Driving in South America – Quito to Ushuaia road trip

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Updated May 6, 2017 / João Leitão / 11 Comments / Filed in: / Reading time 3 minutes
Driving in South America - Ecuador to Ushuaia road trip

Driving in South America – Ecuador to Ushuaia road trip

South America Road Trip

I started Driving in South America after having completed several months going through the jungle and up the Amazon River by boat. I decided to change my means of transportation.


I bought a car in Quito, Ecuador’s capital.

All those months of backpacking, sleeping in hammocks, river boats and piranhas were over. From now on the trip was about road maps, gasoline, car insurance, customs border control, etc…

The trip was taken to another dimension. I could now visit more destinations along the way, because when traveling by boat or by bus, I was not able to visit anything in between.

Being able to drive enabled me to explore many more places since I could stop whenever I wanted.

Indeed the chance of Driving in South America was just the start of a new adventure.

The goal now was to get to the city of Ushuaia in Argentina – the southernmost South American city. Driving all the way from Quito, at the equator line, to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.

There is no really big difference about Driving in South America compared to other countries. Basically good judgment and driving defensively keeps you safe on the road.

Besides having driven thousands of km / miles along the Pan-American Highway I also drove over 2000 km / 1200 miles on the famous Ruta 40 in Argentina.

🛣 Distances of South America road trip

(Quito in Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina)

  • Ecuador = 1812 KM / 1125 MILES
  • Peru = 3830 KM / 2379 MILES
  • Chile = 4379 KM + 580 KM / 2 720 MILES + 360 MILES
  • Argentina = 2451 + KM 299 KM / 1523 MILES + 185 MILES
  • TOTAL = 13351 KM / 8296 MILES

❤️ Most beautiful road in South America

Driving Leimebamba to Cajamarca - Peru - Driving in South America

Leimebamba to Cajamarca – Peru – Driving in South America

I make a short list of some of the roads that I really enjoyed crossing. Many of these places are amazing and I think I can even pick my favorite:

  • Leimebamba to Cajamarca – Peru

🔝 Other beautiful roads – Driving in South America

  • Cotopaxi National Park – Ecuador
  • Machachi to Zumbahua via Guangaje – Ecuador
  • Sangay National Park to Lake Atillo – Ecuador
  • Pan-American Highway until Chanquillo – Peru
  • Arequipa to Tacna – Peru
  • Iquique to Tocopilla – Chile
  • Geothermal Park Geyser del Tatio to San Pedro de Atacama – Chile
  • Valle de la Luna in Atacama Desert – Chile
  • Antofagasta to Copiapo – Chile
  • Villa la Angostura to San Carlos de Bariloche – Argentina
  • Perito Moreno to Cueva de las Manos – Argentina

📹 Driving near Chankillo in the deserto of Peru:

📍 South America self drive detailed itinerary:

🇪🇨 Driving in Ecuador

Driving in Ecuador

Driving in Ecuador – Cotopaxi National Park

Quito, Cotopaxi National Park, Machachi, Lasso, Guangaje, Lagoon of Quilotoa, Zumbahua, El Corazón, Puebloviejo, Guayaquil, Stg. Quito, Licto, Alao, Sangay National Park, Lake Atillo, Alausí, Tambo, Ruins of Ingapirca, Canar, Biblián, Cuenca, Loja, Zamora, Podocarpus National Park, Vilcabamba, Santa Ana, Zumba.

🗺 Map of Ecuador road trip

Map of route in Ecuador

Map of route in Ecuador – Driving in South America

🇵🇪 Driving in Peru

Driving in Peru

Driving in Peru – Pan-American Highway

Baños Termales El Almendral, Lamud, Pueblo de los Muertos, Karajía, Luya, Kuelap, Chachapoyas, Revash, Cerro Olan, Leimebamba, Cajamarca, Ventanillas of Otuzco, Cumbria Mayo, Kuntur Wasi, Huanchaco, Trujillo, Chan Chan, El Brujo, Pyramids of Moche, Cerro Sechín, Chanquillo, Paramonga Fortress, Sacred City of Caral Supe, Historic Centre of Lima, Pachacamac, Paracas, Islas Ballestas, Huacachina Oasis, Ica, Ciudad Perdida of Huayuri, Palpa, Nasca, Cerro Blanco, Cahuachi, Chauchilla, Puerto Inca, Toro Muerto, Arequipa, Tacna.

