Hi. I`m currently planning a RTW trip, and I want to experience South America. I`ve got from 3 to 6 months but I do not know what countries to visit, what to see and so on.
So I was hoping that someone in here could help me, and give me some ideas for where to go, and what to see.
Also I`ve heard that u can get cheap spanish classes down there, so if anyone has attended one of these courses I`d like to hear what you think about it.
-hell hath no fury like a hippo with a machinegun-
I've never been to South America either but I'd like to go and if I did, I'd visit Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru (particularly Cusco and Macchu Pichu) and Ecuador. These are the places I'd like to visit most. Good luck with your plans!
I have been to Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Loved each of the places for different reasons. I'll try and summarize here...
Chile and Argentina are both very European in feel. In fact, the Southern parts of Chile and Argentina tended to have been settled not by Spanish but by other nationalities. The Lake District in Chile is very, very German, both in architecture and in the people. It was a little weird seeing blond haired, blue eyes children speaking Spanish to me.
The Lake District and Patagonia are both worth a good chunk of time. Lots of lakes, rivers, mountains and ice bergs, as well as indigenous animals like the Guanaco and the penguins. Penguins are so cool, make sure you do a day seeing a penguin colony.
Torres Del Paine national park and the glaciers at Lago Grey are one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. I can't even put in words how cool it was. Check out my profile to see a picture of the ice-bergs in Lago Grey.
Argentina is a huge beef growing nation. Well worth eating the steaks, and trying to make it out to a ranch if you can.
There two complaints that one could have with Chile and Argentina. The first is that they are more expensive than other places in South America, especially Chile. I spent around $40 a day in Chile and probably $30 a day in Argentina. You could get by on less. Most people budget $25 a day staying in dorm-style hostels and food.
The second complaint one could have with Chile and Argentina is that it isn't "South American" the way that most of us would think of South America. There isn't much jungle, it's not really that hot and the people aren't very native looking. However, in my mind the amazing geography of Patagonia and the Lake District more than make up for these two complaints.
Bolivia is much more "typical" South American. The population is 50% (I think) native South Americans, and a lot of Bolivia is covered with Jungle and Coca growing operations. As well, Bolivia makes a great place to set off to see the Inca sites of Isla Del Sol on Lake Titicaca and Machu Pichu across the border in Peru. However, be careful in getting to La Paz. I flew from Buenos Aires to La Paz, and wow did the altitude get to me. If possible, go over land to La Paz. That shouldn't be a problem if you are doing 6 months in South America, but if you are doing a shorter time you might be forced to fly from place to place to make sure you see all you want.
I spent 2 months down in South America, and spent most of my time in Chile. I only spent about 1 1/2 weeks in Argentina and only a week in Bolivia. I can't say that amount of time did any of the countries justice. There are still a million more things for me to see in each of them.
I will have to leave it to other posters to discuss the other countries in South America.
Enjoy, and let me know if you have other questions.
How's your Spanish?
If you have basic Spanish skills you should seriously consider Colombia.
I was there in February and found a safe friendly country full of educated welcoming people-a country full of beauty, wonder and joy & optimism.
The scenery-lush jungles, fertile farmlands, towering mountains, endless beaches and so much more-is sometimes beyond imagining it's so surreal.
Safe secure cities replete with culture, art music, delicious food galore as well as endless stately colonial towns make Colombia a destination unique across the planet and to miss Colombia is to miss the soul if South America.
Colombia is very easy on the budget and transport is safe, secure and affordable.
www.poorbuthappy.com for all kinds of info on a unique and welcoming place.