The Dakar Rally completed its sixth event in South America last January, incorporating a route that wound its way through some of the most dramatic landscapes of South America from the Atacama Desert in Chile, to the vast salt flats of Uyuni in Bolivia and the spectacular canyons and cacti fields of the Puna of north-west Argentina. You can have great fun designing your own rugged adventure (sometimes with Touches of luxury!) By 4WD vehicle through these breath-taking remote landscapes on a bespoke holiday in South America into the vivid desert regions of the Andes.
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring part of the Dakar route is the vast Salar de Uyuni in southern Bolivia. There are no roads here, only simple tracks and mile up miles of dazzling salt flats which crust forms a white sea to the horizon, where it meets high volcanic peaks, and which surface is broken only by the occasional island of giant cacti jutting out onto the skyline. The pure white of the salt and the dazzling blue of clear desert skies form a stunning contrast as you journey across its surface by jeep, stopping in its center as dusk falls to admire a beautiful sunset. Have dinner sitting out in the middle of this incredible landscape and sleep in your deluxe campervan, luxuriously fitted out to provide unbelievably comfortable mobile accommodation, taking you wherever in this magical region that you wish to go as you encounter unique rock formations and thermal geysers, before descending to the luxurious lodges of the Atacama Desert in Chile. Even here, luxury combines beautifully with rugged adventures by jeep as you explore the vivid canyons, valleys, and salt lakes where James flamingos graze in the Atacama.
At the convergence of this beautiful high altitude region of South America, the borders of Bolivia and Chile also meet with north-west Argentina as you cross dramatic high road passes to descend into evenly breath-taking desert landscapes of the Puna which lead further down to lush valleys of high altitude wineries, quaint little traditional adobe villages, and stunning canyons, gorges, and wild plains. Design your very own bespoke journey in the Puna by 4×4 with your own driver and guide as you discover the Puna and its starting landscapes and panoramas for yourself. Combine your stay in local lodges and villages with a chance to unwind in luxury at a winery where you can pamper yourself with spa treatments and gourmet cuisine and wash the dust off from your off-road adventure.
And for a complete contrast to the multi-colored terracotta hues of the northern deserts, continue the rugged adventure off-road by heading south to the glittering ice-blue lakes and glaciers of Patagonia around Torres del Paine and El Calafate, set amongst wild steppe where you can look out for condors, eagles, guanaco, armadillos, and even rarely sighted wild cats, such as puma, or huemul (Andean deer). Spot when you wish, have your own driver and guide or not as you wish, set the itinerary at your own pace, stopping for picnics in beautiful secluded spots and relaxing in the evenings at typically selected luxurious wilderness lodges. However you choose to explore the remoter reaches of South America, ensure you get there in safety, comfort, and style.