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South America part 1 (2017)

One year in South America, an old dream. Which became true, or almost!

After having spent a few months preparing the Landcruiser, we shipped it to Uruguay. 3 weeks later, started the trip, which will last 11 months. we went past 7 countries, drove more than 45000 km, climbed 5000m high passes, admire as many deserts as glaciers and jungles, loved the altiplano and its incredible colors, drove on the salt, walked with lamas and alpacas, tasted weird local recipes, slept in the most incredible places, and met fabulous animals...

Here is a short overview of our journey, until the next one!

Our journey from Montevideo, Uruguay (09/2017)

to Lima, Pérou (07/2018)

in the box
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 28 August 2017 00:22

After several months of intensive preparation, the 4WD is eventually (almost) ready ! The time has come to put it into the container and take it to the sea for a 3 weeks journey, filled with all we will need in the coming year.

78 pret 78 pret into the container 1 into the container 1

into the container 2 into the container 2

Rio de Janeiro
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 03 September 2017 13:46

Surprise when arriving in Rio : it's cold… It seems we've chosen the coldest week of the year, which will cause us some problems in the comings days as our clothes are not adapted !

ipanema 2 ipanema 2


Paraty ihla grande
Written by Jerem   
Saturday, 09 September 2017 16:32

Here we go on a short trip to the Costa Verde, famous holiday place for Cariocas. But they rather go there during summertime to escape the heat of the capital city, and enjoy the many sand beaches and inhabited islands. The weather for our time being is more cloudy and cold.

singe singe


Written by sophie et jeremy   
Thursday, 14 September 2017 01:41

From Rio, we fly to Buenos Aires, where we stay 24 hours. The argentinian capital, big modern city, did not filled us with enthusiasm. In its defense, the weather was really bad, and we stayed in a very dilapidated hostel…

mate mate

beginning of the trip
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 16 September 2017 00:00

The D day has come, we go to the port with the very nice Miguel fetch our 4WD, which has just cross the atlantic ocean. After many goes-and-back to the different administrations in order to get our papers tamped, and a small fear when trying to crank the engine (with a non-working key), we are eventually good to go!

camp camp

south Brazil
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Thursday, 21 September 2017 01:26

Once the border crossed without any trouble (or custom search of the car) we continue to head north along the coast. The landscapes don't change much : still immense flooded grasslands, gauchos riding horses gathering stock, and lakes. We notice that the properties don’t look as big and wealthy as in Uruguay.

sud bresil sud bresil

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 25 September 2017 18:14

Here we are in Iguacu, where we enjoy an official camping!

iguacu 4 iguacu 4

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Tuesday, 26 September 2017 01:54

The weather is rainy when we enter Paraguay, one of the less known countries of south america, probably because of its long past dictatorship history...

chaco dudule chaco dudule

Written by sophie de   
Monday, 16 October 2017 15:07

Back to Brazil, we move to Pantanal, which is located between Amazonia, Bolivia and Paraguay. In fact it's approximately the center of South America. It's a huge plain, completely wet the half of the year (fortunately we still are in dry season!), as big as half France or so, very famous for its abundant wildlife. There you also can find gauchos, their fanzendas and many cows.

gaucho gaucho

Chapada dos Guimaraes
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Thursday, 19 October 2017 20:30

After a stop in a very nice hostel in Corumba where we drank with 2 swiss couples and ate good home-made sorbets, we give up on traveling by boat up the rio Paraguay with the car, and start a long detour on the road to the north of Mato Grosso. The only points of interests on this part were ostrich farms, cotton fields, and a tropical rain shower.

chapada chapada

eastern Bolivia
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Friday, 27 October 2017 17:01

As soon as the brazilian border is crossed, we are welcomed in Bolivia by a muddy track in bad condition, a foretaste of what we’ll encounter in the country, and teenage soldiers chewing coca... Checkpoints (sometimes handmade) are plentiful in this area were a lot of drug is smuggled. Controls are eccentric as these soldiers don't get to see foreigners documents very often

bolivia checkpoint bolivia checkpoint

bolivia on the way to the mountains
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 04 November 2017 15:10

