9 unforgettable signs in South America

You might just learn something new from these road and street signs that you won't see back home!
by Britt Fracolli

The following collection of signs are on display in countries throughout South America, from Ecuador all the way down to the southern tip of Argentina. Some of these signs will put a smile on your face and a few may even teach you something new about this diverse continent.

Without further ado, here are 9 unforgettable signs in South America (listed in no particular order).

#1 …

Ecuador in the middle of the world, Latitude: 00 00 00Visit the middle of the world in South America!
Photo by dutchbaby/Flickr

Did you know that Ecuador is famously named for the Equator the traverses the country? As highlighted on the sign, Ecuador is pinpointed as the middle of the world: Visitors can stand at the exact location of zero degrees latitude, zero minutes and zero seconds.

#2 …

llama crossing road sign in PatagoniaKeep your eyes open for llamas.
“Watch out for llama” photo by Linda/Flickr

Llamas can be spotted in the Andean regions of Peru and Bolivia. Be on the lookout for a yellow road sign with a black llama silhouette while driving between destinations!


confusing English on a hotel sign in BoliviaSometimes it’s important to read between the lines.
Photo by Britt Fracolli

Last year I encountered this curious sign posted at a hotel and think it’s safe to say that something was definitely lost in translationI was able to piece together the instructions, but only after a couple reads.  


signs that go to many destinationsAll signs point to far away destinations.
Photo from The Other Fork in the Road website

The signs nailed to this wooden post en route to El Chalten from El Calafate give you a sense how far away you are from large cities in Patagonia. This region of South America truly redefines the concept of “remote.”


sign warning about windy Patagonia conditionsBeware of windy conditions.
Photo by Antoine Hubert/Flickr

Evidently the winds are so strong in Patagonia that cautionary signs are posted along the roads. These weather conditions may seem insignificant, but for some its a very memorable detail.

Last year Latin America For Less presented a short-film, In South America: Untamed Winds, that follows lifelong friends, and filmmakers, Vincent Urban, Clemens Krüger, and Stefan Templer on a four-month road trip through South America.  During their journey they witnessed the continent’s natural beauty and were confronted with difficult weather conditions.

“There were strong winds every day for weeks and weeks after we left Buenos Aires and drove south to Patagonia. The strength of the wind was funny at the beginning, but it got particularly annoying when we couldn’t sleep because it was so loud,” said Urban.

Check out our interview with Urban.


A store that sells everything in PeruThe question isn’t what you can buy, but what you cannot buy at this store.
Photo by Malene Hald/Flickr

It’s no secret that this little convenient store in Arequipa, Peru sells a wide variety of products. But a true appreciation for the diversity of items sold becomes apparent after translating some words written on the signs. Along with alcohol, products for sale include brea (tar) and yeso (plaster). The sign in the top-right also indicates that the store owner will buy scraps of bronze. 


the mysterious road sign in Patagonia You might come across this mysterious sign in Patagonia.
Photo by Houston Marsh/Flickr

If you find this road sign in Patagonia puzzling, then you’re not alone. What do you think it means? Share your thoughts with us and leave a comment below!


penguin road sign in South AmericaMeet some penguins while on vacation in Argentina.
Photo by Christian Ostrosky/Flickr

This road sign alerts an onlooker to penguins that reside on Argentina’s Peninsula Valdes. Drive further south along the country’s jagged coastline and you’ll eventually arrive at Punto Tomno, home to the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins. Visitors can see up to one million of these penguins each year that come here  to roost. 


Inca Kola billboard near LimaA taste of some creative marketing near Lima, Peru.
Photo from ContigoMarketing website

During the summer months many residents of Lima enjoy some relaxation at beaches about an hour south of the city. Companies capitalize on this weekend migration and entertain divers with a variety of billboards along the Pan-American Highway. Inca Kola, a popular soft drink in Peru, was among the top contenders for this year’s most creative designs.

Road and street signs offer insight into some interesting details about life and travel in South America, so keep your eyes open for any curious findings.

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