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shoestring south america

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean shoestring south america

1. Posted by gltsai04 (Budding Member 8 posts) 7y

Hi everyone,

I'm planning on going to south america for 2-3 months starting in march 2010. I am trying to piece together a rough itinerary. As a traveler I like to be flexible. If i like a place i will stay longer. I am kind of overwhelmed by destinations at this point. i know someone studying in Valparaiso, Chile so I will definitely be going there. I also really want to get to Rio De janero, argentina, etc. Does anybody have any advice for a shoestring south america itinerary?
Also how difficult/expensive is it to get from say Rio to buenos aires to santiago?
Do i need to condense my trip to a smaller region or is this a possible adventure?
Also been thinking about buying a motorcycle or vespa when i get there to travel that way- costs, experiences, thoughts?
volunteer opportunities?

This is still a long way from becoming reality so I'm looking for any information or advice.



2. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 7y

As a rough guide to travel time I would say:

Rio - Iguazu 18 hours by bus. Prob about US 50
Iguazu - Bs As - 22 hours similar cost
Bs As - Mendoza I am not 100% sure on maybe 12 hours
Mendoza - Santiago/Val P - 8/10 hours dependant on border crossing really.

This would form a logical route.

I would suggest breaking up the journey with places in betwen.

From Bs As maybe cross over to uruguay for a few days especially if you like the beaches. It's only an hour to Colonia by boat and then 3 hours to Montevideo then a further 3 to some beautiful places along the coast - name escapes me the now.

Buses join all these places daily. For the best prices I would go direct to the bus station itself as not only will you get people touting for your business you will see the actual standard of the buses.

Pay the extra $$$ for cama on the longer journeys. You won't regret it especially as you will need to sleep on them at some point.

With closer to 3 months I think this is well do-able with lots of nice stops.

I'd suggest some of coastal Brazil south of Rio, Iguazu, Cordoba, Mendoza, Bariloche in Argentina. Maybe a trip down to Pucon when in Chile. All have beautiful surroundings and are eaily accessible.


3. Posted by gltsai04 (Budding Member 8 posts) 7y

Thanks a lot!

4. Posted by gltsai04 (Budding Member 8 posts) 7y

would it make more sense to start the trip in Chile or brazil (as far as getting comfortable with living and traveling in south america)? Which is the more manageable destination (place to get feet wet). Or would it not really matter?

5. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 7y

When I planned a route the main criteria I had was weather. I knew where I wanted to go so it was just a matter of linking it all together around some nice temperatures. I would suggest doing the same. Nowt worse than going somewhere spectacular only to be foiled by poor weather. Not really familiar with the weather in the months you are travelling but it will be easy to google or check it out in a lonely planet guide etc.

My first stop was Rio. Found it a little intimidating/daunting at first but I certainly got out and about. Find a hostel with a good social scene and I am sure you can ease yourself in with a little help from fellow travellers no matter where you are.

6. Posted by danijoe (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y

Hi good to hear u are heading south america.

I m planing my trip.
Leaving california in January than going through central america to south america, trying make it by land.
However there is the Darien Gap...

and when in south america my tour ll include
cartagena- colombia,
merida & santo angel fall -venezuela,
ecuador(dont know yet the best place in ecuador need suggestions),
Cuzco, nazca & Machu Picho - Peru
La Paz - Bolivia
San Pedro do Atacama & Valparaiso - Chile
Mendonza & Buenos Aires - Argentina
Punta del Leste - Uruguay
Trindad - Paraguay
Foz do Iguacu - brazil
and than my hometown in Curitiba - brazil

as for ur trip in Brazil, i dont know about ur route...
but about beaches the best are:
Praia do Rosa - SC glamour-hippie
Guarda do Embau - SC hippie-alternative
Jurere - SC glamour (maybe u can see Adriana Lima or Gisele Bunchen)
Florianopolis - SC beach city with lost of reggae
Balneario Camboriu - SC eletronic music and raves going on
Morretes - PR ecological
Ilha do Mel - PR pristine
Buzios - RJ night-life
Arraial do Cabo - RJ best scuba dive
Trancoso - BA glamour-hippie
Praia do Espelho - BA pristine
Coqueirinhos - PB pristine
Praia da Pipa - RN glamour-hippie
Canoa Quebrada - CE hippie-alternative
Jericoacora - CE glamour-hippie

the one I never have beeing but they say it is nice is:
Maria Farinha
Praia do Forte
Fernando de Noronha
Praia do Gunga

hop I help in some way!
Good trips!

7. Posted by bushfaerie (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y

-snip- provides some really amazing free or low cost volunteering opportunities (Depending on your skills and time available, you could get free food and accommodation; but almost definitely cheaper than travelling non-stop between hostels and restaurants). Personally I'm one for volunteering and becoming involved in the culture you're visiting, rather than spending time hopping from one tourist attraction to the next- but that's just a matter of personal priorities. There seem to be some awesome underground organisations on this list, it's the way I've been planning my own trip to South America.... (I'm spending Jan2010- Dec2010 in Peru/Bolivia maybe Argentina) But most placements ask you to stay for 2-3 months min, where you don't seem to have that kind of time. Anyway, the above covers great attractions- hope you enjoy your trip either way!

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

8. Posted by Ofelia (Respected Member 142 posts) 7y

Quoting gltsai04

would it make more sense to start the trip in Chile or brazil (as far as getting comfortable with living and traveling in south america)? Which is the more manageable destination (place to get feet wet). Or would it not really matter?

If this is your first trip to Latin America, then, if you have the opportunity to choose, I'd recommend starting from Santiago, Chile, and finishing in Rio; Chile has a more European feel, and is less of a culture shock- also, if you have friends in Valparaiso, they'll be able to show you around and give you a chance to familiarise yourself with the culture. I think 2-3 months is enough for a trip through to Rio, but distances are long, and there's a lot to see- I don't think it'll leave you much time to stay in one place and volunteer, unfortunately!

9. Posted by lilywhite (Budding Member 23 posts) 7y

I started my 3 months in Rio and finished in Santiago and I didnt find it any kind of a culture shock, personally. You can see/do loads in 3 months, buckets of time, i was in sth america for about 12 weeks and saw everything I had planned (except amazon) but I still have so much more to see so I'm going back in Sept. There are buses everywhere and if they are not direct then there are usually connection etc. I think it was only twice we had to get connecting buses otherwise it was straight through.

In the three months I was there, we moved quite regularly but we still spent a week in Rio, BA, Santiago, La Paz and Potosi (Potosi was not by choice but because of blockades), I didnt go to southern arg and chile though because of the time of year, winter, (thats on the to do list), but if you plan you can cover as much or as little ground as you want, remember as well though that Chile and Brazil are two of the more expensive SA countries out of the few that I have been to anyways.

You will love it! :)