I'm flying into Santiago May 2010 and out of Rio Aug 2010 (2.5 Months - Winter).
I'd like to know a rough idea of internal flights in S/A (i.e. Lima - Rio or Lima - Buenos Aires) to help devise a route. Are there any cheap/ budget airlines? Am trying to work out a realistic 2.5 month itinerary and am thinking either:
Santiago - Lima (via La Paz / Salt Lakes etc).
Then fly either:
1) fly to Buenos Aires and make my way up to Rio (via Iguassu)
2) Cross overland from La Paz - Rio (through Boliva/ Paraguay)
3) Change outbound flight to Quito and head there from Lima.
If I were you I would bus it. You et to see so much more and the flexibility allows you more freedom. A long distance bus can be booked on the day, or a few days before. You might come across somewhere you really like then have to leave for a flight.
To give you an idea you could get Santiago - Mendoza in 10 hours or so. Not sure from there to BA but prob similar. BA to Bariloche (south west) about 20 hours. BA to Iguazu - about 20 hours. Iguazu - Rio about 20 hours too. All these journeys can be easily broken up with places like Cordoba, Posades, Florinapolis.
Bus travel especially in Argentina I found to be first class. Pay an extra few $$ for a cama, or at the very least the semi-cama. You won't regret it.
Many of the bus rides can also be done through the night which will save you the cost of a hostel too.
Thanks for your advice, I'm thinking of doing most of my Travel by Bus.
I have 2.5 months which may be too long to do Santiago - Rio (via Buenos Aires, Iguassu etc.)?
I'm thinking of heading north in the direction of La Paz, but am unsure about the bus journey from there to Rio. i.e. accross Bolivia and Paraguay, anyone done it?
That's why I'm considering a flight from Lima - Buenos Aires, anyone give me an idea of cost? My travel agent tried to charge about £400 in advance but told me I could get one 'for buttons' when I was in South America.
Anyone tell me the price of a button?
I flew to Iguacu from Buenos Aires with Lan Chile and paid around US$150. I got the bus back with a company called Rio Uruguay and they were brilliant! Fully reclining seats with blankets and pillows provided, dinner (including wine) and breakfast and snacks along the way. The journey took 18 hours but it didn't feel like that long. If I'd known how good it was going to be I'd have got the bus both ways.
Plenty good movies in both Spanish and English on the buses too. Uusally whatever is out in the cinema or recently out on DVD too. Totally breaks the journey up.
As noted below Lan Chile is worth checking out.
The only flight I got was from La Paz to Rurrenabaque. The choice was simple, a 24 hour + bus journey on pretty much the worst road you can imagine with the potential for landslides (it had been raining hard) OR a $60 return flight which took 30-40 mins each way. No brainer. That was booked 2 days in advance too.