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Mexico to Argentina (or South America in general) Questions!

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Mexico to Argentina (or South America in general) Questions!

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1. Posted by LittleWing22 (Budding Member 4 posts) 3y

Hi, me and some friends have decided to take another sabbatical year before school so that we can travel some.
I myself dream everyday about a trip to South America. I need to convince my friends this is the trip we should make!
However I'm really not sure we could do it. It's probably more expensive and more difficult to do than a trip in South East Asia, don't you guys think?

Anyway, to the questions -- I feel like I'm just rambling on here. We're pretty much beginners to backpacking, we've just been to random places in Europe before. Would it be stupid and/or naive of us to think we could actually do this trip alone?
About getting robbed etc. -- I've heard many stories about South America and people getting robbed. Is it really as unsafe as people say and should five 20 year-olds be "scared"?

About the budget: I haven't spoken to my friends about this yet but I don'ät think we would go much above 50 000 SEK (7890,67 USD, 5259,61 GBP, 6025,77 euro). Maybe this is waaaay too little to do this trip? My brother went to South East Asia for 6 months and got by with like 30-40K though. I don't know just how much more expensive Latin America would be compared to SEA but I guess it's quite alot more expensive. What would you guys think this trip would cost if you were to travel from Mexico to South America (doesn't have to be Argentina).

We're planning to do this trip somewhere between January and June next year. We're probably just going to be on the trip for 2-3 months though. As you can see I'm just a novice when it comes to this but I'm very interested in doing a trip like this if it's possible. I'd also love to get some general tips on what to think about when backpacking and so on. Thanks!

2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1834 posts) 3y

All of Central and South America is pick pocket heaven. Be very careful. The only place I was ever robbed was Mexico. Three visits, and robbed three times, the last by a little old lady sitting behind me on a bus. Using the metro in Mexico City is an invitation to be robbed.

But that was years ago. Mexico is now a very dangerous place with an average of some 10,000 deaths a year for the last several years as drug cartels fight each other and the army, and with innocents getting caught up in the shooting.

The best place to visit in the whole area is Peru which has lots to see. Arrive in Lima and look around. Look around Cusco then Machu Picchu. A number of good day trips available from Cusco (booked through travel agents there). Nazca Lines and other places some distance away afterwards.

Then you can go south to Chile or north to Ecuador. I didn't mind Argentina but not really a lot there. Or Brazil either.

What you have to remember is that distances are great in Central and South America and travel is expensive. Flights are the best way of getting around (unless you like spending endless hours on buses, and waiting for connections) but are cheapest if booked before arrival, and as early as possible.

It is not too expansive to be in South America if you don't want the best and lots of nights out, but the travel bit will eat into your budget.

3. Posted by femby (Budding Member 29 posts) 3y

If you have a small budget, you don't want to try to combine Central and South America (although Mexico is really part of NA). The more ground you want to cover, the bigger your budget has to be. You have the time so you need to read up on 2-3 countries which interest you and focus on those. Perú, Bolivia and Ecuador are the least expensive and offer a really good variety of views, activities. However, the best weather for the highlands (Cusco, for instance) starts in May. But you could start your 2-3 months sometime in April visiting the jungle in Peru or the Galapagos in Ecuador, or other regions in Bolivia. You need a looser timeframe for Bolivia as they often have strikes or roadblocks.

The vast majority of crime in SA is crime of opportunity: you don't have your money and documents safely stashed away, you put your bag down on the ground or on a chair and get distracted, leave your bags with someone at reception to go check a room etc. There are plenty of warnings out there. You need to read them in order to know what to be aware of but not obsess about them as most visitors don't get robbed. You just hear about the ones who do.

Chile, Argentina and Brazil are the most expensive countries, best visited Dec/Jan/Feb/March, but Jan/Feb are high season with higher prices. Still, it is possible to visit and keep a low budget if those countries interest you more.

4. Posted by LittleWing22 (Budding Member 4 posts) 3y

Thanks alot for your posts.

Someone else recommended the route from Buenos Aires to Lima via Bolivia which sounds very interesting. Bolivia is probably the country I want to visit the most in SA. And that it's so cheap makes it that much more interesting.

I have realized now that going from Mexico through Central America seems very difficult to do with our budget and time.

What routes do you guys recommend if we want to include Bolivia and Peru in particular (one of us has family albeit not that close in Peru)?
We'd probably mostly travel by bus as it seems like the cheapest and best way to travel if you want some experiences. Maybe I'm naive but atleast I think I wouldn't mind travelling with bus for days through for example Bolivia.

