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Planning to travel Central and South America alone

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Planning to travel Central and South America alone

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41. Posted by aliciaw (Budding Member 7 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Quoting leahroberts


V jealous of your plans.......
I have recently finished a 4 month trip around South America and am currently planning a trip to Central America so thought I would drop you a line. I flew from London to Rio and did a loop down through Brazil, across Argentina, up through Chilie, Bolivia, Peru and Equador and flew out of SA from Quito. I had the MOST amazing time - you will love it I am sure! So some tips I wish someone had shared with me before I went are:

  • Brazil, Argentina and Chilie are quite expensive......particularly buses. Where are in the other countries you can get basic budget buses with the locals, the buses in Brazil, Argentina and Chilie and much nicer but there just aren't really the cheaper options availible. Panic not, however, because it gets cheaper and cheaper the further north you go!
  • Brazil, Argentina and Chilie are all quite European, Bolivia, Peru and Equador are the real SA!
  • I would try to take a small amount of each currency with you so before you get there and swap with other travellers you meet or exchange it on the street with locals - this will mean that after a LONG bus ride you can use a toilet or pay for a taxi etc.
  • Night buses were a great way of saving time and money if you can hack it.....I did this wherever poss!
  • I generally felt very safe but I did use allot of common sense and in many places didn't go out alone after dark. I always spread out my cash in lots of places and had copies and scanned copies of my documents. I did find that at times it was a toss up as to whether take me passport with me or leave it in the hostel, but always have a one or the other on you as the police can be a bit funny about it! I had one small incident near the bus station in Beunas Aires where i got 'shampooed'. Basically someone squirted shampoo (could have been much worse) all over me and my pack this is followed by lots of sorries and then they help you off with you pack and leg it - luckily we knew of the scam so were fine but it is something to be aware of. Having spoken to many travellers Beunos Aires seemed to be the place that was most common in terms of experiencing anything unpleasent. 99.9% of the people I encountered in my 4 months there were kind, friendly and helpful if you make the effort to engage with them.
  • If at all poss polish up your spanish, I had very little when I went but had lessons in Bolivia (so so cheap, £3 for an hr 1:1 lesson) this helped hugely particularly when trying to book buses and when chatting to locals.
  • Bolivia and much of Peru is at mega altitude and sickness is common and makes you feel rubbish - altitude sickness pills are like magic so def take some with you just in case. Also being up high means it is often freezing so warm clothes are essential
  • I did some group tour/trips which were fab:

- Iguassu Fall, White Water Rafting everywhere, Wine Tasting in Argentina and Chilie, Horse Riding in Atacama Desert, Salt Flats, Jungle (from Rurrenbaque, Bolivia), Inca Trek

  • I stumbled upon a monkey santuary in Banos, Equador-you can visit just for the day or you can volunteer and pay a small fee for food and dorm. This was one of the best experiences so here is the link if you are interested

Sorry if I have just garbled at you......once I get started on talking about SA I can't stop as i love it so much. Have an awesome time and if you have any other questions just ask as i am more than happy to help if I can,
Leah x

Hi Leah,

thank you soo much for your detailed information and especially the information around 'shampooing' these are the kind of things you would never consider prior to traveling yet they are invaluable. YOur trip sounds absolutely amazing and has gotten me even more excited about my upcoming trip!!!! I hadnt planned on heading to Iguassu falls, but this forum has highlighted my need to travel there and experience it firsthand.

It's been a while since i'e been on this sight, sorry , and thank everyone for their invaluable information. oh and i will be in Nicaragua on the18th of December (just finalised my ticket and am tres excited!!) and will heading to costa rica, panama, equador, peru, then flying to rio for carnival, iguassu falls, argentina then home to sydney on the 26th of feb - if anyone is planning to travel these dates and locations (roughly), please drop me a line :)


42. Posted by Bec Sparke (First Time Poster 1 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hi Alicia,

I am from melbourne and I'm also planning a solo central america trip from mid november for three months. I am starting in mexico and going as far south as Colombia. I have friends who just came back from central and gave me heaps of suggetions for great places to see. Maybe we could get in touch to see how our travel itineries compare?
There are a few places i'd like to see in mexico especially Puerto Escondido (as I am a surfer) but i'm a little apprehensive travelling alone through mexico due to all the travel warnings, it would be nice to have a few people to meet up with!
If you would like add me on facebook, (bec sparke from woolamai) we can keep in touch.
Good luck with all your planning

Bec Sparke :)

43. Posted by sassyautumn (First Time Poster 1 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hi Alicia (and everyone else who's been posting in this thread, Jessie-Mae, Aisha!),

I am studying abroad in Buenos Aires right now and I'm going to stay until July of next year. My study abroad program doesn't cover my housing and such over the summer so I'm planning a backpacking trip through Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and a grand finale in Brazil :) I also don't have anyone that I'm traveling with so far and I'm literally traveling on a shoestring haha. Buenos Aires and Argentina has been a lot more expensive than my perceptions about South America so keep that in mind when planning your trip. It's still really incredible and worth it, but like everyone's been saying, it's a bit pricey.

Right now I have been researching my summer trip and finding some really great ideas on the internet. I will also be in Brazil for carnaval! But I decided to go to Olinda because Rio is too expensive. I'm going to end up in Rio just to sight see and everything before I go back to Buenos Aires for my second semester a few weeks after carnaval. Please add me on Facebook and we can share plans so my trip is a little less daunting :) My name is Autumn Standing. I know spanish pretty well (totally clueless about Portuguese but I'm going to try to pick up a little in the next couple of months) so I'm not too worried about that aspect of my trip. Just hoping that it's not too scary to travel on my own.

Also, you should check out! I made a profile and I've yet to actually try surfing or anything so I'm still a little cautious about safety, especially as a single girl, but the site seems to have pretty good security measures, and if nothing else it can help you connect with locals!

Hope to hear from you soon!


PS I hear the visa process for getting into Brazil is really lengthy and potentially expensive (at least if you're from the states) so you should look into that, and all of the other country crossings you plan to do :)

44. Posted by Solo Leo (Budding Member 5 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

To add my 2 cents aswell..... :) I am flying to Costa Rica on Monday and volunteering for the first 3 months then travelling up through the countries to Mexico over 4-5 more months if anyone wants to contact or meet up with me?

45. Posted by samuel.mignoni (Budding Member 5 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

I have heard if you bus it into Brazil you can avoid the visa process. This is only something I have heard via word of mouth, so you might want to look into it a little more. Also, check out -snip-. They had a really good article about the hidden costs of South America. When I entered Chile, I was stunned to have to pay 160 entrance fee. Turns out we do the same thing to them.

Hope your travels are going well and you are living the dream, one day at a time of course.

Buenas Suerte

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

Posts 46 & 47 were removed by moderators