Originally Posted by crashmaster
So a friend of mine is about to turn 50. She's planning a "trip of a lifetime." She's not sure if she wants to do Greece, Istanbul, or "The Southern Cone."
She has 18 days.
I told her that if she wants to do Greece, then DO GREECE. 18 days is barely enough to do Athens, Olympia, Korinthos, Hydra, and a few other islands. She expects to be able to do Istanbul, Greece, Southern Italy, and then Tuscany. By plane, bus, and train.
She couldn't define "The Southern Cone," but she seems to think it includes Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Uruguay. I told her to to to BA and just fucking stay there. Or maybe also see Mendoza, but whatever romantic idea she has about a "southern cone" seemed... like if somebody who doesn't know about travel and has never been to South America was looking at one of those flat maps and then making totally ass-hole assumptions.
We forgot to mention to the OP that the weather can make a huge difference. Like when I went through Ecuador and Peru, I didn't have a choice between the Panamericana and the Mountains, on account of epic rains that washed out the roads. As in, THE ROADS WEREN'T THERE. So I had to stick to the Pan Americana, which worked out fine because I ended up making great time. Like in the desert, where there's nothing to see but ghost towns and sand.
If the OP's time-off coincides with South America's winter, then going to Ushuaia by motorcycle is a fool's errand. It can be done, but it's going to be really, really fucking cold.
If the OP wants to tool around a really cool country, then Colombia is probably the place to go. For me- IMHO- Colombia is cool, but it's mainly more and more and more of the same. (Disclaimer: I was raised in Panama. For me, Colombia is cool, but not so cool that I wanted to spend weeks and weeks there.) Otherwise, Argentina is pretty cool. If I was going to spend 5 weeks in one country, I'd probably choose Argentina.
And if I wanted to RIDE, as in, actually RIDE, then I'd fly into Bogota and ride all the way to Ushuaia on about a liter of dual sport. (I don't know if I'd do it on a BMW GS, a big KTM, or a V-Strom. I love my BMW, but the V-Strom is faster, and the big KTM is waaaay more fun.)