I have a few questions i'm hoping someone can help me out with please!
I'm planning an epic trip traveling around the whole of South America: flying into Peru on the 1st June, then up to Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and then finishing in Uruguay about December 2010 time (a kind of figure of 8 shape around the continent).
>The first major question I have is about border crossings. My Lonely Planet guide book tells me that some countries in S. Am require proof of outward travel from the country (e.g. plane / train ticket) before they let you in. Has anyone had experience of this and found getting into countries is fine without outward tickets? As i don't want to be constrained by set dates and am planning on doing most of the traveling by overland anyway so won't have plane tickets.
>The Inca Trail -- I hear is majorly crowded (especially as I get to Peru at the beginning of the high season). Has anyone done any of the alternative routes? Are they just as spectacular as the original Inca Trail? And any recommendations on when to book alternative routes / trekking agencies based in Cuzco that are good to book with?
>As I am spending about 7-8 months on the continent I was thinking about buying a tent, to possibly save costs by sleeping in campsites wherever possible and to open up more options by not being constrained to having to find towns/villages to sleep in (e.g. i hear some islands off Venezuela allow free camping). Has anyone done much camping in S. Am and found it useful to have a tent? And any recommendations for lightweight 1-man tents?
> Colombia and Venezuela - I am a 22 year old girl and will be traveling by myself (although hope to meet up with other travelers out there and join forces). Is it wiser to fly into and out of these countries rather than going overland? And particularly with Colombia is it better to just stick purely to the coast?
> Any tips on staying safe and out of trouble?
> As I will be arriving in the winter months (although I will be heading north to the tropical areas for the majority of winter) and will be going from the tropical north to the temperate south of the continent does anyone have any advice on clothing to take baring in mind I am limited by space with my rucksack? I was thinking of taking (for the colder countries) a thermal base layer (top and leggings), 2 microfleeces, probably a normal hoody, and a lightweight raincoat, and woolly hat. Would this suffice for the Andes in June / Patagonia in November time?
> I haven't ever heard much about Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. Is it worth visiting these countries? (I suspect it is, but I've never heard of anyone who has been!)
> Money wise, I was planning on having about £5000 to last me the 7-8 months out there. In people's experience does this sound plenty or as if I will just about scrape by there (I don't mind roughing it in dirt cheap hostels etc). (and will 7-8 months be enough to have an amazing non-rushed time in all the countries??)
> Any advice on awesome places that I must visit in any of the above mentioned 10 countries??