Buslife Adventures: Top Places To Visit In South America

This story was kindly contributed by our Buslifers Ambassadors, @vidasrodantes. Read more about them on their ambassador profile. Below the English version, there is also a Spanish version. Scroll down and enjoy! 

Hi! We are Carolina and César, from Argentina. At the beginning of 2017, we decided to make a change in our lives – to get out of the comfort zone. We bought our VW Bus, converted it and in October of that same year we hit the road of America with the idea of ​​reaching Alaska. Since then, we have been living a nomadic life for more than two and a half years and we have already traveled much of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico. Touring Central America had to wait, because while in Ecuador we found out that we were going to have a baby! We decided to cross directly from Colombia to Mexico, which was where our daughter Lupe was born.

Today due to the global situation, we are back in Argentina, together with the family and enjoying being parents. This time helps us to think, plan, evaluate options of how, and in what way our journey will continue. We are definitely going to continue, although now with one more member.

Below you will find our top places we have visited in the past two and half years of travel. We have selected the following places taking into account how they impacted us, what feelings they generated in us, the experiences we lived, and the memories that we have. The places are listed in the order of how we experienced them on our journey.

1. Perito Moreno Glacier – Santa Cruz – Argentina

Located within a National Park 80km from the city of El Calafate, it is one of the few glaciers that is still growing. The park has very well located walkways that allow you to appreciate the glacier, which ranges between 40 and 70 meters high. Approximately every 4 years a unique phenomenon occurs, the glacier advances until it hits the ground and in this way separates the two arms of Lake Argentino. Such is the pressure exerted by the water that it ends up forming the famous “ice bridge”, which culminates in its spectacular breaking. Anyway, there are ice wall breaks throughout the year. The Park opens from 8am to 8pm, it is not possible to spend the night inside.

 

Perito Moreno Glacier – Image By: @vidasrodantes

2. El Chaltén – Santa Cruz – Argentina

This small and picturesque town, surrounded by forests, lakes and small glaciers, is the national capital of trekking. It has all the options you can imagine related to the mountain and its main attraction is Mount Fitz Roy, which can be reached by walking to its base. All accesses to the trails are free

TIP: At the base of the hill there is a free campsite, we recommend going up early to see the sunrise since the first rays of the sun illuminate Mount Fitz Roy.

 

3. Austral Highway – Chile

Located in the South of Chile, this route is approximately 1200km, running from the city of Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. Most of the route is asphalt but there are also dirt roads. On the road you can find a variety of rivers, waterfalls, lakes, glaciers and wild animals. Some of the highlights are: General Carrera Lake, confluence of the Baker and Neff rivers, Puerto Tranquilo (marble caverns), Villa Cerro Castillo, and Hanging Ventisquero (glacier). You can park practically anywhere, for free, and you will find yourself surrounded by pure nature.

TIP: the best time to visit it is between December and April.

 

Austral Highway, Chile – Image By: @vidasrodantes

4. Serranía del Hornocal – Jujuy – Argentina

This great mountain range is located 25km from the city of Humahuaca at an altitude of 4700m above sea level. It has the peculiarity of having “layers” of different shades, which gave it the name “Hill of 14 colors”. You can get to the viewpoint by vehicle, by dirt road and with some sectors of precipice.

TIP: arrive around sunset when the sun illuminates the whole mountain range and you can appreciate the colors well.

 

Serranía del Hornocal, Argentina – Image By: @vidasrodantes

5. Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia

It is the largest salt desert in the world located about 20kms from the city of Uyuni. It is free to access and you can sleep anywhere within the salt flat itself. Caution is recommended, as there are no established roads and it is very easy to get disoriented. Between January and February, it is the rainy season so the salt flat becomes a unique mirror where notion of the horizon is lost. The negative aspect is that you cannot see the floor, which leads to tripping over wells and the salty water damages the body of the vehicle (in any case, in the city of Uyuni they offer you a washing and disinfection service).

TIP: do you like night photography? We recommend going on days where there is no moon and you will find the best sky and milky way to photograph.

