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Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)

The transforming spiritual effects of travel needs no better example than The Motorcycle Diaries.

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna and his med school friend, Alberto Granado, take to the road on motorcycle to explore the South American continent in search of adventure and the unknown, religiously keeping a diary along the way.

What they found was a land full of natural beauty, yet populated by a poor majority, and scarred by injustice. Forever changed by his experiences, Ernesto returned to Buenos Aires far more politicized than he had left. A few years later, he emerged from the Cuban jungle as one of the unkempt bearded leaders of the Cuban Revolution, known from that point on as Che.

The Motorcycle Diaries, the movie, uses the prose map left behind by The Motorcycle Diaries, the book, as a guide. The travelogue was shot in the same locations, and provides viewers with some unforgettable South American landscapes.

Easier to reach now then during the years of Guevara’s and Granado’s wanderings, travelers can easily retrace their footsteps (or is it tire tracks?).
Inspired by the iconic man and his formative journey, people often do.

While places like the magical mountaintop city of Machu Picchu need little introduction, most moviegoers may not be as familiar with some of the film’s other destinations.

That’s where Been-Seen steps in.

Lago Frías (Argentina/Chile)

Surrounded by the imposing Southern Andes, Lago Frías is one of a series of lakes located in an area known as the Argentine Lake District (of course). It is here where we hear Ernesto poetically muse, “What do we leave behind when we cross a border? Each moment seems split in two: melancholy for what is left behind, and the excitement of entering a new land.”

Valparaíso (Chile)

Once in Chile, the two eventually arrive in the Pacific port city of Valparaíso. Lyrical, hilly, and an architectural gem, Valparaiso is the country’s cultural soul (and a lot like San Francisco, California). The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, lived there, and wrote a thing or two about it. Although you probably won’t love it in the same way the maestro did.

Atacama Desert (Chile)

Ernesto and Alberto continue northward through Chile into Peru, crossing the inhospitable desert of Atacama—the Earth’s driest. Otherworldly in appearance, crossing the Atacama on foot may not be your cup of tea, but you’ll probably never forget it. Of course, this being 2007, you can also always drive; the Pan American Highway cuts right through.

Macchu Picchu (Perú)

Our final stop with the boys is at the mythical Incan city, Machu Picchu. Peru’s most visited tourist destination, Macchu Picchu is no longer the secret that Hiram Bingham let the world in on early in the 20th century. And if you are one of those people who dreams of going, don’t take too long. Hundreds of thousands of yearly tourists are taking its toll on the sacred site, and moves are being made to limit access to it.

And what would a road trip be without music? Thanks to Oscar-award winning composer Gustavo Santaolallá , an unforgettable collection of songs accompany the wanderers on their journey. Too bad for them there were no Ipods yet, because Santaolallá’s work is as majestic as the land that inspires it.

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