Hi we are two girls (30th) travelling to South America on our own. We have booked a tour from Quito - La Paz which ends on the 2 October, we then have a flight booked from Buenos Aires on the 16 December to Sydney. So this is the only things we have booked. We want to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, Mendoza, Santiago and Buenos Aires. Want to do wine tour, as we love wine. This is a once in a life time trip so want to make the most of it.
1) Want to do mainly bus or train, so any information on this will be good?
2) From La Paz which way is best to start with?
3) Which places should we spend more time in?
4) Should we book buses and hotel, hostel before we leave?
Any other helps hints or tips will be good.
A general tip related to your second question: if you can, try and fly out of Santiago instead of Buenos Aires. That's because BA is right in the middle of Rio and santiago, so you have to go back again anyhow, unless you go zigzagging east-west constantly.
1) Apart from some trains in Bolivia (Oruro - border with Argentina, and Santa Cruz - border with Brazil), most of your travel will be by bus. No problems though, they are quite comfortable, fast and relatively cheap as well.
2) See general tip above. If you do fly out of BA, I would travel south from La Paz to Uyuni, do a tour across the salar to San pedro de Atacama in Chile. From there, travel south to Santiago, across the andes to Mendoza, north to salta (cafayate is a great wine area as well, just south of Salta), than east towards Iguazu and on to Rio and than south again to BA. As you see, it is quite a detour. If you would like to avoid this, it is best to skip Santiago/Mendoza and travel from San pedro to Salta across the Andes directly.
3) I would recommend the Southwest of Bolivia and the Atacama desert in Chile. Also the Salta region deserves a week at least. Iguazu Falls is good for about 3/4 days max. If you decide to take the train from Santa Cruz to the border with Brazil, definately pay a visit to the southern Pantanal.
hi hi, i´m in south america currently and did a lot of what you are about to do.. and definitely, yes, you have an awesome trip ahead of you!!
1. busses are definitely comfy in Argentina, but you will find a whole different bus scenario in bolivia. around la paz they are okay, further south when it becomes more rural they are pretty bad. not much you can do about it other than watch your stuff very closely and get ready for some bumpy rides. busses will always take longer there than they say they will and they stop all the time for no reason and break down pretty often. try try try to get a window seat, for some reason bolivians like to keep all the windows shut (no air con on most bolivian busses) and any time i couldnt control my own window i almost died of heat stroke. also, bring food. they serve food in argentina but not bolivia. when you get to argentina the busses will seem like you are in first class on an airplane though, so you have that to look forward to. oh yeah and sometimes you can haggle your price a little in bolivia, give it a try.
2. utrecht´s route is a really good way to go. i didnt go to chile so i cant tell you anything about it, but i CAN tell you that if you have time and might be open to going a little further south in argentina, GO TO BARILOCHE!! it was my favorite place on my entire trip. its beautiful, full of mountains and lakes, has good weather, TONS of things to do and it has the best hostel in the world, called Pudu. i stayed there for over two weeks and still there were things i hadnt done. and even after all that time i still had to peel myself away. bariloche is like a 20 hour bus south from mendoza. if you wanted to go to bariloche, then you should do the salar de uyuni trip that lands you back in bolivia, go south to salta, and then you could either go over to chile then and head south to santiago, head over to mendoza, and then go down to bariloche, and then i think its like a 23 hour bus to B.A. or you could do salta-mendoza, then santiago, and then head south thru chile and come back over to arg. for bariloche. lots of people go to B.A. and then iguazu for a few days and then come back to B.A., thats what i did. i dont think you need more than two days in iguazu personally, there is not much in the town and the falls wont take more than two days if not even just one long day. we got it done in one day. if you want two days, bring your passport to the falls and they will stamp your entrance ticket on your way out and then the next day is half price. or you could go to the falls and then to rio, but you´d be pretty far north then. i´d make a side trip to the falls from B.A. and then go to Rio from B.A.
2. spend more time in places you like a lot, basically. there are definitely places that take more time to see, the salta area has a fair amount to offer, you can do a wine tour there like utrecht said. i hated la paz itself, but there were really cool things to do there-do the prison tour and the death road, DEFINITELY. there are some other excursions to mountains n such that i didnt do cuz of time, but i thought the city itself sucked. if you have time to back track as far as a three hour bus ride, go to Isla del Sol off of lake titicaca on the border of peru and bolivia. its really nice. you need just two days there. south of la paz is Sucre, i quite liked that city. you could spend like 4 days there i think. as i´m sure you know you can do a wine tour in mendoza, do it with Mr. Hugo. hostels will know what you´re talking about. you get a bike and a map and you´re on your way. and then when you get back he talks your ear off and keeps the wine flowing. its awesome. and of course i loved bariloche, you HAVE to stay at Pudu if you go! it fills up quick so make a reservation. and lots of people go straight over to puerto madryn for the penguins and whales on the other side of argentina, i didnt make it but i hear its worth it.
3. i would maybe book one night at a hostel in the first city you go to on your trip. then you dont have to walk around with your pack looking for a place to sleep. if you get there and its a dump, just stay the one night and immediately after check-in, go look for something better and make reservations there. if you like the hostel then book a few more nights. you should make reservations during holidays and weekends in places where hostels go quickly or if its a popular hostel and you really want to stay there. in bariloche i saw people wander around forever for a hostel that wasnt booked bcuz its a very popular place for argentinians as well as travelers. use hostelbookers.com, they dont charge a booking fee. or you can email the hostel directly if they have a website. sometimes before i went to a town, i would look up hostels on hostelworld or hostelbookers, write down 5 hostels in the same neighborhood that looked good and checked them out as i got there instead of reservations. and you´ll find many more as you walk around, since they´re usually grouped together.
phew! i hope that helped! good luck!!
Thanks Guys that is a great help, I think that is all i need to know, but if i think of something i will be back
Any good website's to the bus services?
I remember reading somewhere about a train you should take with very good views, any ideas what, and where it goes
Maybe too late my recommendations for your trip, but there may be again ... For wine, vineyards and wineries I recommend you visit Chile, Mendoza in Argentina and southern Uruguay. The Tannat from Uruguay on one of the best in the world, and to stroll the vineyards are fantastic.
Not to late, still working on my trip, so anymore help is more than welcome.