 

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia – Image By: @vidasrodantes

6. Laguna Parón – Peru

This is one of the most beautiful lagoons, turquoise in color and surrounded by snow-capped peaks in the Peruvian Andes. It’s about two hours along a rather rugged dirt road from the quiet town of Caraz. You have to pay an entrance fee of $5 and you almost get to the edge of the road with the vehicle. It is possible to sleep for free in the vehicle or tent, otherwise there is the option of staying in a humble mountain refuge for approximately $3. The lagoon is 4200m above sea level. There is a viewpoint you can climb to and a path that surrounds the entire lagoon. Also, the locals can take you by boat around the lagoon for $20.

TIP: Spend a night there to get up at sunrise and contemplate the snow-capped peaks illuminated by the sun. Excursions are not abundant in this paradise so most of the time you can take advantage of the place in solitude.

 

Laguna Parón, Peru – Image By: @vidasrodantes

7. Duck Canyon – Peru

It is one of the routes that you can take to return from the Andes area to the Peruvian coast, or vice versa. It is one of the most beautiful scenic roads in Peru but also the most dangerous, since it runs along the canyon that reaches, at times, up to 60m deep. On the way, the route passes through more than 35 mountain tunnels, in which you must honk the horn before crossing since the route is very narrow and 2 vehicles cannot circulate at the same time. Beautiful landscapes and adrenaline at the same time, to enjoy and make funny videos (always with caution).

8. Ecuadorian East – Ecuador

We really loved, the route of the East or Ecuadorian jungle. You really get to experience the rainforest combined with traditions of native peoples. Like all of Ecuador, with routes in excellent condition, we did the road that runs from Cuenca, passing through Macas, Puyo and Tena to the viewpoint of the Reventador volcano, which is currently active. On the way you come across a dense and humid jungle full of vegetation, rivers, waterfalls, some wild animals and locals with very good vibes.

TIP: Within the Cayambe-Coca National Park you can park and spend the night, from there there is a path to the San Rafael waterfall, the largest in Ecuador. In addition, from this same point you can see the Reventador volcano.

 

In the Ecuadorian Jungle – Image By: @vidasrodantes

9. Cocora Valley- Salento – Colombia

Beautiful nature and jungle environment located in the Colombian coffee axis. This valley is know for its special palm trees, which can reach up to 60 meters in height. Unique in the world and in danger of extinction, since the animals that are in the valley feed on the seeds of the trees. Access is free, although you can find some walks inside the farms where they charge entrance as they are private. There are few areas on the street where you can park and stay overnight for free. Anyway there are inns and lodgings to stay. It is a very popular attraction so at certain times of the year you can meet many tourists. It is located very close to the town of Salento, very picturesque for its beautiful and colorful facades.

 

Cocora Valley, Colombia – Image By: @vidasrodantes

Bonus Spot: San Cristobal de las Casas – Mexico

This is one of the many “magical towns” that exist throughout Mexico. It has remarkable colonial style, narrow streets and picturesque little houses. With a cool, pleasant climate and where respect and practice of the traditional and the ancestral is still breathed. But also, for us it has something even more special, our daughter Lupe was born here, she came to enlighten us and fill us with energy and a lot of love. In this city we shared our first months of her life, together getting to know each other and learning to be a mother, father and daughter.

 

Carolina, César and Lupe – Image By: @vidasrodantes

Spanish version/ versión en español

Hola! Somos Carolina y César, de Argentina. A principios del año 2017 decidimos hacer un cambio en nuestras vidas, salir de la zona de confort. Es así como compramos nuestra kombi VW, la equipamos en Octubre de ese mismo año salimos a las rutas de América con la idea de llegar hasta Alaska. Llevamos más de 2 años y medio con esta vida nómade y ya hemos recorrido gran parte de Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Perú, Ecuador, Colombia y México. Nos quedó pendiente recorrer Centroamérica, y por qué? Porque en Ecuador nos enteramos que estábamos embarazados y decidimos cruzar desde Colombia hacia México directamente, que fue el lugar en donde nació nuestra hija Lupe. 

