I have recently had confirmation that I can take a career break for 6 months in 2009. It will be July - December and, with it finally becoming a reality, I am feeling a mixture of massive excitement and 'Crap! Where do I go and what do I do!?'
We're most keen on going to South America - primarily Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia. However, now it's a reality and, potentially, my last chance to get out there and see the World. I kinda want to go EVERYWHERE!
So...feeling a little overwhelmed and after some advice, if possible, about where else we can squeeze in
Also, for that time of year, where's it best to start and where to end?
We've been to Belize, Guatemala and Mexico before, so they're 'done'. We're also keen to go to Easter Island - is this realistic with it only being a 6 month trip?
Any help and advice massively appreciated!
Any links to good blogs I can, as well!
I am 2 months back from a 6 month sabbatical. It's amazing just how much you can take in during that period. I wrote a blog for all 6 months that you will find on here. My travels started in Rio and took me clockwise round Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia and Peru, with circa 1 month in them all but less in Uruguay and more in Argentina.
You certainly won't regret it.
I would suggest having a rough plan but allow lots of scope for changing it when needed. Most importantly when you are not enjoying somewhere just move on, and obviously those times you are loving somewhere allow yourself another day or 2, maybe more.
Are you the chap that met Cantona?
If so, I read some of your blogs quite a while ago when the idea of a 6 month career break started to look like a viable option! I will hit them again for more ideas!
Where would list as 'absolutely must see'?
How did you start planning? We have picked up loads of cheap Rough Guides and think we'll find the things we really want to do and then plan around them.
[ Edit: Edited on Jun 26, 2008, at 3:32 AM by Benito2k ]
One other question - how much money did you spend?
aye, I met the legend that is Eric a couple of times in Rio. An absolute gent he was.
My fav must sees:
Rio: I loved the city, football, beach, cristo was stunning and sugar loaf. Didn't particulalry do the night life other than the hostel and a few meals out. First city so a tad cautious. Mellow Yellow top top top hostel.
Iguazu: Takes your breath away. Both sides equally good in entirely different ways.
Really enjoyed the coast in between the above too.
In Argentina I loved Cordoba and surrounding area. Lots of outdoor activity and a vibrant town with 7 universities so a young feel. Restaurants tc 1st class.
Mendoza: if you love wine simply don't miss it. Stay on a vineyard if you can.
Bariloche was simply stunning. Summer with snow capped mountains, the 7 lakes, the weather, the treking. Beautiful. Stayed in a rustic hostel 18km's from town. Peace was unreal.
My favourite: Southern Chile. Patagonia is awesome if you like to trek, or even just admire the beautiful outdoors. Torres del Paine national park was easily the best of all national parks. Vast, mountains, glaciers, good camp sites, good hostels and I liked Purto Natales in an odd way. Doing the Navimag ferry to there from Puerto Montt was unforgetable.
Bolivia: my favourite country. This was traveling at it's best for me. Really making an effort made it so worth while. The Salt Flats 4 day tour from Tupiza. La Paz is some city. So fast and lots of people watching to do. Great hostels (adventure brew) and places to eat and drink.
Rurrenabaque for the jungle/pampas is fantastic. Flight up there recommended. It's the only internal one I took but 40 mins is preferable to 24 hours on the bus. Read my Rurrenabaque entry. I loved it.
Peru is obviously awesome. Cusco and the inca trail. I don't care how many people say the other trails are as good, they aren't. Yes you get to same place but it's what you see on the way as well, and what you learn (SAS a must use agent).
All in there was just not really anything that I disliked, except maybe the place near Santiago and I forget the name now.
Spend: approx a grand a month sterling, prob just under and I was living life to the max. Paragliding, football matches, eating out every day, sometimes 3 times, but mostly twice. Staying on wineries, lots of sports like cycling, canyoning, kayaking, anything and everything. Climbing volcanoes.
Plane fare additional.
Any questions just ask.
Thanks for this info, Tricky!
We're aiming to have £1k a month to spend, so that we don't have to worry too much about missing out on things - who knows when we'll be back in South America again!?
Regarding the actual planning of the trip - how did you plot a route? I think we're going to make a list of the places that we really want to go and then plot a route between them, but we're keen not to have a strict itinery so that if we like it somewhere, we can drop anchor for a few days.
It's feeling more real now and I've got my eye on the Argentina - Brazil World Cup qualifier on 5th Sept. 2009! Infact, the whole region is a football fan's dream and the Carlos Valderrama statue in Colombia is a must! :D
Also, regarding flights - did you get a round-the-world ticket or just a flight from the UK to SA and then SA to UK?
We're debating whether we should spend a few weeks in Western Oz on the way round and also go to Easter Island. Or, maybe, fly into the US to ease ourselves into the 6 months and then on down to SA.
One more question - how easy is it to get around if you don't speak much Spanish?
We have done a beginners course, but that's mostly numbers, days of the week, and other basics.
Take a cheap flight to Madrid. Should be pretty much free apart from taxes..
Check CometAir. They fly (for around e500) to Lima/Quito
I arrived in South Am with little or no spanish. Grab a phrase book, I found mine pretty good. It has lots of scanarios and helps with pronunciations. What I found helpful was bringing a pen and pad with we and jotting down any words/phrases i used regularly ("how much for a room", " a table for two", "can i have the bill please" and so on...) and then check them up on the hostel internet connection on babelfish or a spanish dictionary
You would be suprised how fast you will pick it up....and also, because you have the basics you should be fine...
[ Edit: Edited on Aug 21, 2008, at 4:30 PM by El Boot ]
Easter Island is definitely doable. It's an expensive side-trip from mainland Chile, and realistically you only need a few days on the island as it is very small and it's all about the Moai, not much else to spend time on, apart from trekking. I felt it was definitely worth going there, one the highlights of my trip, but you might want to get some other opinions on it here before deciding to go.
It costs between US$500-800 usually for a return flight with Lan Chile.
I spent 7 months in South AMerica, covering Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, so if you have specific questions feel free to ask.
Hope that helps.