Road Trip Adventures in South America

The vast continent of South America is one that has so many regions worth exploring, with several areas of spectacular scenery and some wonderful towns and cities to visit. The roads may not always be on a par with the smooth lanes to be found in the United States, but there are some real adventures to be had on the road in South America. Here are some of the best road trip options for those looking for inspiration when it comes to choosing their next adventure.

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The Southern Pan American Highway

Lapataia Bay, Tierra del Fuego National Park
Intai Suchachaisri/Getty Images

The Pan American Highway is a route that reaches from South America all the way up to Alaska, but an area of impassable marshland in Panama known as the Darien Gap makes the Colombian town of Turbo a good point to start the journey. The southern portion of the route takes visitors through Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay. It is truly the ultimate South American road trip, and those with time to spare to explore sites around the route will enjoy spectacular beaches, historic sites and the amazing Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina.  

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Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

 Chris VR / TripSavvy

This amazing salt flat in the south of Bolivia is one of the most popular destinations in South America for those looking for a 4x4 adventure. The salt flats are impressively white and smooth, and the clear blue skies make for an amazing driving experience, but one where satellite navigation is particularly useful when it comes to finding your way across successfully. One of the main landmarks is the Incahuasi outcropping at the center of the flats which is one of the few areas there where there are tourist facilities, namely a small restaurant.

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Carretera Austral, Chile

Carretera Austral Road
Harri Jarvelainen Photography/Getty Images

Located in the Patagonian area of Chile, this rural route is impressive simply for providing access to such an inhospitable area and takes drivers through some of the world's most spectacular scenery. Much of the road is gravel, and most people will take a 4x4 because there are some stretches that can be fairly tough on the suspension, with potholes dotting the gravel road. There are only around 100,000 people living along the entire 770-mile route, so expect amazing views of fjords, glaciers and forests, and make sure to fill the tank when you reach a town along the route.

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Ruta 40, Argentina

Ruta 40 Images

Stretching from La Quiaca in the north to Rio Gallegos in the far south of Argentina, this is the longest road in the country and takes visitors through the superb sights of the Andes Mountains. Los Glaciares National Park is one of the most impressive sites to explore along the route and is popular for climbing and winter sports. While a 4x4 is not absolutely necessary, there are some of the rougher portions of the road where it can make the journey more comfortable, although there are plans to pave the entire route.

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Jericoacoara To Salvador, Brazil

Jericoacoara national park, Brazil
Aziz Ary Neto/Getty Images

The northeast coast of Brazil is one of the most beautiful portions of the country, and drivers following this route will be able to enjoy some of the most impressive beaches in South America. The roads along this part of the country navigate over 1,200 miles of amazing coastline, with cities like Fortaleza and Recife among the stops along the route. For those who enjoy surfing or simply relaxing on the beach, this is the ultimate South American road trip.

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