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Overland or internal flight?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Overland or internal flight?

1. Posted by evejames (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y

When buying round the world tickets, often we are guided by the travel agent as to the best route to take.

However after much research I feel that the route I have been given may not be the best.

I land in Lima and am making my own way downwards and into Bolivia, from here the travel agent recommended making our own way into Brazil before flying from here to Argentina, and then flying onto Chile.

I feel that this is not the best use of my time, and that I would be better doing the Brazil to Argentina bit overland so that I can do the border crossing at the Iguzu falls. This then leaves me far too much to do overland, and I was thinking that it may be a better use of time getting an internal flight from Bolivia to Brazil.

Can anyone help?? I am confused and dont want to miss out on anything!


2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 9y

I really don't see why you shouldn't do it all overland. Flying's bad; besides worrying about one's travel agenda, world travellers would do good also taking into account the environmental consequences of their trip.

That said, busses in SA are rather quick and reliable, and enable you to cover great distances (at once if want to, but of course it's much nicer to break long journeys in multiple shorter legs, which allows you to actually experience, instead of just race through, the countries you will be visiting). Unfortunately you haven't written how much time you plan to spend in SA, but given your itinerary, it should be some two months at the very very least, irrespective which mode of tranport you pick.

As for hours spent travelling; Lima-LaPaz, assuming you want to go via Cusco/MP, is some 18+18 hours. LaPaz-StaCruz-Corumba (brazil) is another 24+18; from Corumba to Iguazu is about 20.

However, if your only interest in Brazil is Iguazu, and you don't plan to go the Pantanal, the Amazon or the coast, it's much quicker to travel from LaPaz to Salta, Argentina, and east from there.

This is all a bit vague, but we'd need a more detailed itinerary to give more useful advice. If there's any questions remaining, just post them here or pm me, I'd be happy to try and help you out.

enjoy your trip,

3. Posted by evejames (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y

We have 11 weeks in South Amercia in total - and have put by roughly 10 days for Peru, 3 weeks for Bolivia, 2 weeks in Brazil, 3 weeks in Argentina and 2 weeks in Chile - when we then fly onwards to New Zealand.

We plan to see the Amazon whilst in Bolivia, so really just fancy chilling on the beaches at Brazil, and seeing the sights in Rio.

Any advice you can offer us would be most helpful :)

4. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 9y

That is pretty tight; if you'd drop Chile, I think it all becomes a lot more feasible. Much more relaxed, too, which is why I imagine you're travelling in the first place. You write you don't want to miss anything; trust me, you will, but I'd say that's a good thing.

Ten days for Peru, that includes Cusco, Machu Picchu and doing the Inca trail? That takes at least a week, including acclimatising to the height, which you really should take time for. It stands to reason that you spend the other days in Lima, rather than including other sites as well. Getting to Cusco by bus takes some 20 hours (which is the long ride; there is a shorter one straight through the Andes, but that's terribly uncomfortable), which are well-spent on watching the scenery pass by.

From Cusco, you can then take a bus via Puno to Copacabana, Bolivia; an 18-hour overnight journey that is very comfortable. Given the time you plan to spend and the next destination you have in mind, I think you better skip Uyuni and surroundings, pretty though as it may be. Instead, you could travel La Paz - Oruro - Potosí - Sucre - Sta Cruz, which is doable in two weeks, though tight. Sta Cruz is your most feasible base to do smt jungly.

The Bolivian Amazon is pretty hard to reach, but there also is a lot of cloud forest, which is not the same technically, but just as interesting. I did a 4-day tour with a local guide from Samaipata (a 3-hour busride from Sta Cruz, direction Cochabamba), which was incredibly cheap, plus all the money went directly to him as no agency was involved. The forestry department in Samaipata sets up contacts with local guides; pm me if you need more info, it's quite recommendable and they offer tours just for as many days as you like.

Brazil is a problem in your itinerary, as the most beautiful beaches lie too far north to fit your plans. Personally, I'd skip your beach plans, and try to implement those at a later stage in your travels, but if you're keen at making this detour, you could travel Sta Cruz - Corumba (the 'death train') - Campo Grande - Rio, possibly with a stopover along the way. This shouldn't take more than 36 hours in total, and goes through the beautiful pantanal in part.

From Rio, take a bus to Iguazu, which is some 18 hours. The falls take about 4 days to do properly, as you should go back there several times. Then on to Buenos Aires (another 18-hour overnight journey, excellent busses), where you should spend at least 10 days if you ask me. The week you've left by then can be spent on travelling to Mendoza, possibly via Cordoba, where you can cross the Andes to Santiago. The remaining two weeks you can spend in Chile, although I wouldn't go all the way south. Alternatively, you could spend these two weeks more cheaply in Argentina, and venture down to Bariloche to do some more hiking in the lake district, and skip Chile except for Santiago.

Long story, and more can be said about it. But I hope that I've convinced you that taking internal flights REALLY isn't necessary at all. Don't hesitate to post back further questions,


[ Edit: Edited on Apr 4, 2007, at 1:30 AM by bentivogli ]