SAT NEWS - SELF-DRIVE SPECIAL
Dear Travel Partner,
2021 has arrived and we are looking forward to an exciting year!
We are always busy anticipating and planning for the new ways of travel our guests will be looking for. With the incomparable diversity, breathtaking nature, rich culture and history as well as culinary delights South America has to offer, we know that travelers will find all they can wish for and more in our spectacular part of the world!
One segment that has been gaining a lot more interest in the last couple of years but especially these past months, is self-drive tours. This is why we are starting the year with a bang by dedicating not one but two newsletter editions to everything surrounding rental car journeys, including any doubts you might have and our suggestions for intriguing routes.
This first edition will focus on general information regarding self-driving in South America as well as travel ideas for Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.
Keep your eyes peeled for the second edition which will feature Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil!
Enjoy reading and all the best,
your SAT Team
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SELF-DRIVING IN SOUTH AMERICA - AN INTRODUCTION
There is something special about the idea of renting a car and exploring a foreign country, travelling where the road takes you. Especially these days, the concept of self-drive tours is more appealing than ever: no public transport, highly independent and customizable, travelling at your own pace and stopping for pictures whenever you want.
Wouldn't you agree that South America with its fantastic views, wide open spaces, friendly people and countless sights - many of which are located off the beaten track - is predestined for self-drive adventures?
At the same time, driving in South America involves a few factors that you might not expect or aren't used to from home. First of all, there is the
language barrier. Once you leave the big cities, you will likely not find many people who speak English so we recommend you bring a dictionary and learn a few helpful phrases in Spanish (or Portuguese when travelling in Brazil). Speaking of big cities, the
traffic is usually very busy and can be a challenge! We suggest you explore the neighborhood on foot to get a feel for the streets, this will make it a lot easier once you're behind the wheel.
Another factor is
. Especially in big countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Chile there will be many long drives. In addition to that, the
is not well developed everywhere. Particularly in the countryside not all roads are paved and restaurants or rest stops might be scarce so preparing is key. But we can guarantee that there will be no shortage of spectacular views! And there are many delicious snacks you can bring to taste-test during your drive, huge plus! Depending on where you go, the
GPS and cell phone signal
might be spotty but downloading offline maps beforehand will help with that.
Do you have any additional questions or doubts? Just let us know
and we will be happy to assist!
Once the destination has been decided, the big questions are: Where should I go and what is there to see? You might have the highlights picked out already but really, there is so much more to see! This is where our expertise comes in. We will help each guest build their perfect route, pre-book comfortable, authentic accommodation along the way and give lots of suggestions for stops and visits during the drive. We have selected a few examples to show you how the itineraries might look like!
CHILE: THE BEAUTIES OF THE LAKE REGION|
Our 8-day exploration of Chile's famous Lake District will enchant you with
sparkling lakes, lush forests and rough mountains
. Your adventure starts with the flight to
, located in the Araucanía Region. After picking up the rental car at the airport, you make your way to
. This small city is nestled at the shore of
and the perfect starting point for your drive south. The next morning, head out for an exploration of one of the many protected areas nearby. If you don't mind an early start, we suggest a visit to the Conguillio National Park
with its active volcano Llaima, lava fields and millennial Araucarias forests. On day 3, you make your way to
, your base for the next 2 nights. On the way, how about a visit to the
Villarrica National Park
to marvel at the Valdivian temperate rainforest? The next day, head to the Huilo Huilo National Park
. It's famous for its big waterfalls up to 50 meters, humid forest and enormous variety of unique plants and wildlife! During your drive to Puerto Varas
on day 5, you should plan a stop in the village
, an early settlement of German immigrants which dates back to 1856. During your next 2 days in Puerto Varas, we recommend a visit to the impressive
combined with a catamaran tour on the beautiful
Lake Todos los Santos
which offers breathtaking views of the majestic volcanoes in the background. Finally, you shouldn't miss Chiloé Island
, famous for its unique history, myths and fairy tales. On day 8, you bid farewell to the Lake District while you drive to the airport of Puerto Montt to drop off the rental car. From there, you can fly back to Santiago or further south, for example to Punta Arenas. Want more self-drive ideas in Chile? Just click
to contact our team!
