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Planning trip need advice.

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Planning trip need advice.

1. Posted by Kiwi-kayla (Budding Member, 16 posts) 20 Sep '12 05:10

Hi all.

So I'm planning to take a trip to Central and South America in 2014. (As part of an around the world trip)

I Know I want to travel to Guatemala (I have an exchange sister to visit here), Costa Rica, and areas in Mexico such as Cancun. Then head south to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.
At the moment I'm planning to spend about 12-13weeks in total traveling. with 6week spent volunteering in Peru.

So here's the thing(s) I need some adivce on:

How to travel?
I've been into a couple of travel agents in the last week and picked up some brochures on the region. There is a company called "Bamba Experience" which do a hop on hop of bus passes around both central and south america. Has anyone used these before? Is there an alternative? I'd rather travel by land than air just to get the better experience.

Cost
So, If I was to use the Bamba option plus flight to/from San. Fran/LA I'm looking at around $5000 NZD. Then there is the cost of food, accommodation, the 6 weeks volunteer cost and anything I will want to do, see, and buy. Im hoping I can do this all for under $10,000 NZD. What do you think? Is there any one who's done a similar thing and can give me advice?

Traveling alone.
Enough said really. I'll be 22 turning 23 when I depart and I'm a single, blonde girl. Is there any advice you can give me on traveling alone?

Well, thanks for taking the time to read! Any and all reply's will be greatly appreciated! -- Kayla

2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru, 1747 posts) 20 Sep '12 13:38

So you are spending 6-7 weeks actual travel with another 6 weeks in Peru? Do you really want to volunteer there when you want to see so much?

That is very little time to see so much and travel will be your biggest cost. Decide exactly what you want to see and where. Do you like history and sites?

Flights are the best way to get around but quite expensive there and best booked as early as possible.

By land can take a long time. I had a 12 hour bus ride in Guatemala some years ago that would have been done in a few hours on good roads. A plane would have got me there in a very short time but I wanted to see the countryside (and saw very little. Buses and trains rarely travel scenic routes).

I took a flight from Lima to Santiago (Peru to Chile). Only a short hop but THIRTY hours by bus. You do not have time to spend hours and hours on buses, and often they are not that cheap, or you may have to make a number of awkward connections which will add substantially to your travel time, if say travelling from one side of South America to the other. Flying Buenos Aries to Santiago is a lot, lot cheaper than Rio to Lima. Distance.

No idea whether Bamba is good or bad (some companies aren't good) but it is possible to do it yourself, booking much of it on the internet and travel agents for local tours when there.

Advice: Use common sense when there (common sense actually is not common). The people are generally friendly and helpful but petty theft is endemic in South America so be careful at all times.

3. Posted by samuel.mignoni (Budding Member, 5 posts) 10 Oct '12 12:17

For U.S. citizens, we have to pay an entrance fee to enter Chile, Argentina and Brazil through certain entry points, typically the airport. I am not sure about Kiwi's though. So be aware of that.

Buses are awesome here, much better than the States, and actually somewhat dependable for me. I am currently living in Chile and taking a bus is easy and very affordable. Especially if you travel during the week. for me to bus it from Santiago to Mendoza, it cost me $30U.S. and that was because it was a holiday weekend.

Tur-bus and Pullman are the most well known in Chile.

There is an article on -snip- called the hidden costs of South America. Check it out, just so you are aware of some of the stuff you don't think about.

They love blondes South America so just becareful and travel with friends you meet along the way.

Good luck, the people are great, you'll fall in love with S. America

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

4. Posted by Chris789 (Budding Member, 13 posts) 10 Oct '12 19:22

I would say that the 6-7 weeks travelling to cram all those places in is very ambitious unless you plan to fly but fair play to you if you can do it. Personally I would cut out either central or south america. Even then you will be cutting it very fine if you stop in Peru for 6 weeks. All depends on exactly what you want to see in each country but as previously said in the post above, travel times are long, very long. From my experience down there anything under 12 hours was a short journey and believe me if you have been on an 12 hours bus one day the last thing you want to do is get on another 1 or 2 days later.

5. Posted by Kiwi-kayla (Budding Member, 16 posts) 17 Oct '12 06:57

Cyberia, you again

Thanks for the info! I've decided so far that I will travel from Cancun through to San Jose or Panama City and then Fly down to Rio and bus/fly my way back up to Lima to volunteer which I will prabably cut back to 4weeks. Chile is out, but Argentina is a MUST for me, So I may fly from Buenos Aries up to Lima so save time. But I'm definitely discovering how costly the travel is!

Samuel, thanks! I think us Kiwi's are pretty lucky and don't have too much visa costs involved (this from the brief amount of reading I've done), but its definitely something I need to have a better look at! Buses are a big possibility because of the price of them VS flying but I'm sure ill get there!

Chris, thanks! I think my travel time has extended closer to 4 full months and I'm going to cut back my volunteer time to 4 weeks to make sure I'll have enough time for everything. It'll also help with the timing for the rest of my RTW trip trough Europe and SE Asia (I hope):)

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