“The first commandment for every good explorer is that an expedition has two points: the point of departure and the point of arrival. If your intention is to make the second theoretical point coincide with the actual point of arrival, don’t think about the means — because the journey is a virtual space that finishes when it finishes, and there are as many means as there are different ways of “finishing.” That is to say, the means are endless.”
― Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey”
South America is a land so vast that it contains almost all of Earth’s possible landscapes and ecosystems; Impenetrable jungles, vast meandering rivers, snow capped mountains and deserts with dunes that are thousands of feet high. Combine this with Caribbean beaches, modern cities and quaint colonial towns, you can see why travelers are drawn to South America and why those travelers with a propensity for the written word feel the need to articulate this to all. This list will hopefully take you from the Caribbean sea to the Southern Ocean, across the Andres and Atacama, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and everywhere in between.
Below are a few books that will help you get a feel for the continent. I have tried to stay away from novels and travel books set in one particular country this time and cover multi-country journeys and broad histories of the continent as much as I can.
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
by Eduardo Galeano
The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey
by Che Guevara
The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas
by Paul Theroux
Wild Coast: Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge
by John Gimlette
Bolivar: The Epic Life of the Man Who Liberated South America
by Marie Arana
What do you think? If you have any further reading suggestions or want to give your opinions on the books listed above, feel free to write a comment below. In the meantime, check out my Goodreads profile.