CARRETERA AUSTRAL MINI-ADVENTURE
For people who are just getting started with self-drive tours and prefer a shorter package, a trip on the Carretera Austral
is perfect! This scenic route connects the Lake District with Patagonia and is lined with national parks, a real treasure trove of unique experiences!
condensed 4-day package
starts with a morning flight to
where you pick up the rental car at the airport. You drive down the Carretera Austral to
Puerto Río Tranquilo
, located at the shore of
Lake General Carrera
. From there, you embark on a one-hour boat tour to the fantastical
. Afterwards, you make your way along the shore of the lake to your lodge in
. The next morning, you continue south until you reach the small town
. An attraction not to be missed en route is the junction of the Baker River and its tributaries - an amazing photo stop! After a relaxing breakfast and a stroll through the town, you make your way back to the Lake General Carrera where you spend the night in
. On day 4, you return to Balmaceda to drop off your rental car at the airport. Click here
for more self-drive itineraries on the Carretera Austral!
TREASURES OF ARGENTINA'S NORTH
Argentina is a huge country with several spectacular regions that are just screaming to be explored by car. One of those is "NOA", the mountainous North-West. Andean culture, colonial architecture, vineyards and delicious food are waiting there!
Our 8-day sample tour will take you through the main highlights NOA has to offer, starting with your arrival in
. You pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to a cozy finca outside the city. The next morning, you drive to
, a small village with colonial structure and adobe architecture, located on the edge of the Puna plateau. It is well known for the colorful mountain range
„Cerro de los Siete Colores"
(Mountain of Seven Colors). Take a day to explore the surroundings, like the salt lakes
or the spectacular Humahuaca Gorge
, a UNESCO World Heritage. You return to Salta the next day, for another night at your cozy finca. On day 5, you make your journey south along the perfectly straight road
"Recta del Tin Tin"
, and through the
National Park Los Cardones
with its bizarre cactus landscape until you reach
. This picturesque village is uniquely located between majestic mountains in the Calchaquíes Valleys. After a peaceful night, you continue towards
, an idyllic town in the heart of Argentina's viticulture. On the way, you will pass the fascinating gorge Quebrada de las Flechas
, a spectacular sight! Enjoy the afternoon at a wine resort and taste the delicious local wines while enjoying the fantastic view of the vineyards, granite hills and the Cafayate gorge. It's time to return to Salta for one last night in the comfort of an authentic finca. How about a visit of the
Quebrada de las Conchas
on the way? The „Gorge of Shells“ was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its bizarre rock formations and multicolored mountains. Your time in "NOA" ends on day 8 with your drive to the airport of Salta to drop off the rental car. Wondering where to go from there? Contact us
for more self-drive adventures in Argentina!
Located in the center of Argentina, Córdoba is the perfect blend between old and new
. The city and its surroundings have a lot to offer: colonial buildings and 17th century Jesuit ruins, art and culture, stunning landscapes, buzzing nightlife and traditional music. Make Córdoba your base and explore all it has to offer during day excursions with a rental car!
Pick up your rental car at the airport after your arrival in Córdoba and head to your hotel to settle in for the next 4 nights
exploring the city
in depth on your first full day, we recommend a visit to the
, including stops in Alta Gracia to visit the Che Guevara Museum and Villa General Belgrano, a city with a distinct German influence. The next day, how about a trip to the
Natural Reserve Cerro Blanco
? The reserve received its name "White Hill" due to the amount of quartz contained in the ground. With a bit of luck, you might spot Argentina's biggest bird, the condor. After visiting the rock formations Los Gigantes, you head back to Córdoba. On day 05, you make your way to the airport to drop off your rental car. Of course there is a lot more to see in the region so please contact us
PATAGONIAN ADVENTURE - A CHILE/ARGENTINA COMBINATION
Did you know that a special permit allows you to cross the border between Chile and Argentina with your rental car? There are great options in the northern and central region but for our example we will focus on the south, specifically Patagonia. In 19 days, we will take you from the Lake District to the Torres del Paine National Park, with lots of amazing stops along the way!
