Itinerary: 6 Months, 6 Countries, 1 Motorcycle

I traveled to South America from January to August 2019, bought a motorcycle in Chile & rode 25000 kilometers to reach Colombia. This was something I really wanted to do before turning 30 and I am glad I celebrated my 30th birthday in Colombia.

I flew from New Delhi to Santiago (via London, NYC, Lima) and spent six & a half months riding a Royal Enfield Himalayan across Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador & Colombia. In August, I took a flight to Vietnam – my absolute favorite country in the world – and spent two weeks to soak it all in before coming back to Delhi.

South America 6 month itinerary

All the places I visited in South America in 6 months.

6 Months in South AmericaJan 25 – Mar 17ChileEaster Island, Central & Southern ChileMar 17 – Apr 13Argentina (& Chile)Patagonia & border crossings in ChileApr 13 – May 2ChileCoast, Atacama DesertMay 2 – May 23BoliviaSalar De Uyuni, Sucre, La Paz, CopacabanaMay 23 – July 10PeruCusco, Iquitos, Lima, Arequipa, Ica, HuarazJuly 10 – July 22EcuadorCuenca, Banos, Quilatoa, QuitoJuly 22 – Aug 6ColombiaCocora Valley, Medellin, Cartagena

Royal Enfield Himalayan in South America


Santiago (10 days)

I spent around 10 days in Santiago just chilling and getting ready for the journey ahead. Also, I needed some time to do the motorcycle documentation. I was back in Santiago in April as well while going up North.

Easter Island (4 days)

Isla De Pascua or Easter island wasn’t part of my plan due to the expensive flight tickets. But I was fortunate to find really cheap tickets for the Tapati Festival, an annual festival of the local Rapa Nui people.

Valparaiso (3 days)

Valparaiso is one of the most happening cities in all of South America. Just 90 minutes away from Santiago, it has some nice beaches and is full of art, music & parties.

Santa Cruz (2 days)

This region produces some of the finest wines in South America. I stopped here just for 2 days to ride around the vineyards and took one of the wine tours.

Entering Patagonia

Lake District – Pucon, Lago Ranco  & Puerto Varas (5-6 days)

After a very long ride from Santa Cruz, I reached Pucon, which is an extremely popular tourist spot. But the scenery around this region is very satisfying, especially if you’re on a motorcycle. I had to extend my stay in Puerto Varas because of continuous rains.

Chiloe (2 days)

Chiloe is the largest island in Chile and known for its unique wooden churches and colorful houses on stilts. I also spotted some penguins here.

Caraterra Austral (12-24 days)

Known as one of the most beautiful roads in the world, Caraterra Austral is thoroughly scenic. Passing through National Parks, glaciers, waterfalls and snow-peaked mountains, this route is Patagonia in its full glory. My route was Puerto Varas – Hornopiren – Pumalin National Park – La Junta – Coyhaique – Puerto Rio Tranquillo – Chile Chico.

I had an accident around 50 kms from Coyhaique and I was unable to get back on the motorcycle for almost 2 weeks and hence I had to take an exit from Chile Chico instead of reaching the end of Caraterra Austral.

Caraterra Austral Road in Patagonia

Caraterra Austral – One of the most beautiful road trips in the world.


El Chalten & El Calafate (7 days)

Reaching the most visited & beautiful part of Patagonia is a very tiring journey through some of the windiest, most barren landscapes in the world. However, in 3 days with some stories, I reached Chalten and hiked to Fitz Roy on a clear day. I spend some time in Calafate too and visited the Perito Moreno Glacier – one of the highlights my entire trip.

Puerto Natales – Punta Arenas (5 days) (Back to Chile)

You have to do a lot of border crossings if you plan to go all the way down to Ushuaia. My initial plan was to visit Torres Del Paine but because of bad weather, a dog bite and seeing a flock of tourists, I decided to skip it and went to Punta Arenas. It was a little late in season, but I still took an expensive tour to Isla Magdalena to see some penguins.

To Ushuaia (5 days) (Back to Argentina)

Reaching Fin Del Mundo (end of the world) is not so easy if you’re riding a motorcycle because of the unpredictable weather. I was surprised to see so much greenery after thousands of kilometers of barrenness. I really loved Tierra Del Fuego National Park and the entire experience was way above expectations.

