This is my first post, I usually just read the threads but hopefully I'll be of some help in the future.
My girlfriend and I are 9 weeks into a RTW trip. We fly into Santiago at the start of January and mid-June we fly back home from Buenos Aires. In between the only thing we have planned is that we have booked accomodation in Rio for the carnival.
South America is huge and we want to see as much as possible without running ourselves ragged and doubling back on ourselves. Could anyone suggest what route to take?
I should add that we definitely want to go to Angel Falls, Machu Picchu and the Salt Lakes in Bolivia.
One last thing? Does anyone have any advice about the Galapagos Islands (other than to try and go)
let me start with your last question,the Galapagos Islands.
You have to fly from Quito or Guayaquil to the Galapagos,about $ 350
Entrance to pay cash only at the airport in Baltra $ 100
depend on the boat/ship and how many days/Island visits $800----$1500
yep,Galapagos is not cheep at all,but if you like nature and animals then it is something very special and worth the money you spend.
Angel falls in Venezuela,I would skip it and go to the Iguazu Waterfalls,the Brasilian and Argentinien side,there you see more then 200 waterfalls,really impressiv.
spend some time in fantastic Buenos Aires before you fly out.
I havent been to Angel Falls myself so I cant compare, but I have been to Iguazu and I can definitely say your breath will be taken away with them.
Six months is a nice amount of time to see quite a lot of South America.
Start in Santiago, go north through the Atacama desert to San Pedro de Atacama. This is a good gateway to the Salar de Uyuni. From Uyuni go on up to Potosi and then La Paz. From there you can cross over to Peru and it will take an about 12 hour journey from Puno (Lake Titicaca) up to Cuzco by bus. Allow a week or two in Cusco - a few days to aclimatise, a few days for the trail, and a few days to allow your limbs to recover when you get back
Alternatively, you could go from Santiago straight up to Arica and cross into Peru to Arequipa and then on up to Cusco, coming down to Puno and Lake Titicaca, on into Bolivia, down to Potosi, Uyuni and then maybe cross into middle Bolivia to Rurenebaquq (to the jungle). From there you coudl travel across to Brazil to Rio. In fact, this is probably the better route...
After Rio, head for Iguazu Falls, which is a natural stop off point on the way to Buenos AIres. Iguazu to Buenos Aires is about 22 hours on the bus.
Hopefully that gives you a good idea of what to expect.
The only problem there is that you land in Santiago in Jan and you are trying to make it to Rio for carnival in Feb which will leave you quite tight for time to cover the bits in between. It might be worth considering a flight if you are really pushed for time from La Paz to Rio or something like that. If you can do it overland though, its much better!
Hope that helps,.