I'm doing a tour across SA in a few months. The tour leaves from Rio (heading south to Ilha Grande) and ends in Lima. I'm looking into flights now and don't know how long I should give myself in Rio before the tour and in Lima afterwards and how safe it is for a solo female. I don't have Portuguese or Spanish but obviously will work on the key phrases I've travelled on my own in Oz and a bit in Asia but I'm more nervous about SA. Have you any advice for me about areas to stay in or avoid? This is a once off trip and I can arrive up to ten days before the trip and could hang around maybe 5 days after.
One other thing, my tour doesn't include the Amazon and had thought I could take a trip from Lima but any I've seen cost a fortune so probably not going to happen but it you have any ideas feel free!
Thanks for reading!
Apart from a dozen beaches (it can get very hot on them at times) and the statue, there is little in Rio for the tourist. If you use a bit of sense in the day time and do not go out at night, the town is relatively safe, unlike nearby Sao Paulo which is not safe.
Some people who go to Peru miss out Lima, which is their loss. I didn't like the look of the place on the bus from the airport, but found I did like Lima itself. I would spend 2-3 days there, depending on how much you want to see, and stay in the nearby Miraflores area. A fair bit to see, museums, galleries, buildings, etc:
Not many taxis about but some people earn extra money by using their cars as taxis, with a sign in the window. I had no trouble with them and found their prices reasonable.
The main problem with the whole of Central and South America is petty theft. Keep an eye on your money and goods at all time. These two countries are nowhere as bad as Mexico but getting something stolen can ruin your holiday.
My Spanish and Portuguese is limited to some holiday talk but I managed without any problems there. Lots of tourists pass through, so many speak some English.
Yes, visiting the Amazon is very expensive. Instead from Rio, I took a plane to Buenos Aries and popped into Uruguay as well. Better than looking at endless vegetation and being a target for a million insects and spiders.
Rio is an amazing city, apart from the obvious sites like Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain I would highly recommend (and this is going to sound crazy) doing a Favela tour. If you go to a local hostel like Mellow Yellow ( i think that was the name) they offer guided Favela tours with a local, it was quite safe when we went there and you get an insight into a part of the city that most people avoid out of fear.
Saying that since you are a solo female traveler I would be careful in going places at night, in particular I'd avoid going to the Lapa area at night on your own as it can be a bit scary, especially on a Friday night when thousands of people flood the area for street parties, lots of fun but I did see a few people getting openly pickpocketed by gangs of kids.
In regards to learning spanish and portuguese I found the most useful phrases to be
-How much is it?
- Can I have that please?
- Can I have some water please?
- Hello/Goodbye/How are you
I tend to learn these things in any language before I travel to a place, if you are only in a city for a few days it allows you to at least sample the local cuisine easily enough
Remember this is not normal but rare and a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of the millions who go to Rio, this is only the second time this year.:
Thanks Cyberia and Nigel. That's great information. Relieved to hear there are no unusual safety issues and I'll definitely not be out alone at night. I'll check out the tour bus now. Thanks for your help!
well, there s a lot to see and to do in SA:
if you will see the Amazonas River :
take a domestic flight with an local airline ( they are cheaper and compared with the distance not too expensive) to Manaus. And from there via boat to Iquitos/Peru. Further by boat and bus to Lima. ( if you go by local ferries, could it be that you are on a boat with a lot of people with hammock). It takes time and I don´t know if you agree with it.
an other option would be:
via the iguazu waterfalls ( it s amazing but a tourist hot spot ) - Posadas/Argentina ( Trinidad Ruins) ( Ciudad del Este/Paraguay s not recommandable) - Salta and Humahuaca ( coulored mountains, nice city, saltfields and - lakes), -Villazon/Bolivia - La Paz -Lake Titicaca - Cusco/Peru - Lima ....
it is an advantage if you speak the local language. To deal or get information. But if you stay on the big cities and tourist places should it be no problem.
This sounds like the same tour that I am doing from Rio to Lima. Who did you book with. I leave on 18th July. I have only booked 2 days before and one after.
I hope you see this reply:
I went to Rio for a friends wedding in April 2012. I took an overnite
bus ride to Ouro Preto for a few days before the wedding. It's about 6 hrs north of Rio.
I would play it safe and just stay in Rio and the surrounding areas of Rio before your long tour.
So much to see and do. I also took a city tour with the hostel that I was staying with.
Brothers Hostel is in Botafogo neighborhood of Rio. Have fun and stay safe.