The map of the motorcycle diaries

Ernesto "Che" Guevara along with his friend Alberto Granado set out on a travel around South America in Granado’s motorcycle Norton La Poderosa II in 1952 from Buenos Aires. When they started the trip, they were just two adventurous souls keen on taking a semester off to see the world that they had only read about in books. Over the next seven months, Guevara would visit Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, and witness social and political injustices that would have a profound impact on him, the history of Latin America, and the history of the modern world. His story is more a discovery of self. This is not a political article. In this article, we track the footsteps of Guevera and Granado with the curiosity of an adventurer, a traveler, and a history buff. Guevera, in an alternate universe, would have become a great traveler and a travel writer as evidenced by the eloquence and knowledge with which he describes the experiences of his travel.

In my favorite line from the book, Guevara describes artistically the Cuzco Cathedral in the aftermath of 1950 earthquake, “Gold doesn’t have the gentle dignity of silver which becomes more charming as it ages, and so the cathedral seems to be decorated like an old woman with too much makeup”.

In other articles in this series, I have tracked the Travels of Marco Polo and the Travels of Ibn-Battuta. This article is different in many levels from its sister articles. Marco Polo and Ibn-Battuta traveled in medieval times where the conditions were significantly different from the 1950s when Guevera took off. The Travel itinerary in the 14th century is infinitely more complex than in the 20th century. Mode and speed of travel has improved by leaps and bounds in 600 years. Not to forget, we have introduced passports, visas (in the words of Guevara himself “many hurdles modern nations erect in the paths of would-be travelers”), and cameras. Also, the travels of Marco Polo and Ibn-Battuta cover the travels that they undertook during the significant part of their lifetime – more than 25 years. This article covers the journey that merely took 7 months.

This article finds its way to our collection for three main reasons. One, Guevara and Granado possess the same skills that Polo, Ibn-Battuta, and numerous other travelers and discoverers did – perseverance, ingenuity, cultural sensitivity, and the sheer love for travel. Two, even though this trip lasts only 7 months, the significance cannot be under-stated due to the profound impact this journey had on the modern history of the world. Three, for lovers of travel history, it is one of the finest accounts of travel and life in 1950s South America.

The below map takes us through the journey that Guevara and Granado took in the first half of 1952 as chronicled in “The Motorcycle Diaries”. Guevara would later go on to play a significant role in the Cuban Revolution and would visit many more countries in both official and unofficial capacities. His travel after 1952 is beyond the scope of this article.

Click on the markers in the map which will pop up to provide additional details and commentary. Hasta la vista!

  • Map is better explored on a big screen
    • Click the "View Fullscreen" [  ] button on the map to toggle full screen mode


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