We leave Santa cruz to the west, on a beautiful road under construction. In Bolivia, it means that the roads doesn't exist and that you have to make your way in between the trucks and mechanical shovels, and sometimes passings by improvized fords. On top of that, the slopes are steep, and local fuel of bad quality. Our 4WD produce a dense cloud of smelly smoke (sometimes black, sometimes white) just like all the few other diesel vehicules. Along the road, we notice that the population is more in favour of the current government, with a lot of painting "Evo si 2020-2025" !

evo si evo si

bolivia, the altiplano
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 06 November 2017 21:38

We arrive in the heart of the country, in the altiplano and its surreal landscapes, huge temperature differences, its UNESCO cities, and its lamas!

scenic lamas scenic lamas

salar de Uyuni
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 11 November 2017 21:22

The famous salar de Uyuni is the biggest (and highest) salt lake in the world. Lake on which you can drive, as the water in beneath a thick salt crust, forming a huge white plain, surrounded by faraway mountains and doted by a few islands. It's also the biggest lithium stock, and therefore the best short-term revenue source for Bolivia.

scenic salar scenic salar

best of lamas
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 13 November 2017 16:38

Because we know you like them as much as we do, here is a extract of our best pictures of lamas.

lama 1 lama 1

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 04 December 2017 21:05

In the south of Bolivia, the landscape changes to become more arid, and here starts the area of the quebradas, typical of north western Argentina. There are dried riverbed, these spectacular rock formations recall western USA with giant cactus.

tupiza 2 tupiza 2

national parks
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 04 December 2017 23:16

The national parks come one after another but don’t look alike. Some of them, in addition to the entrance fee, enforce a mandatory guide and/or tour bus. As we have to make choices, we head to the others...

around cafayate around cafayate

lake district
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 17 December 2017 19:50

We temporarily leave the ruta 40 to drive to the "lake district", to the west, across Argentina and Chile, where we have to fill up our LPG tank needed for our stove.

4WD au lac 4WD au lac

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Tuesday, 19 December 2017 15:35

Bariloche is a small town situated on the shores of the lake Nahuel Huapi, and in the national park of the same name. In winter one can ski here (but not much as there aren’t much slopes) and drink hot chocolate. In summer, it’s kayak and trek heaven. We arrive in early summer, the weather is good but cold. All the walking trails are partially cover but snow in the highest part and some are still closed. Swimming is not an option...

bariloche bariloche

Valdes peninsula
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 30 December 2017 04:23

Valdes peninsula, on the Atlantic shore, is a nature reserve with a very rich wildlife : whales, penguins, seals, guanacos nandus, foxes... and orcas at some times!

4WD au bord de lo 4WD au bord de lo

Patagonia North to South
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Friday, 12 January 2018 23:56

Everyone knows it : there's a lot of wind in Patagonia. Indeed, you must be prepared before arriving there, but living it is so much different ! And that's at least one entertainment in Patagonia, because it looks falt and monotonous : no trees, no mountains, no lakes, only pampa and few oil rigs. Fortunately, there are also thousands of wild guanacos, nandus (ostriches), seals and penguins !

wind wind

Tierra del fuego
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 15 January 2018 21:56

Once in Tierra del fuego, we can’t help but notice there is neither fire, nor smoke, but still as much wind! And plenty of guanacos, we don’t know how they crossed the strait. On the other hand, we can see trees and mountains again!

paso garibaldi paso garibaldi

Isla Navarino
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 18:54

In order to go even more south after spending Christmas eve in Tierra del fuego, we decide to go and celebrate new year on Navarino island, in the Chilean cape Horn province. It’s beautiful, rugged and of course not too touristic.

