I will be spending 16 weeks volunteering in Ecuador (living in Otavalo) and will have 3 weeks to travel in South America afterward. What shouldn't I miss? There seems to be so much, and I know 3 weeks isn't enough time, but it's going to have to do this time. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
[i]Otavalo is one of my favored places...I'm there 2-3 times per year,was there in Nov.05 last time.
3 weeks is not much time to visit Southamerica.What places in Ecuador do you know?
Have you been to Banos?from there you can go to the amazon djungle,or fly from Quito to Coca,or go to the coast Montanita, or go for the whale watching in Puerto Lopez,Cuenca is also beautyful.
Many places to visit in Ecuador..
Also possible to go by bus to Peru,but as said,3 weeks is short.
What are you doing in Otavalo?
My friends there are selling very beautyfull things at the Paza de los Ponchos.
I would include the following on a "must see" list: (no particular order)
I spent a month in Quito over the past summer and loved it! I was there for four weeks, mon-thu I would do volunteer work at an elementary school teaching english, and on the weekends, fri-sun we would travel to different parts of the country. On the first weekend we went to atacames which is about 6 hours by bus from quito, it's best to take a late bus, 23.00 or later. I deffinitely recommend going to atacames, it is a lovely beach town, and what makes it much nicer than montinita or manta is that it is where all the locals go on their holiday, not very many gringos, and great nightlife, nice and relaxing. The second weekend we went to banos, it was about three weeks before they had to evacuate the town due to the volcano, it wasn't very crowded and it was georgous! We did a 5 hour bike ride and saw alot of waterfalls, we also went to the thermal springs. We stayed at a really nice hostal, called Maria Cruz (I think that was what it was called, it is very colorful and it was in our lonely planet book) The third weekend we went to the amazon, the cuyabeno reserve, if you decide to take any tours go to La Mariscal or sometimes refered to Gringolandia. there are tons of tour agencies, we visited a few and then chose the one we liked best. The trip to the jungle is long and hard but well worth it, I hate spiders and am not very outdoorsy but I was sad to leave, It was just amazing. On the last weekend I went Mitad del mundo which was really nice, go on a sunday because its when the locals go and they usually have a live band playing all day long, the environment is really good on sundays. The last day I was in Ecuador Me and my friend went to Mindo, where the cloud forest is, It was really nice, we swam in the waterfalls. The hike was much more rigorous than we were told so it is good to be in good shape, I am not that athletics so it is doable, just hard.
Best of luck,
3 weeks really isn't long at all, so my advice would be not to travel too much.
Spent two months in SA my highlights were:
Iguazu - just awesome
Uyuni Jeep Trip - stunning scenery
Worlds Most Dnagerous Road - great adenaline buzz
Lake Titicaca - Isla del Sol was beautiful
La Paz - crazy, crazy city
Have a great time !
Three weeks in South America is I feel just about the perfect amount of time to spend there. It’s long enough for you to take a lot in and short enough to ensure you still have a job waiting for you when you return home. Personally I'd advise spending the entire three weeks in one or maybe two countries. If you try and see to much you'll be spreading your out very thinly and rushing yourself. If you spend 3 weeks in one country you always have a great excuse to come back another time and explore the rest.
Peru – if you’ve never been before – is the perfect place to spend 3 weeks. Time wise it allows you to experience all of Peru’s best sites and sounds without leaving anything major out. I’d begin with a few days in Lima, followed by a few more in Nazca and Paracas, before heading to Arequipa. From Arequipa you can travel up to Puno and Lake Titicaca and then on to Cusco and Machu Picchu. If you have a few days extra here you can always do the Inca trail – but make sure you book well in advance as it is very popular. There are of course a number of other trails in the area including Salcantay and Choquequirao – both of which I enjoyed immensely. From Cusco you can head down into the Tambopata Rainforest. Its short flight to Puerto Maldonado and the eco-lodges in the area are great – comfortable, relaxed, and have a great jungle vibe. If you’ve got a little extra time than I definitely recommend Kuelap in the North. I went again recently and had an amazing time – you can read about my trip on my blog - -snip-. Its close to Chiclayo, Cajamarca, and Trujillo all of which have impressive pre Inca pyramids and a fascinating history. Lastly – if you have time – you could spend the remainder of your holiday soaking up some sun in Punta Sal which is close to Mancora in the north of Peru. Not many foreign tourists make it there but its pacific waters and laid back atmosphere are a charming place to spend a few days.
That should be plenty to fill one holiday. If however you’re looking for something else you could always mix a tour to Peru with an excursion to Bolivia. The Bolivian side of Titicaca is beautiful and well worth visiting, even if it’s only for a day or two. I also recommend visiting the mines in Potosi, not the most visually stunning of places by any means, but a real eye opener nonetheless. Possibly more people have perished in this mine there any other.
You could also visit the Galapagos Islands which is always a popular option – but it can be expensive. My advice here is go for a longer rather than a shorter time as there really is so much to see and do on the islands - plus the costly side of Galapagos is mostly just getting there and back.
Argentina – well this is a huge country and like Peru requires a lengthily period of time to take it all in. The Iguazu falls on the border with Brazil are quite simply breath taking. I always try and recommend these. Buenos Aires never fails to fascinate me – when in Argentina you really do need to spend a little time in this city getting to know it. You can take tours of Uruguay for a day or two, and head to Mendoza for a wine tour afterwards. Salta and Jujuy in the north are well worth checking out but Argentina’s biggest attractions are in Patagonia. Calafate deserves a few days as do Puerto Madryn, Bariloche and Ushuaia. If you’ve got the time – and more importantly the financial means – then you could also go to Antarctica for a week. It’s costly – but well worth it.
Other than what I’ve mentioned above there are an endless number of further attractions to be seen in Chile and Brazil – including other destinations in the countries I mentioned. My final advice about traveling to South America would be to plan it carefully – but not too stringently. Get an idea of what’s possible and what you would most like to see – but always save a few days here or there on the very likely chance that you’ll see something so breathtaking you’ll be forced to further explore a specific region for a couple of days.
Have a good one and keep on traveling!
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