At some point in '12 I intend to take a few months out of work and do a solo trip along the west cost of south America! I can't wait! I'm from the UK and at the moment know very little Spanish so it's a bit challenge. I got a quote from a local estate agent for flights into Acapulco in Mexico for early Feb '12 and back out from Santiago Chile for £920 which are non direct flights. I have a few questions if I may!
-Good time of year? This is just before their winter right?
-I'm a 23yo M, will that be alright? Drinking age?
-Is the choice of air ports OK? We kinda picked them at random for a quote, ideally i'd like direct flights from say British Airways but they don't fly to Santiago any more?
-Is the distance do able/enjoyable in 3 months or too far?
-Where is the best place to do say an intensive 2-4 week Spanish course on the way? I heard Guatemala is a good place?
-I pick up languages OK, with enough effort will I be speaking well after 3 months after constantly being surrounded by the language?
-How much do you think i'd need to save up for this? I'd be searching for cheap places to stay and be travelling by cheap flights/coach.
-Would you go travel north to south or south to north and why?
-I'll need VISA's, is this a simple process?
-Where would you visit on the way? I heard Belize City is beautiful! (That's a joke!)
-How many times should I budget into getting mugged on the way lol!?
Thanks for any advice and tips! Seems like a wonderful part of the world!
Guatemala is a great place to learn Spanish, and it's early in your travels....I'd personally shy away from Antigua for language schools, though it's a lovely place, because you'll find you seldom have to speak Spanish there. I'd go full immersion in a place like San Andres or somewhere small.
You won't find the drinking age much of a problem
It's a LOOOONNNNG way from Mexico to Santiago.
Visas are pretty easy all the way down to Chile, especially overland. You won't have to get a visa beforehand.
There is a thing called the Darien Gap which divides Panama from Colombia. There are no roads. You will either have to fly or take a boat.
Chile has one of the worst kinds of Spanish in the Americas.
BOG is cold and rainy and dreary. Think London in Spanish
PTY is dull and worth seeing for MAYBE two days.
All the real good artifacts from Tikal were taken to a museum in GUA. It's right by the airport.
(Random thoughts while watching a movie. Good luck.)
I would give Mexico a miss at present. The drug cartels are fighting there and tortured bodies are found hanging from bridges and the like in main towns:
As Piecar said, Mexico is a long way from South America and there is a fair bit to see down there, so maybe fly in at a cheapish destination?
Direct flights in and out of Lima (Peru, which has a lot to see), early Feb coming back early April from Opodo prices started at £809.
However pick up The Mail on Sunday tomorrow and you'll find that like the Saturday edition, it has a good travel section in with some cheap travel agents who can no doubt beat your local agent.
Chile does not really have that much in it unless you are in to hiking miles and miles and miles.
Belize City is a dump, so most people stay off shore, but what point going there in that case?
As said, Tikal is good. I stayed in nearby Flores overnight and liked the small town by the lake.
Coach from Lima to Santiago was 30 hours and expensive. A little more and I got a flight and was walking around Santiago in not many hours.
I know very little Spanish and managed OK.
It's not so much mugged as petty theft, pick pocketing and the like. Take all the precautions you would take at home if carrying a large sum of money and you should be OK.