Looking to start a 1 year trip to South America, beginning in January 2013.
Any advice or tips on the best order to discover all South American countries? I am thinking of spending at least the first 3 weeks just relaxing and getting used to my new life in the sun on a coast (thinking Ecuador first) before moving.
Thanks for the help
For me, most of the things to see and do in SA are in Peru. Do Peru then look elsewhere.
With a year you can afford to just go where the mood takes you, money allowing.
Expect to spend endless hours on buses so take some books, a kindle or whatever.
I am arriving in Buenos Aires late December 2012 and making my way north to Mexico by car, bus, train and plane over the course of 7 months. Spending 1month in Argentina before checking out Carnival in Rio and moving on. Checking out the U.S. for 1 month after Mexico also. This works best for me as I'm coming from Australia.
Hope this gives you some idea. Might see you on your journey's
I suggest just starting at the top and slowly zig-zaging all the way down, don't try and jump multiply countries at a time by bus or you will find yourself spending more time on a bus than in the actual countries! Definitely just go country to country, you have the time so you might as well make it a slow and leisurely trip and just go where you feel like going. You may find this way that you don't feel as rushed. If you are always trying to get to the next country you won't enjoy the one you are in, so make sure that you just move along when you feel it's time. If I were you I would make no set plans, if you say I am spending X amount of time here and X amount of time there and you prebook everything, what happens if you decide suddenly that you want to spend more time somewhere? Just think about that would be my advice. Keep us updated on your plans though! I would love to know what you end up doing!
Thanks for the posts to date. My plans and ideas are at a very preliminary stage right now, just trying to sell everything I have and my apartment and everything basically.
I agree with you Martin, I think taking it VERY leisurely and making no schedule at all is the way to go. My only plan right now is the country of entry and I am thinking Ecuador. I need to decompress for a couple of weeks at least, so think I will plant myself firmly on the beach somewhere quiet and soak up some sun (I live in Northern Scandinavia and sun doesn't exist here).
Then at the moment I am thinking of investigating Ecuador, moving into Peru for a long time and then Bolivia. Argentina and Brazil seem to be the most costly countries, so want to make sure I have the money for those, but they almost seem very over hyped compared to the other countries. Not sure what others are feeling, but the more I read about them the less I like the idea of them (especially Brazil). Have to do them though naturally. I am very much into the wilderness and off the beaten track as much as possible, getting into native areas a must. North to South and a little zig zag here and there seems good to me too. Then when I feel done with it all, will move on to Asia, but hope to keep myself at least 1 year in SA before 6 months in Asia.
Thinking of skipping French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana because they sound like a major headache. But we will see.
I will formulate my plans more and better and keep the thread updated.
i only spent a few weeks in brazil but it was an AMAZING country. I was in Rio for carnaval which was an incomprable experience but i would have liked to have seen it with out people passed out in the street evrywhere. The christ statue seems pretty touristy but actually has beautiful views of the city. If you like off the beaten track spend a few days on an osland called Isla do Mel, i thinks it is east of Curitiba, they dont allow cars on the island, you can walk from one end to the other in 15 min, live music every night, amazing locals-basically paradise. definitely avoid sao paolo, had a flight out of there and it was super industrial and boring. I have been eager to return ever since i left enjoy your trip! South America has SOOOO much to do and dotn underestimate how HUGE the continent (a mistake i unfortunately made) and takign a bus always add 2-3 hours (at least!) on to how long they tell you its gonna take. despite that its gonna be AWESOME!!
"... I am very much into the wilderness and off the beaten track as much as possible, getting into native areas a must..."
Research Colombia. For the last several years it has been by far my favourite country in South America.
If you are really into the wilderness and off the beaten track, you may want to check out this forum http://www.fodors.com/community/south-america/help-with-peru-travel.cfm the posters list lots of things to do that are more adventurous and in the wilderness in Peru. I definitely suggest that you look into spending a good chunk of time in Peru since there is quite the abundance of nature and things to do! Also I don't know how adventurous you are but one of the posters posted a link on that blog of adventures in South America, you may want to check that out too!
If you are looking for ideas of things to do while in South America, I think the best way is to read other peoples stories, there is a really great blog about different things to do in SA and it has all diferent stories for different types of travelers, adventures etc. Hope you find it helpful! Also just search around this forum too for different ideas, lots of people have made posts about different things to do, so if there is something that interests you, I am sure you can find someone who has already asked about it!
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
Also there are a great number of adventure sports around south America like sandboarding, zip lining, rafting, mountain biking, skydiving etc etc . The list goes on, it really depends on what sort or traveller you are.
If you are more into the trekking side of things I could really recommend the Lares Valley Trek to Machu Picchu while you are in Peru. I did this in November last year and it was really great. It's nice to see the local communities who specialize in weaving among other things. If you head to Peru from Ecuador think about taking the Huaraz trek, this is another great option with very few tourists. I haven't done this myself but I read a really nice blog about it and I am already looking into going during my next rip to Peru. I can dig up the info about this if your interested.
Hope your planning is going well!