🗺 Map of Peru road trip

Map of route in Peru

Map of route in Peru – Driving in South America

🇨🇱 Driving in Chile

Driving in Chile

Driving in Chile – Grand Salar Salt Desert

Arica, Geoglyphs of Tiliviche, Humberstone, Santa Laura, Iquique, Punta Gruesa, Salar Grande, Calama, Chuquicamata, Geisers Tatio Geothermal Park, San Pedro de Atacama, Valle de la Luna, Salar de Atacama, Toconao, Socaire, Mano del Desierto, Bahia Inglesa, Valparaiso, San Gregorio, Punta Arenas, Onaisín, Park Pinguino Rey.

🗺 Map of Chile road trip

Map of route in Chile

Map of route in Chile – Driving in South America

🇦🇷 Driving in Argentina

Driving in Argentina

Driving in Argentina – Start of famous Ruta 40

Villa la Angostura, Bariloche, Cueva de las Manos, El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier, Río Gallegos, Cape Virgins, Ushuaia.

🗺 Map of Argentina road trip

Map of route in Argentina

Map of route in Argentina – Driving in South America

NOTE: For those who like to drive during their travels, I must say that South America is a continent which guarantees excellent overland road memories. No doubt that this whole journey of 13351 KM / 8296 MILES was a unique experience in my life.

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11 Comments. Leave new

That’s a lot of kilometers.. 😉 I’ve always dreamed about driving through South America, definitely on my list for the near future. Were there any obstacles, problems or similar that came your way? Broken streets, safety issues, gas prices 😉 .. ?


Hey Alex thank you for your comment. Driving is indeed one of the best ways to deeply explore South America on your own. Well, I didn’t have any obstacles… you know, after Ushuaia, I actually drove north all the way to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and during all these months on the road, and thousands of kms… I didn’t even had a flat tire. All way perfect.

Denis Ladbrook
October 11, 2015 9:46 pm

Where and how did you sell your car in Ushuaia? Did you need to pay import duty therde?


Greetings Denis! thank you for your comment. I didn’t sell my car in Ushuaia, I drove it up north again but this time all the way to Rio de Janeiro crossing Argentina, Uruguay. Amazing drive on the Atlantic Coast of South America. Greetings from Ouarzazate!


Awesome pics! I think I also must try it . Thanks for sharing .


Driving in South America… now, that is something I would like to try! Many many times I wished I had my own car so that I could stop wherever to take pictures of the desert, especially as I went from Trujllo to Lima.

carla carvalho
June 12, 2015 8:02 am

Many months travelling.. and by your one… awesome… it must have been an amazing, fantastic, life-changing experience… I admire and envy you. If I was a man I would probably do it too, but being a woman makes it harder, unfortunately. Maybe one day.. 🙂


Why didnt you hire a car instead of buying ?…,,Images are stunning ..i wish i will also travel like you.


Greetings! well, I bought the car in late November, and stopped using it around May. So apart that I actually crossed many countries – which some car rental companies don’t allow, I also would have to rent a car for almost 6 months, which would be unsustainable. So by this matter, I decided to buy one and go freely, with my own wheels. Also much easier for border crossings. Have a nice day.


Wow, that is a lot of miles to drive! Your first picture is very impressive with those massive mountains, and months of going in the Amazon by boat is also very impressive! What’s next?! And thanks for sharing!


Hello there! thank you for your comment. indeed a lot of miles driving, but an incredible experience. Next? well, at the moment I’m in China preparing to overland to India in the next upcoming months. What about you guys? big hug!


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