Destination South America: The continents 10 top rides
South America is a continent of absolute superlatives, the world’s greatest rainforest, largest rivers, longest unbroken chain of mountains, all exist here, and we haven’t even mentioned the worlds largest salt flats, driest deserts and fantastic ruins.
San Martin de los Andes, San Pedro de Atacama, Ushuaia, never heard of these places, how about Uyuni, Paraty or Lago Espero, these are just some of the places that feature highly on our list of the top 10 rides on the South America continent.
Yet this is a continent that still remains largely unexplored by today’s adventure bikers. There is hardly a corner of the world that hasn’t been explored to death or a road that hasn’t been trampled by a million bikers before, South America is screaming out to be “discovered”. Undertake one of these rides and the experience will stay with you forever.
All rides are included as part of www.compassexpeditions.com extensive range of tours, the most comprehensive offered in South America.
Number 10 SACRED VALLEY
Beginning in the ancient Incan capital of Cusco the ride climbs sharply out of town and passes the first group of Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman before winding and twisting its way through the Andes to Pisac located at the head of the Urubamba valley.
The ride continues onto ollytaytambo across the valley floor bordered each side by incredibly steep sided mountains with views of the snow capped peaks in the distance. From “olly” it’s a train ride to one of the world’s most recognised sights, Machu Picchu. The sight of this stupendous ruin will blow you away.
Number 9 HUARAZ
The ride takes you along some of the highest mountains in South America, from Huaraz you can see 23 snow capped peaks all over 5000m. The road continues north through the Cordillera Blanca with staggering mountain scenery all around before reaching Caraz. From Caraz you descend toward the Pacific but not before riding through the spectacular Canon del Pato where you pass under massive walls of bare rock and 36 tunnels. The ride continues onto Chimbote at sea level on the Pacific.
Number 8 SERRA RIO DO RASTRO
Begins: SAO JOAQUIM
Ends: BOM JARDIN DO SERRA
Ride this amazing mountainous region of southern Brazil. The ride begins in Soa Joaquim and finishes in Bom Jardin do Serra passing through Araucaria forests as the road clings to the mountainside winding and twisting its way down the valley. If twisting roads with numerous hairpin bends and sheer drops is your thing you will love this ride.
Number 7 COROICO
Begins: LA PAZ
Number 6 SEVEN LAKES DRIVE
Begins: SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
The road that “Che” passed through on riding La Poderosa 11” an old 1932 Norton. This is one of the world famous rides that some bikers may know of. A dirt road that passes through the stunning Nahuel Huapi National Park. Crystal clear rivers, stunning alpine lakes and towering snow capped peaks all feature on this ride. You eventually hit the pavement again and follow the shoreline of the magnificent 100k long glacial lake of Nahuel Huapi to Bariloche, scenically set at the foot of Cerro Otto. Do yourself a favour and take your time on this one maybe even camp lakeside at one of the seven alpine lakes. Its magnificent.
Number 5 UYUNI to SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
Where: BOLIVIA / CHILE
Ends: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
Number 4 COSTA VERDE
Number 3 CAMINO AUSTRAL
Begins: PUERTO MONTT
Ends: PUERTO YUNGAY
This is a region of Fjords, mountains, glaciers and rare forests, but be prepared to get wet, very wet. The region experiences over 2000ml of rain per year, but the ride is worth it for the unbelievable scenery. The road is referred to as “Camino Ripio” or “paved with gravel” and you will be riding amongst stunning fjords, past waterfalls, turquoise lakes, hanging glaciers and icefields before stopping off at one of the few small communities surviving in the wonderfully remote part of Chile. Don’t worry about the wet, you will dry out in one of the numerous wonderfully warm resorts at days end.
Number 2 RUTA 40
NUMBER 1 TORRES DEL PAINE
Begins: TORRES DEL PAINE
Ends: TORRES DEL PAINE
The deserved number one ride on the South American continent is, in our opinion, the stunningly beautiful Torres Del Paine National Park. The 180,000 ha UNESCO bio-sphere Park has been described as a mini Alaska and is crammed with soaring granite peaks, royal blue icebergs, turquoise lakes, glaciers and wandering wildlife. Every corner presents a scenic wonder and you will be awestruck by the sunrise over the towers (Torres) as the view is reflected off Lake Pehoe. It will take you at least three days to explore all corners of this jewel in the Patagonian crown. Riding here will leave you with memories that will stay with you forever.