I will be traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Santiago from May 05 for about 4 months on land. I would like to see the south and north of the continent. Is that possible in 4 months? I would like to travel all by land, is transport cheap, eg. bus, train? Are there any good tour companies you would recommend? I would like to go as far north as the Amazon and as far south as Buenos Aires. How is accomodation there...is it safe to stay in remote towns and villages? Are things expensive...how much would I have to budget per day for food/drinks, accomodation, transport etc... to last me around 4 months?
If anyone is planing such a trip as well and would like to maybe travel by car...(don't know if that is a suicidal idea)...but imagine the adventure!!
I think Sth America has to be one of the most amazing places on earth, I can't wait to get there...it will be the first time traveling there!
Any information/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
About prices: I can answer about Brazil only. Remember that you'll be travelling across many different cultures. Here in Brazil : many nice hotels for USD$ 15, nice meals for USD$ 5, if you stay out of touristic spots. If you want to stay in Ipanema or Copacabana here in Rio, or jungle resorts in Manaus, you'll spend probably more than USD $ 150 / day. It is possible to travel spending less than USD$ 25 / day here in Brazil, but many foreign tourist spend a lot more money because they believe on foreign tour guidebooks.
If you go to Manaus (Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest), e-mail my friend Gero Mesquita and ask him about hotels and tours - he's the best Tour Operator there (-snip-). Ask about the Tucunare Lake (I paid about USD$ 50 / day, all included).
Don't try to drive a car here. It is suicide, not only because of thieves, but because of chaotic traffic, impossible roads, lack of traffic signs and corrupted police everywhere. You would probably be stolen by the first highway cop you find.
Almost nobody here in South America can speak english, so it would be a great idea if you could have some portuguese classes before travelling. Travelling in south america can be safe if you speak spanish or portuguese. I recomend you to hire an english speaking driver on your very first days here in Rio, just to get used to culture and lenguage. It will be easier to learn how to get far from trouble. I know many honest drivers, e-mail me and I'll recomend one.
Regular buses here in Brazil are always safe, but it's impossible to cross the Amazon forest that way. Airplanes only, 3 hours flying over the forest without noticing the human presence!
I hope it helps.
[ Edit: sorry, no email addresses in the forum please. ]
Thank you for the information, much appreciated. I was thinking of learning Spanish or Portuguese here before I leave, but I don’t have too many people to practice it on. I speak a Romance language already which is Romanian and I have learned a bit of French at school and a lot of Italian and Spanish words make sense to me from TV, so wish me luck :-)...but I will be in Spain and Portugal before I make it to Sth America, and I will invest in some lessons there to be more fluent, there I have no choice, I will have who to practice it on.
I like the Latin based languages so much, one of the main reasons I am attracted to visiting Sth America. And Latin people have so much life and spirit! I have lived most of my life in Australia, so I am looking forward to experiencing the culture, food, drink, landscape, architecture, animals, mountains, languages and people in Sth America. I will take you up on the English speaking driver in Rio. I will contact you closer to my arrival if you do not mind.
'Obrigado'! Take Care
Hello Cruisercbm & thespis,
First off Cruiser, I want to say that you are gonna have the time of your life in South America. I have been to SA twice and I loved every minute of my travels there. I am planning to go back to Brazil for two weeks in late November. I will be traveling with my sister again (she loves Brazil too) I want to get a couple of days in each, the Amazon, Natal, Recife, and Buzios and of course also Rio. I spent 10 days in Rio last November. I am interested in a driver or any suggestions on doing these cities in the span of two weeks. Thespis, if you can offer assistance I would greatly appreciate it.
Cruiser, my cousin lived in Santiago for six months on a Study-Abroad program and we backpacked through SA together. We arrived in a town and asked for places to stay and eat, we met very nice people, locals and travellers, and had the best time. I sincerely recommend not having "a plan", but a general idea of what you want to see and a general idea of where it is. And maybe an adventurous attitude. I think that if you are smart and aware of what is going on around you, you have nothing to fear. I have travelled as two lone girls both with my cousin and also my sister and we had no trouble, whatsoever.
Lodging: I can get you the names of the cheapy hotels that we stayed, if you are interested. Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil (Rio) are the places that I have visited.
Language: I speak "words" in Spanish. I am NOT fluent. I know enough to get by. Each Country has it's own accent so you might have trouble at first. I got by in Brazil on SPanish, but you have to be quick to put it together to follow as a lot of the vocabulary is the same, but the pronunciation will throw you for a loop. One thing that I forgot to remember is that Portugese is a different language than Spanish!?! Oh yeah, do not take the confused looks , personal. I purchased Portugese CDs to get the pronunciation straight and brought the dictionary with me and I didn't die. So there you go.
Food: We ate and ate and ate. Also drank a whole lot too. We partied it up. In Barra in Rio, I loved a club called "Nuth Lounge" (money looking for women and women looking for money) but very cool ambiance and In Ipanema "Melt" pronounced Melch ( very touristy, but a good dance floor for shakin' your tail feather). Mio is a good restaurant that has very good, ok great Caiprihnas, and decent food. I think we averaged one to two good meals a day and drank a lot of beer and Caiprihnas, but spent about $65 USD. You could definately get by cheaper. In the rest of SA I think I spent on average about $25 USD a day and I didn't stay in any really bad flea-bag hotels. In BA I spent about $10 a night at a beautiful old hotel. Cuzco was a lot more expensive for lodging due to Machu Pichu. Cuzco and Lima were the only places that I actually felt that I might be in danger as a tourist. You may have a different experience. The Peruvian coast is beautiful.
I think that is enough for now, I probably should get back to work!. I hope this all helpful. Let me know if you want Hotel names or more info. Yes! I do have more.
regarding to the language problem, just wonder if one of those English-Portugese dictionary will help. I can't speak Portugese at all but wanted to travel to S.A.
I think this trip sounds fantastic! Some countries are more organised than others. I travelled around Brasil Argentina and Paraguay. I would advise you to travel a wiggly way there and go from Rio to Foz (Where you can see the Iguazu falls) and then maybe get through to Northern Argentina (via Paraguay?) and go to Salta and take BUS (the train looks fantastic but the busing option is way better as a lot more flexible) up to the salt plains that are on the top of the andes there. You can then cross over. Some friends of mine went through to Bolivia from Brasil, I think they did that by boat. It took a long time. It's difficult to really say what way is best because there are so many things to see and do whatever way you go.
As for languages, if you know Spanish and have a portuguese phrase book and are quick at picking things up you should get by OK, although the languages can sound quite diffrent.
I think you should not forget a visit to Uruguay....