Hoy debido a la situación mundialmente conocida, estamos de regreso en Argentina, junto con la familia y disfrutando de la bebé. Este tiempo nos sirve para pensar, planificar, evaluar opciones de cómo y de qué manera nuestro viaje va a continuar, porque sí vamos a continuar, aunque ahora con una integrante más.  

Hemos seleccionado los siguientes lugares teniendo en cuenta cómo impactaron en nosotros, qué sentimientos nos generaronlas experiencias que vivimos, los recuerdos que nos quedaron y en el orden en cómo fue nuestro recorrido con la kombi. 

 

1. Glaciar Perito Moreno – Santa Cruz – Argentina 

Ubicado dentro de un Parque Nacional a 80km de la ciudad de El Calafate, es uno de los pocos glaciares que aún sigue creciendo. El parque cuenta con pasarelas muy bien ubicadas que permite apreciar el glaciar, el cual oscila entre 40 y 70 mts de altura. Aproximadamente cada 4 años se produce un fenómeno único, el glaciar avanza hasta llegar a chocar con la tierra y de esta manera separa los dos brazos del Lago Argentino. Es tal la presión que ejerce el agua que se termina formando el famoso “puente de hielo”, el cual culmina con su espectacular rompimiento. De todas maneras hay rompimientos de paredes de hielo durante todo el año. El Parque abre de 8am hasta 8pm, no está permitido pernoctar dentro del mismo. 

 

Glaciar Perito Moreno, Argentina – Imagen De: @vidasrodantes

 

2. El Chaltén – Santa Cruz – Argentina 

Es un pequeño y pintoresco pueblo, rodeado de bosques, lagos, pequeños glaciares y a su vez, es la capital nacional del trekking. Cuenta con todas las opciones que puedan imaginar relacionadas con la montaña y su principal atracción es el cerro Fitz Roy, al cual se puede llegar caminando hasta su base. Todos los accesos a los senderos son gratuitos. 

TIP: en la base del cerro hay un camping gratis, recomendamos subir temprano para ver el amanecer ya que los primeros rayos del sol iluminan el Fitz Roy. 

 

3. Carretera Austral – Chile 

Ubicada en el sur de Chile, tiene un total de aproximadamente 1200kms desde la ciudad de Puerto Montt hasta Villa O’HigginsLa mayor parte del recorrido es de asfalto pero también se transitan caminos de tierra. En la carretera se pueden encontrar variedad ríos, cascadas, lagos, glaciares y animales silvestres. Algunos de los puntos destacados son: lago General Carrera, confluencia de los ríos Baker y Neff, Puerto Tranquilo (cavernas de mármol), Villa Cerro Castillo, Ventisquero colgante (glaciar). Se puede parquear prácticamente en cualquier lado, gratis, y te vas a encontrar rodeado de naturaleza pura.

TIP: la mejor época para recorrerla es entre Diciembre y Abril 

 

Carretera Austral, Chile – Imagen De: @vidasrodantes

4. Serranía del Hornocal – Jujuy – Argentina 

Esta gran sierra está ubicada a 25km de la ciudad de Humahuaca a una altura de 4700msnm, cuenta con la particularidad de poseer “capas” de distintas tonalidades, lo que le dio el nombre de “Cerro de los 14 colores”. Se puede llegar hasta el mirador en vehículo, por camino de tierra y con algunos sectores de precipicio.

TIP: llegar para el atardecer cuando el sol ilumina toda la sierra y se pueden apreciar bien los colores. 

 

5. Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia 

Es el desierto de sal más grande del mundo ubicado a unos 20kms de la ciudad de Uyuni. Es de acceso gratuito y se puede dormir en cualquier lado dentro del mismo salar. Se recomienda andar con precaución ya que no hay carreteras establecidas y es muy fácil desorientarse. Entre enero y febrero es temporada de lluvias por lo que el salar se convierte en un espejo único en donde se pierde noción del horizonte; el aspecto negativo es que no se divisa el piso, lo que lleva a tropezar con pozos y el agua salada perjudica la carrocería del vehículo (de todas maneras, en la ciudad de Uyuni te ofrecen servicio de lavado y desinfección).

