SouthAmeriCar 2023

Day-by-day description

Deserts, highlands, volcanos, mountain lakes, Inca towns, traditional villages, mountain passes, pampas, jungles and waterfalls are the ingredients for this spectacular trip, and you’ll be driving your own car the whole way. While most of the roads will be paved, there will be some unpaved roads to add to the excitement. We have chosen the best accommodation along the way and will include several visits to the highlights of the countries which we are crossing, such as Machu Picchu in Peru and the Iguazu waterfalls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. During this fantastic adventure you will enjoy the enormous freedom of traveling with your own car, while always being able to count on the support of our experienced Dutch, German, English and Spanish speaking tour guides and expert technical team. Will you join us on this adventure?

Day-by-day description in PDF

Day 1 | Monday May 1: Amsterdam – Lima

Today your Unique Journey starts! Get on board for your intercontinental flight to Lima. In the evening you will arrive at the airport and you will be brought to your hotel. Enjoy your delicious dinner and have a good night of rest.
Accommodation: El Prado DoubleTree |

Day 2 and 3 | Tuesday and Wednesday May 2 and 3: Lima

These days you will stay in Lima. Together we will pick up the cars and there is some time to discover the city on your own occasion. During the colonial times, Lima was the most important city in South-America. Visit the historic city center with its two beautiful squares, buildings with wooden balconies and the cathedral and the San Francisco church. The characteristic neighborhoods of Miraflores and Barranco are also worth a visit. Do you have time left? Then visit the gold museum. Also visit the ruin of Pachacamac, just outside the city. This ruin is one of the most important religious centers along the coast. This amalgamation of temples and residential areas has been inhabited for about two millennia. The temples were visited by pilgrims to honor the creator Viracoche. Leave enough time for your gastronomic trips during your stay in Lima. Lima is seen as the culinary capital of Latin America. We are happy to advise you on the better restaurants. Did you know that many fish restaurants are only open for lunch because the chefs only find the fish fresh enough to serve. The best known, and delicious, fish dish from Peru is 'Ceviche'; raw fish in lime juice. Peruvian cuisine has been put on the international map by a number of well-known chefs of Peruvian origin, including Gaston Acurio. His fusion dishes are special and of a great level.
Accommodation: El Prado DoubleTree |

Day 4 | Thursday May 4: Lima – Paracas
(ca. 246km / 3,5 hours)

Our first SouthAmeriCar driving day has arrived! Today we drive from Lima to Paracas. We leave the big capital and follow the road south across the Panamericana Sur. You will pass several villages and small towns. Sometimes the desert landscapes are interrupted by green river beds that surround the riverbanks. In the city of Pisco, follow the signs to Paracas. Your hotel is located near the sea. Paracas is a peninsula south of Lima. In this area many archaeological findings are done. In addition, the area is an important nature reserve where lives many species of birds, like flamingos and albatrosses. The nutrient rich coastal waters  takes also care of many animals who are living on the nearby Ballestas Island, like huge colonies of sea lions and humboltpinguïns.
Accommodation: DoubleTree resort Paracas |

Day 5| Friday May 5: Paracas – Nasca
(ca. 216 km / 3,5 hours)

There is a lot to see today. We recommend to wake up early to visit the Ballestad archipel with a small boat. Within half an hour you will navigate to the archipel to see the animals. After returning back to Paracas your driving day starts towards the south, to Nasca. On the way to Nasca you will pass the city Ica. From Ica you drive tot he Huacachina oasis. This oase is surrounded by high sand dunes where lots of people sandboard. Before arriving in Nasca you can see the watchtowers from where you can see the famous Nazca linese geoglyphs in the desert.
Accommodation: Hotel Majoro |

Day 6| Saturday May 6: Nasca – Sacred Valley
(ca. 668 km / 12 hours)

This day starts early. Today we’re looking forward to a scenic route. Once we leave Nasca, there is an uphill road but in very good condition. Then the road climbs up on the Peruvian highland, which lies on a height of 4,000 meters. The Land of the Lamas is between the high mountain ranges of the western and eastern Andes and the views are spectacular. The track is definitely a challenge for historic vehicles and their handlers. Many animals have found their habitat, you can see flamingos, llamas, cows and donkeys. In addition, there are many traditional Indian villages. Finally, the road leads us down again and we follow a river surrounded by a green countryside to Abancay. Behind Abancay the road climbs steeply and reaches at some points up to 3,500 meters above sea level. Urubamba is the main town in the Sacred Valley and the gateway to Machu Picchu. The green and fertile landscapes in the valley of the Incas were already of great importance, therefore, today many historical relics found in the archaeological sites. Due the height of 2,400 meters the Sacred Valley is an eternal spring the whole year.
Accommodation: Sol y Luna |

