To the End of the World: Rio de Janeiro to Santiago - 2010
About this blog
Deciding to avoid New York's wintry weather, I booked an overlanding trip with Dragoman, a company based in Great Britain, to explore South America from Rio de Janeiro south to Tierra del Fuego - the end of the world- and then north to Santiago, Chile. It wasn't quite that direct though. I was on two legs of a South American circuit and it took just under 2 months to travel. It was a surprise but maybe it should not have been but once we went south of Buenos Aires, it began to get cool and windy, then downright cold.
Overlanding with Dragoman in South America is a pretty basic style of travel. A specially designed truck, in our case a Mercedes named Amber, can carry over 20 passengers. The truck has special compartments for the tents, camp stools, cooking equipment, and other camping necessities. We carried water for drinking, cooking and washing dishes; propane tanks for the stoves. There were two drivers, Mick and Anki, one of whom was the trip leader for each separate leg that I traveled. The drivers had responsibility for transporting us and making arrangements for accommodations and activities. We camped quite a bit but occasionally stayed in hostels - usually in rooms with bunks. In the major cities, we tended to stay in hotels. We had the option to upgrade to more deluxe accommodations if available. There were cook groups of 4 people and we rotated responsibility for daily meals. Our groups were highly competitive and could turn out gourmet meals so that most of us were in fear of serious weight gain.
Groups can vary a lot. Our group had one other person besides me who had hit 60. The others were mostly in their thirties with a sprinkling of 20's, two forty somethings, and each leg had an eighteen-year-old young man. The activities were in line with adventure touring: wildlife viewing, rafting, snorkeling and diving, canoeing or kayaking, horse riding, zip lining, trekking, ice climbing, sky diving, etc. Some activities were included in the tour but most were optional and cost extra. Our days typically alternated between long driving days and one or more days with activities from a central point.