TIP: te gusta la fotografía nocturna? Recomendamos ir en los días donde no hay luna y se encontrarán con el mejor cielo y vía láctea para fotografiar. 

 

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia – Imagen De: @vidasrodantes

6. Laguna Parón – Perú  

Es una de las lagunas más bellas, de color turquesa y rodeado de picos nevados que hay en la zona de los Andes peruanos. Está aproximadamente a dos horas a lo largo de un camino de tierra bastante escabroso desde la tranquila ciudad de Caraz. Hay que pagar una entrada de 5 dólares y se llega con el vehículo hasta casi la orilla de la laguna. Se puede dormir gratis en el vehículo o carpa, caso contrario está la opción de hospedarse en un humilde refugio de montaña por aproximadamente 3 dólares. La laguna se encuentra a 4200msnm. Tiene un mirador al cual se puede subir por un camino que rodea toda la laguna. También están los lugareños que te lleva en bote recorriendo la laguna por 20 dólares.

TIP: Pasar una noche ahí para levantarte al amanecer y contemplar los picos nevados iluminados por el sol.  Las excursiones no abundan en este paraíso por lo que la mayoría de las veces puedes aprovechar el lugar en soledad.  

 

7. Cañón del Pato – Perú 

Es unos de larutas que puedes tomar para regresar desde la zona de los Andes hacia la costa peruana, o viceversa. Es uno de los caminos escénicos más bellos de Perú pero también más peligrosos, ya que se recorre bordeando el cañón que llega por momentos hasta 60m de profundidad. En el camino atraviesas más de 35 túneles de montaña, en los cuales debes tocar la bocina antes de cruzar ya que la ruta es muy estrecha y no alcanzan a circular 2 vehículos al mismo tiempo. Paisajes bellos y adrenalina al mismo tiempo, para disfrutar y hacer videos divertidos (siempre con precaución). 

 

8. Oriente Ecuatoriano – Ecuador 

La ruta del Oriente o selva ecuatoriana nos encantó. Realmente  se respira la selva tropical combinado con tradiciones de pueblos originarios. Como todo Ecuador, con rutas en excelentes condiciones,  hicimos el camino que recorre desde Cuenca, pasando por Macas, Puyo y Tena hasta el mirador del volcán Reventador, actualmente en actividad. En el camino te encuentras con una densa y húmeda selva repleta de vegetación, ríos, cascadas, algunos animales silvestres y lugareños con muy buena onda. 

TIP: Dentro del Parque Nacional Cayambe-Coca se puede estacionar y pasar la noche, desde allí hay un sendero hacia la cascada San Rafael, la más grande de Ecuador. Además, desde este mismo punto se observa el volcán Reventador.  

 

Volcán Reventador, Ecuador – Imagen De: @vidasrodantes

 

9. Valle de Cocora- Salento – Colombia

Hermosa extensión natural y selvática ubicada en el eje cafetero colombiano, con la particularidad que está repleta de árboles de Palma, las cuales pueden llegar hasta los 60mts de alturaÚnicas en el mundo y en peligro de extinción ya que los animales que se encuentran en las bases se alimentan de las semillas de las mismasEl acceso es gratis, aunque se pueden encontrar algunas caminatas dentro de las fincas en donde cobran entrada ya que son privadas. Hay pocas zonas en la calle donde se puede estacionar y pasar la noche gratis. De todas maneras hay posadas y hospedajes donde alojarse. 

Es una atracción muy popular por lo que en ciertas épocas del año te puedes encontrar con muchos turistas. Está ubicada muy cerca del pueblo de Salento, muy pintoresco por sus bellas y coloridas fachadas.  

Bonus Track: San Cristobal de las Casas – México  

Es uno de los tantos “pueblos mágicos” que existen en todo México. Con estilo colonial, calles estrechas y casitas pintorescas. De clima fresco, agradable y donde aún se respira el respeto y la práctica de lo tradicional y lo ancestral. Pero además, para nosotros tiene algo más especial aún, aquí nació nuestra hija Lupe, llegó para iluminarnos y llenarnos de energía y mucho amor. En esta ciudad compartimos sus primeros meses de vida, juntos conociéndonos y aprendiendo a ser madre, padre e hija. 