Day 7| Sunday May 7: Machu Picchu

Visiting the Inca city of Machu Picchu; for many it is a dream come true! Today you will visit this unique hidden Inca city. The Machu Picchu, was discovered by accident in 1911 by the American Hiram Bingham. He was looking for the legendary city of Vilcabamba, when local farmers pointed out ruins on a hill overgrown by subtropical rainforest. The discovery of Machu Picchu is considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century. By train you travel through the Sacred Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes. Here your guide will take you to Machu Picchu. Here you will learn more about this special city. From this hidden city you have a wonderful view over the surrounding subtropical rainforest. In the afternoon you return back to the Sacred Valley by train from Aguas Calientes. You will be transferred to your hotel upon arrival.
Accommodation: Sol y Luna |

Day 8| Monday May 8: Cuzco

On the second day off, you will visit the beautiful city of Cuzco. Cuzco has long been considered the most important city of the Inca empire. After the arrival of the Spaniards, the important Inca palaces were demolished and colonial houses were built on the foundations. The mix of these two architectural styles can still be seen in the well-preserved historic center of the city. From your hotel in the Sacred Valley we follow a winding route into the mountains, on the way we can, if desired, visit the salt pans of Maras and the archaeological site of Maras. Then we continue to the plateau, where we slowly mingle in the chaotic traffic of Cuzco. In Cuzco we park our cars in the central Plaza de Armas Square and have some time to see the city and have lunch somewhere. Afterwards we drive a nice route back through the town of Pisac. Pisac is known for its large Indian market. The end of the day is a spectacular drive through the valley back to the hotel.
Accommodation rnachting: Sol y Luna |

Day 9| Tuesday May 9: Sacred Valley – Puno
(ca. 430 km / 8 hours)

A day in which a spectacular wide landscape and breathtaking views are central. The road winds through a rolling landscape where you hardly notice that you are crossing the 4,500 meter height again. Along the way you can stop at a number of interesting sights if you wish. You can stop at the church in the village of Andahuaylillas. At first sight it is an ordinary church, but when you enter you will find the most bizarre murals. At Raqchi you can admire the ancient Inca temple of Wiracocha and before reaching Puno you will have the opportunity to visit the Sillustani tombs. On the route to Puno we pass the Peruvian railway, many small villages and archaeological sites. The roads are in good condition. In the chaos of the city of Juliaca you have to pay attention and it may be a bit of a search, but otherwise it is a pleasant and again a breathtakingly beautiful ride. The hotel where we stay is located directly on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.
Accommodation: Hotel José Antonio |

Day 10| Wednesday May 10: Puno – Huatajata
(ca. 194 km / 6 hours)

This day is all about variety an adventure! We drive a wonderful route from Peru to Bolivia. First, it‘s on the shores of Lake Titicaca along to the border. In Bolivia, we go straight to Copacabana. Under Bolivian domestic, a new vehicle have to be blessed before the church. And this is what we are going to do as well. Once Copacabana is behind us, we cross the Titicaca lake by ferry and continue to Huatajata.
Accommodation: Inca Utama hotel |

Day 11| Thursday May 11: Huatajata – La Paz
(ca. 86 km / 6 hours)

The route today is only 90 kilometers, but a real skill test is planned on the highest circuit in the world; the Pucurani circuit. At an altitude of more than 4,500 meters, we are doing a skill test on this circuit and the winner can call himself the best driver in Europe in the category above 4,500 meters. After this skill test you will be tested again, because driving in the La Paz is very chaotic and therefore a challenge. On the other hand, also a huge experience! There is a lot of traffic and the steep streets make the engine and brakes heavy.
Accommodation: Stannum hotel |

