In 1952, two young Argentines, Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Granado, set out on a road trip to discover the real Latin America. Ernesto is a 23-year-old medical student specializing in leprology, and Alberto, 29, is a biochemist. The film follows the young men as they unveil the rich and complex human and social topography of the Latin American continent.
With a highly romantic sense of adventure, the two friends leave their familiar surroundings in Buenos Aires on a rickety 1939 Norton 500. Although the bike breaks down during the course of their eight-month journey, they press onward, hitching rides along the way. As they begin to see a different Latin America in the people they meet on the road, the diverse geography they encounter begins to reflect their own shifting perspectives.
They continue to the heights of Machu Picchu, where the majestic ruins and the extraordinary significance of the Inca heritage have a profound impact on the young men. As they arrive at a leper colony deep in the Peruvian Amazon, the two are beginning to question the value of progress as defined by economic systems that leave so many people beyond their reach. Their experiences at the colony awaken within them the men they will later become by defining the ethical and political journey they will take in their lives.