“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.”
That’s right, instead of making our way through Europe as we had originally planned, I just bought two flights out to Buenos Aires where we will begin our year long adventure through the Andes! (When I told my best friend that on a complete whim only hours after first voicing the itinerary change idea I bought the tickets, she responded with “classic shi move!” so, as you can see, changing plans just seems to be what I do best). We have many reasons for this drastic itinerary change, some of which I will cover below, but first off, a huge thank you is in order. I was able to buy these two plane tickets with the money I have earned along the way from writing for another blog as well as the money people have donated throughout my trip in support of this blog. So, a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me out because without you flying to a whole new continent wouldn’t have even been on the table. In return, I promise to deliver as many beautiful pictures and cultural stories I can once we arrive, and trust me, cycling through those gorgeous mountains is bound to bring a whole lot of adventure!
So why did we change plans? First and foremost, because if someone were to ask me the question “if you had one year left to cycle, where would it be” my immediate answer would be “through the Andes.” I spent a year backpacking in South America at eighteen and immediately fell in love with the absolutely astounding scenery the continent has to offer. South America has also come up time and time again when we ask other cyclists where their favorite places have been to visit, and though I have enjoyed exploring other parts of our world, my craving for the Andes has never been satisfied.
Another bonus to our continent switch is that this way we are totally avoiding winter and therefore months of cycling in the rain and snow, which would have been an adventure in itself, but perhaps a tiring and slightly draining one at that. Instead of trying to learn a few words in many different languages, I can instead focus on learning and perfecting my Spanish, and instead of illegally overstaying our visas in Europe, illegally camping throughout Western Europe, and perhaps getting a little bit bored of paved roads, Kevin and I will (legally) get to cycle over what I believe are some of the most amazing places on earth!
Here is what we are thinking. After three months in Turkey (which we are also really looking forward to) we will fly into Buenos Aires January 15th and spend about two months cycling down to Patagonia (a huge bucket list place for both Kevin and I). We hope to then spend about a month in Patagonia – fly fishing, cycling, and trekking – before heading back up through the Andes weaving between Chile and Argentina. By the time we arrive in Bolivia it will be about June, just at the start of summer, so we can spend the next six months climbing, trekking, and cycling our way through Bolivia and Peru (which I absolutely loved last time) during the best season for all of those activities. Our ultimate goal is to reach Ecuador (Quito) or Colombia (Bogota) by mid December in order to be back with our families for Christmas.
This all came about when Kevin mentioned South America (because we have two friends who just moved down there) and I turned to him and said let’s go there instead. At first he thought I was joking (“Shirine! We haven’t been anywhere yet we have to finish one continent before moving on to the next!”) but I then proceeded to spend the next few hours convincing him that we would have way more fun down there, and that if I were to buy his flight, it wouldn’t even be a financial set back either. Though he agreed right away in theory (as in, he realized that we probably would have a lot more fun down there) it was sort of hard for him to completely agree because he is much more goal orientated than I and wanted the satisfaction of cycling from A to B, something he wouldn’t have since we wouldn’t have made it all the way across Europe. By the end of the evening he gave in though, accepting that a new A to B (Buenos Aires to Patagonia to Quito) would be enjoyable, and that yes, South America did indeed sound a lot more enticing.
Though of course Europe would have been fun as well, we can do Scandinavia and the Alps each in three or four months chunks later down the road, because for now South America is where we most want to be!
Check out a few of my photos, in better quality than they appear pasted here, from my last trip down there for a small taste of what we will be experiencing.
Or a few stories from my time down there which I wrote for a fellow travelers blog:
–Blood, Fur and Guts: Life in the Peruvian Altiplano
–Hitchhiking to Happiness
–Climbing at Midnight
Hey! Obviously we love the South America bike tour idea! Just got here last week and have already had our minds blown just cycling out of Ushuaia to Rio Grande. Not even to Chile yet but we are loving it. Perhaps we’ll see you on the road 😉
Yes! I can’t wait!
Lovely! Be careful in Turkey — so much madness too close.
Yes, we have been watching the news carefully.
Haha, I have been in the exact places where you took some of those photos… made me want to go back to South America too! Especially Patagonia, since I didn’t get there. Sounds like a fun new plan! Excited to read about it down the road.
Same! I missed it as well, time to do it now though!
Great choice! Much better place. I cycled from Ushuaia to Quito, you will love it!
Josée (the solo woman cyclist you met in Gramphoo)
Yes! We are so excited for it!!
Oh, do write lots about southern Chile / Patagonia! I’ll be in Torres del Paine before long; reading your posts, I will anticipate it even more. Good luck!
Exciting! Have fun.
Your photos are amazing. Especially love the dog and the sloth (is it a sloth?) 🙂
Also happy to hear your revised travel plans as Europe is grey and freezing during winter.
As for Turkey, it is a warm and friendly country, just obviously avoid the Syrian border areas. The problems in Istanbul were in one small area called Gezi Park, Taksim. Living in Turkey for 5 years now, I can say that the people are very friendly and hospitable, and I have never felt in any danger…so relax and enjoy Turkey! See you in Çanakkale. Inshallah!
It’s a monkey! The monkey adopted the dog as a puppy and they grew up inseparable. So cute. We can’t wait for turkey!
Dear Shirine, I’m so happy to hear that you are headed to the Americas! Yes, completing what you started is important if what you started on is important. However, I think you’ve chosen the better path by doing what “moves” you instead of just finishing what you started. You’ve really already accomplished the hardest part of your goal and I think it’s fine to change your plans. Fantastic! CP Kramarsky Delhi, NY
Thanks! That’s what we are realizing now, especially because we are so much more excited for the rest of our trip after changing our plans!
Awesome! I am very excited for you and I love your pictures!
Hey I can’t believe you guys are changing routes to Patagonia! I’m on my way there! I’m near Uruguay now and will leave from Buenos Aries by early Dec then. I’m a slow rider so please catch up with me! I’ve been reading the stuff you write and it’ll be amazing to run into you guys in SA. Oh one thing you mentioned, Summer in Bolivia in June. I think it’s winter in June in South America? Cheers!
Yeahhh fellow cyclist! Well, Bolivia the climbing season is summer as in July August because it’s so close to the boarder, but yes, Patagonia is switched.
I’m 18 and after I graduate I want to solo backpack. Did you only backpack and hitchhike in South America or did you cycle? Also where do you think the best place to start solo backpacking is? Thanks!
Hello! South America is an amazing place to start. It’s easy, there are literally thousands of backpackers, and there is a lot to see, a simple language to learn, and it’s cheap (besides Chile and Patagonia). I would highly suggest it! I didn’t bike tour the first time as I don’t think I knew it existed, just bussed and hitchhiked, but I would definitely suggest South America as an easy and fun place to begin bike touring as well!