Day 12| Friday May 12: La Paz

Today you have a free day in La Paz. You have time to explore the city on your own. La Paz is located in a valley and is surrounded by the high Altiplano. The legislative power is based in La Paz. Contrary to popular belief, the city is not the capital of Bolivia. The capital of Bolivia is Sucre. You take a flight back in time to a mysterious past. You will find 'hidden treasures' on every corner and on every street; the native, colonial and modern buildings, the Indian Market, the witch markets and breathtaking panoramas. Everything with the majestic 'Illimani' mountain in the background. Be sure to visit Plaza Murillo, formerly Plaza de Armas, which is named after General Murillo, a Bolivian independence fighter. At the viewpoint 'Mirador Laikakota' you have a beautiful view of La Paz and the Illimani mountain. A unique experience is to visit the Indian market, "witch market".
Accommodation: Stannum hotel |

Day 13| Saturday May 13: La Paz – Arica
(ca. 550 km / 11 hours)

On the way to Arica in Chile, there will be very few gas stations. Therefore, the few opportunities in Patacamaya and just before the border should not be missed. Most of the trail is paved. We drive through the beautiful Chilean Lauca National Park, Arica and the ocean invites us to swim!
Accommodation: Hotel Apacheta |

Day 14| Sunday May 14: Arica – San Pedro de Atacama
(ca. 702 km / 10 hours)

Today's route, through the Atacama Desert, is perhaps one of the highlights of the trip. Great views and as a bonus the quality of the road is also very good. Compared to Peru, Chile has fewer gas stations because this region is not so densely populated. So keep this in mind. At the access road to the town of Iquique, you can visit the ghost town of Humberstone. This settlement built at a Saltpeter mine was abandoned overnight in 1960. Time seems to have stood still. We also drive past the Chuquicamata mine, the largest copper mine in the world. Here, too, it is definitely worth making a stop and take a look. When you have passed Calama, it is full speed ahead to San Pedro de Atacama. Just before entering San Pedro we pass the Valley of the Moon. Enjoy a beautiful sunset here, with the setting sun coloring the bizarre rock formations in many shades of red.
Accommodation: Cumbres San Pedro |

Day 15| Monday May 15: San Pedro de Atacama

A day off is planned. You can choose to stay in and around the hotel and unwind after the impressive days. If you can't get enough of driving, you can also drive some beautiful routes to explore the area. For example, it is possible to visit the El Tatio geysers at an altitude of 4,200 meters. The route is unpaved and very adventurous. You drive back to San Pedro de Atacama via the native village of Pucará and Ruta 23. In total you drive about 300 kilometers, most of which is unpaved. Another possibility is to discover the area south of San Pedro de Atacama. This route is 250 kilometers and only 40 kilometers is paved. During this route you will drive along the Atacama salt flat. Also a great route for the real adventurer.
Accommodation: Cumbres San Pedro |

Day 16| Tuesday May 16: San Pedro de Atacama – Salta
(ca. 593 km / 12 hours)

Today there is another unforgettable trip on the program. It will be a long travel day, during which we will be at a height again. Along the way we see majestic volcanic peaks and small salt lakes, where flamingos and vicuñas live. Enjoy the breathtaking views. At the Paso da Jama, the highest mountain pass in the Andes, you will find the border crossing with Argentina. After crossing the border you will find a gas station, where you can refuel. After this, the road gradually ascends and descends. You will pass the Salar da Jama on your right and then we will cross the Salinas Grande. If you want to drive over the salt flats by car, this is your chance! After we have passed this last salt flat, there are two possibilities. Or you follow the route towards Purmamarca. This route is completely paved and if you take the 9 ruta at Jujuy, you will be treated during the last part of the route to a very beautiful winding road through a subtropical rainforest. Adventurers can also choose to take the route via San Antonio de los Cobres. The route to this mountain village is unpaved. After San Antonio de los Cobres, which is located at 4,500 meters, you get a beautiful winding, paved road with very nice curves. The road winds to Salta.
Accommodation: Finca Valentina | & House of Jasmines |

Day 17| Wednesday May 17: Salta

Would you take it easy today? Then you could visit the beautiful colonial center of the city of Salta or take a walk to the viewpoint where you have a panoramic view over the city. For those who like to drive, it is possible to drive a route via Cachi and Cafayate. A route of 500 kilometers, of which less than 150 kilometers unpaved. From Salta, follow the road to the mountain village of Cachi, with its whitewashed buildings. From Cachi you follow an unforgettable route with canyon-like landscapes, over a dirt road through the so-called Valle Calchaquies. Ultimately, this road leads to Cafayate, an attractive town that is considered a center for viticulture. Around the town are a number of renowned Argentine wineries. The last part of the route passes through a beautiful valley, the so-called Quebrada de las Flechas.
Accommodation: Finca Valentina | & House of Jasmines |