 

header image of VW Bus parked up during quarantine.

Buslife Off The Road – How Our Buslife Ambassadors Are Spending Quarantine

2020 has made some huge and unexpected changes to life and especially for Buslife. From canceled travel plans to setting up long-term stays in unexpected places, the global pandemic has had a huge impact on those of us yearning to get out into the world and explore.

Used to the free-spiritedness of being able to pick up and move from one day to the next, quarantine has taught all of us about stillness and the value of bringing life down to a slower pace. Our days are now filled with daydreams of future routes, renovations to improve our VW Buses, and building community as we connect with fellow Buslifers.

Recently, we caught up with our Buslifers Ambassadors to find out how they’re spending the quarantine. We chatted about plans post-pandemic and gathered advice for those wanting to live their own VW Buslife.

Read on to find out what they had to say…

@vanlife_volver_a_lo_simple_ have taken to opportunity to strip their VW Bus out and renovate it. Photo by: @vanlife_volver_a_lo_simple_

@odiseaporamerica

How has your Buslife changed during the pandemic?

At first it was difficult since we couldn’t find a safe place to park our little house on wheels. We were kicked out of parking spots by police on several occasions. They didn’t understand that the Kombi is our home. 

Luckily, we got to the right place eventually and a neighbor allowed us to stay on a piece of their property in Costa Rica. The spot has access to various facilities and above all, has given us a calm and safe space to pass the quarantine…and it was by the sea! 

How are you bringing Buslife into your lockdown life?

In our case, we’ve been able to continue to carry on with our life on the bus normally, only without moving! It makes us very anxious to not be on the road, but we know that worldwide it’s a serious matter and we must remain safe in one place for the time being. 

Where are you now and how has it been living the Buslife during these times?

We’re currently in Costa Rica and our idea is to continue traveling when it’s possible. Leaving our trip was never an option, so we’re grateful to have some peace of mind knowing that the pandemic found us in a good place where everything is quite controlled.

Do you have any plans for after the pandemic?

We want to go back to Panama for a few months and get to know Bocas del Toro and then resume our journey North to Alaska. 

Do you have any advice for other Buslifers out there?

Our advice for those who continue to wait for the ideal moment is: dare to travel. We hope this pandemic has been a wake-up call for people to realize that the ideal time is NOW. The future is unpredictable and there’s nothing worse than regretting something for having not done it. 

@van.wanderers

How has your Buslife changed during the pandemic?

We were lucky enough to be able to spend these past few months in our native town with our families. However, while the initial months were fairly easy to pass in lockdown (after all we’re already used to spending a lot of time together in a tight space), as summer arrived, it’s become more difficult to deal with the many travel restrictions. 

Where are you now and how has it been living the Buslife during these times?

We started traveling a little on and off as the lockdown lifted, usually choosing more remote locations where there weren’t many people. In the context of COVID-19, living and traveling with a van has some big advantages as you don’t need to use accommodation and can find secluded places to stay where social distancing isn’t a problem. 

Do you have any plans for after the pandemic?

We have so many plans! However, it’s difficult to believe that there will ever be such a clear cut time as “after the pandemic.” The situation will clearly continue for the remainder of this year (and who knows, maybe next year too) so it’s important to adapt and learn to take care of ourselves and others. What we hope to be able to do soon, is travel more and be able to cross the borders. 

Do you have any advice for other Buslifers out there?

Stay safe is the most important advice we could give! Make sure to take all the necessary precautions, stay low if you have to and use this time to work on your van and your plans. Just make the best of it!

@oxenteevamosdekombi

How has your Buslife changed during the pandemic?

In Argentina travel is totally stopped due to the strict quarantine. Right now there’s no possibility of being on the road and only authorized people like health, safety and first-aid professionals are allowed to be driving. For now, we’re seeing the world from our window and making a thousand plans for future trips. 

How are you bringing Buslife into your lockdown life?

