I am new to this forum but am so happy I found it!
Me and my friend are planning a spectacular six month trip to South/Central America in September/October 2008.
Although we have sought advice from a travel agent, it does seem to be quite expensive to see the continent by flying to each area.
The countries I would like to visit are:
We initally intend on flying into Brazil.
Is it possible to get around the continent by hiring a car/bus/train?
This could save us some money on airpass flights which is what were currently thinking of...
Which is the easiset way to fly into Cuba? I understand there are many restrictions which mean you can only fly from certain countries.
Why is it difficult to fly into Bolivia from Chile? I have heard of an off road trip would could take me from Chile to Bolivia?
What level of Spanish will I need? (I start lessons next week and also have some help)
Do you have any books/films/music you would recommend I check out in the run up to my trip?
Is it easy to buy flights over there for connections and would it work out cheaper?
THANK YOU ALL IN ADVANCE FOR ANY INFORMATION YOU CAN PROVIDE!!!
That's a lot of questions in one post. Here's some info to get you going:
- Search results in this forum on the string "six months"
- buy a guidebook. Personally I'd recommend Footprint's SA Handbook, but others like LP's Shoestring better
- the availability of SA literature depends on where you're from. In the Hispanic world, pretty much everything is on sale, but only a small part is translated to English. I'd recommend Mastretta (Mexican), Vargas Llosa (Peruvian), Borges (Argentina) and Allende (Chile); they give you a pretty good insight in SA culture
- good SA music is hard to come by outside the continent. Once you're there, you'll find an amazing variety of styles; spending some hours (days) in music stores is worth your time!
- Like everyone else, you want to go to too many different destinations for what time you have. Bear in mind that SA is huge. If you're set on doing all seven countries you listed, the best itinerary I can think of is a counter-clockwise trip through southern SA starting in northern Brazil, and doing Cuba and Mexico on your way back home (wherever that might be).
- Brazil - Argentina - Chile - Bolivia - Peru - Cuba - Mexico is your best route I'd say. But personally, I'd cut out Cuba and Mexico, esp. since you don't want to fly.
- As to restrictions concerning Cuba, I wouldn't know; given your wish list, flying from Lima would be ideal.
- The problem with La Paz is the altitude, which makes it a relatively expensive airport to fly to. The 'off road' thing you mean is entering Bolivia through San Pedro de Atacama and Salar de Uyuni; it is a regular tourist route.
- Domestic flights are expensive, and you generally get more out of your trip by taking it easy than by rushing everywhere by plane
Spanish comes in handy, but your effort is more important than your eloquence. In most touristy destinations you will either be able to find people who speak English as well, or you can ask fellow travellers to translate if you have a real problem
Oh myyy!!! to many questions really!!! I will try to help you in some.
Spanish, it´s good you are taking some lessons of it , but either ways most of the people from southamerica are very kind, so dont worrry, they will try to understand you even if they dont know the language ( bring your dictionary, it will help )
About rent a car , uhmmm, I think this is not so cheap like rent a car in the USA. I tried to rent one , the time I was Peru, and believe me it was too expensive, I think that´s the reason why there are so many public transportation there.
About the flights, yeah, there are no so expensive, but still you can get better prices sometimes by an agency. Check in advance.
Check tours in advance also , bring your Ipod , uhmmm I dont what else
Oh my gosh - thank you so much for all your detailed and extremely interesting replies!
I think I need to print your replies off and digest them. I apologise that I asked so much in my first post - that's excitement for you!!!
see my profile and blog map for a great route.
I am currently doing Brazil - Argentina - Uruguay - Chile - Bolivia - Peru at a similar time of the year.
Bus ALL the way. You see far more.
Anyway, off to hydro board with some crazy Argie.
ps. The Road to Titicaca is an awesome read.
Did you sort out your buses before or when you got there?