Day 18| Thursday May 18: Salta – Corrientes
(ca. 831 km / 12 hours)

We leave the mountains behind us and going on over the well-known Argentine pampas. No curves today but straight forward over the endless Ruta 16 to Resistencia and Corrientes. This route continuous through the outback of Argentine. In this farmland you rarely meet other travellers. In the evening you will arrive in Corrientes.
Accommodation: La Alondra |

Day 19| Friday May 19: Corrientes – Puerto Iguazú
(ca. 615 km / 9 hours)

Today there is a long drive again through the wide, empty and hot North part of Argentina. During this route we drive in the surroundings of nature reserve Iberá. Iberá is a spacious marshland where many animals live, like caimans and capybaras. After passing Posadas, near San Ignacio you will have the possibility to visit the ruins who are an Unesco World Heritage site.
Accommodation: Selvaje Lodge |

Day 20| Saturday May 20: Iguazu – Foz do Iguaçu
(ca. 16 km / 2 hours)

The kilometers we make today are just to go from Argentina to Brazil. In the morning we will take a look at the waterfalls at the Argentine side. The spectacular natural spectacle of more than 200 different waterfalls is currently one of the seven natural wonders of the world. At the Argentinian side we can see the falls from above. In particular the sight from above at the largest waterfall, called the Devil’s throat is very impressive. After this visit we drive to the Brazilian border and after completing the formalities we drive to the Brazilian side of the waterfalls situated in the national park. We stay in the only hotel which is located in the national park, with walking distance to the falls. What an unforgettable experience!
Accommodation: Belmond hotel Das Cataratas  |

Day 21| Sunday May 21: Foz do Iguaçu

Today we have a day off. Before breakfast, walk outside to take a look at the falls. At the moment, the park is not yet open and only the guests of the hotel have access to this special place. When the sun rises, rainbows appear on all sides. There is a path that goes all the way to the bottom of the thundering body of water with several beautiful viewpoints. In the afternoon you can make a spectacular trip by boat to the bottom of the thundering water. Enjoy this special day and the impressive natural beauty.
Accommodation: Belmond hotel Das Cataratas  |

Day 22| Monday May 22: Foz do Iguaçu - Curitiba
(ca. 654 km / 10 hours)

After breakfast, we continue to Curitiba. The route takes you through the western part of the Brazilian state of Paraná. Many immigrants from Germany, Poland and Ukraine, but also from Japan, have shaped this region. You pass many farms and plantations with corn, soybeans and coffee. The major part of the route is on the BR 277, this route runs from east to west through the state of Paraná. Curitiba, with 1.3 million inhabitants, is the capital of the state of Parana. It is a very special city. Curitiba is also known as 'the green city'. Rightly so, because it has more than 50 m2 of greenery per inhabitant! Groundbreaking work has also been done here in the fields of education, childcare and employment. The biggest success story is the public transport system, also an example for New York, USA.
Accommodation: Nomaa hotel |

Day 23| Tuesday May 23: Curitiba – São Paulo
(ca. 410 km / 7 hours)

Most of the day we drive in the state of São Paulo, on a very good quality highway. This is the richest state in Brazil and it is almost as big as Germany. The landscape is hilly with sugarcane and orange plantations from enormous dimensions. During this route, the eye of many participants will fall on the nice souvenirs and local delicacies, which are available here at the pump, in addition to petrol and fast food. In the metropolis of São Paulo, we should expect the peak of traffic in terms of traffic. Obviously, this cannot be otherwise in a city with more than 20 million inhabitants. São Paulo is the economic and financial heart of South America. It is a vibrant city with a variety of art, culture, entertainment, good restaurants and nightlife.
Accommodation: L’Hotel PortoBay |

