My brand spanking new South America on a Shoestring arrived just yesterday so I spent last evening poring over it with a bottle of wine. It made for interesting reading.
I came up with the following route from Rio to Lima:
Rio-Sao Paolo-Curitiba-Foz de Iguacu-Puerto Iguazu-Posadas-Rosario-Buenos Aires-Cordoba-Salta-San Pedro de Atacama-Uyuni-Potosi-Sucre-Oruro-Cochabamba-la paz-Titicaca area-Puno-Arequipa-Nazca-Cuzco area-Lima
This trip would hopefully start in Feb 2010. I would have at least 4 months to spare (up to 6 months if I have enough money) and probably around £2500-3000 after buying flights. Basically time is not a constraint but money will be. I want to see as much as I can with the amount of money I plan to take.
I am happy staying in guesthouses/hostels etc and travelling mainly by bus. Plus the odd splurge on a slightly better hotel or whatever. I'm not too fussed about adventure sports but would love to fly over Nazca lines. Also I am kinda turned off by the original, typical Inca Trail trek. I have heard of other alternative treks that sound cool and a bit less touristy perhaps. Any suggestions? Book this ahead or while in Peru? Or should I do the Inca Trail like everyone else?
My guidebook seems to suggest that my average budget per day could be $20-25 US. Perhaps even less in Peru and Bolivia.
Is this realistic?
Am I missing out any really cool little places along the way? I'm sure I am. I like getting off the beaten track when travelling - like interacting with locals, love people photography, trekking etc. Strong interest in learning about indigenous people in Andes.
I would also like to perhaps make a detour into Uruguay and also if I had any money left I would love to head into Ecuador and perhaps even Colombia. I would probably still fly out of Lima so realise that the last 2 countries might mean a bit of backtracking.
Any tips would be great. I am mainly concerned about budget and trying to figure out how long I can be in the region and how far I can travel with my £3-4 grand. The further the better
Money, time and ambitions seem pretty well balanced here. If you have enough time and money left, I'd head to Lima from Cusco via Huancayo and Ayacucho (i.e., through the Andes, instead of 'straight down'). The route is beautiful.
If you have to choose between Uruguay and Ecuador, go for the latter. Uruguay is nice and quiet (and cheap!), but not quite as exciting as Ecuador. Colombia's a bit far off, also because you'd have to backtrack part of your route or take rather inconvenient detours.
Re Inca trail: waste of time, waste of money, waste of the natural and architectural beauty of the valley. Don't do it. It's just as easy to either book something else (Salkantay trail comes to mind, but that's also quite touristy, only more demanding), or arrange your own trip as you arrive in Cusco. If you do that with 4 or 5 others, it shouldn't be more expensive than the IT, and is likely to be cheaper.
Re stops along the way: I like your route, but I'd make more stops, and some stops in different places. But since you're under no time pressure, best take things as they come along. I could tell you that Tucuman and Jujuy are wonderful, as is Tafí del Valle (all Argentina), but that might keep you from making your own discoveries elsewhere
[ Edit: Edited on 23-Jan-2009, at 15:53 by bentivogli ]
You can prolong your travelling by living in a city for a few months from what is see, the appartments are cheap a month.. sometimes 200 USD a month you could possibly teaching english or volunteer somewhere if your purpose is to experience the culture. Thats what I'm doing! Check craigslist.com or easyroomate.com. Some appartments are short term. Camp whenever you can.
Also flights get really expensive in Feb or if you really have your heart set on Feb, subscribe a cheap flights website newsletter, www.bestflights.com (for Australia, I'm not sure about the UK version). They have awesome earlybird specials.
Thanks for both replies!
I have done more reading and thinking etc and think I will head for Ecuador over Uruguay.
Also have been googling apartments in Buenos Aires and am very keen to do this option and take some Spanish lessons. Also interested in homestay programmes with spanish lessons.
In all of my previous travels I have had a framework of a route in palce and then discovered lots of cool places as I travelled - deviations from the route I have drawn up are essential!! I just wanted to check I was on the right track in terms of time, money etc.
It seems I am - I can't wait.
Oh, and the flights.... I will be booking very very early so am happy to travel in Feb or maybe March but thanks for the info.
Any more tips would be very well received
If you're taking Spanish classes in BsAs, consider doing so with UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires). Their language school is one of the better in South America. It's not particularly expensive either, but they do ask your full commitment for the entire duration of the course. I believe they offer homestay as part of their programme, too. As to housing in general, I tried renting appartments several times there, and so far I have always been off cheaper staying in hostels.
Re flights: consider taking as few as possible. Besides your being a thief of your own wallet, it's polluting and you'll miss out on a lot of scenery.
Just a hint!
The Spanish spoken in Argentina is not really THE Spanish.
It's best spoken in Peru/Equador/Chile!
I can tell you that because I´ve lived in these coutries, have travelled all over South AMerica with learning-the-language ambitions, and now I live in Spain and teach Spanish for foreigners here! See???
I also worked for a travel agency in Peru! I can tell you everything the guys told you above are true! And in case you need help, get in touch!!!
Interesting... thank you. I have read several times in several different places that they speak a funny Spanish that is closer to Italian in Argentina. I want to learn a form of Sapnish that is easily recognised throughout the Sopanish speakign world. My mum and dad own a home in Spain and live there for part of the year and I want to be understood there!! haha.
My route could run in reverse - any ideas on a good spanish school in Peru or Ecuador? One where they set up homestays with local families. Actually, next question - my gf and I would love to both stay at the same homestay together - is this possible?
Isabel is a cool name
As a language professional, let me assure you that you'll get a LOT more out of a homestay if you are separated from your gf. It will prevent you from speaking English among one another. Plus, most locals that participate in these programmes aren't really interested in hosting couples, since they tend to become involved in family life a lot less.
Although the tone of your post is perhaps a little less positive than in your earlier one I do take on board your point. It was something that I had considered and realise that without the temptation to talk English to one another we might learn Spanish more quickly.
I don't think that we would integrate any less in the family life if we were together in someones home. I am pretty well travelled and have spent a bit of time living/interacting with local people in other areas of the world. My girlfriend is particularly friendly, chatty and gregarious and is also incredibly adaptable - she would throw herself wholeheartedly into the whole homestay experience whether I was with her in the home or not.
But, I think that you are right. We could stay with seperate families and just meet up before or after lessons or whatever.
Thanks for your response.