Your adventure starts very relaxed in
, your base for the next 3 nights. During your stay, you can explore the Llanquihue Lake, Chiloé Island, the Petrohué Waterfalls, the historic town Frutillar or the Alerce Andino National Park. On day 4, you make your way south, through Puerto Montt and along the coast, to
. The town is located on the Gulf of Ancud and offers beautiful sea views to one side and the fantastic landscape of the Hornopirén National Park to the other. You will have the chance to appreciate this view more during your drive to
the next day. You will spend the night here, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of the small town on the Gulf of Ancud. Your destination for the next 2 nights is a remote lodge hidden away in a bay in
. Explore the lush temperate rainforest of the area, unplug and relax! On day 8, you continue your journey to
. Make some time for souvenir shopping at the town's handicraft market! Your next stop is
, where you will stay for two nights. On your free day, we recommend you explore the Lake General Carrera, including a boat tour to the Marble Caves! On day 11, you leave Chile and make your way to the Argentinian town
. Have an early night here to be refreshed for your trip to
the next day, where you will spend two nights. The village at the shore of Lake Viedma is the perfect base for a hiking tour! On day 14, you leave for
, one of the highlights of your trip. During your 2-night stay, you will have the possibility to visit the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier which will leave you speechless with its icy masses! Day 16 is reserved for your second border crossing back into Chile. You are headed to the grand finale of your tour:
Torres del Paine National Park
. Spend 2 nights here and discover the treasures Torres del Paine has to offer! Your last night will be spent in
before you finish your tour at the airport to drop off your rental car on day 19. What an unforgettable experience! For more details about border crossings with a rental car as well as itinerary suggestions, please
THE BIG URUGUAY ROAD TRIP
Its small size makes Uruguay an ideal destination for self-drivers. We will show you how to traverse the whole country in just 16 days
You pick up your rental car in
and drive eastbound to spend 2 nights in
. There is a lot to discover, like the waterfall Salto del Penitente, the gold mine of Arrospide or the Valle del Hilo de la Vida (Valley of Thread of Life). On day 3, you continue further south to
. We suggest a visit to the rescue center SOS Fauna Marina, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating marine wildlife. After spending the night, you drive east along the coast to an estancia in
. On the way, make time to stop at the Rocha lagoon or at the National Park Cabo Polonio. You will spend 3 nights at the estancia to explore the property and the surrounding countryside, including the Santa Teresa National Park or the Bosque de Ombues with numerous centuries' old trees. On day 7, you head west towards
to enjoy the vast and hilly mountain scenery for 2 nights. From here, you drive to
in the northern part of Uruguay. How about a visit of the Quebrada de los Cuervos National Park en route? Enjoy a day in Tacuarembó to visit the nature reserve „Valle del Lunarejo“. You leave for
on day 11. We suggest to stop at Fray Bentos on the way, an interesting cultural-industrial landscape recognized by UNESCO. From Mercedes, you make your way to Carmelo
, passing by the Grutas del Palacio, a natural formation of sedimentary rocks dated back 70 millions of years. You will spend 2 nights in Carmelo to relax at a local winery before driving to Colonia del Sacramento
on day 14. After 2 more nights here, you arrive back in Montevideo on day 16. We can guarantee that by this time, you will have fallen in love with Uruguay, its
people and its landscapes! You can request more information about self-driving in Uruguay
MATE AND GAUCHOS - AN ARGENTINA/URUGUAY COMBINATION|
If you want to avoid border crossings with a rental car, there are still great and easy ways to combine different countries and include separate car rentals
during your trip.
Our tour sample starts with a flight from Buenos Aires to
. After picking up the rental car at the airport, you make your way north to your hotel in
, located at the "Golfo Nuevo". You will spend 3 nights here. The next day, you explore the
, one of the wildlife paradises of Argentina, starting with a visit to the small village
. It's the starting point for whale watching excursions as well as activities such as kayaking or snorkeling. From there, you discover the rest of the peninsula with its many wildlife such as seals, Magellanic penguins, guanacos and numerous bird species. On day 3, you drive south towards
, home to one of the biggest penguin colonies in the world. The next morning, it's time to return to Trelew airport to drop off the rental car and fly back to Buenos Aires. To explore the capital, no car is needed! From Buenos Aires, you take a ferry across the Rio de la Plata to
Colonia del Sacramento
in Uruguay. Upon arrival, you pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel for the next two nights. Enjoy a full day to explore the picturesque city and its beautiful surroundings before making your way to
for a 1-night stop. You leave the capital the next day and drive east along the coast until you reach
. Here, you spend 2 nights at an idyllic estancia surrounded by glens, rolling meadows and fields. Relax in this tranquil atmosphere or make a trip to the nearby beaches and wetlands. The next morning, you travel north towards the
. The region is characterized by extensive wild beaches and the emerald green ocean. You will stay at a charming estancia for the next 2 nights. Use your free time to visit the small border town
or the San Miguel National Park to observe the wildlife. With an overnight stop in
, you head back to
where you will drop off your rental car. After taking some days to explore the city, a ferry takes you back across the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires. Where would you like to travel from here? Please
for more tour suggestions!
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