Grant and Susan in South America

South America Route, December, 1997, to April, 1998Summary

We arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina by air from Cape Town at the end of November, 1997. We drove south from Buenos Aires to Rio Gallegos, 2600 km of nothing - scrub brush followed by more scrub brush, thousands of kilometers of it. Patagonia is endlessly flat, occasionally punctuated by a gully or a small hill. Not a recommended ride, but we weren't really doing it for the scenery. Our destination was Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, and the end of the road in South America. We arrived in Ushuaia just before Christmas, and encountered a small but hardy band of like-minded motorcyclists, many of whom had driven down from Alaska (the rest, like us, were driving up).

Christmas Eve, 1997 - Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina - furthest south you can drive.

Christmas Eve, 1997 - Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina - furthest south you can drive - note the snow on the mountains - this is mid-summer!

Our Christmas present to ourselves was very extravagant - a trip to Antarctica aboard a small cruise ship. We felt better about the price (US$2,300 each) when we considered it would have been twice as much if we had booked from North America.

After a fantastic but too short stay there (long enough to shoot 45 rolls of slide film (Grant) and 15 rolls of print film (Susan) on the penguins, seals and glaciers), it was time to head north - the only possible direction from Ushuaia.

We appreciated the variety of scenery in Chile, from the glaciers and wildlife in Torres del Paine National Park in the south to the Atacama Desert in the north, and the fact that it was considerably cheaper than Argentina was a bonus.

Osorno, southern Chile.

Osorno, southern Chile

Peru was even less expensive, but as we headed north we ran into the effects of El Niño, which had caused widespread flooding in central and northern Peru. From flooded roads and detours to destroyed roads and washed out bridges, the "easy" Pan American Highway was more of a challenge than we could ever have anticipated.

PanAmerican Highway, north of Trujillo, Peru.

PanAmerican Highway, north of Trujillo, Peru.

Crowd around bike after its bath on the PanAmerican river.

Crowd around bike after its bath in the PanAmerican river!

We were taking so long to cover short distances, that by the time we arrived in Trujillo in northern Peru, we had run out of time, a new concept for us.

Susan had committed to a contract for the following week back in Canada, so she headed for the airport while Grant continued north through Ecuador - and more of El Nino's effects - into Colombia, finishing South America in Bogota. He and Max had some amazing adventures on the last stretch, while Susan worked and worried about him until he arrived back in North America in mid April, 1998.

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