We continue to interact a lot with the Buslife lifestyle on social networks and through documentaries on the internet. It’s a way of life that really interests us and we feel that Buslife is in our blood. 

Do you have any plans for after the pandemic?

As we mentioned before, we’ve stopped due to the quarantine, but have many plans and routes drawn for when it’s safe to travel again. Its been hard living 24-hours away from home, as we’re concerned for our family and friends, but we’re rooting for the world to make a quick recovery with a definitive vaccine. We have hope to get back to Buslife soon!

@latinakombi

How has your Buslife changed during the pandemic?

We were hoping to travel again with our new family member, but when the pandemic started, we decided to remodel the interior of the Kombi instead. Currently we’re not able to resume traveling just yet and have cancelled our plans as COVID-19 continues to evolve in Latin America.

This little girl was supposed to be going on a Buslife adventure, but will have to wait until the pandemic is over. Photo by: @latinakombi

How are you bringing Buslife into your lockdown life?

We’re living in an apartment, so there’s very little Buslife right now. However, we see a lot of photos and videos online and plan to see what we can do when all of this is over.

Do you have any plans for after the pandemic?

We want to travel again! We don’t know where yet, but we would really like to visit Eastern Europe and the United States. Before the pandemic, we didn’t have the chance to travel Utah, Arizona and other states with awesome national parks.

Do you have any advice for other Buslifers out there?

We’re going to have that freedom again that we enjoy so much. That feeling of being on the road and not knowing what can happen, who you will know, what place you will visit next, and where you will sleep. We’re all in the same place right now but everything will be solved soon! 

remote work

The Buslife And Remote Work: The Perfect Marriage

If you haven’t yet considered starting a freelance career, or if you’ve been thinking about, this article is a must-read! Remote work, also known as freelancing, is more accepted and available than ever. As a Buslifer, the main benefit of building a freelance career is that you can work while traveling! In fact, you can decide your own working hours. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

The Freelance Boom

The demand for remote workers has grown rapidly over the past few years. A major trend is the increased digital presence of businesses around the world. This has led to a demand for specific skills that are relatively new in the marketplace.

Examples of such specific expertise include:

  • Facebook Ads
  • Google Ads
  • Social Media Management
  • Copywriting
  • Web Design
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Graphic Design
  • Video Animation
  • Photography
  • App Development
  • Project Management

While freelancing was already booming, the COVID-19 pandemic has opened up a whole new chapter. Companies have been forced to let their staff work from home if possible. This unique experience may well be a lasting one. In short: This is the time to build your freelance presence!

Self-Education is Key

Think about your expertise, past experiences, educational background, and interests. Is there anything that stands out for you? Perhaps you are interested in writing. One of the high-demand freelance jobs is website copywriting.

Even if you don’t have the right experience, self-education can bring you very far. Self-education is essential because the digital world is constantly changing. If you want to be a successful remote worker, you need to evolve your skills. Therefore one of our main tips is to continuously educate yourself. Even if it’s just a few minutes per day. This could be reading an article online or following a Udemy course.

freelancing on upwork

Get Started On Upwork

Did you know that the Buslifers workforce consists of freelancers from all over the world? Most of our team members have been hired through a platform called Upwork. We highly recommend you check it out and create a profile. Upwork is by far the most popular freelancing platform in the world.

Some of the key benefits of Upwork

  • Create several specialized profiles to highlight different skills
  • Large database of jobs
  • Guaranteed payment through Upwork’s Escrow system
  • Get paid by the hour or opt for a fixed price
  • Dispute mediation for freelancers
  • Get more profile views and job offers by obtaining a top-rated status

If you’d like to, we can dive deeper into the Upwork platform in a separate blog post. Let us know in the comments!

4 Other Remote Work Platforms To Check Out

We do not have direct experience with other freelance platforms. However, here’s a list of four popular websites you may want to look into:

Are You Ready To Dive In?

This is a time of great opportunity, especially for Buslifers around the world. It is possible to live a simple life and to travel while earning money. In fact, it has never been so easy. Has this article awoken your interest? What is your dream career? Let us know if you’re ready to give freelancing a try.