Dientes 5 Dientes 5

Torres del paine
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 21 January 2018 15:53

Torres Del Paine, the most known Chilean national park attracts thousands of tourists every year, it's the hiker’s paradise.

route de la fin du monde route de la fin du monde

PN los glaciares
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 27 January 2018 16:52

One more border crossing (and not the last one) and we are back in Argentina to visit Parque National de los Glaciares.

route chalten route chalten

on the road 40 again
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 12 February 2018 19:58

We slowly start to cross the continent on the other direction : from south to north. The goal is to head north on the Chilean side, but due to the total lack of road on the pacific coast, cut out into thousands of islands and isolated fjords, we will have to go back and forth Chile and Argentina few times.

PN perito moreno 3 PN perito moreno 3

carretera austral
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 12 February 2018 20:00

The Carretera austral or road 7, is a motorable track of about 1200km which construction started in the 70s under Pinochet's rule. It gives access to Chile's south third, a wild and remote area gathering mountains, fjords, islands, glaciers and lush vegetation. The small harbors along the road used to be the only access points.

Carretera austral Carretera austral

between land and sea
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Tuesday, 20 February 2018 02:49

A part of the carretera austral having been destroyed by a landslide, and seemingly not going to be repaired soon, we drive to the west coast to reach our next stop : Chaiten.

puerto RM balmaceda puerto RM balmaceda

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Thursday, 08 March 2018 16:40

Chiloe is an island mostly inhabited by Mapuche indians descendants, who long lived aside of modern society, following a fierce resistance to spanish conquistadors. The result is a strong island identity, highlighting sea and handicrafts, and a rich spiritual culture half way between Catholicism and wood elves.

4WD au bord de lo 4WD au bord de lo

lake district episode 2
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 10 March 2018 16:41

Back on the mainland, we stop along the lake Llanquihue, surrounded by several snow-capped volcanoes. The perfectly conical shape of the volcano Osorno, a winter ski resort, reflects itself in the blue waters where we have a bath in between some kayaks. This is the end of the summer holidays here, and they seem to enjoy them till the very end! We will rapidly pass by Puerto Varas and Petrohue, small holiday villages turned into lakeside Disneyland.

road to Cochamo road to Cochamo Llanquihue Llanquihue

chileans volcanoes
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Thursday, 22 March 2018 21:42

The road 5, backbone of the country, is a superb highway, dotted with modern fuel stations, buffet restaurants, showers and internet connection, a whole luxury we almost forgot about! Be reassured, there are wandering pedestrians, cyclists, and hairpin curves on that highway too! Still, we are happy to use it, even if we have to make some loops to the west to see the coast, and to the east in the mountains.

Llaima Llaima

ruta del vino
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 25 March 2018 19:38

On the way to the west and the pacific coast, we first cross the wine country, including Colchagua valley, where the wine is almost 2 meters high, and surrounded by palmtrees and eucalyptus. Quite exotic. We also can find here a forgotten vine, Carménère, which pleased Sophie very much, especially along a juicy steak !

ruta del vino ruta del vino vine vine

ruta del desierto
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 01 April 2018 23:49

Surprisingly, the well-named « ruta del desierto » starts for us long the ocean, between beaches, cactus and sand dunes. We'll see later that it runs all along the northern third of Chile as we won't leave it for the next 3 weeks.

route du desert 1 route du desert 1 route du desert 2 route du desert 2

Atacama desert
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 09 April 2018 13:29

The famous Atacama desert, now playground of the Dakar rally, is also known as the driest area on earth. Rain can be recorded less than every 50 years ! It spans over 600 km in the north of Chile, from the Pacific ocean to the Andean cordillera.

route du desert 2 route du desert 2

south Lipez
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 15 April 2018 16:01

Located in the south west of Uyuni salar, this area of the altiplano is famous for its landscapes, most of them gathered in the Eduardo Avaroe reserve. One can find here laguna of different colors, pink flamingos, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs, salars, vicunas and lamas...

