2020. Like everyone else, our travels this year didn’t go as planned, though the year started off quite well in the southernmost city in the world–Ushuaia, Argentina. However, by the end of January, as we started to slowly return north through Patagonia, our daily podcast news diet (NYT The Daily, and The Rachel Maddow Show) was full of ominous hints that the world was about to change radically. Still, as you will see in this recap of our South American road trip driving route for 2020 in Argentina and Chile, we still managed to cram a lot of travel into the first couple of months of the year before entering pandemic lockdown in Mendoza, Argentina, and hitting the road (albeit briefly) in December.

Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa view

The midnight sun in January when we were in Ushuaia, Argentina which is the southernmost city in the world.

South American Road Trip Driving Route for December 2020 in Argentina

After more than eight months of not being allowed to travel outside of our immediate area, Argentina opened up limited domestic internal tourism between a number of provinces beginning in early December following a drop in case numbers and a desire to try to resurrect local tourism a bit.

This news came just in time for us to carefully plan a very short road trip to the neighboring province to see the total solar eclipse in Patagonia on December 14. Ever since we saw our first total solar eclipse in July 2019, we were committed to seeing this one in December. So, we plotted a one-week mini road trip limited to just one province and including just the eclipse and a brief exploration of Neuquén Province covering 1,864 miles (3,000 km) in the month of December. Here’s our photo essay of top shots from the December 2020 total solar eclipse in the sky above a remote spot in the Patagonia region of Argentina.

Eclipse December 2020 Argentina

The many phases of the total solar eclipse in December 2020 as it occurred over Catan Lil in the Patagonia region of Argentina.

First, we headed south from Mendoza city on the famous (and not fully paved) Ruta Nacional 40 which travels the entire length of Argentina parallelling the Andes. About 330 miles (531 km) south of Mendoza we entered Neuquén Province which is considered the beginning of the Patagonia region. We continued south another 290 miles (467 km) to Catán Lil, a mere speck on the map that just happened to be on the centerline of totality during the total solar eclipse.

Argentinosaurus Carmen Funes dinosaur museum

Neuquén Province in Argentina is full of fossils, including this Argentinosaurus, thought to be the largest dinosaur ever discovered, on display in the Museo Carmen Funes.

Then we drove to Neuquén city and the surrounding area where the majority of Patagonian wineries are located as well as a bounty of dinosaur fossils, including what’s believed to be the largest dinosaur ever discovered.

See what we saw during our December 2020 mini road trip in our drive-lapse video, below, shot by our dash-mounted Brinno time-lapse camera.

And check out our South American road trip driving route for December 2020, below.

South American road trip driving route 2020 recap in Argentina and Chile

On March 10 we returned to the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina to take care of our friends’ house and pets for a month. Nine days later, Argentina began one of the strictest Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns in the world. For three months it was impossible to travel beyond a small radius of your residence (and then only on authorized days for authorized reasons with a mask and strict social distancing). After that, our travel was limited to within the greater Mendoza city and Uco Valley area. However, on December 2nd, as infection and hospitalization rates dropped regionally, travel between select provinces (Argentina’s version of states) began to open up which allowed for a very, very brief mini road trip in mid-December as described above.

Patagonia border crossings

Each of the four crossings we made between Argentina and Chile in 2020 were at land borders in the middle of nowhere–just the way we like it.

In the end, we covered a total of 8,908 miles (14,336 km) in Argentina and Chile in fewer than three months of travel in 2020. We also had four border crossings this year, bringing the total overland border crossings on our Trans-Americas Journey road trip to 79 and counting. For more amazing (and somewhat geeky) road trip stats, visit our Facts & Figures page.

As we write this, we are still in Mendoza where we’ll be until the land border with Chile re-opens. Of course, we would prefer to be on the road as we have been for the previous 13 years. Right now we should be taking advantage of the all-too-brief Patagonian summer to reach areas of the region that we have yet to explore. But if we have to be stalled somewhere (and we do), then we are grateful to be in Mendoza which suits us just fine except for the fact we are so far from our family and friends in the US. For more about how the pandemic has impacted us and our lockdown life here in Mendoza, check out this excellent profile of us on CNN Travel.

Check out our South American road trip driving route for all of 2020 in our map, below.

To experience our drive from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, up through Patagonia, and back to Mendoza (including photos and drive-lapse dash-cam video), don’t miss our post detailing our January, February, and March 2020 driving route.


Here’s more about travel in Argentina

Here’s more about travel in Chile

Here’s more about Patagonia Travel


Share via