I'm planning a trip to South America with my good friend. We are planning to stay in SA from June to the end of August in 2012. We would like to experience as much as we can in three months with student budget. We have some thought about where to go and what countries to see, but we are ready also to change our plans during the trip and now before going there. We are planned to start our trip from Argentina (Buenos Aires) or from Chile (maybe Santiago) because I fly there from New Zealand and my friend from either the USA or Canada. We are having our exchange there before this trip.
I have been wondering a lot that is it cheaper/possible or even wise to consider travelling in a minivan through the continent or is it better to go by buses and maybe take a flight at some point? I don't know very well what are the roads like, is driving safe and are there lots of different costs when driving? Of course it's possible to sleep some nights in the van and stop almost where ever we want.
Are there any kind of bus passes in SA?
We speak some spanish and we have more than six months of spanish studies ahead. We are women but we have a spirit of backpackerlife and it doesn't matter if the places we sleep are not the most comfortable and if we can't have shower every day. We are intrested in experiencing SA and different kind of things we can do there.
All kind of tips and advices are welcome!
I am surfing through the internet and trying to figure out the best way for us to travel with cheap budget. Peru and Bolivia are countries that we have already visited, so we don't have to go there maybe now during this trip. We'll see! If someone has experience of travelling three months from Argetina/Chile to Brasil (Sao Paulo) I am more than interested!
I'm currently travelling in South America, we've travelled over 5 months so far and have 6 weeks left here.
Personally, I wouldn't travel by van in SA - maybe you're the proper adventurer type but the roads are hit or miss here, the roads in Patagonia especially are very difficult, even by bus. It's also a HUGE continent! We've become used to 18 - 24 hour bus journeys but I just couldn't imagine doing those types of distances by van...driving in the cities is also crazy!!
I don't know about bus passes, there are so many bus companies in each region of each country I wouldn't think it's possible, however some people I've met along the way pre-pay for their travel with a company in the UK and all they do is contact them when they know where/when they want to travel. That company then books their tickets for them. I'm not sure how much it is or even the name of the company but that might be worth some research!
Peru and Bolivia are the cheapest places to travel (Bolivia the cheapest of them all by far) but Argentina is reasonable as far as accomodation and travel costs. Brazil and Chile are very expensive, prices are like being in the UK.
If you have any specific questions on anything, feel free to PM me.
Hope that helps!
As said, distances are huge in South America and if you break down in a van miles from anywhere and know just a bit of tourist Spanish, what are you going to do?
Lots of buses about though journeys can be more monotonous than adventurous on long journeys, so people tend to take short flights rather than spend a day on a crowded bus going not very fast over bad roads.
Peru is the major destination in SA with probably more to see than the rest of SA put together.
Side trips like the Galapagos are very expensive. The San Blas islands are a curiosity and maybe worth a visit if you can do it for not much money and without going far out of your way.
There is some violence in SA but the biggest problem by far is petty theft so keep your eyes on your valuables all the time and if you take a van and leave it anywhere, even for 30 minutes, don't leave anything remotely valuable inside it.
Travel is a big cost so try to stay in one place and take days out from there before moving on to another hub. do consider insurance, and make sure you get inoculations, pills, etc if you are "going into the jungle".