ruta del desierto part 2
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 16 April 2018 22:30

Once again we leave the altiplano via a vertiginous downhill which makes us loose 3000m altitude in less than 30 km.

route du desert 1 route du desert 1

ruta del desierto part 3
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Wednesday, 18 April 2018 00:07

After these few resting days, we hit back the road to the east and the high altitudes. On the menu of our last days in Chile:sand, hot springs, lagunas, salars, canyons , volcanoes and of course lamas...

la paz
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 30 April 2018 02:52

Back in Bolivia, we happily see again old ladies dressed in the traditional way : a large skirt with many layers, thick socks, a backpack made from a colored piece of fabric and a hat covering their long black braids. They seem to wear that dress in any circumstances: to work in the fields or take the bus... Meanwhile we have to change dress 3 times a day because of the differences of temperature at this altitude.

boliviennes boliviennes

lake titicaca
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 06 May 2018 02:59

The lake Titicaca, split between Bolivia and Peru, is one of the biggest lake in south America, and at 3812m high considered as the highest navigable lake in the world. It’s the cradle of the Inca civilization: Viracocha, the first Aymara god, would be born in this lake before creating the world and the Andean civilizations.

isla de la luna isla de la luna

peruvian jungle
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 23:15

After some hesitations, we’ve decided to go to the south east end of Peru, to meet the fauna and flora from the amazonian jungle. that’s a small 500 km detour, but the new ‘Interoceanica’, linking Brazil (Atlantic ocean) to Peru (Pacific ocean) now allows to drive to these once remote areas.

sandoval 14 sandoval 14

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 21 May 2018 23:21

Former Inca capital founded in 1100 AD by Manco Capac, son of the sun, and Mama Ocllo, daughter of the moon, Cuzco is a city full of contrasts. One can find there as many pre-columbian temples as spanish churches and convents (most of them built on inca basements). Incas were unequally talented stone cutters.

pano_cuzco pano_cuzco

Machu Picchu and the sacred valley
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 21 May 2018 23:23

West of Cuzco is the huge valley of the Rio Urubamba. Its fertile land has been the cradle of the Inca, who built there numbers of temples and fortresses, most of them being still visible. We take our time to visit this scenic road, ending at the famous Machu Pichu.


Nevado Ausangate and Montana Colorada
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Friday, 25 May 2018 03:38

After a first attempt 2 weeks before, aborted because of bad weather conditions, we are ready to go for a 4 days trek around this 6384m summit : 50 km and 3 passes higher than 5000m !

ausangate 4 ausangate 4

Cotahuasi canyon
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 09 June 2018 16:53

For us to reach this canyon, the world’s deepest with 3354m, we have decided not to use the most common way, nor the easiest. It’ll be much more fun to go through the altiplano for a few days, where roads are bad and none have seen a tourist recently. One more chance to freeze at nights!

cotahuasi 1 cotahuasi 1

dunes on the pacific
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 17 June 2018 17:45

Arequipa, « the white », is the second city of Peru, standing at 2300m high, between desert and pacific coast, overlooked by 3 majestic volcanoes, one of these being active. Its name comes from the white spanish colons who initially settled the city, and then it kept it later with the mix of populations because of the many buildings made of the sillar, a volcanic white stone. The city is undoubtedly charming and pleasant, and less touristic than Cuzco.

Arequipa 2 Arequipa 2

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Friday, 29 June 2018 00:25

For our last weeks before going back to France, we have eventually decided to go back to the Peruvian highlands near the mountain ranges of the center of the country, among the highest of south America. We might as well enjoy our training to high altitudes to go and admire from close these tropical glaciers.

paso llanganuco paso llanganuco

Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 16 July 2018 08:14

As all best things, our trip is getting to an end, so we have to drive to Lima, in order to have the paperwork ready to safely leave our car as we will fly back home.