Ushuaia to Bariloche (6 days)

This was a very challenging route because of the weather & the winds. Most of the route is barren & flat with distances of 300-350 kms of absolutely no habitation between towns. My route was Ushuaia – San Sebastian border – Rio Gallegos – Puerto San Julian – Comodoro Rivadavia – Gobernador Costa – Bariloche. I stayed 2 nights in Rada Tilly, just outside Comodoro, and it is probably the best place on the Atlantic side of Patagonia.

San Carlos de Bariloche to Chile (5 days)

Also known as the Seven Lake road, the route around Bariloche is just stunning. After spending a couple of days in Bariloche, I went to Villa La Angostura to meet a friend and spend my last night in Argentina in a very quiet town – Junin de los Andes.

Road to Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Argentina

Road to Fitz Roy, one of the most beautiful mountains in Patagonia.


Reaching Santiago (5 days)

I crossed into Chile just a few minutes before my visa expired and that too from a very remote border. My motorcycle was completely broken, so I had to spend a night in Icalma – a small village at the border. A nice gentleman offered me help and took the motorcycle to Temuco on his truck. It took 2 days for the motorcycle to be repaired and then I rode 720 kms in 9 hours straight to Santiago.

Santiago & the coast (6 days)

I spent some time in Santiago at a motorcycle hostel & some of the guys also helped in repairing the motorcycle. From Santiago, I took the coast to reach the Atacama Desert via La Serena and Taltal.

Atacama Desert (7 days)

Hot days & cold nights, Atacama is the driest place in the world. I spent a night camping at the Hand of Desert and then went to San Pedro De Atacama. After doing some touristy activities, I spent my last couple of days in Calama before heading to Bolivia.

Atacama Desert milky way.

Night sky in Atacama Desert


Uyuni (5 days)

I reached Uyuni after spending a night at San Cristobal. The entire route has an average altitude of around 3800m with some stunning scenery, bad roads & no human population. I spend the next 3 days in Salar de Uyuni with a night of wild camping in the middle of nowhere. This was definitely the top experience of the trip.

Potosi – Sucre (5 days)

Entering Potosi, I was quite happy to see the chaos; random traffic, honking, loads of people – immediately reminded me of India. I just spent a couple of days strolling around and headed to Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia. Sucre felt more developed with a lot of European architecture, but it was nice to be back to some urban lifestyle.

Cochabamba (3 days)

I really liked Cochabamba, it felt like Pune of Bolivia. I was staying a friend’s place and hence got to try some good local food.

La Paz (7 days)

La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia and the highest capital city in the world. At 3640m, La Paz just takes your breath away, literally. It’s crowded, it’s crazy and just going around the city on a Teleferico is quite an experience. I also took a day trip to the famous ‘Death Road’ where you go from 4000m to 1200m in less than an hour.

Lake Titicaca (2 days)

At 3800m, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. I spent a night in Copacabana and a night on Isla Del Sol, an island in the middle of the lake. I always imagined Copacabana to be a party town, but surprisingly it was quite dead. From here, we followed the coast of Lake Titicaca to cross into Peru.

Salar De Uyuni - Bolivia

Night camping at Salar De Uyuni


Cusco (17 days)

I reached Cusco after spending a night in Puno which is just a transit town for people going to or coming from Bolivia. Cusco is very touristy so I wasn’t particularly impressed. After chilling for 3-4 days, I went to Parque Madidi with two fellow riders. The route is really beautiful as you go down from 4000m to 500m into the heart of Amazon forests. We also spent a night camping in Tres Cruces and woke up to one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.

After coming back I went to Machu Picchu and spent some time in different towns of the Sacred Valley. I really loved Pisac in particular where I also attended a San Pedro Ceremony (Washuma). I was a little disappointed with Machu Picchu because of the flock of tourists & beaureaucacy.

Arequipa (5 days)

I reached Arequipa via Condoroma through some really high mountain passes. Arequipa is the second largest city of Peru and is also known for its food and hence I could not miss it. From here, I rode to the famous Colca Canyon and took a country road to the coast.

