First, there are the practicalities. South America – unlike its cousin in the north or Asia or even Europe – does not suffer Arctic conditions to the same extent as the others. Sure, it can get pretty cold down Patagonia way, but the Cono Sur is never covered in permafrost. In short, it’s relatively easy to travel around and the road network is relatively extensive in the way that it isn’t in somewhere like Siberia or Nunavut.
Then there’s the fact that the journey would pass through only 10 countries, eleven if you count French Guiana. One of Riaan Manser’s greatest challenges during his epic 2-year circumnavigation of Africa was dealing with bureaucracy and red tape. South America is much more visa-friendly.
It’s also a relatively developed place, so those essential bicycle workshops shouldn’t be too far apart. I’ll be able to source supplies relatively easily and if the worst happens I can get spare parts shipped to me from the UK. I’ll leave a box stuffed with essentials at home for this very purpose.
But of course I’m not planning to traipse around South America just because I’ll be able to get my hands on an inner tube should I need one. The continent offers much more than that – stunning scenery, an intoxicating blend of European, African and indigenous influences, the world’s longest mountain chain and the world’s highest waterfall; in short a glorious cornucopia of sights, smells and sounds.
Ultimately this trip is about exploration and adventure and South America offers all that and much, much more.