SOUTH AMERICA TRIP BY CAR
On the Lima-Paracas highway, several types of policemen are waving sticks. I stop. Documents are in order, the speed did not exceed, there is nothing to fear.
“Ola!” – says one of the Peruvians, slobbering outstretched documents, climbs an unshaven face into the salon, notices a passenger in the backseat and snorts with satisfaction.
“Your passenger is not fastened! You are fine! ”- shows a little book with the rules of the road in Spanish. Each rule is provided with photographs for the illiterate. The passenger in the back should really be fastened. An amazing rule, considering that the rest almost do not work. In Lima, they drive between lanes and on a “counter”, ignore the pedestrian crossing and the red light, do not keep their distance, do not let in, push, buzz and behave like savages. And here, look, the belt is in the back seat!
“And how much should I do?” – I am interested.
“3500 salts. But if you pay on the spot, then less. Only 1000! ”- jumps the second. The rest of the police are listening, getting ready to help if a foreigner starts to protest. I think in my mind: they want more than $ 1000 for a belt, but if you give a bribe, then $ 300. Well, appetites are here!
I ask the traffic rules. It turns out that the maximum amount of the fine for this offense is 350 salts, that is, 10 times less! Not only that corrupt, so also crooks! In the end, I give the beggars in the uniforms of 50 soles – enough with them.
If you do not consider the traffic police and street idlers, “helping” to park, in general, driving a car in Latin America is easy. America is the automotive continent. Here it is bad for pedestrians: great distances, poorly developed public transport, and criminal ghettos. But being a motorist is great. And if you travel by company, it is also inexpensive. Offices for renting cars are in almost all major cities.
The most beautiful car routes are in Argentine Patagonia. The road from Calafate to the Perito Moreno glaciers is fantastic. Towards Chalten and Mount Fitzroy is incredible. Low bright sky – from turquoise to indigo, colorful mountains, endless pampas. The main thing is not to knock down by chance, jumped on the road guanaco. They easily move the wire hedges and suddenly find themselves right in front of you – the main thing is that the brakes are in order.
In the Punta Tombo area, there is another danger. Before you start the engine, you need to look under the car, did not hide under it … penguin. On the Patagonian coast are colonies of Magellanic penguins. In the shadow of the cars they hide from the heat of the day.
Another feature of Patagonia is strong winds. If you spare the money and rented the lightest subcompact ($ 40-50 per day), then you can be blown off the road. This is not Europe. The wind sometimes pushes sideways so much that you need to constantly steer, keeping the course. The agency warned: when you get out of the car, hold the doors, otherwise they can be pulled out by the wind and hit each other. So you can mash the car even while parked.
Standard speed limits – 90-100 km / h. Nobody seriously respects these restrictions, they travel 110-120 km / h. There are no cameras on the roads, but there are practically no aggressive riders, mostly driven in a civilized manner.
Almost everywhere in South America there is a limit on mileage. On the day you can not drive more than 250 km, or even 230 km. If the distance is greater, you will have to pay extra. Usually it is 10-20 cents per 1 km in Argentina and Chile, up to 60 cents in Peru. If the mileage is large, then sometimes it is more profitable to take the car for more days than to pay the overrun.
You can order a car in Calafate, a tourist crossroads, via the Internet. But it is better to do this on the spot, as with large agencies like Hertz, machines can be disassembled. And something decent can be found only in the office of a company with a little-known name or a site that has not yet made a website.
From Argentine Patagonia, you can drive to Chilean. There are several dozen border crossings in Chile, but if you go to the southernmost city of the country, Punta Arenas or to the Torres del Paine National Park, you can use the Dorothea or Rio Don Gillermo crossings. Additional insurance is not necessary, the border is covered in 20-30 minutes. It is important to remember that Chile is the only country in South America where the importation of products is strictly prohibited. Apples, ham sandwiches, churchkhela and bags of wheat should be left on the Argentine side.