South America in a camper van
South America in a camper van with three kids! We dreamed about such a trip for a long time. However, we did not know how to “plan it”. There were still commitments, uncertainty or fear. It’s hard to leave a job, change your habits, follow the fate. However, in March 2014, we did not have a paid job, with a 3-month-old child, we decided. We booked tickets to Quito in Ecuador. We bought one way tickets, because we did not know how long our trip will take. Shortly we started preparations: route, necessary luggage, 2 backpacks, a list of handy accessories and our unforgettable double stroller Phil & Teds.
Ecuador – buses and Galapagos!
First month we spent in Ecuador. This beautiful country charmed us with the beautiful nature and the closeness of animals. The Galapagos Islands themselves allow you to literally touch sea lions, iguanas, pelicans, crabs. We saw sharks, huge tortoises, various types of birds, tall and curved cactuses and volcanic rock formations. A great experience was the observation of whales in the Pacific.
However, traveling with three kids was very expensive and extremely tiring. We lost 10 kilos and spent 3 times more money than we planned. We were worried all the time about the next accommodation and its price. Searching for accommodation, food and ways to get to the most interesting places absorbed a lot of time and energy. Luckily fate gave us some hints and soon we started looking for a camper van on the internet.
We are buying a camper van in Ecuador
We found the only car available in this area that could accommodate five people and was within our budget. A Belgian traveling couple sold us an old, over 25-year-old Dodge in the border between Ecuador and Peru. From that time we had a place to sleep and cook homemade lunches. In crisis moments kids were using a small, portable toilet and bathing in a large basin. It gave us a freedom and in our house on wheels we felt like in a castle.
We spent our first night “in the wild” with a Peruvian Circus, making friends with the circus family, clowns, dwarfs and dogs. Then we head out to the mountains of The Cordillera Blanca and we enjoyed parking in the market squares, next to the churches or in the car parks with views of the terribly deep valleys.
3 months in Peru
Peru charmed us. High mountains, often covered with a snow cap or cut through with potatoes fields, contain thermal baths. The roads are often crossed by guanacos, lamas cousins. We were fascinated by visits to Inca fortresses and temples as well as to pre-incas towns, both popular and forgotten.
We spent three months in Peru. Our kids attracted to us Peruvians – people with Indian appearance, often wearing traditional colorful clothes. We watched with joy how the kids played and communicated with the local children. Sometimes we stayed at campsites where we met other camper vans travelers. We warmly remember meetings around the fireplace, sharing food and travel stories of other dreamers. Sometimes, on the route, we met again camper friends and exchanged nice words, some tips and advices.
Bolivia – salty, dry seas
In Bolivia, it was a bit harder for us because of the unavailability of children’s items (diapers, porridges). The condition of the roads also leave much to be desired. South America in a camper van means also a few chilling moments, for example when the car skidded on a muddy road between Oruro and Uyuni, and then we got the flat tire twice.
The reward was a trip through Salar de Uyuni and from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile – a few days of breathtaking views. Our mornings we spent with a views of the salt lagoon, volcanoes or the slopes of the red canyons. We spent evenings with a warm tea among long shadows thrown by fantastic rock formations. During daytime journeys we watched clouds of dust, geyser fountains or backwaters full of lamas and flamingos. I will not forget the practice of yoga on the canyon’s slope next to the Colorada Lagoon – a feast for all the senses.
On the route we had to face many difficulties. Ever and again there was something wrong with the car. A ride through Salar de Uyuni and San Pedro de Atacama completely destroyed our brakes. So we spent one month in the desert city of Calama in Chile waiting for spare parts. In the same place our oldest son broke his arm, and the youngest Kaja learnt to walk. These adventures strengthened our relationships as a couple and family – we felt needed and appreciated our skills.
Chile – Christmas and New Year
Christmas was coming. We got an invitation to Concepción in Chile, where we spent Christmas Eve with Claudia and her boyfriend Phelipe. Then we went to the South of Chile to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2014/15 on the ferry from Chiloé to Patagonia.
Patagonia dazzled us with even larger spaces and sharp mountain landscapes. It was getting colder. However our house on wheels protected us from the cold wind and allowed us to easily travel the huge emptiness of Patagonia. Children admired the blue glaciers and turquoise lagoons and watched the penguins and birds of Patagonia. In each parking they managed to find a pile of sand, stones or trees that they played with. We were singing songs from the only album “Strachy na Lachy” (Polish rock band) that we had with us.
Selling the camper van in South America
At the end of January a buyer of our motorhome approached us. So we went to the North of Argentina to the Valdés Peninsula, to see the sea elephants, and than we headed straight to Chile, where we gave our Dodge to a Swiss family with a baby. Two weeks later, without informing Grandmas, we came back home with our heads still full of views and smells from South America. That’s how the adventure of South America in a camper van with kids has ended.
POINT DESCRIPTION OF SOUTH AMERICA IN A CAMPER VAN (route, places, countries, events) below.
To view the map click here.
Ecuador – 50 days of travel by airplanes, buses and taxis
Galapagos (2 weeks – Santa Cruz Islands, Isabela and San Cristobal)
Peru – we are buying a camper van: old Dodge from a Belgian couple of travelers and from now on we absorb the continent completely different:
María / Kuelap
Pueblo de los Muertos, Karajía, Yerbabuena, Revash, Leyebamba
Trujillo / Huanchaco
Huaray; Lago Llanguanuco
Catac and Pastoruri glacier
Barranca and Paramonga fortress
Lima (2 weeks break for installing a gas and fixing the car)
Huacachima and sand boarding
Arequipa, Chivay, Yaugue
Puno and Titicaca Lake
Bolivia – mountains, muddy roads and salt deserts full of geysers and lagoons:
Uyuni – Salar de Uyuni z Incahuaca
Chile / Argentina – Desert, Coast, European landscapes and finally Patagonia:
San Salvador de Jujuy
Tafí del Valle
Portero de Guaray
Chiloe Island – Islotes de Puñihuil, Castro, Quellón
El Chaltén and trekking on Cerro Torre
El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier
Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine Park
Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan
Bahí Inútil – king penguins
Ushuaia and Lapataía Bay; we reached to the Tierra del Fuego !
Tierra del Fuego achived- we have buyer of our camper van / we return to the center of Chile:
Puerto Madryn / Peninsula Valdés
San Matías Gulf
Paso Pino Hachado
Santiago de Chile