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6 week SA bonanza viability

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean 6 week SA bonanza viability

1. Posted by tobysavill (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y


I am visiting South America, starting in May for about 6 weeks. We fly in and out of Buenos Aires and we want to do some Spanish lessons while we are there. So my plans currently are the following. If anyone could provide feedback on the feasibility of this plan, i would be very appreciative.

This is less of a question of where to go, what to see, and more about will i have enough time.

1. Stay in Buenos Aires for a week while learning Spanish.
2. Take a week to travel across Argentina by bus & train, visiting the wine tasting district, and the lake district, on the way to Santiago.
3. Stay in Santiago for a week learning Spanish.
4. Take a week travelling north by bus and train, eventually to the Brazilian border
5. Spend 2 weeks travelling around South Eastern Brazil, perhaps going as far north as Salvador (if time permits).
6. Fly from Rio to Buenos Aires

Its about 1000kms From Buenos Aires to Santiago, and about 3000 kms from Santiago to Rio. That means travelling on average 150 kms a day. Is that trying to do too much?

Thanks for your input and suggestions!

- Toby

2. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 8y

Wine region, Mendoza, is superb.

Here right now. Going to a winery for a few days tomorrow so I will post you details later.

However, I must tell you it is essential to book hostel Lao in Mendoza. Just won 2nd best hostel in SA award 2007. It's my 29th hostel in SA so far and defo up there.

To give you an idea of timescales.

Santiago - Mendoza will be up to 9 or 10 hours depending on border crossing time. Costs up to 15 quid sterling. Cheaper if you go Mendoza - Santiago as Argie company.

Bs As - Iguasu can be up to 24 hours, but nearer 20.

Iguasu - Rio as above.

Asageneral rule of thumb I would say bus travel costs 1.5 to 2 quid per hour on long distance travel. So 10 hours equals 15 to 20 pounds.

Santiago is nice but not much going on. May be better places to learn the language in my opinion.

Travel 150km's per day is not sensible. You'd be betteroff traveling 10-12 hour journeys or you will end up at more bus stations then necessary waiting for buses that could easily be running late etc etc.

Salvador is milesand miles and miles from SE Brazil btw.

3. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 8y

Hi Toby,

Some remarks:

  • Overall, I think your plan is feasible; 150 kms a day isn't too bad, it roughly means a 6-hour bus trip every 3 days.
  • Your 2 weeks of language classes are best spent in one school, or at least in one country. The different Spanishes of the SA continent vary considerably, and switching schools almost always sets you back a few days in learning. Moreover, as Tricky already said, Santiago has little going for it; if you want to go to Chile, consider Valparaíso instead.
  • As you are probably aware, Chile doesn't border Brazil, nor does Argentina to the northwest. It's feasible to get from Santiago to Brazil in a week, but not if you also want to visit northwestern Argentina (Salta and surroundings, highly recommendable), unless you want to spend a lot of time in busses (no trains to speak of in SA). Going through Bolivia or Paraguay, while very nice, is not feasible in a week, so you'd need to travel from Salta south to Santa Fe/Paraná, and then back north again to Iguazú. It gets much better if you don't do Salta, or take a week off your visit to southern Brazil and spend it in northwestern Argentina instead.
  • Going to Salvador hardly seems feasible in two weeks time; it's a LONG way up, and the Braz coastal region, though nice, eventually gets slightly boring if it is all you see.
  • Instead of that flight back into BsAs, the environment would thank you for taking a bus instead. I don't know if you can spare the time, but the journey from Curitiba through Uruguay is actually very nice.

If there's anything else, let us know.

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 7, 2008, at 12:51 AM by bentivogli ]

4. Posted by tobysavill (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y


Thank you both for your very helpful information!

I am definitely keen on going to the wine district, thanks for the hostel suggestion.

I think i would be looking more at longer journeys every 3-5 days, as you both suggested. However I wonder if i am better off spending more time in a smaller area, rather than travelling vast distances. The problem is really wanting to see things like the wine & lake district, the Iguazu falls and Rio (Salvador is now off the list thanks to bentivogli). The other problem with being limited to a small area would be choosing an area that would provide enough variety.

I was planning to visit the Iguazu Falls on the way to Brazil, so alas missing out on the NW of Argentina.

From my reading, it seems that is usually unnecessary to pre-book seats on buses, and i suspect this is especially true during May & June. would i be correct in thinking that?
Also, just out of interest, what are the main roads like in rural Argentina? are we talking dirt, tar or a combination?

Thanks for the great tips re learning Spanish. I will investigate our options in Valparaíso. I have noticed Spanish courses in Mendoza, so that kill 2 birds with one stone.

Again, thanks for your assistance!


5. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 8y

Hey Toby,

There will be plenty variation without going into Brazil, I can assure you; the Mendoza area is mediterranean, Bariloche and the lake district Alpine, Iguazu subtropical... if you included Salta, you would even have your canyons.

Only I didn't get that you also wanted to go as far south as Bariloche... I'm not convinced that is a good idea in may-june; it will be cold there, plus it's a long way, too much for a week.

As to transport, it won't be too busy, so booking a night in advance will usually be sufficient (except perhaps for BsAs-Iguazú, which is a densely travelled route). As to road conditions, the majority of main roads (infamous ruta 40 being the main exception) is paved. Further up north, some are dirt, but you won't be seeing much of these unless you get off the tourist track. Secondary roads are almost all dirt.

6. Posted by tobysavill (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y

hi bentivogli,

thanks for all your advice! perhaps i will reasses the lake district in light of your suggestion. i hadnt realised it was so far south and got so cold, i thought it was more near the wine district.

i am now thinking that i will head over to mendoza for a week's Spanish lessons, then miander up to rio over the following 3 weeks.

i really like the sound of Salta and the canyons, but i'm pretty keen to get up to Rio etc, so i dont know if i'll have time to fit it in.

thanks again!