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Mar-2013, at 06:06 by LittleWing22 ]

5. Posted by LittleWing22 (Budding Member 4 posts) 3y

This is a map from some bus route from a trip company. However, I don't think we'd be interested in doing such a trip but would rather not always know exactly what we're going to do the next day etc. A similar trip seems interesting though, which leads to my next question. Is it easy to do a similar trip without guides and rather just hopping on a bus to the next city, stay there a couple days, maybe take a little detour and the continue on etc. Can you go visit all these places on your own?

Sorry if my English isn't always completely understandable

6. Posted by femby (Budding Member 29 posts) 3y

I would do the bit north in Argentina, maybe Cordoba - worth it not so much for the city as the surrounding hills, but they will be chock-a-block with Argentine tourists in Jan/Feb - you could do Mendoza which gives an opportunity for some outdoor activities and access to high Andes, continue to Salta. Spend some time in this area and move into Bolivia from there. Now Jan/Feb are rainy season in Bolivia so not so good for the salt flats, but if you start your whole trip a bit later in March you will avoid summer crowds and should be OK in Bolivia. You can cross 3X a week from Salta to San Pedro de Atacama and also access the salt flats from there. I would explore Bolivia a bit more and maybe not Potosi but that's just me. From Bolivia or from Chile you head north into Perú. That's a rough outline anyway.

Don't go with one of the multi-country bus companies. They are never as good value and you can get your own buses as needed very easily. You can hire any guides you need locally if needed to go to a specific site.

Always check online for long weekends and election days for the countries you want to go to as they can screw up travel plans; full or non-existent transport.

Check prices for an open jaw ticket, flying into BA and out of Lima.

7. Posted by LittleWing22 (Budding Member 4 posts) 3y

Thanks for an awesome post!

I really would like to visit Iguazu Falls though but that would mean one long distance bus there and another one to Salta.. Not sure about that.

Yep, I would also want to visit Bolivia a bit more and maybe skip Chile.

Thanks for many great tips

Post 8 was removed by a moderator
9. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 3y

Quoting Cyberia

All of Central and South America is pick pocket heaven. Be very careful. The only place I was ever robbed was Mexico. Three visits, and robbed three times, the last by a little old lady sitting behind me on a bus. Using the metro in Mexico City is an invitation to be robbed.

But that was years ago. Mexico is now a very dangerous place with an average of some 10,000 deaths a year for the last several years as drug cartels fight each other and the army, and with innocents getting caught up in the shooting.

Yes it's a well known fact that the vast majority of Mexicans-over 100 million of them-upon waking up crawl under their beds and stay there until bedtime-it's the only way they can stay safe!

Littlewing22-sent you a PM

10. Posted by Colli21 (Budding Member 2 posts) 3y


I spent 3 months in South America 2 years ago before I started University. I went to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

I had the absolute time of my life and would highly recommend it.

I went with a travel group 'Tucan Travel' who are supposedly the original South American travelling organisation, so they might be worth a look.

Peru, is a must. If you can sign up early enough to do the Inca Trail, it is amazing, hard but worth it. There was definitely the most to do in Peru, the beaches are beautiful, there's plenty of crazy night life, markets and history. Some tasty local cuisine to try such as guinea pig!! If you need a break from the Peruvian Culture, Mancora, on the boarder to Ecuador is great, a surfing town with a hotel that parties all day and night! Lots of young people.. almost like stepping into Ibiza.

Bolivia was cold, the treks to the snow capped mountains were amazing, seeing working donkeys on the way up. So odd to be so hot walking up but seeing people with ski coats on walking down! Bolivia's La Paz was crazy, never stops, the shopping was great and the markets pack every street.

Argentina, was like visiting Greece, lots of white buildings and beautiful beaches.

Brazil - wish I'd stayed longer, driving round Sao Paulo for hours gives an impression as to how big it is. Parati is gorgeous but quieter than Rio.

Imagine beautiful stretches of beaches, with cobbled streets into the old town, with small stalls selling local produce, but at night, you open up, what you thought in the day was someone's home, but was now a club which at midnight turns into a salsa bar and the locals take great joy in teaching the moves. Lots of Cachaca, the local drink, like tequila with lemonade, $2 a big bottle, and a stroll home along the cobbled streets back to your accom with hammocks and exotic flowers on the entrance. Just to have a good nights sleep ready for another day of sunbathing.

I witnessed no pick pocketing, and neither did our whole group of 15.

South America will not disappoint you. I hope this helpful, but honestly, go. I've done Europe, America and South East Asia, but South America holds the best experiences of my life.