Day 24: Wednesday May 24: São Paulo

Today you have the opportunity to see the metropolis of São Paulo. São Paulo is sometimes referred to as the New York of South America, as it is by far the most important business center on the continent. The Paulistas are known for their hard work, but when it comes time to relax, they know how to put it to good use, including many good restaurants and interesting shops. The Ibirapuera City Park is also a place where many residents of the city can be found during their free hours. If you are interested in art, you definitley have to visit the MASP museum (Museu de Arte de São Paulo). This is São Paulo's most famous art museum with a permanent collection of well-known artists such as van Gogh, Renoir, Velázquez, Portinari and Picasso. The building is also considered a work of art itself. In the afternoon you can have lunch at Mercado Municipal. This is the largest city market in the center of São Paulo and is housed in a special neoclassical building with stained glass windows. Special to see what is sold here in vegetables, fruit and herbs. You will find several restaurants on the top floor of this market. Taste a cod pie or a sandwich with mortadela.
Accommodation: L’Hotel PortoBay |

Day 25| Thursday May 25: São Paulo – Paraty
(ca. 362 km / 9 hours)

The ride from São Paulo to Paraty is one of the most beautiful of the whole trip! From the top of a mountain plateau, of the Serra do Mar mountain range, we traverse the Atlantic rainforest, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich diversity. We drive on (relatively) quiet, modern highways and via the city of Mogi das Cruzes you drive to the coastal town of Bertioga. This is certainly one of the most spectacular descents in Brazil. While we are surrounded by tropical rainforest, we have a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to make a stop to enjoy the unique view of this incredible landscape. Once we are on the Rio - Santos coastal road, you can let nature take in, mountains, forests, bays, beaches, islands, rivers, waterfalls - all in one day! Along the way idyllic bays with white beaches await you, while taking a walk in Paraty. Admire the Portuguese colonial architecture of this former point of gold shipped to Europe from the state of Minas Gerais. Today, this charming and romantic city impresses with its tasteful Pousadas and cozy bars.
Accommodation: Pousada Literária |

Day 26| Friday May 26: Paraty

A day off is planned today. Paraty is located on the water and has its own characteristic, colonial atmosphere. The village was founded in 1667 and has fulfilled important functions in history as a transit port for sugar cane, gold and diamonds to Portugal. Paraty flourished in the 17th century when the minas gold and diamonds mined from the state of Minas Gerais were shipped from Europe to Paraty. However, this came to an end after Brazil's independence in 1822, but the beautiful colonial buildings remained intact, and since 1966 the center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The center is completely car-free, allowing you to stroll through the cobblestoned streets in a quiet and relaxed manner. Paraty has 65 islands and more than a hundred beautiful beaches. Enthusiasts can take the boat today to see these enchantingly beautiful islands up close, highly recommended! Take it easy and just stroll through the streets of Paraty and / or visit a terrace on the beach, is of course also possible. And if you can't leave the car, you can visit Ubatuba, a coastal town frequented mainly by Brazilians, or drive to the small fishing village of Picinguaba.
Accommodation: Pousada Literária |

Day 27| Saturday May 27: Paraty – Rio de Janeiro
(ca. 256 km / 6 hours)

The last stage is waiting for us. The route has been kept short on purpose, so that you can enjoy the surroundings. The road goes back along the beautiful coastal road, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and guides us to our final destination; Rio de Janeiro! It is smart to ensure that we are in Rio before the evening rush hour, because traffic is often jammed. What a special moment it will be when we turn onto the world famous Copacabana today after such a long journey.
Accommodation: Copacabana Palace |

Day 28| Sunday May 28: Rio de Janeiro

Wake up today with a feeling of satisfaction while looking out over Copacabana beach. Today is the last day of this unique adventure. End this unforgettable trip at Copacabana or Ipanema beach, or use this day to see some of this beautiful city. Rio de Janeiro (São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro) or simply Rio is the capital of the eponymous state in southeastern Brazil. The city is located on a wide bay, the Baía de Guanabara and was the capital of Brazil until 1960. The Sugarloaf Mountain, the Corcovado with the immense Christ statue or the old, characteristic Santa Teresa district are just some special sights that you can visit.
Accommodation: Copacabana Palace |

Day 29| Monday May 29: Rio de Janeiro - Amsterdam

Today this unique and unforgettable journey through South America comes to an end. You will be transferred to the airport where you will board your intercontinental flight home. You will arrive here the next day.

Day 30| Tuesday May 30: Amsterdam

Today you will arrive at Schiphol

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