Southern Coast (4 days)

The month of June is not the best time to visit the Peruvian coast, but I was happy to be back to sea level after a very long time. I spent a night in Atico district, and then went to Huacachina, a very popular desert oasis with a lot of party scenes. Before reaching Lima, I visited the Paracas National Park which is a beautiful deserted national park on the coast.

Lima (7 days)

Lima is the capital of Peru and is globally known for its food. I spent a week here just eating at some of the finest restaurants. In between, I also flew to Iquitos for a short 4 day trip to Amazon.

Iquitos (4 days)

Iquitos is the largest city in the world not connected by the road and is located right in the heart of Amazon forests. I spent one night in the city & 3 nights in the forest.

Huascaran (5 days)

After coming back from Iquitos, I headed back to the mountains via Barranca. I slept in Huaraz, Pucon, Yungay & Chacas while going through the Huascaran National Park, which is probably one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Unfortunately, I was running out of time & had multiple issues with the motorcycle and hence could not spend more time in this region.

Northern Coast (3 days)

In my last few days in Peru, I passed through the Northern coast via Trujillo and ended up spending my last night in Mancora district, one of the popular surfing spots. No, I don’t surf, but it was on the way.

Machu Pichhu, one of the seven wonders

Trip to Machu Picchu


Cuenca (2 days)

My initial plan was to stay at the first town near the border, but I got so excited after seeing the amazing roads & greenery in Ecuador that I rode all the way to Cuenca on the same day. Somehow the vibes in Ecuador were amazing, suddenly everything was falling in the right place. I even found an official Royal Enfield service center I was looking for five months.

Banos  (5 days)

The route from Cuenca to Banos is beautiful, in fact most of the roads in Ecuador are thoroughly scenic. And there is plenty to do around Banos. Pailon Del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) was one of my favorite places in all of South America. I also took a 2 day trip to Amazon where I also attended an Ayahuasca ceremony. 

Quito (5 days)

I really wanted to visit Chimborazo but it was too cloudy on that day, so I headed straight to Quilatoa from Banos. Located at 4000m, Quilatoa is a water-filled caldera that is 3-km wide, I was awe-struck when I first saw it, it is unimaginably huge. I also wanted to go to Cotopaxi but unfortunately I could not reach there before the entry closes and also because you’re not allowed to take a motorcycle.

Nonetheless, I made my way to Quito, the second-highest capital in the world and definitely one of the most beautiful ones. I highly recommend taking the teleferico that takes you up a 4000m mountain and you can see the entire city and even Cotopaxi. I also visited Mitad del Mundo or Middle of the World, one of the most popular places in Ecuador famous for the equatorial line passing through it.

Laguna Quilatoa, Ecuador

Laguna Quilatoa, Ecuador


Cocora Valley (3 days)

I had initially planned to spend 6 weeks in Colombia, but I was running very very late and was at least one month behind schedule. I just had 2 weeks in which I had to reach Medellin, find a motorcycle buyer and sell my motorcycle.

I reached Cocora Valley after spending a day in Popayan. a really beautiful little town. I just spent 2 days around Cocora Valley which is known for producing some of the finest coffee in the world.

Medellin (8 days)

I was really surprised to see how big & crowded Medellin was. Honestly, I didn’t do much in Medellin, I was just eating, drinking & going to malls (because of the heat). I was fortunate to find a buyer in the first 3-4 days itself and that allowed me to book a short trip to Cartagena. I spent a night in Guatape as well, a very beautiful place just 90 minutes from Medellin.

Cartagena (3 days)

This was the end of my South America trip, and all I had to do was get drunk, and I was just at the right place, Cartagena. I spent 2 nights in the city & 1 night in Baru islands which has an incredibly beautiful beach.

My last night was in Medellin when I was still running around for the paperwork. Fortunately, everything fell in the right place, I just went out to have a beer, bought some souvenirs and slept off. And on August 6th, I was all set to leave South America wearing a Colombian hat and a bag full of memories.

But it wasn’t over.

Two days later, I was in my favorite country, Vietnam. 🙂

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